To AUC, What Are Your Thoughts on Social Curation In Online Spaces???

Hey~

How’s Cairo? Hot? Mild? Does it ever get sandy in the city? I’ve always wondered….

Anyway, I’m getting off topic. It happens.

I hear you’re working on projects about digital literacy? So have we! …Well, kind of. We’re each researching a problem associated with the Internet and increasing digitization of daily life. The focus of my research is social curation in online spaces. Specifically, I’m looking at how social curation in online spaces affects our emotional engagement IRL.

I wrote a whole post about social curation and my thoughts around it but for those of you who aren’t familiar, social curation is, “an organic activity that continuously aggregates and ranks content deemed most relevant, valued and of the greatest utility (e.g., “just in time” insight) to users. Sources of content can be published media, real-time information exchange (archived), or continuously evolving content (e.g., wiki, Quora). The social dynamic of content curation is individual and collective input, output and evolution of thought” (source). Essentially, social curation refers to how we organize and navigate content in online spaces. It is the way of the Internet currently. More than just organization content, though, social curation refers to how organization practices affect our interactions with content.

Social curation contributes to the development of so-called “echo chambers” as well as to the rise of Influencer culture. It relates to “trending” topics and includes things like evaluative features (“likes” on FB and <3s on Insta) on social media and reaction gifs. Often, these evaluative features make us feel that we are providing thoughtful interaction with content when, in reality, we are merely being provided the illusion of meaningful engagement by these platforms that profit off of our engagement. Our reactions and emotions are being curated/engineered, which could be affecting our emotional range IRL.

Much research has been done on the effects of evaluative features such as “Like” buttons on social media platforms. One study has looked at how social curation occurs on Pinterest, while another study (which won’t let hypothes.is run? I tried to download it as a PDF and tried to adjust my settings but nope so idk?) has looked at the effects of social curation on adolescent neurological and behavioral responses (to which an article has been written in response). Much of this research revolves around understanding user interactions in a socially curated system. What I find most interesting about this kind of research is the effects social curation has on emotional expressions as well as overall self-esteem and self-worth. More, I find that social curation is one of the processes that strongly contributes to this false sense of reality the Internet creates. This process is, in part, responsible for the creation of so-called “echo chambers” as well as for Internet virality in general. Influencers and the like are trying to tap into this “social curation” process and either become the content that is being circulated or become the subject that curated content revolves around.

Though social curation has certainly been around in varying capacities beyond/before the web, its use as an organizing system in online spaces presents some problems. Mainly, what is perhaps most troubling is the false sense of reality it can perpetuate. It seems very easy for someone to fall into a hole, so to speak, and not even notice that the information they are interacting with is being decided not by an objective audience but by a process of social curation conducted by like-minded peers. Often, evaluative features like “Like” buttons and ❤ buttons facilitate social curation On Facebook, there is a variety of react options to choose from which provides this false sense of diversified expression when, in reality, our emotional range is being curated for us by the social media platform. More, we’re being socialized by sites like Instagram (where only ❤ reacts exist) to react positively or not at all to online content. Rather than online spaces being these immersive spaces where discovery and disappointment can occur, they are becoming these heavily curated spaces limiting not only our emotional ranges but also changing how we respond to things in ways that can spill over into “real life”. I think this is problematic.

While it may be fun and more engaging for users in certain spaces to interact with “like-minded content” (like in an affinity space on Tumblr or in a hashtag on Twitter), having an entire Internet that is slowly being curated by social media seems like an over-reach and one that will affect perceptions of self and the world. Distorted images of self and the world are already prevalent in online spaces and have been prevalent in advertising practices since time in memoriam. We have seen the damage done thus far, especially to the youth who are growing up in a digital world where it is so easy to access platforms that may not be promoting the best perceptions. Addressing how social curation affects interactions and the overall environment of online spaces seems like an increasingly vital issue as digitization becomes more ubiquitous.

Alex Saum’s Ashes to Ashes #YOLO (2018) Epoetry piece seems to speak to concerns about the performance of life taking precedence over the experience of life as well. Also, it seems concerned about how Influencer culture curates what we value and how we value it.

At least, this is all what I believe to be the case and this is the focus of my research. What do you think, though?

Do you think that social curation in online spaces is affecting our own perceptions and emotions IRL? Can social media sites like Insta and FB be redesigned to not include evaluative features and still be functional? How could sites be designed to garner different interactions? To encourage less passive, shallow engagement and more active dialogue and discussion?

