Kicking off my final project

(Warning! Not very entertaining and long, but not really academic and dry either.)

Technology progresses and mutates rapidly. What was broadly used in the beginning of the 20th century has become obsolete and forgotten. Putting my investigations for the major project in the theoretical framework of the Extended Mind and assuming that technology is a mean of active externalisation of human cognition in the environment, I propose to contemplate on the following question:

If it is true that our cognition is actively extended through modern technology, then which means of extension were appropriated by older generations? Which technology was available to them and how did this relationship differ from the modes of extension available to us today?

Looking for possible answers to this question, I want to address the histories of human relationship with machines and technology with means of media archaeology, in hope to unravel the past and gain a critical perspective on current developments.

Reviewing my documentation of the second term, I decided to return to my initial idea of working with elderly. On the one hand I see here a possibility to learn a lot about the extension of mind through technology from a different angle: a distanced view on this relationship, narrated by a different generation might open up a new perspective on our current situation. With a growing number of young people who were born when PCs and internet were already around, it seems to be very important to listen to the generation which can remember the establishment of such truly revolutionary media as radio, analogue photography or telephone in the household. Especially, we should use this opportunity as long they are with us and can share these memories of massive changes provoked by new technologies. Hence I seek a critical engagement with externalisation through new media, rooting my research in media archaeology and looking for parallels and insights which are relevant today.

I believe that working with people externally from the university will challenge me to communicate my ideas more clearly and develop a stronger yet at the same time more accessible concept, on which I will be elaborate in a series of workshops. It will also challenge me in the process of getting in touch with people, trying to break through organisational structures, formalities and unforseeable circumstances, but I regard it as a part of the project. In this unprotected environment I will probably be expected to act more confently and professionally and feel obliged to represent a profound understanding of the topic.

One of the methodologies which I will use for documentation, will be a picture diary, which will help me to ease my cognitive process through illustration of my flow of thoughts. I expect this strategy to help me illuminate the different facets of the subject.

My research strategy will mostly comprise individual talks to elderly, which I will try to enrich by focusing on different objects or situations. I will also look into different types of archives with documents dealing with media of the first half of the 20th century. Taking these talks further, I intend to offer one or several workshops, where I will elaborate on the topic of my research with a group of the elderly and ideally with a youth group in a separate meeting. I hope that collaboration with other people will breath life into my project, helping me to prove, dismiss or reconfigure my assumptions.


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