What Kind of Story Am I?

A #FakeNews one??? jk~ A best-seller I hope >.>

Cutting Through the Silence

For this week’s DDA, I imagined my navigation of my internet space as a bright, white line cutting through a chaotic and haphazard ball of scribbly static. It’s kind of like a radio signal–lost in the haze until the right frequency tunes in. Then, my movements have resonance, they create this larger picture. Tell a story. Reveal a larger truth. Reveal me.

But, what if those tuning in don’t care so much to hear you as they do to extract information about you and exploit it? (That took a dark turn, huh?)

Compare, Contrast, & Conflict

Do Not Track, a mini-documentary series/interactive digital project directed by Brett Gaylor, discusses the very real ways our internet meandering is not only tracked but compiled and used for economic gains–not our own, of course. I’m only one episode in so far but the tone is clearly different from that of a work like the Network Effect which is another interactive digital work that allows users to, I would argue, see just how much personal information is not only out there in the interweb miasma but also easily accessible to anyone and everyone. That isn’t to say the Network Effect is trying to do anything nefarious–in fact, it seems their purpose is rather the opposite–but Do Not Track is clearly trying to make a different point about the internet’s ability to not only observe our actions but collect and compile them to use for purposes we as users of digital spaces are not always aware of or able to control.

To be honest though, I found the contrast between the purposes of the two projects to be most interesting. Perhaps it is because I am a child of the digital age and can only remember a small window of time living without tech being an integral part of how I interact with the world, but the idea that I’m constantly being watched and tracked through my devices is not shocking nor does it make me afraid. If it were all more Orwellian in nature, then maybe. As it stands, I think Big Brother has a more invested interest in selling me out to Big Business for bigger bottom lines all around than it has a desire in anything more sinister. Yet, at least. Greed, especially of the corporate kind, disgusts me, but, again, it’s expected. Would I prefer not to see Amazon adds of things I was just perusing popping up on my social media feeds? Yes. Would I prefer Google not storing a story of me in their vaults? Yes. It’s disconcerting at least and paranoia-inducing at worst. It makes me wonder how else I’m being exploited without my consent. It makes me want to rip the power cells out of all my devices and sign off for good.

But, I can’t.

Again, this is the digital age. If you live in modern society with most of the rest of the world, you simply can’t disconnect. You wouldn’t be able to function in the world. Maybe I’m not so much anesthetized to being surveilled by microwaves even! as I am resigned to its being an inevitability of digital life. It’s the trade-off. (That continual debate of safety vs. freedom.)

That isn’t to say that some of this collective information or story can’t be used for good. The Network Effect is a primary example of how the internet’s ability to track people and their actions can be used to unify instead of to divide. I think now more than ever we all need to be reminded that, yes, while we may be unique individuals with unique stories, we also share a vast array of similar experiences that connect us. That can.

In a post I made a year ago on my first experience of the Network Effect, I focused on the action GRIEVE and on how the amount of people tweeting about grieving tended to pique at 7am & later at 7pm.

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There’s something grounding and uniquely human about the timing. Or maybe it’s just the confirmation that we all experience loss and have so few words to capture it the 140 character rule never seems to be a problem~

First, this statistic made me wonder why. Because grief is most poignant upon first waking and then at dinner, a time typically spent with family or friends? Because first waking is the first moment a loss is remembered again? Because sitting at a table with an empty chair that wasn’t always empty is so unbearable it makes you want to scream into the void? Don’t I know it. None of the above? All this wondering (an act which I believe has merit inherent unto itself) led me to my second realization which is this: there are individuals that make up every bit of this data I’m viewing. More, this data isn’t just a static chart on a page. It’s video and tweets in live time. It isn’t just percentages–it’s story. It’s lives. Big Brother and Big Business may forget that but when it’s presented in such a way as it is through the Network Effect, I think that reality is undeniable and that is what makes this project powerful.

What’s Louder? Our Stories or Our Silence?

Ultimately, I feel conflicted about internet tracking/surveillance. While I agree with Do Not Track’s position that undisclosed or unwarranted tracking “dis-empowers” me and robs me of agency in that it makes choices for me about what content I’ll see on my internet journeys, I also believe or want to believe that there can be a benefit to having a digital collective or archive of the human experience like the Network Effect.

Not everyone who is tuning in to us is doing it with good intentions but I believe it is important and it is progress that we have a platform where we can all tune into each other.

