Skip navigation

Category Archives: Thomas’s section

Cramer reframes the @rovingtypist meme as an example of “a ‘new media’ sensibility” applied to old media, a scene of “the dichotomy of community media vs. mass media has been flipped upside-down, so that a typewriter is now a community media device,” he adds, “while participatory websites have turned into the likes of Reddit” (700). Below are questions from my reading that I don’t think I’ll be able to answer here, now. An addendum to this semester’s running-list: 

What does Cramer mean by “community”, and how is that different from “participatory”?

What does it mean for him to establish @rovingtypist as the “perfect” post-digital model, and what is implied about what is/isn’t considered “technology” when he does (699)?

Bucher writes about Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm as a technique of disciplinary power, similar in structure to Foucault’s panopticon. Like panoptic subjects, users assume surveillance from a position of uncertainty and adjust their behaviors according to perceived norms. “Because interaction functions as a measure for interestingness, practices of Liking, Commenting and participation become processes through which the subject may approximate this desired normality” (1176). 

While I don’t know that much has changed since 2012 in terms of Liking and Commenting as primary forms of engagement, the Events feature might be an interesting inclusion to Bucher’s consideration of “interestingness”. The feature, which allows users to host, to invite, or to attend/consider/decline an Event is a complex visualization of an individual social calendar. Looking through guest lists for individual events can also reveal collective social calendars— multiple people who host or attend reoccurring events or certain people who frequent certain types of events. Event attendance decisions seem to align with guests’ physical location (significantly) more often than other arbitrarily-given locations, such as tagged status updates or photos, lending a creepy accuracy to the feature. Such a clear-cut physical/social map, might help to understand behavioral trends Bucher calls “interestingness” – RSVPs could be interpreted as expressions of preference for some activities, places, etc., over others, or read in any number of ways. The user-provided attendance selection both enable Facebook’s power as a commercial enterprise and as a mechanism for social control as Bucher argues. Accuracy of guest lists, however,  seems increasingly disturbed for a number of reasons—including but not limited to out-of-town/courtesy invites or guest lists which exceed the physical capacity of a space— which, whether cryptographic or not, create gaps where any true record of events may be complicated.

I don’t mean that title to be as click-baity as it is (which, for what it’s worth, is not a phenomenon of the internet so much as it seems, although the internet as certainly democratized and perfected the need for intriguing headlines).

“The ease and speed of the digital photo resist itself…” In this way, objects produced digitally seem to lack the “aura” of old-media objects.

“Claire Bishop observes that ‘[t]oday, no exhibition is complete without some form of bulky, obsolete technology…'”

How much of this argument rests on the fickle pedestal of contemporary artists? Is that pedestal enough to make a compelling argument about the state of our modern culture? Does something fusing the digital with the desire for pre-digital (e.g. instagram) count? It seems to for the larger argument about rejection of techno-positive improvements. But is that REALLY the same as deciding to use a type-writer instead of a computer? It neglects to neglect the convenience afforded to new tech. It only produces some “aura” which seems to be worth less and less because of its inauthenticity (think of the #NoFilter hash-tag on instagram) .

I wonder if the first couple to lie about having met online realized that they were doing something revolutionary. Although maybe this has more to do with the internet as inauthentic (that word again) than the internet as ubiquitous, or the desire to reject its improvements. In some ways we are clearly still entering the digital era as people become more comfortable with this. Ostensibly it can/should be seen as purely rational – have an algorithm or two assist with one of life’s greatest challenges (finding a partner) – but in practice, and culturally, it still is often seen as an indication of failure without assistance. This is particularly, if not only, true for heterosexual couples, where, as with most things romantic/sexual, the LBGTQ+ community is more forward thinking.

This is all to say, that I’m curious if the dishonesty about the digital counts as post digital. Not just the decision to reject it in practice, or the desire to make our tech more retro, but the use of tech, and the denial of it.

“With cordial thanks to Wendy Hui Kyong Chun” :).

