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Category Archives: Tristan’s 11 am section

For those who haven’t yet seen it, the subreddit r/the_donald gives 4chan a run for its money. A hardcore group of Trump supporters and trolls has taken over reddit with the power of a few thousand devoted followers. This is their free labor:

Free labor is a desire of labor immanent to late capitalism, and late capitalism is the field that both sustains free labor and exhausts it. It exhausts it by subtracting selectively but widely the means through which that labor can reproduce itself: from the burnout syndromes of Internet start-ups to underretribution and exploitation in the cultural economy at large. Late capitalism does not appropriate anything: it nurtures, exploits, and exhausts its labor force and its cultural and affective production. (Terranova, 94)

Barbrook’s assertion that the high-tech gift economy represents a reemergence of communism is mostly hype, and Terranova knows it. These are the scum of the earth capitalists. The male gaze points toward the God-Emperor and a reemergence of robber-baron capitalism.

We are increasingly “interfacing” to predominantly cultural data—texts, photographs, films, music, virtual  environments. In short, we are  no longer interfacing to a computer but to culture encoded in digital form. I will use the term cultural interface to describe a human-computer-culture interface—the ways in which  computers present and allow us to interact with  cultural data.

Edgerank is gone, Bucher briefly acknowledges in her notes. It had been dead more than a year before her paper was published, and had been replaced by the machine learning algorithm. Machine learning, or “deep learning,” according to’s interview with Lars Backstrom, Engineering Manager for News Feed Ranking at Facebook, draws from an estimated “100,000 individual weights in the model that produces News Feed.” He does admit that the three original components EdgeRank (Affinity, Weight and Time Decay) are still important to News Feed ranking, but “other things are equally important.” Facebook’s machine learning algorithm, it states clearly, will be used for the purpose of creating AI (

But what about humanity? Try a group admin’s perspective:


In this respect, the computer fulfills the promise of cinema as a visual Esperanto.

This is the writing on the wall for large marketing corporations. The understandings we gain from our posts are incredibly in-depth. What does this mean for our connection with media? Is it more intimate as it becomes more personalized? Or more all-consuming?

Banet Weiser’s “Branding the Postfeminist Self” elaborated on more or less, branding yourself with digital media (Not all too surprising, after reading the title). In terms of relveance, the self as a brand is marginal compared to how specifically modern media allows this branding to occur. More or less it’s actually the same with or without digital assistance, I think Weiser’s piece focused too much on aspects that are/would be mostly identical between digital and non-digital branding and it’s effects where there are subtle areas where digital influence is massive. Now, of course, these areas were touched upon, just not given nearly enough focus especially in comparison to the areas which are irrelevant of digital presence. One of the lagrest of these influence is I think the sense of Validation that digitality can provide, that simply can’t be found elsewhere. The relevance of how why or from what the Brand is built is non-unique for digital media but for a newly introduced set of eyes the validation media can provide is unmatched. Simply put, you can see a personal brand in the same light with/without digital constraints but only through the digital lens can you see how many people recognize this brand, accept it, support it, follow it, etc. It’s not the Brand itself but it’s accidental proprietors that the internet has truly given access too. That is, essentially the uniqueness of the internet too, not in commercialism or voyeurism , or production, but in mass-populace connectivity. As such it’s unique impact on branding, is the incidental advertisement achieved through discretely observable popularity in the form of numbers and figures only summarize-able otherwise. Now Weiser does highlight the importance of what other people think of your brand, and authenticity extending to them, and the like, but the pure fact of discrete observable numbers to confirm these sentiments are- I think- understated. There is direct comparability, growth, and determination present in these numbers of followings , subscriptions, likes and shares. I think the hard existence of a number bears more impact than the simple notion of a ‘little’ or a ‘lot’, and I think that’s the understated key to what digital media specifically offers to this self branding phenomenon. The numbers are powerful here. (Week 12).

In this week’s lab of exploring Blizzard’s gameworld ‘World of Warcraft’ I went in hoping to appreciate, above all else, the longevity of it. In most cultural forms, especially games, there is a shelf life of relevance. Now books, movies and the like have certain ‘classics’ which will always be appreciated to some degree. But, for the most part, games don’t have this ‘classic’ status- or at least not yet. Largely, games simply age into irrelevance and make way for the next great thing, and this typically happens within the span of two years or so- longer games will extend this to five or even seven years. But World of Warcraft saw it’s debut in 2004 and is now upon it’s 12th year, nearly unheard of for game longevity. Although it’s under past it’s peak in terms of playerbase, the gameworld is still showing no signs of stopping yet- and so I wanted to see in this lab, just what allowed this world to exist for so long. From the short time I had with the experience, two of these factors we’re easy to spot. They were graphics and investment.