Let me know~

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~Till next time~

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Feeling Drained at This Point Tbh~

Hey~

Hope everyone had a nice week. I’ve been pretty stressed this past week myself. It’s crunch time for my thesis project and I’m feeling the pressure. I’m trying not to take it out on unsuspecting folk but please excuse me if I do. I’m cranky and I need a twenty-thousand hour nap.

Anyway, this week we began the treacherous trek into the world of Twitter bots. Honestly, I love bots and designing them is a lot of fun. Certain changes to Twitter’s policies have made it a little less fun, though. They definitely need stricter guidelines but these regulations make the creative process a little more bogged down (what with all the bureaucratic, look we’re actually bothering to ask questions like we always should’ve been tape.

I digress.

I eventually managed to give a certain rebellious, misanthropic, misfit alchemist more of a voice so she can torment more than just me. You can check out the deets on that here. Please, let ya girl know if she’s a bit too…silent that means I’m going to chuck my laptop out the window ’cause don’t play with me Google spreadhseets.

laptopthrow

So far, Vlada’s not so chatty in the #netnarr realm but we’ll see how that changes as time goes on…

2019-04-13 (1)

The ability of bots to not be detected by an application like this one is both fascinating and vaguely horrifying??? To me, it means that AI is getting better and better at masquerading as/playing human. It makes me wonder if there really will be that tipping point, that “event horizon” where AI becomes the “human” voice of the Internet and human voices become flagged for being bots.

Speaking of vaguely horrifying subjects…

My research project.

I have complained the entire way through it thus far. Believe me, I’m aware. This week’s post is no exception. I mean, I do narrow down my topic and provide some evidence I have perused so far on the topic. When I began delving into how evaluative features on social media platforms affect us, I found a lot of very interesting sources about the concept of social curation. I feel like social curation encapsulates much of what I want to focus on. At least, it seems to cover all of my expressed concerns and provides me with a particular avenue to address issues of evaluative features on social media platforms specifically.

Check out the actual post for more in-depth analysis and discussion on why this topic is truly concerning, especially in an online context. And pro-tip: check the margins too….

In addition to narrowing down my focus in this post, I also narrowed down some of my main, lingering concerns for the field guide. They mostly revolve around the seeming expectations for the project and my concerns about time management and the workload. Typical student bs, probably, that educators are sick of hearing about. But, this class is supposed to be a conversation/democracy so I’m hoping my concerns will still be considered and only minimally eye-rolled at.

So, as for the trajectory of this project, I have a lot of reading and annotating to do still for some of my supporting literature. I want to take a creative approach to this project, though. I’m considering making a #finsta/Instagram account to explore social curation through a site based upon it. I’m not sure what kind of content I would want to share, though. I don’t know what would best open the dialogue rather than mock the enterprise outright–which accomplishes nothing. I’m thinking Alex Saum’s #YOLO project which used the confessional style youtube video to make a point about the increasing lack of authenticity in online spaces. I like how the design reinforced the message. What would be the anti-commodification of self look like in an online space like Instagram that is so reliant upon it?

I’m also considering just making a kind of frenetic site that uses gifs and whatnot to explore the issue and the literature around it. I could make it journalistic or style it like a public forum.

I want to see how others are designing their project before I make a final decision. I would ultimately like to have a contribution that is in conversation with the work off my peers. None of these issues we’re discussing exist in a vacuum and I think that should be emphasized more than anything. The Internet doesn’t have 12 easily identifiable problems. It is a burning dumpster fire careening violently towards a sheer cliff that overlooks an oubliette of spikes and toxic sludge. There are many problems holding the Internet precariously together. That shouldn’t be understated.

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Daily Digital Alchemies

This week, I think I made a reference to Memento….

And, I definitely referenced the impending end of this semester. Cannot come soon enough. (No offense)

~Till next time~

Exploring Issues of Social Curation in Online Spaces…

So, upfront, this is my blog. If you’re looking for commentary or “dialogue” about the content on my blog, I’d peruse the margins…

Discussion

Hello~

Hope everyone had a nice and healthy week. I’m back up and kicking. This week, I got the chance to catch up on a lot of work. One of the things I needed to work on apparently was refining my idea for the field guide (aka my research project(?)). After discussing my thoughts with Dr. Zamora and my concerns about this whole “finding a solution” thing a concept that I fundamentally disagree with, I believe I narrowed down my focus. I still want to investigate the performing vs. living issue but through the lens of social curation.