“The people’s chant must be everything the people can’t be~”–I think the internet does a spectacular job of showing us all where we are as a people and how far we still have to go. It gives us a starting place, at the very least. It can. In recent years, yes, the internet and its many platforms have become weaponized and increasingly capitalized upon, creating horrible echo chambers in too many cases, but I think it’s important to remember all the possibility still inherent to the idea (think the Arab Spring or the Women’s Marches or the #MeToo movement which were all conceived of in internet spaces and then actualized). Allowing our stories to be digital can create stories that can exist beyond digital boundaries. And, to me, everything is story. It can be. In the digital age especially, there are so many opportunities to tell stories. We may not always be able to control who is listening to them or how they are received but I don’t think that should silence us. Should stop us from tuning in to each other. From trying to cut through the chaos and static.

Do you?

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Best-seller or what??? ^.^ Hope you enjoyed~

Links

*My Daily Digital Alchemies

*My Hypothes.is

*Twit 1 & Twit 2 (I meant to use only one this time around but I’ve already mixed it up Silly so here’s both~)

Goodies

*If you’re interested in short stories based off of Twitter bot nonsense, I recommend checking out my Killing It tag. I’m toying with the idea of reviving it~

*I posted this vid by Al Jazeera in the #netnarr tag about media literacy in the wake of fake news’ popularity on Twitter and then it was retweeted with the #netnarrlinks tag (for anyone who also wants to share cool content on Twitter).

*For anyone who was disappointed by season 4 of Black Mirror, I highly recommend checking out Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. It’s an Amazon original series based off of works by Philip K. Dick (the title of the show is a play on the title of one of his more famous works Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which is a classical dystopian I actually enjoy ^.^). and it’s free if you have prime. Like Black Mirror, it’s an anthology series that bridges sci-fi and the psychological through explorations of the intersection of life and tech.

*See The Post if you haven’t already! It is phenomenal and relevant to current events >.>

***I didn’t think about it till after but the Soundcloud link I shared to a Chance the Rapper song is oddly appropriate in that Chance is an artist without a label who rose to popularity and eventually mainstream prominence through the internet and digital media. People shared and promoted his music online and through apps like Spotify. Would definitely recommend checking him out if you’re looking for some good music. He’s more poet than rapper to me in some ways.

And that’s a rap.

Till next time~

***Edit: I’m Kelli btw~ Sometimes I’m a Faerie Girl wannabe and sometimes a Shadow Girl but I’m always an interested learner and digital alchemist in the making. (Labels are only fun to try on for a bit) Anyway, oft I get carried away and lost in the writing, forgetting even myself…. please don’t mind that and don’t be strangers~ (though I admit I can be a bit more shy than my writing might suggest)***

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Shadow Girl Reflects IV: Immersed in the Chaos

When it comes to chaos and order, I find it fascinating how often ideas of each can be swapped to mean the reverse. For example, some people, like Howard Rheingold, dislike order because it places you in a routine, tells you where to sit and when to stand. It makes decisions for you.

But, there are many people out there, like one person in the studio visit with Howard Rheingold this past week, who see structuring forces as necessary–especially in formative years–and ultimately beneficial. They prefer having parameters. Makes them comfortable, not stifled.

And, when it comes to chaos, there are more divergent feelings towards similar concepts. Some see non-organization and a lack of structure and oversight as inherently incapable of producing anything meaningful or worth nurturing. More, they see it as scary or, as Howard said, risky. Chaos is uncontrollable, unmanageable and so cannot be allowed free rein.

Others, of course, find freedom in the chaos. Find space to explore something deeper and decidedly more ineffable when unfettered by the tenets of order. To them, non-organization is not scary. It is thrilling–exhilarating because there are no rules. You cannot be wrong in chaos. You just be.

Isn’t it fascinating?

How easily what you take pride in, what fills you with fear can be quite the opposite to someone else? Kind of makes you wonder if there is any meaning at all here in order and chaos–if their meanings can vary so drastically. How can any sense be made–even if that sense is nonsense? ….Don’t know? Good, me either.

Sense or nonsense, let’s see what we can find~~

Network Effect

It’s more than a little mind-boggling just how much content is out there on the internet. Perhaps even more mind-boggling is just how little we absorb from all of our wanderings on the web. There are so many voices and stories out there and yet, how many do I actually appreciate? How many do you?

Not nearly enough.

I believe the reason why my online experiences and yours probably are shallow is because, despite how much connection the internet has the potential to foster, we are all disconnected in our own little niches. More, we are far removed from reality because we don’t perceive the internet as being as real. There’s a disconnect between me and you– online–in large part because of our ideas of what the internet is.

Though, that said, I do think ideas are changing these days.

Still, you have the chaos/order problem–vastly different perceptions towards the same phenomena. It not only disconnects/distances us from each other by convincing us we’ll never understand each other, it discourages us from even trying because, hey, the internet’s not real so why even bother?