Professor Srinivasan used a phrase last week that I found especially interesting in the context of a presentation on ontology. About mid-way through the presentation, he introduced “splinter the internet” as a working label to talk about his current body of projects. Elsewhere in the presentation he defined his work as efforts to “re-situate the internet in relation to local communities” and as means to foster “linguistic diversity… like a complex ecosystem” in relation to oncology’s rigid protocols. What interested me so much about “splinter” was it’s effect in action, its ability to immediately scatter and to give new texture to my ideas as they were forming. Whether intended or not, within a discussion on “empowering knowledge-making within local communities”, there seemed no more apt an example.

I find the argument that we live in a post-digital society to be a wildly ironic, and somehow radically dissatisfying, denouement for the class. Prof. Chun termed the post-digital in the definite on Wednesday, and termed it as when the digital stops being transgressive, when its presence stops being coded as radically transformative, and when its presence is so ubiquitous as to be entirely permeated, and in fact, deeply entwined with its societal effects. The claim of its ubiquity, and its perception on the part of digital media consumers, is valid. But to claim that is to, in my view, seal the potentials of digital media analysis as a kind of entrenched history, to the detriment of our agency as continually digital thinkers and citizens.

For example: the claim that the decline in sales of Apple’s latest iterations of the iPhones signals that the technology has ceased to be taken as an irresistible product of progress. This may be true, but the largely unresolved, and very much looming, problem of the e-waste that will continue to be produced by past and current iPhone iterations is unserved by the perception that iPhones are over as a hot-commodity. Does this merely serve to highlight some of the post-digital’s tenets, namely that we must now live with the lingering consequences of a digitally adapted world? (“Lingering” is key to Cramer’s formulation, in any case). Or does the impact of these digital artifacts continue to have transformative implications on our conception of the digital’s place in the world?

I think of gold-farmers in Dyer-Witheford. The idea that we live in a world that has fully integrated something like World of Warcraft into its logic seems to me to be like the failing in Deleuze, in which three-quarters of the world is relegated to a geographic generality in an off-hand remark. We are just coming to realize the intractable interrelations between materialities of game and machine, between tech manufacturers and the massive infrastructure projects of the Chinese state, between online power and the other power that is fails to recognize. Doesn’t saying something is post-digital negate the very possibility that the world will continue to adapt these tangled networks to new digital developments? Are we refusing to recognize the developments that are still happening because of our past digital footprints? Are we giving up hope?

Examples from this class abound: the developments in legalities in Liang, or Srinivasan’s continual and repeated re-imagining of the ontologies of the internet in constantly shifting, localized contexts. I hear Cramer’s argument that, in the use of old media like new media, and in the re-examination of what actually constitutes the digital, the post-digital movement works to critique the kinds of change digital media has instated in the name of its own progress. But to say that the digital has already touched everything, I think, begins the process of erasing what the digital continues to touch.

Looking back on some of my old blog posts, I have become increasingly interested in reflecting on gamefication, which seems to work through incentives that give the player rewards in the form of new levels, points, and ‘energy’ for their avatar. In my last blog post, I asked what would happen if all of life was gamefied, and everything operated behind incentives. Since then, we have learned more about digital media’s role in social movements. My new question, now, is how do incentives work in social movements? Specifically, is there an incentive behind online social movements (such as those by anonymous), and if not, what mechanisms allow for social change to occur? One possible answer is the top-down structure that anonymous represents–their controlling omniscient presence that is constantly fluid and incomprehensible essentially bullies people into social change. Another is the simple effectiveness of their mission and ability to spread a message that can rapidly reach diverse audiences.  I am curious to do more research on anonymous and discuss anonymous’ possible relationship to incentives and social movements.