So, social curation, according to a comment left on a Quora query about it, “is an organic activity that continuously aggregates and ranks content deemed most relevant, valued and of the greatest utility (e.g., “just in time” insight) to users. Sources of content can be published media, real-time information exchange (archived), or continuously evolving content (e.g., wiki, Quora). The social dynamic of content curation is individual and collective input, output and evolution of thought.” Essentially, social curation refers to how we organize and navigate content in online spaces. It is the way of the Internet currently. More than just organization content, though, social curation refers to how organization practices affect our interactions with content.

Much research has been done on the effects of evaluative features such as “Like” buttons on social media platforms. One study has looked at how social curation occurs on Pinterest, while another study (which won’t let hypothes.is run? I tried to download it as a PDF and tried to adjust my settings but nope so idk?) has looked at the effects of social curation on adolescent neurological and behavioral responses (to which an article has been written in response). Much of this research revolves around understanding user interactions in a socially curated system. What I find most interesting about this kind of research is the effects social curation has on emotional expressions as well as overall self-esteem and self-worth. More, I find that social curation is one of the processes that strongly contributes to this false sense of reality the Internet creates. This process is, in part, responsible for the creation of so-called “echo chambers” as well as for Internet virality in general. Influencers and the like are trying to tap into this “social curation” process and either become the content that is being circulated or become the subject that curated content revolves around.

Thought social curation has certainly been around in varying capacities beyond/before the web, its use as an organizing system in online spaces presents some problems. Mainly, what is perhaps most troubling is the false sense of reality it can perpetuate. It seems very easy for someone to fall into a hole, so to speak, and not even notice that the information they are interacting with is being decided not by an objective audience but by a process of social curation conducted by like-minded peers. Often, evaluative features like “Like” buttons and ❤ buttons facilitate social curation On Facebook, there is a variety of react options to choose from which provides this false sense of diversified expression when, in reality, our emotional range is being curated for us by the social media platform. More, we’re being socialized by sites like Instagram (where only ❤ reacts exist) to react positively or not at all to online content. Rather than online spaces being these immersive spaces where discovery and disappointment can occur, they are becoming these heavily curated spaces limiting not only our emotional ranges but also changing how we respond to things in ways that can spill over into “real life”. I think this is problematic.

While it may be fun and more engaging for users in certain spaces to interact with “like-minded content” (like in an affinity space on Tumblr or in a hashtag on Twitter), having an entire Internet that is slowly being curated by social media seems like an over-reach and one that will affect perceptions of self and the world. Distorted images of self and the world are already prevalent in online spaces and have been prevalent in advertising practices since time in memoriam. We have seen the damage done thus far, especially to the youth who are growing up in a digital world where it is so easy to access platforms that may not be promoting the best perceptions. Addressing how social curation affects interactions and the overall environment of online spaces seems like an increasingly vital issue as digitization becomes more ubiquitous.

All this said, I do not know if there are exact steps that can be taken to fix this problem. More, I don’t feel comfortable providing one “quick fix”. If our discussions on issues of online spaces have revealed anything at all, it is that issues that concern the governing of practices and processes in online spaces are complex and not simply fixed. Because of those findings, I feel more comfortable suggesting steps that may help in alleviating the problems associated with social curation.

First, I think the models girding social media need to be changed to not rely upon evaluative interactions. Basically, ditch the “like” and ❤ buttons. Ditch all of those evaluative features. They are limiting interactions rather than expanding them. If interaction is the goal, comment features should be what is emphasized. Things that encourage and engage in discussion should be the focus. If Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are supposed to be public forums, then discussion in dialogue should always be the focus. Evaluative react buttons do not encourage discussion. They don’t expand or extend the conversation. I feel like a switch like this may instill feelings of anxiety similar to those around the whole texting vs. calling anxiety. Rather than comment or offer a “real” opinion or perspective, most people are probably more comfortable hitting a like button. In order for more measurably meaningful discourse to occur, though, I think evaluative features need to be removed from social media sites.