In terms of Graphics, Warcraft has this sort of cartoony light colored, near cell shaded appeal- it’s hard to narrow down exactly, but the important factor is it’s non-realistic and self-identifying aesthetic. You could easily see that what made it maintain it’s longevity, at least visually, is that by not bearing itself to realism it couldn’t age at nearly the same pace a ‘realistic’ game would. As soon as a new game is shown to be ‘more realistic’ a seemingly realistic game will age more and more as it’s relatively farther from that reality. But since warcraft’s art could only be described as ‘warcraftey’ nothing could trump it in that category to degrade it’s worth. Above all, that detail is paramount to WoW’s timelessness. But in terms of game-function, the only observable quality I could spot in the playtime was simply the fact that it was a game of investment- meaning what you got out of it was directly accumulative of the time you put in. So it’s no wonder that the player base would continue and continue over the years, as it achieved the goal of not doing the same thing over and over, but progressively building something up year after year. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how far these factors can really carry Warcraft’s longevity. (Week 9)

In “The Language of Cultural Interfaces” Lev Manovich described the digital transcendence of cinema and the printed text and their union of the ‘HCI’ or, Human-Computer Interface. He summarized that “For a computer user, both conceptually and psychologically their elements exist on the same plane as radio buttons, pull-down menus, command line calls…”.  Regardless of whatever arguments could be made for or against his claims of the unification of these forms, I read those lines on a computer screen which had- all in w visible window- A paused movie, a written article, a command line, and an atrocious amount of menu’s and the like. Probably more so than Manovich would think reasonable, I saw myself embodying the synthesizing of these platforms onto a single window of human computer interaction. For me at least, Manovich was more than correct in naming my computer interface the hub for these other medium. For all intents and purposes, print and cinema are effectively full fledged components of the HCI- but it is from this perspective that I deviate slightly form Manovich’s. Whereas this synchronization led Manovich to see Cinema, Print and HCI as all part of a cultural language and tradition. But I think the fact that the HCI can integrate these media, wheras Print and Cinema have no imaginable way of incorporating the interactive HCI experience, that we see that HCI, as opposed to being part of this language and tradition is instead a meta-foundation for encompassing all such mediums. It shares the classification in the same way a dictionary is a definition. I believe the HCI encorporates the bounds Manovich claims by being an expansive collection of contributors of this culture as opposed to a member itself. (Week 8)

While wholeheartedly I agree with Manovich’s interpretations of what Navigable Space in the game world provides- both for media as a whole and those games’ navigable narratives individually- I take some issue with the rarity, or rather, coincidence Manovich implies concerning the commonality of such a navigable space. Manovich lists off examples of navigable space in media, particularly within games, and views the phenomenon of it’s regular occurrence as worthy enough to denote special focus seperate, say, of a ‘non-navigable’ game. But really, I think the concept of a navigable space in a game is almost unavoidable and so, at least with respect to game worlds, not worthy of special denotation.

Easily, you could give examples of a game that would not fall into the category of navigable space (though so long as the game had movement of any kind and argument could be made) though all the same, I’m not arguing for the totality existence of navigable spaces just that the reason for the commonality of this navigable quality is no mystery, phenomenon or special case. In short, games thrive off of a stimulus change. The interaction of the user has to change something about the game so the user feels involved. To change the biggest aspect of whats presented on screen, would be to change the ‘space’ the game is currently in (either through angle, transport or otherwise) henceforth to garner the biggest sense of player involvement, the developer would have them navigate through some kind of space to elicit the feeling of maximum impact. It’s simple to see that how games are played and enjoyed mandates navigable spaces to be common, so I fail to see how they should be treated as special occurrences- at least within the confines of game worlds. All the same, Manovich’s arguments as to what narration and experience those spaces allowed for, is still very relevant regardless of the commonality of such a space. (Week 7)

The irony in Nelson’s “File Structure for the Complex” lies in his predefinition of certain subtopics as simple before unexplicably complicating them. That is to say Nelson would not only  claim that  a certain topic be simple, but prove that is has to be simple, before himself complicating the matter. Most notably in the zipper-list ELF soution to his dictation of several requirements the file structure must meet. He specifically stated that such a problem must be answered only by a notably simple solution, in three parts, and the simplicity of such a solution is the only thing that permitted it the flexibility to address all the different concerns the system would encounter across various systems. Then… Nelson proceeded to introduce this system in the most complicated way seemingly possible for a three ruled system. There are, as imaginable, a multitude of simple statements, descriptions, examples, and the like which could’ve described the function, purpose and use of the very implementation Nelson highlighted over the course of maybe a page at most. Yet Nelson employed page after page of self manufactured complication into this description, which not only complicated the understanding of the topic at hand- but created an unignorable irony in the predicated simplicity the system supposedly pertained to.  (Week 3)