I found the concept of “Free Labor” coined by Terranova extremely interesting. Examples of free labor in the digital economy include tagging people on Facebook, making YouTube tutorials, and writing fan fictions. The idea of coining these actions as “free” “labor” necessarily says something about the functions of individuals and the collective “Yous” as a whole in the digital age. These actions are referred to as “labor”, emphasizing on the fact that they are “free” (meaning done under no control or in the power of another, nor expected to receive immediate material goods after the actions). Does this mean that everything we do on the Internet necessarily has to be a form of labor, and therefore comes the distinction of “free” labor and “non-free” labor? Professor Chun also brought up a good point in the lecture, being that we draw distinctions between these acts of free labor, calling some of them worthwhile and the others waste of time. Does this mean that everything we do as an individual is expected to contribute something to the collective whole? Could this explain why we are calling things that we do for fun (i.e. tagging people on Facebook) “labor”?

I have never heard of the term “free labor” before, so reading Terranova’s piece was challenging as I had to take the time to visualize a term I was not familiar with. I at first compared Terranova’s description of Netslaves to Nakamura’s description of the invisible laborers behind the integrated circuit, both subjects who are vulnerable to late capitalist societies. However, Terranova also describes as interactions in chat, real life stories, and mailing lists as also part of the narrative of free labor. Terranova explains that while they are not directly produced by capitalism, they have “developed in relation to the expansion of the cultural industires and are part of a process of economic experimentation with the creation of monetary value out of knowledge/culture/affect” (38). The inclusion of these everyday interactions on the internet suggests that the expansion of culture within the internet, within these digital interactions, has become also laborious in the sense that internet users have become complicit with how capitalism has dominated and shaped out culture and society.

After reading  my past blog posts, I think an interesting subject/topic to examine would be what Boyd thinks of privacy, for two major target groups of people: teenagers and celebrities. For teens, I think one of the biggest reasons why they want privacy yet overly expose at the same time is the exact fact that they are aware of the fragility of their privacy. What this means is that, while teens may not understand very clearly the potential consequences following the things they do online, they see online-sharing as a means to exercise their right to select who they directly allow inside of their “bubble” or friend group. When they are aware of the fact that adults are watching and reading, they grow anxious as they realize how easily this power could be taken away from them. As a result of this anxiety, when teens share, they avoid being seen by authority figures such as their parents or their teachers, not only because of the content of their public comments, but also because they do not want to be controlled. Just like how in reality, teens feel a sense of self-empowerment and independence when they act, knowing that their parents are not watching over them, teens online have the similar mentality. It’s just that this rebellious sentiment gets magnified when online, because as more teens hang out with their friends online more often, they grow increasingly aware of the fact that their parents, who are also using the Internet, become the invisible guardian, a shadow that’s hanging over them, much like the guard who stands in the middle of the panopticon. As the teens’ power grow online because of the ability of the Internet to decrease the effects of time and space, the adults’ power grows at the same time; while one party tries to increasingly exercise their power, the other party desperately uses all means to catch their misbehavior. With a little help from the rebelliousness, teens often find themselves over-exposing, but not able to turn back to admit they have been wrong.

People now provide free labor for companies by using things without payment, but as I’ve learned in Economics, nothing is really ‘free’. You are being paid in terms of entertainment or some sort of satisfaction. ‘Free Labor’ in the sense of the class, was defined as labor that people do freely, and was put in the context of social media networks, more or less. But hearing free labor and the collective ‘you’ reminded me of the idea of credit cards, which isn’t far from digital media but is not 100% aligned with SNS.

Credit cards are magical. You can spend money that you don’t have as log as you have it by the time that you need to pay it back – if you don’t, you can still have it! You’ll just have to pay interest and end up paying a lot more than you would have. It’s a system of trust. This is what credit card companies are giving you – the trust that you will pay them back. But the notion of ‘you’ is a collective you. You are not seen as an individual. You are within the collective when looking at how credit card companies earn money. And with this collective ‘you’, they collect data. You are giving them data, creating data for them as you use the card. And what do you get? Trust and time. Something that’s not tangible but works greatly to your advantage in your relationship with the credit card company in using money that you don’t have in hand, but you ultimately pay for everything. So can this then be called ‘free’ labor?