The “secondly” through the rest of my suggestions all revolve around shifting the profit model behind Internet sites like social media platforms and the mindset that has propelled it. All of these sites rely far too much upon user interaction in order to make a profit. To this end, ethics and conscientious design have gone out the window. Whatever gets more eyes on the screen is what goes. That needs to change. It’s allowing for the formation of echo chambers that stunt/stifle development of self and perspective of the world. There needs to be more of an incentive for creators and platforms to provide diversified content. More, the algorithms need to be recoded to provide diverse content rather than similar content. That needs to be incentivized. The US government should consider following Europe in imposing stricter regulations on how online platforms can collect and store data in order to create user profiles and so curate content for them. Notices that clearly state that content may not be objectively organized should be placed on certain sites. (I don’t mean some wimpy “the opinions and feelings expressed on this site do not reflect the values of the yada yada yada…” That’s weak.) Sites that don not have clear warnings or do not abide by imposed regulation should be taken down. That’s not “stifling free speech” or “open discussion”. Even if it was, the 1st amendment is not an excuse to be an assh*ole anyway. Regulations on content and “breaking up” social curation processes are meant to create spaces where free speech and the free flow of ideas can actually occur. And it’s wholly necessary ’cause little meaningful discourse is happening right now.

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Media

This seems like an interesting video on the topic as well (though I can’t find a video of it in full on Youtube? Idk if you can only view it at a screening?)

For an artistic example, I’d also like to include Alex Saum’s Ashes to Ashes #YOLO (2018) Epoetry piece as I feel lit speaks to concerns about the performance of life taking precedence over the experience of life. Also, it seems concerned about how Influencer culture curates what we value and how we value it.

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Concerns

In addition to the sources mentioned in this post, I’d like to include the article I annotated last week about implementing more humane design in Internet places, social media platforms especially. I think it provides necessary background information on how the Internet became the burning garbage fire it is today. Also, it explains what humane design is concerned with addressing as it relates to online spaces.

I owe you two more sources (which I can hopefully get through by Tuesday). Scouring the web for six relevant sources that meet the proposed criteria for this assignment is not easy, especially when those sources must then be annotated. I will find the sources I need to complete this project but, if you’ll excuse my honesty, I wish the research component of this project were more spaced out over the semester. It feels rushed right now and I feel stressed because all of these expectations for a full-blown research assignment have been stacked up at the end of the semester when final projects for other classes are due and, for those working on thesis projects, thesis work must be completed. I would’ve appreciated spreading out finding and annotating sources during the semester. The field guide wasn’t fleshed out until later on so I wasn’t specifically looking for sources that would’ve helped me now. The shape of the final project was vague for most of the semester which gave us room to free-associate and imagine but not so much to strategize. For people who are picking topics like privacy or surveillance, they’ll probably have a lot more use of the field guide sources collected since that was an overt focus of most of the class. But, for those of us following our own research interests, we have to basically find all of these sources from scratch.

Anyway, just stating my opinion for the record. I’ll get as much work done as I can for class on Tuesday. I’m wrapping on my thesis project, though. That is my main priority and I’m not going to apologize for that. I’ve been working very hard on it and I want to have a bomb presentation. It’s where my passion lies and that’s my future.

So, heads up, this week may not see everything requested fully completed. Not cause I don’t want to but I have no idea where I’m going to find the time to do it.

Update/To annotate:

This article

This one too?

~Till next time~

Getting to the “Meat” of the Matter…

Despite what my featured image says, I was, in fact, not feeling okay.

Hey~

I’m glad to report that I’m not yet dead. glad may be an overstatement but eh I’d like to get my M.A. first after all the trouble Unfortunately, though, I have been very sick for the past few weeks. Flu. Upper respiratory infection. 103 degree fever. Hacking every other minute. congestion. insomnia. The whole nine yards. It can really slow you down.

I tried my best to work through it. My alchemist mentor proved very helpful during this time. She’s a little rough around the edges but quite thoughtful and very resourceful. After I wrote about my ideas for what I want to focus on in the Field Guide and tweeted some inquiries @vladaslaughter, I was able to engage in some thoughtful discussion.

