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Greetings cyborgs,

I came across this interesting video last week on BME Modblog. If you are unaware, the Nintendo 3DS now offers augmented reality video games. One gamer was so excited by this new technology, he got the AR card tattooed on his forearm to allow himself to become part of the game experience itself.

This exemplifies what Nathan and others have discussed on this blog many times. That is, the merging of the digital and the material and the creation of an augmented reality. So is the man in this video truly a “cyborg?” I believe so. In fact, we all are to a certain extent. Heck, you are reading this blog right now, engaging in a dialogue with me from far away through the help of internet technology. In this sense, the Nintendo DS AR card tattoo serves as an exemplary case of modification and the new cyborg body that I have spoken about before in this blog. more...

The Cyborgology Blog has recently hosted much discussion on the topic of augmented reality (i.e., the co-constitution of online and offline, digital and physical).  A few threads to follow as background are:

Digital Dualism versus Augmented Reality by Nathan Jurgenson

Virtual, Mediated, and Augmented Reality by PJ Rey

why i don’t like “augmented reality” by Sang-Hyoun Pahk

Defending and Clarifying the Term Augmented Reality by Nathan Jurgenson

I’d like to extend this discussion by clarifying the relationship between augmented reality and the namesake of the Cyborgology blog (i.e, the cyborg). The two concepts are intimately connected. more...

Yesterday, Sang-Hyoun Pahk delivered a critique of the usage of the term augmented reality on this blog. First, thank you, criticism of this term is especially important for me (and others) because augmented reality is the fundamental unit of analysis about which I seek to describe. A quick catch-up: I initially laid out the idea of augmented reality here; expounded on its opposite, what I call digital dualism, here; and fellow Cyborgology editor PJ takes on the terms here. PJ Rey and I use the term augmented reality on this blog to describe the digital and physical worlds not as separate but instead as highly enmeshed together. And Sang is pushing us to further elaborate on what this all means.

I’ll tackle Sang’s second critique first because I think it is most important. The confusion comes from how two points hang together: (1) the digital and physical have enmeshed and (2) the digital and physical have important differences. Sang seems to be arguing that we cannot have it both ways, but I have and will continue maintain that we can.

Sang takes issue with PJ and I’s statements that the offline and online are mutually constitutive, which seems to “abolish the difference” between the two. I actually think we all agree here and perhaps PJ and I could have been clearer: the two are mutually constitutive, just not fully mutually constitutive. Let me offer new wording: atoms and bits have different properties, influence each other, and together create reality. more...

ok so i have a few complaints about the use of “augmented reality.” the first is primarily semantic. it seems (to me at least) like the term it implies some kind of (pre-digital?) “non-augmented” reality. this is more or less explicit when we refer to things like “augmented revolution” or “augmented conference.” it seems like the idea of augmented reality was introduced to make a point against a false binary (“digital dualism”) and i agree that this is important, both academically and in real life (see what i did there?). but i think the way we talk about augmented reality is sneaking a version of that binary back in. not the naive real v virtual but maybe something like real v “real+” and i think that is a mistake. and it is a strange mistake to read here, on a blog called “cyborgology” that proclaims (rightly i’m sure) that we have always been cyborgs. our friends from sst especially, i think, are sensitive to how reality has always been “augmented” if we are paying attention. more...

Bonnie Stewart

This content is reposted from Bonnie Stewart’s cribchronicals blog.

Theorizing the Web 2011 was a wicked conference. It was also a bit of a meta-experience in augmented reality.

Maybe not textbook augmented reality, admittedly, since – as happens at geek conferences – the sheer multitude of smart phones and laptops present overpowered the wireless system and the majority of us couldn’t get online much. I was disappointed that I couldn’t tweet a few of the presentations: one of the joys of digital participation is in turning a monologue into a forum, a conversation of sorts. more...

This is the fourth panel spotlight for the upcoming Theorizing the Web conference on April 9th. I’ll have the pleasure of presiding over a panel that focuses on how mobile web platforms are augmenting the world of bricks and flesh. Much more than an ethnography of Foursquare, this panel will explore our changing relationships to space and place, and the new ways public and private spaces are opening up as a result of this new augmented reality.

Presider: david a. banks

PJ and Nathan have done an excellent job on this blog of  articulating social media’s role in times of revolution, but this panel seeks to understand social media’s roll in a variety of instances. We will explore the cultural contexts that Social Networking Services (SNS) operate within, and what this does for old and new associations with (and within) place and society. From San Francisco hipsters to Chinese political activists, and from your local Starbucks, to the Second Life, social media is changing how we interact with our cities and our fellow citizens.

If anything unites these four panelists, it is their balanced perspective on the roll of digital media. Its easy to essentialize mobile computing platforms, or mistake computer mediated communication as anti-social. Without essentializing the technology, or romanticizing the past, these authors provide a balanced critique of what is happening in our cities and online. Read the four abstracts after the break  to learn more:


Jan Robert Leegte‘s scrollbars in physical space are another example of augmented reality art. More info and images here.

by Space Invaders

Last week, fellow editor Nathan Jurgenson made a post entitled “Digital Dualism versus Augmented Reality” with a call for more concept work surrounding this topic.  I hope to make a contribution to that effort by discussion three competing theoretical paradigms of Internet research.  These three distinct perspectives perceive the Internet as either virtual reality, mediated reality, or augmented reality.  I argue (in the spirit of Saussure) that these three perspectives are only fully comprehensible defined in relation to one another.

Let’s start with the definition of “augmented reality” found in Wikipedia, society’s great font of prosumptive wisdom:

Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or a [sic… I fixed it] indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real-world with a simulated one.

This is an unsatisfying definition.  While it does contrast augment reality and mediated reality to virtual reality (mediated and augmented reality describe relationships between the online and offline worlds, while virtual reality describes their separation), it (self-admittedly) fails to distinguish between mediated and augmented reality.  As presented in this definition, mediated and augmented reality are basically synonyms.


The integration of biological and technological systems in the design of an interactive human interface is explored through an installation where plants rigged up with sensors provide a kinesthetic user experience based on movement, touch, sound and light. Human interaction with the system affects an algorithmic projection and soundscape.
More images after the jump. more...

Protesters charge their mobile phones in Tahrir Square in Cairo.

In my previous post on “Digital Dualism Versus Augmented Reality,” I lay out two competing views for conceptualizing digital and material realities. Some view the physical and digital as (1) separate, akin to the film The Matrix, or (2) as an augmented reality where atoms and bits are increasingly imploding into each other.

I prefer the latter, and want to apply this augmented paradigm to the revolutions occurring in the Arab world that have been taking place this winter as well as the subsequent debate over the causes. I, like many others, am equally frustrated by those who give either all or none of the credit for these uprisings to social media tools and argue instead that what is occuring is an augmented revolution.

On one side there are those that promoted the phrase “Twitter revolution” during more...