2011 - Media Ecology: The Effects of Emergence - Alex Ross & Patrick Collins

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Submitted by patrick.collins on Fri, 12/16/2011 - 14:17

Here is the text from our Manifesto (Alex Ross and I) Media Ecology: The Effects of Emergence


All ecology is self-correcting, while the introduction of something new may result in an instance of chaos, the nature of ecological systems return to equilibrium. In this way the instance of chaos is the first step toward progress.

Responsible Disruption

It is the duty of those anticipating the future of media to engage in responsible disruption. Responsible disruption is the thoughtful introduction of a chaos-inducing element into the ecology of the dominant media. This emerging element will be controversial based on the old concept of the media ecology, but is necessary to progress even if the result is far different from the intention of the media (i.e. Napster)

Cognitive Freedom (Surplus)

Cognitive freedom arises when a person is no longer constrained by the media around them. Web media allows people to think about whatever it is they choose too. No longer is it about what’s on TV, what’s in the newspaper on your doorstep in the morning, or generally speaking the biases of those delivering content. When, unconstrained in this manner, a person can seek the information they choose. Web infrastructure allows for micro-connections to be made and for communities and organizations to be built around these micro-connections. The result is that media ecology is no longer heavily weighted toward the top. There has been a distinct shift from a centralized form of dissemination to decentralized. The result is that media ecology is less vertical and more horizontal and diffuse.

Forced Awareness

Traditionally, New Media has been eased in to our culture. This is no longer the case. The speed at which technology is developed causes us to be bombarded with New Media daily; on TV, the internet, radio even. Even the delivery is abnormal: iPads/tablets, smartphones, QR codes, youth vernacular. The rate of change will not slow down. You must assimilate New Media at a blistering pace. However, you must also integrate these advancements appropriately to your lifestyle. Do not concern yourself with mass appeal. Find what works for you.

Camouflaged Evolution

New Media is often paired in bundles with the old. Updates and re-designs are constantly being downloaded and integrated (often while you sleep). Technology will not ask if you are ready. It is constantly evolving through appropriation and interaction. It will never reach a state of closure. “Choice” has been replaced with “Adaptation.” (i.e. Wi-Fi televisions with apps)

World Consciousness

With remarkable amounts of data at our fingertips today we can in many ways map out the ebbs and flows of the world consciousness. The biorhythm of this consciousness; how people are thinking and what they’re thinking about in our world can be collected, analyzed, and even mapped out. This global awareness is shifting by the minute, forcing people to change their own perceptions about what is going on around them and changing what they think about. Popular web based tools, such as Twitter, aren’t used by everybody but those people’s thoughts are still being shaped by that tool. This constant shaping and reshaping of the world consciousness means that media ecology is in a constant state of flux.

Mass Complexity

As asserted media ecology in the networked age can enable people to think freely, explore the world around them, and be part of a global consciousness. However, this increased complexity is fragile and may come with unsustainable costs. As this complexity increases at continuously escalating rates the ability for the individual or the system will be ever strained. There will be cognitive costs for the individual; a person will have to spend an ever increasing amount of capital just to be able to keep up. There will also be a great taxation on the network infrastructure itself. This comes at the cost of having to build, maintain, and improve the ever complex network. The human race is the environment in which the media ecology exists, so in this way the human race is also the Achilles heel of the media ecosystem.


My understanding of the concept of “Media Ecology” changed drastically over the course of the semester as I developed a greater awareness of the landscape of media and the notion of emergence. The three aspects that Jeff explained to us were confusing as first (particularly “what we think with”) but I found the ideas interesting enough to request this subject for the final manifesto project. Beyond the three aspects, “Media Ecology” became a larger and larger theme throughout all of my classes and a concept that was extremely hard to pin down when working on a manifesto.

The real breakthrough for the team was the simple semantic dissection of the word. Once we decided to focus on the ‘ecology” aspect and treat the media world as a complex ecosystem, things began to fall into place. Media became more than the result of changing technologies, it is natural and organic as it is a true product of humanity. Media has truly begun to take on a life of its own and has evolved based of necessity not through strict control. In relation to the other three manifestos, we see that this evolution is heavily dependent on “Freedom” to allow adaption. “Collaboration” has become key to this evolution as well, where media is changing so rapidly it can no longer be reliant on a single person to develop the next progression. “Interplay” has also been crucial to maintaining strength in the ecology by spreading dominance among a variety of facets rather than focusing on a solitary media.

This was a great topic and we had a fantastic team, but in retrospect every one of the topics had amazing potential and all of the teams did a great job with their particular subject matter. The real beauty of this course was that I did not realize how much I was learning until I could stop and take the time to reflect on the complete progression of ideas. Well done everyone.


Aparece en https://www.digitalmanifesto.net/manifestos/174/





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