(con)juncture was lawson fletcher's thought pile. Now blogging at soundofruins.net
"stay critical or die!" | email | (con)temporary



Skate videos:
  • Media production within a parallel economy.
  • Subcultural media.
  • Alternative models?


packt like sardines

Compression might be seen as a cultural trope.


networked liveness

Holmes (2005, Communication Theory: Media, Technology and Society) argues that 'liveness', as an aesthetic, industrial, experiential quality of a given medium, is only possible with broadcast media, such as television, but also asynchronous media like newspapers. That's the key too, liveness as a category is not defined by the fact that a 'real world' event is being produced and received at the exact same time ('nowness') but rather that, in effect, the medium is live with itself. Considering television as an example, Holmes identifies the sense of liveness not so much with a live program broadcast but rather the very fact that such a broadcast could interrupt at any point. Or, in another sense, as Heath & Skirrow (Television, A World in Action. Screen 18.2 (Summer 1977): 7-59) observe, "Like the world, television never stops, is continuous" - that is to say that TV is always there, even when the set is turned off. Or newspapers, the fact of its liveness comes from that everyone attends to the medium more or less at the same time and that its contents are exhausted and outmoded on a daily basis - no one reads the paper from last Wednesday, as Holmes notes, in fact we don't even tend to see it (it gets pulped or recycled as quickly as possible.

So i've only gone through all these examples to get to the constitutive features of liveness itself: a medium must be synchronous with itself, and the audience must attend to it at more or less the same time, and be aware of such .

Now, considering this, I take issue with Holmes characterisation of liveness as only pertaining to broadcast, in fact, I'd argue that there is a sense in which all mediums are live insofar as they are continuous with their own present. And yet you could say that that is only one half of the live equation, but I'd also argue that network forms have their own peculiar liveness: such as online RSS readers, that are updated the moment a blog post goes online, and not only that technical fact but also the cultural anxiety that many people feel whilst sitting at work with their reader open and nothing to do - they too are sutured into that technology's (application's?) liveness. Even video games, which by virtue of being networked through services such as Xbox Live, carry their own sense of cotemporality (triangulated between the instance of access, the medium's own time, and the time of other players).

Maybe its not the exact same contours of liveness that television maintains, but network mediums still hold that possibility of being live.