I think we were able to narrow down more of my focus. Also, we discussed the idea of being an “antibiotic” more than an exact cure (inspired, largely, by my recent stint on doxycycline hyclate helluva a drug). In regards to digital well-being, it may be more apt to think of our field guide as more of an antibiotic than a prescribed “cure”. We’re trying to alleviate symptoms rather than eliminate the infection (as that would kind of mean destroying the Internet???). Getting rid of the bad bacteria so the good bacteria can continue to do its job. Idk. It’s something we’re thinking of~

Vlada helped me refine my focus further by providing some insightful commentary on a very interesting article about initiating humane design for the web. I think this source will be beneficial if I can pursue the topic I’d like to. This source doesn’t place the entirety of the blame on users. Rather, it places much responsibility on corporations and governments to regulate social media and intervene in our interactions with it. Some may find this invasive but I do think some changes need to be made in order to mitigate some of our interactions with social media right now which are definitely contributing to why some of are veering towards performing our lives rather than living them.

Anyway, that’s about all for me this week. I’m going to get back to resting for the time being. Don’t want to work myself to near death again. Being unable to breathe made me realize that I kinda like being able to actually???

Share any thoughts you have about anything I’ve discussed down below~

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~Till next time~

Daily Digital Alchemies

I brushed off my poetry skills and shared a nice little work of book spine poetry this week (inspired by my new mentor).

Additionally, I shared how exactly “being on empty” has felt all week. Not great. 0/10 would not recommend.

I had another fun exchange with my mentor this week. Admittedly, this is a more fun exchange than one strictly about “business” but I do think it may be interesting to check out. Vlada’s snark may give mine a run for its money….

~Stay healthy all~

The Usual Suspects…

Hey~

Sorry I couldn’t join everyone in class this week. Unfortunately, I’ve been very sick lately and apparently it’s getting worse before it gets better. I would not have been my usual pleasant presence had I been in class in-person this week.

Anyway, I am sorry I missed getting to discuss different ideas for the field guide with everyone. I’m sure that would’ve been fun and constructive ^.^

As far as that subject goes, btw, I am thinking of focusing on digital identity (duh). Specifically, I want to look into how social media platforms may be encouraging us to perform our lives rather than live them. It’s kind of a fringe topic to what I’ve been researching for my thesis and I think it’s something interesting to consider. The topic is also something Alex Saum has been exploring in her E-poetry projects. I think there are plenty of ways in which new digital platforms encourage us to be more authentic, rather than less. But, I also know that there are a lot of people who rely on social media to create a life and personality for them which I don’t believe is healthy. This section of the field guide, then, would cover the issue of living one’s life vs. performing it as well as, perhaps, exercising moderation in using social media platforms. Again, while I definitely believe in the abilities of digital interfaces to extend who we are, I also understand that these sites can be addictive and overwhelming. It is important to remember that you are still you after the screen goes dark.

Another topic I’m interested in is also related to my thesis and may veer too far off from what the field guide’s intention is. In the course of doing research for my thesis, I learned more about shitposting and meme culture and I just don’t think the current definition of it in Know Your Meme is accurate. At least, I think it’s outdated and should be updated to include more of the actual purview of shitposting and memes. The current basically identifies both mediums as a kind of interruption to otherwise sensical discourse. In this way, it sort of brushes these very prevalent online mediums off to the side. I think it would be interesting to come up with an updated definition of shitposting and provide sources that support this updated definition and explore new forms of digital content as part of meaningful online discussions. More, I think it’s important to define and validate these new forms of communication as they are becoming a part of our mainstream discourse. It’s all part of the cultural milieu.

So, anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about. I hope one of these ideas is viable. If not, I guess I’m open to suggestions. I wanted to pick a topic I am personally invested in and that concerns me. While these topics may not be the most flashy or be the most “pressing”, I do think they have their own merit and speak to the culture around new media and its usage. It’s important to open dialogue on these subjects, at the very least.

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~Till next time~

The Gif That Keeps on Giffing…

Hey~

Welcome back to my humble little dark corner of the web ^.^ Hope everyone had a nice enough week~

My week was the usual:

hell

Anyway, that brings us nicely to the topic at hand:  GIFs~

hard don’t @ me i’ll fight you

This week, we got to continue our exploration of new forms of digital content creation by discussing the gif. Now, if you’re like most Internet users these days, you are fairly familiar with the gif. Personally, I interact with the gif on a regular basis, encountering it across my social media feeds and using it to respond to other content in digital spaces. For me, and many others, these days, the gif is a standard of communication online.

