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Friday, 25 March 2011

Simplifying Actor -Network Theory and Metaphor as a Double-edged Sword

             The dynamism (of ideas, concepts, technologies and practices) and metaphor are two significant elements that shape the current world of publishing. These topics have been addressed successfully by the lecturer in the class.
            Nowadays, there are various media theories and models that are applied throughout the globe. One of the theories, which are addressed by the course reading, is known as actor-network theory (ANT). This theory focus on the ’material-semiotic’ method. It explores the relationship between material (things) and semiotic (concepts).   In my opinion, there are a lot of examples ANT in our daily life, form the simplest situation to the most complex connection. In addition, in order for a particular ANT to work perfectly, the presence of material and semiotic is compulsory. A simple example to illustrate this situation is a LCD Projector could not establish its connection with a laptop computer without human effort to join the cable and accomplish necessary setup.
Figure 1 - Some important element of the actor- network theory .Source = Wikipedia

         Other than that, the usage of metaphor is the important aspect of theory. Metaphor can be applied in a lot of situations, such as to express opinion, contentment, critics, and sympathy. Nowadays, metaphors are conveyed in the form of text, image, and even video.

                                                  Video 1 - A controversial Australia Tourism Advertisement 

        Why theories and models do involves a lot of metaphor? Generally speaking, metaphor allows us to make a statement which has indirect subject or implicitly understood by the subject. The other point mentioned in the lecture is metaphor ‘naturalize ‘something that have been constructed. In this context, models and theories can be applied in different culture and society. However, there are some drawbacks of metaphor. In certain cases, it touches on sensitive issues which might make the subject feel embarrassed or discomforted. The image below shows an image from a local newspaper in Malaysia which is subjected of humiliating tsunami victim in Japan.

Image 2 - The Japanese icon, Ultraman is depicted as trying to run away from the devestating tsunami.

           In conclusion, ANT is the theory that can explain the complexity of a particular network, especially in relation to how actor-network is formed. In addition, each individual metaphor has to be reviewed critically in order to prevent misleading information and embarrassment.   

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