To self-brand is to take the reigns of a capitalist machine that wants to brand those with marginalized identities (a la Simone Browne) and say screw that, I’m doing it myself. That is, if the image of you is the goods and the branding of yourself through media is the way of producing those goods, self-branding is seizing the means of production. Selfies are an act of radical anti-capitalism! I want to believe that, as a queer woman of color, my social media is an act of resistance. I get to decide how I’m sold to the world.

But what about when it’s not to the world? I love the kinds of questions raised when branding enters a private sphere. I’m particularly interested in the phenomenon of “fake instagrams,” or simply “finstas.” The concept is that, unlike your “real instagram,” or “rinsta,” your finsta is a private account that only your closest friends follow where you can post anything. On your rinsta, you have to follow etiquette. Don’t post more than once every couple of days, and you have to look like you’re having a ton of fun, and make sure you spend at least five minutes thinking of a witty caption. On your finsta, you can post six drunken selfies in a row and it doesn’t matter because no one but your besties will see, and they’re all in the pictures with you. Besides the slightly paradoxical wording (if you’re showing the real” you, shouldn’t your finsta be called your rinsta and vice versa?), finstas are really interesting in how they expose how people brand themselves so rigidly on social media. No, I wouldn’t post that picture of my eyebags I took at 3AM last night on my rinsta, because people who follow my rinsta need to see me looking cute. I do think there’s real power in getting to decide first of all how you present yourself to the outside world via social media, and also getting to decide who gets to see the supposedly authentic you. But of course, finstas are still a representational act of self-branding. Perhaps a less policed version than a rinsta, but you still tailor your content to your audience regardless. You still represent yourself a certain way, but why do so in a private space? Why bother branding yourself a certain way for 30 people who already know you well? I don’t know! I don’t know why I do it. I guess it feels radical to be able to be more free in what I post, even if it is only seen by a few people.

I didn’t raise my hand in class when asked if we’d ever heard of or used Habitica because I was slightly ashamed to say I did. I tried it and it totally did not work for me. I just cheated because I wanted a cool pet and so every day for a week I’d log on and check off that I did a certain number of things when really, of course, I didn’t. Without a higher power enforcing the rules, I didn’t have the self control. Knowing that I could get the rewards at any time through cheating simply made it really un-gratifying to get those rewards. Was my cheating then a form of active resistance against the capitalist attempt to trick me into being productive? Like, not at all. The reason the rewards meant nothing to me in this instance of gamification was because I controlled it. I was the only person validating me. On the other hand, when gamification is structured in such a way that I’m be getting some sort of outside validation, I fall for it completely.

I tried two workout apps once. Both had “achievements” – a week workouts in a row, for example, would net you one. That app quickly got boring because it required me to log the amount I worked out. Again, I could easily lie. The other, however, had “achievements” that were tied to the amount of steps you walked per day and checked your heartrate after you logged a workout to see if you were actually active in the time you said you were. That kind of quantitative, data-based validation was what I needed to motivate me. I couldn’t cheat, so then the achievements actually meant something. Anyways, it got me to work out all of winter break, so even though I fell for a capitalist scheme I lost like four pounds in the process. I’ll call it a win.

It always amazes me how quickly things become obsolete when it comes to technology. Manovich’s piece on navigable space, for example, came out in 2001. Clearly, there’s been a massive amount of change around how digital space is navigated in the past 15 years, simply because there’s been such a massive growth in technology since then. This brings up so many more questions that I don’t think are really discussed in Manovich’s now semi-obsolete piece. I think the most potent of these questions is the question of how navigable cyberspace and navigable physical space have begun to interact and even merge. Carrying on with Manovich’s focus on 3D video games, I’d like to bring up the Nintendo Wii or Microsoft Kinect. Both of these are digital devices that have games on them similar to Doom or Myst in the sense that they require the user to navigate through some sort of digital space. But through motion tracking technology, many of those games encourage or even require one to navigate through physical space as well. In order to make one’s avatar swing a racket in Wii Sports, for example, one must physically swing their arms in real life. Even further, games such as the Pokemon Go require physical steps to be taken in order for the character to take steps. This blurring of boundaries makes me question whether or not it’s really accurate now to say that space has become a media type and that navigation through digital space is thus navigation through media. It certainly is true to an extent, but when the space one is navigating is real life, how can you say the real world is media?