All good things must come to an end – a solemn goodbye to BCM325 live-tweeting

As part of the BCM325 subject, students are challenged with the task of engaging in live-tweeting sessions during weekly screenings of various sci-fi films.

Image: Collage of BCM325 screenings Week 6-11
Source: Amelia Phelps | Canva

The second half of the #BCM325 live-tweeting experience was quite different to the first. During my initial post about live-tweeting, I explained the challenges I encountered throughout the first five screenings – these included difficulties with Twitter word limits, scheduling Tweets, garnering engagement with my posts and paying attention to the film while still actively engaging in the live discussion and commentary. This post intends to discuss how I countered these challenges (in both the written and audio segment), noteworthy class engagements during live-tweeting for week’s six to ten of this semester and how my overall live-tweeting experience has engaged in thinking about the future and the representation of the future and its reality. 

Week six

Week six’s screening was Jake Schreier’s “Robot and Frank” (2012). In attempt to improve my live-tweeting experience, I implemented changes suggested during my last post. I decided to tackle my biggest challenge with live-tweeting – my inability to properly concentrate on the movie and simultaneously make connections to lecture concepts – up front while tweeting. I tried my hand at building up a cache of pre-written tweets the night before and scheduling them via Tweet Deck in effort to actively view the movie and generate memetic and timely tweets that would hopefully garner greater engagement. The end result? Not quite as desired. 

While I was able to easily meet the 10-tweet quota and felt less-stressed than I typically have during previous screenings, my tweets received little to no engagement. Though this isn’t the focus or purpose of the live-tweeting experience, I felt a little disheartened that my re-worked contributions fell flat. A possible explanation for this lack of engagement may be that I struggled to produce introspective and valid tweets without having seen the film’s content. Still, I produced some tweets which touched on the week’s lecture concepts of Artificial Intelligence (how it is represented in pop culture/predictions and revolutions), technological determinism, death and the future of technology:

My tweets linked concepts explored during the highly relevant ‘Artificial Intelligence: Predictions and Revolutions’ lecture. In particular, my following tweet echoed Spyros Makridakis’ critical question relating to the future of AI: “what will the role of humans be at a time when computers and robots can perform as well or better and much cheaper, practically all tasks that humans do at present?”. 

When viewing “Robot and Frank”, it became clear that the film provides a critique of technological determinism (through Frank’s initial rejection and eventual acceptance of the robot’s help) and reflects Mandrakis’ future prediction that robots will help eschew humanity of mundane tasks. The film demonstrated that determinism can unavoidably place technology in a position of great control over society, causing individuals (like Frank) to feel powerless in the face of turbulent societal technological advancement.

“As intelligent machines gradually take over making the kinds of decisions that humans have previously been required to make, the unintended consequences will begin to manifest and magnify, making humans even more dependent on machines and pushed outside of critical decision-making processes entirely.”

Christopher Moore, Week 6 lecture.

The below thread highlights a light-hearted observation I made regarding the reality of technological progression:

I retweeted Kira’s post and liked Pia’s as they shared similar sentiments about Frank’s initial apprehension to conform to his society’s reliance on and use of AI:

Week Eight 

Week eight’s screening of Denis Villeneuve’s “Arrival” saw to one of my most rewarding (based on engagements) live-tweeting experiences across the entirety of this semester. I decided not to schedule my tweets and rather focused on the production of a combination of multimedia/memetic style and serious/analytical tweets (a suggestion I made in my first post). This variation of tweets is the likely explanation as to why I received significantly greater engagement on my posts when compared to previous weeks. When analysing Arrival, I attempted to relate the lecture concepts of futurists and decision-making, however I also opened a can of worms in relation to the heavy thematic presence of communication (and linguistic barriers) in the film. 

I enjoyed Natalie’s tweet as she shared like-minded commentary on the importance of communication, not just with extra-terrestrial species, but with all humans who currently inhabit Earth:

Upon reflection of week eight’s tweets, I see that I could have improved the quality of my discussion by making further connections to subject materials such as the work of Wendell Bell in relation to (fear of) possible futures (the arrival of ‘intruders’ on Earth) and Joachim of Fiore’s theory (Arrival challenges this theory through the use of non-linear time). The latter connection was articulated (arguably?) poorly by me:

It was also pointed out by some of my peers – this can be seen in the below tweets I interacted with:

Week Nine 

Week nine covered cyborgs and was a standout lecture topic for my BCM325 experience. However, when it came to the live tweeting about James Cameron’s “Alita: Battle Angel”, it didn’t go over as has hoped. I was unwell that day but completed a late screening later that night, which left me with limited engagement opportunities. 

Marshall McLuhan has made comment on the already existing, symbiotic relationship between technology and our bodies. The philosopher cited that all technologies are “extensions of our physical and nervous systems to increase power and speed”; he emphasised that understanding we are already cyborgs is the first step in understanding the concept of cyborg. 

My tweets and interactions echoed opinions and modes of thinking about the future of humanity made by McLuhan, Haraway (gender) and other cyberneticists and cybertheorists:

My peers and I also ruminated on the inexplicably complex topic of what it means to be human and surmised at what point people stop being fundamentally ‘human’ and become classified as ‘cyborg’:

I also published some conversational, memetic and question-based tweets to ensure variety and invite engagement:

Week Ten 

In this week, we explored cyberspace and virtual reality in Steven Spielburg’s “Ready Player One”. I really enjoyed this screening – I made and observed several connections between the film and lecture concepts (such as OASIS, cyberspace and cyberculture) in my tweets:

I admit I may have fallen short during this live tweeting session – I didn’t make a great deal of effort to interact with tweets made earlier in the day and upon reflection, can see my own tweets were lacking substance. I could have made more explicit connections with the subject content, such as referencing the work of William Gibson, who has demonstrated that cyberspace is a lived reality – one that we are all immersed in.

I retweeted Alex’s post which made a nice link between Ready Player One, cyberspace and escapism through the lens of Gibson:

I also interacted with Pia’s tweet as she (and Chris) identified an important paradox regarding Deleuze’s notion of “virtual” as outlined in our week ten lectures

I’m not able to discuss week 11’s content due to word count restrictions however, I discussed some my week 11 tweets and improvements in the below audio segment.

The live tweeting experience has certainly been instrumental in how we can engage in future thinking and the representation of the future in pop culture and media . This short podcast details my final thoughts and expands upon reflections made in this post. See you all next time!

Audio: “My BCM325 live-tweeting critical evaluation” | SoundCloud
Image: Amelia Phelps | Canva

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