So…. what’s being done about this? Anything?

Yes. Network Effect is a project designed to help interactors understand the underlying humanity of us all in the internet age. The simulation is meant to imitate the flux and overwhelming-ness that is the online sphere but in such a way that you realize how similar and vast we all are in our complexities. How human we all are behind those dark screens. How living. How real. The internet is infinite but so are we.

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Of all the content I was exposed to in my ventures, what struck me most was how the greatest times for posting about grief on Twitter were 7am & 7pm ~~~ It made a part of me throb

Through incorporating outlets like news headlines and Twitter mentions, I think this project was able to inject that personal element online spaces seem to lack in their overall vastness. Mostly, I loved the Twitter commentary and, then, the collections of words most commonly associated with the verbs you explore the site through. I found that an interesting way to, so to speak, order the chaos–through us, usually whispers if that in the cacophonous staccato.

Despite warnings beforehand, I don’t recall feeling frustrated by the time-limit imposed upon my exploration of the site. Many things in my own life right now are running on schedules I only have minimal control over. So, I’m unfortunately used to it.

Not to sound too sentimental, but I think the time limit made me treasure what I discovered more. Like, I appreciated what I was able to get out of the experience–that greater sense of personal connectedness–because there was only so much time to explore and so much content to sift through.

Definitely recommend checking out.

Studio Visit

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say about last week’s studio visit. Howard and Mamie were just full of so much insight that provided such a wealth of rich, meaningful discussion. I could hardly do it justice here.

Particularly, I guess, I enjoyed what Howard had to say about the public sphere–how it can affect public policy and create change because it is the voice of the people. That story he told about the woman who didn’t give up on searching the polling booth’s codes until she cracked it and then how it spread online, forced the polling booth manufacturer to be held accountable, was just amazing. To me, it was such a great example of the potential the public sphere has now that it can operate in an online space.

Check it out! (I will get to Vialogues hopefully soon. It was Shadow Girl’s birthday weekend this past one. I was a little busy. Sorry)

Alchememetrix

(Really, when will Death come??)

Speaking of the public sphere, working with gifs and memes this week helped me come to this realization that memes and gifs are expressions of this/our public voice. Referring especially to the more well-known ones, they have this ability to say something we can immediately understand and connect with. Like it or not, there are lots of gifs and memes out there that are meaningful to the public audience. That have impact.

We relate to them! They make us laugh! Provide an outlet to express frustrations or to reveal absurdity. (Read more about that here.)

Honestly, there is a kind of reveling in the chaos that memes and gifs engage in. But, also, a kind of ordering of it–putting it into a recognizable context with equally recognizable implications.

At least, I felt like that was the case while I was creating my memes and gifs this week. Maybe someone else did, too?

Creative Enterprise (aka Vanity Role)

This week, the third installment in my Living Dead Girl series–inspired by this tweet— went up. It’s about Necromancers, Reapers, and death 🙂 Ghosts and mythos and magic abound. So, totally feel free to check it out and let me know how you’re feeling it.

Part I, Part II~~~

My other stories so far include:

Bone Girl (personal fave so far~~ it’s about ritual/serial murder ad implied cannabilism–my faves ^.^ no, really, I’m working on a project for another course about ritualistic cannibalism~~)

Bone Girl .V (prequel crafted from out blackout poetry exercise~~ more murder 😉

Wasteland Girl (Check the comments section, too, on this one! ~~~also, some murder… I’m sensing a pattern….)

It Will Be Satisfied (The Dead will get what they want through, you guessed it, murder! oooooohhhhhhhh)

(All can be found under the Killing It tag–haha [I think I’m funny]–and you can find a list of frequently used tags in the navigation bar at the bottom of this page. Just click the little “Up” arrow in the right-hand corner.)

All loosely networked narratives, I know, but lots of fun I think 🙂 ‘Sides, we’re all readers and writers at heart, right? Hope you enjoy~~~

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Final Thoughts

This week, I think I received some valuable insight on how to navigate online spaces more meaningfully. To navigate the chaos. To see chaos as something that can be cherished instead of spurned. Hopefully, I can keep that in mind when I go wandering on the web. The internet could definitely use more acceptance. More appreciative practice all around. The public sphere certainly needs a constant influx of new voices in order to remain healthy and effectively functional.

As for sense vs. nonsense, does it matter? Think the answer to that question says more about you and your context than it does about either of those notions.

Links

Daily Digital Alchemies

Video I find compelling when it comes to thinking about truth, the public sphere, and online spaces

Catch you on the flip side!