On Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 4 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Jill Rettberg will give a talk entitled, “Snapchat and the SnapMap: Collective, Ephemeral Stories about Public Events.” This event is free and open to the public. A light reception will follow the talk.
On Snapchat, you can view “Stories” about specific events or locations that consist of a sequence of snaps from different users. Some Stories are curated and carefully composed by Snapchat’s staff, like the Live Stories about Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March the following day. Others are automatically generated, and and be viewed by browsing the SnapMap or doing a text search. The Stories are ephemeral, disappearing from the platform after 24 hours.
In this talk, Jill Walker Rettberg discusses these stories as public yet ephemeral media on a closed, proprietary platform. If, as Wendy Chun has argued, digital media are inherently ephemeral, then Snapchat is eminently digital. But we are used to public media being archived and accessible to researchers. What does it mean that Snapchat is creating curated and algorithmically generated stories about everyday and extraordinary events? How should we think about a new media genre that is seen by tens of millions of viewers, but that disappears after 24 hours? Should libraries be archiving this material?
Jill Walker Rettberg is professor of digital culture at the University of Bergen in Norway. Her main research topic has been storytelling and self-representation in social media, building upon a foundation of digital art, electronic literature and digital humanities. Her recent work has made use of digital methods to visualize network relationships in electronic literature and the digital humanities. Rettberg is currently focusing on visual technologies and machine vision and our relationship with them. She is a visiting scholar at MIT from August-December 2017, where she is writing a book titled Snapchat: Visual, Ephemeral and Conversational Social Media. It is under contract with Polity Press to be published in 2018 or 2019.
Professor Rettberg’s previous book Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves was published as an open access monograph by Palgrave in October 2014, and can be freely downloaded. Her book Blogging was published in a 2nd edition by Polity Press in 2014, and she has also co-edited an anthology of critical writing on World of Warcraft (MIT Press 2008).
Date: November 29, 2017
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence, RI