Tech

The illusions of Facebook

At the recent South African Communication Association conference at the Afda campus in Cape Town I was astonished at the level of naïveté about the use of Facebook on the part of academics and students alike. On the one hand there were those who regard it as a mere tool for communicating with friends and…

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The People vs Peeple: A case study in how not to create an app

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people could be united through friendship and positivity? These intentions motivated the creation of Peeple, a mobile application that would allow people to rate other people (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars) on their personal, professional and romantic appeal. A sort of Hellopeter but for…

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What can we expect beyond the human?

The 7th Beyond Humanism Conference, which has just come to an end in Seoul, Korea, where delegates met at the Ewha Women’s University, was … well, more than interesting. It was fascinating in many ways, sometimes in a rather abject, almost horrifying manner. How would you respond to someone world famous, if not notorious, called…

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News24 right to axe online comments

Earlier this month News24, the country’s largest online news publisher, took a decision not to allow readers to post comments on all but a few select articles. According to its editor-in-chief Andrew Trench, too many commentators insisted on “pushing the boundaries of free speech”, with the result that comments “tediously drift towards hate speech at…

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Terminator Genisys’ obsession with the tech threat on the button

I finally got to view Alan Taylor’s Terminator Genisys (2015) on the plane to Korea, which we are visiting for the third time to attend a conference in Seoul on posthumanism, and to do some mountain climbing in the beautiful Seoroksan mountains near Sokcho, a stone’s throw from the demilitarised zone and the North Korean…

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Virtual reality just innocuous fun?

The cover of a recent edition of Time magazine (August 17 2015), shows a guy with what seems like a pair of goggles on his face, in jeans and a golf shirt, jumping into the air against the backdrop of a beach scene. Except … the “goggles” are not “look-through”, like normal goggles; he is…

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I dated an app: Could the future of relationships change?

This week I got into a relationship using my cellphone. No — I didn’t use some online dating platform or the touted intimacy killer Tinder. Rather, I used Faketalk; a free, amateurishly-designed chatbot that allows you to create artificial relationships. These range from parental figures, friends and partners, to celebrities and even disciples. My lucky…

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Florence, Siena and the ‘space of flows’

We are in Florence for a conference, in what is to my mind the most enchanting part of Italy, namely Tuscany. Because I have always been interested in art and architecture, and in principle we don’t take taxis, but walk everywhere we go, we have already seen the most beautiful buildings and urban landscapes, framed…

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‘It’s time to talk about what’s next’

By Monica Davies If you’ve followed the fight against climate change, in the last year especially, you’ll have noticed voices starting to be raised about things outside climate change — “without racial [or gender or food or economic] justice, there is no climate justice” is the most common one, and it’s entirely true. The problems…

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A ‘cyborg’ future?

When Donna Haraway published her famous (or notorious, some would say) “Cyborg Manifesto” in 1985, later included her book Simians, Cyborgs, and Women (1991), not to mention its many inclusions in various anthologies, she probably could not foresee its incredible history of influence. (For a condensed version of this, see David Bell’s Cyberculture Theorists: Manuel…

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