Network Noise


Last week’s article on MySpace fans burnt me out a bit, so it was nice to read this week’s article, in comparison it was a lungful of fresh air. The article by Kate Crawford (2010) titled ‘Noise, Now: Listening to Networks’, happens to be one of the shortest readings of the semester, with only 5 or 6 pages it was quite easy to finish it in one quick go without getting distracted. Another reason to appreciate this week’s reading is it is quite relevant, not just to the reader, but to all people across the world. The article uses the analogy of noise pollution to describe the ‘static of constant network connection’ (Crawford, 2010, p. 68), which has become a cloud of media’s constant presence hanging over societies head. 24/7.

 The article begins with a quote which says: ‘In the ruins of ancient Pompeii a graffito was discovered, a plea for silence scrawled across a wall: ‘Enough! Be Quiet!’, considering there are more than 11,000 sprawls of graffiti in Pompeii (wlu 2009), and most of it was dialogue between two or more people, there’s a good chance that this inscription has been taken out of context. The quote also suggests that the quote was ‘discovered’ and therefore was a rare sight with a universal message, but the walls of Pompeii were filled with graffiti ranging from: ‘O walls, you have held up so much tedious graffiti that I am amazed that you have not already collapsed in ruin’ to everyday statements such as ‘I make bread’, ‘I screwed the barmaid’, and ‘Epaphra is not good at ball games’ (Pompeiana 2008). Of course I am getting off track here, and only knew any of this thanks to the internet which has yet again managed to distract me and throw me on tangents unrelated to what I am supposed to be doing, this media distraction forms the core of this week’s reading. Crawford (2010, p. 65) states that with each new technological innovation comes a claim for noise reduction, while modern technology is relatively quiet, Crawford (2010, p. 68) argues that it produces a different type of noise, the silent noise of too much network coverage and data. This noise ‘is not the street noise that floats into open windows’ (Crawford, 2010, p. 65), instead it stalks us in our day to day lives in the form of text messages, emails, the call of Facebook and many other media distractions that we tune into constantly.

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