Over the nineties the kind of control of audience and message that "authorship" seems to promise became clearly more illusory for a range of actors in knowledge worlds. A series of science-styled TV documentaries partnered with the Web in varying divisions of intellectual labor, creating or sharing or opening up websites in efforts to communicate complex technical knowledges to widely differing local audiences. Inadvertently but necessarily these partnerships themselves ended up demonstrating how tricky the mapping of messages onto audiences has become and how partial or rather, highly distributed, authorial control is revealed to be.
REPURPOSING (Bolter & Grusin 1999: 68):
some of these images are links. click them to see which ones.
TRANSMEDIA (Gomez, CEO Starlight Runner Entertainment):
"Deep media, persistent narrative, immersive storytelling, transmedia: right now, we are experiencing a moment of radical technological change, with seismic shifts in the way that entertainment is conceived, produced and distributed.... Transmedia storytelling is storytelling by a number of decentralized authors who share and create content for distribution across multiple forms of media. Transmedia immerses an audience in a story’s universe through a number of dispersed entry points, providing a comprehensive and coordinated experience of a complex story.... Transmedia narrative is the technique of conveying messages, concepts and themes to a mass audience through systemic and concerted use of multiple media platforms. The implementation is designed to engage audience members individually, validating their involvement and positively reinforcing personal participation in the narrative. The result is intense loyalty, long-term engagement and a desire to share the experience."
POLITICAL ECONOMY AND INTERESTING QUESTIONS (Traweek 2000: 23):
“I have become interested in how these massive shifts in political economy affect the kinds of questions intellectuals begin to find interesting at such periods, the kinds of resources amassed to investigate their questions, the kinds of curricular and pedagogical changes generated, and the new modes of investigation. That is, what else is going on when there is a change in what counts as a good question, an interesting mode of inquiry, way of teaching and learning, and the infrastructure needed for pursuing these emerging forms of knowledge making? Who resists these changes; how do they resist?”
BOUNDARY OBJECTS (Bowker & Star 1999: 297-8):
"Boundary objects are those objects that both inhabit several communities of practice and satisfy the informational requirements of each of them. Boundary objects are thus both plastic enough to adapt to local needs and constraints of the several parties employing them, yet robust enough to maintain a common identity across sites. They are weakly structured in common use and become strongly structured in individual site use. These objects may be abstract or concrete.... Such objects have different meanings in different social worlds but their structure is common enough to more than one world to make them recognizable, a means of translation. The creation and management of boundary objects is a key process in developing and maintaining coherence across intersecting communities. ...Boundary objects arise over time from durable cooperation among communities of practice....sets of boundary objects arise directly from the problematics created when two or more differently naturalized classification systems collide.... The processes by which communities of practice manage divergent and conflicting classification systems are complex, the more so as people are all members in fact of many communities of practice, with varying levels of commitment and consequence...."
How are stabilities and consensus, on the one hand, telescoped, opening and collapsing in black-boxed elegance or over capacious detail; or, on the other hand, cascaded and branded in multiple ranges of accessibility servicing well or ill all the necessarily distributed processes and things of flexible knowledges under globalization? We explore DNA time traveling technologies as used in a series of TV shows to explore emergent popular formulations of race and gender: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s African American Lives, Spencer Well’s Journey of Man, and Jeannine Davis-Kimball’s Secrets of the Dead: Amazon Warrior Women.
These attempt to network among transdisciplinary knowledges that labor with different grains of detail, among very divergent knowledge worlds, and without a contemporary consensus that authorizes ethical practice, or maintains representational stabilities. These networkings are literally displayed and mobilized in movements between the web and television, all of which become materially “networked” among commercial, scholarly and entertainment infrastructures.
Skills for sorting among authoritative and alternative knowledges require us to scale and scope in ranges of detail accessibly elegant on TV and specifically important in hyperlinked websites, as we examine with others DNA boundary objects traveling among knowledge worlds, in movements comparatively relative.
• Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University (academic website)
• coins term and self-describes as "intellectual entrepreneur" in Black Issues in Higher Ed, 1999 (now Diverse, online)
• screenwriter, producer, host of several TV series (IMDb)
• African American Lives is one; its website
• produced in two series, 2006 and 2008, the first one co-produced by PBS/Thirteen and Kunhardt productions, which, in addition to PBS, History, Discovery and The Learning Channel, produces documentaries for Bravo, HBO and AMC, not to mention CBS and ABC. Thus it adds to PBS and Discovery Channel styles elements of HB0 and AMC celebrity entertainment, commercial advertising heritage campaigns, as well as the usual travelogue tourisms of documentary TV.
• online teaching plan: "rationalizing race" with video clip
• Director of the Genographic Project from National Geographic and IBM: (NGS biography online)
• self-described scientist, author and filmmaker (IMDb)
• postdoc at Stanford's School of Medicine with Luca Cavalli-Sforza, population geneticist; 1996 survey of Central Asia.; 1998 expanded survey to Asia and the former Soviet republics; Director of the Population Genetics Research Group of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford; Head of research for a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company; 2001 left to focus on books and documentary films.
• Genographic Project website
• after 2006 Charges of biopiracy brought in formal complaint filed by the Alaska Native Medical Center, the Project responded, and offers FAQs and shares ethical guidelines
• crowdsourcing: "Discover YOUR deep ancestry by purchasing a kit and tracking your genetic lineage. It makes a unique gift, too."
Anthropology, Genetics, Paleoanthropology – Spencer Wells – “Journey of man”
• Director of the American Eurasian Research Institute (website), Center for the Study of Eurasian Nomads (TOC websites)
• self-described nurse and cattle rancher before studying Iranian art in graduate school later in life (PBS interview)
• first American woman to collaborate in archaeological investigations in Kazakhstan, groundbreaking 1994 excavation at Porkovka, on Russian-Kazak border.
• PBS TV website : Secrets of the Dead: Amazon Warrior Women. Modeled on broadcast entertainment CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which fictionalizes forensic procedures.
• Produced in 2004 by Washington, D.C.'s Story House Productions in association with Thirteen/WNET New York, National Geographic Channels International and Germany's ZDF.
• online teaching plan:"making faces" with video clips, interactive features, links and teaching standards: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/previous_seasons/lessons/lp_amazon.html
Posthumanities and global academic restructuring:
• Having to address many diverging audiences simultaneously
• Having to author knowledges as merely one of multiple agencies with very limited control
In the nineties television had to learn not only to “show” but also to “tell,” in forms newly interactive and participatory. It accomplished this in not altogether voluntary partnership with the web, and, beyond that, in activated partnerships with assertive fans, un-black-boxing educators and intellectual entrepreneurs who took jobs of “reception” seriously and practiced them in detail. It became necessary to both show and tell, in new divisions of hyperlinking labor. Multiple products that expanded sensory ranges for commercial reasons were also tasked with hyperlinking responsibilities in embedded and immersive layers among cascading infrastructures. Reenactments became a particular way to both show and tell, reenactors a kind of communication technology themselves, scaled both as persons, and also as moveable elements in immersive seas of actants now eddying among knowledge worlds. Reenactment melodramas demonstrated transdisciplinary knowledge practices such as speaking with things as well as the affects and ethics of sifting through and managing authoritative and alternative knowledges in a posthumanities.
The boundary work of pitting cultural criticism, or a set of “best” educator practices, in any simple way against the liveliness of commercial exuberance, or the enjoyment of popular comforts and pleasures – as in refusing television or enlisting in negative critique – became moot. Academic capitalism made only too explicit what was already historically a complexly interwoven and multi-systemic layering of public infrastructures for education and entertainment.