In our class Studio Visit this week with Brian Lamb (@brlamb) we got to discuss more about communication of information in online spaces as well as a little about other concerns of being a digital citizen. Mainly, we focused on what the gif means to us and how we use it to communicate online. Brian described gifs as a “more expressive emoji” which I think is a fairly accurate interpretation though I do believe that gifs carry more context due to *mostly* coming from source content that is embedded in our culture somehow. In this way, a gif can have an inherent meaning to it before it is co-opted and remixed. I find the layering of meaning inherent in much of new media to be of great interest. Layered meaning is nothing new but I think there’s something different going on with gifs and memes. They are being remixed and co-opted at such a rate that their meanings are often vast and varied depending upon what corner of the web you find yourself in. When there is so much meaning, is there really any meaning? All if these things, because of rather than in spite of their layered meanings, seem to become this new kind of digital blank canvas upon which any expression can be placed. I think it’s fascinating.

That said, this ubiquity of reaction gifs and the like does concern me. I’m mainly concerned because the majority of gifs are recycled rather than made. Most of us don’t make gifs every time we want to use one. Rather, we select a gif or a meme from a repository of collected media. This limits our expressions to the options provided by a certain platform. It’s a peculiar curation of not just our emotional expressions but of digital culture. It’s this illusion of authenticity in expression. Often, like Brian, many of us describe gifs as allowing us to be more expressive online. But, is that really true when we consider the reality of so much digital content being “corralled” and commodified in order for easier consumption?

I find myself torn when I consider questions like this. Ideally, I do believe that new media and online spaces afford us more opportunities to connect, to express ourselves, to construct ourselves, to participate in life. But, I also understand that the commercialization of new media and online spaces interrupts these processes and turns them into for-profit enterprises under the guise of innovation and convenience. I’m victim to this myself (I started this post with a gif from Giphy even though I’m very capable of making my own). I guess I’m left to believe that possibility is something the Internet can provide but is not an inherent quality. Again, I think it comes down to usage. If one doesn’t use the Internet to explore themselves then they will never think of the Internet as a place where that is possible.

All this said, I want to reiterate that I do believe new media can be a conduit for very profound and powerful messages. It can also be a way to share a meme or a gif about nothing much at all. The Internet, in some ways, is like the traditional faerie realms of old: mercurial, ambivalent, and capricious at best. Everything you say can be both taken at face value and also imbued with a multiplicity of meaning. It’s never a dull day in digital spaces, to say the least.

The Arganee Cafe

Speaking of “no dull days in digital spaces”, this week we were introduced to the Arganee cafe. In order to describe our experience of exploring this new space, we were asked to create gifs (full circle, eh?) ^.^ I had some fun with mine. I giffed some scenes from Scott Pilgrim.

dismantlingthegov

Think I captured the essence of something….

Feel free to check out My Make for this activity ^.^

(I also highly recommend checking out @masooch‘s Make too~ I died.)

In addition to exploring the Arganee cafe, we were also asked to imagine a digital alchemist persona again. Originally, I was going to “recycle” my twisted, little faerie but I don’t really want to disturb her (she can be scary >.<). Rather, I decided to create a new digital alchemist. Though she clearly still has a #aesthetic, I imagine her as less of a foreboding presence and more of a sentinel-avenger type. I’m always going on about how I’m dtf (down to fight) so I figured I’d channel that fighting spirit into a character all its own. Be sure to check her out on Twitter (she may be a bit shy standoffish at first but don’t worry, she cares). You can learn more about her character, as well, by checking out My Make for my rage-filled avengeress~

She totally has a theme song btw

don’t shame me billie eilish is #goals

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Bonus Post

This week, in my post for the field guide, I shared a podcast episode exploring the gif medium and some of the concerns surrounding gifs I mentioned above. I highly recommend checking it out and giving the podcast a listen~

Daily Digital Alchemies

I actually have two bonus posts this week if you count the post I did for DDA304 where I explored what is lost but, also, what can be gained in translation~

My second DDA is one I submitted! I’m happy to see it being used and to see the different responses others have to it. For my response, I decided, actually, to alter a gif I made for my thesis project (and didn’t end up using):

degenerate.gif

I made the image kaleidoscopic and then added a rippling water effect to it to give it a reflection. I think it looks like the sky over one pesky little faerie’s Arganee home. What do you think?

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~Till next time~

Getting the Gif of Things~

Hello~

While scouring the Internet for cool gifs, I came across an interesting discussion about gifs, remix, and contemporary Internet culture.

How GIFs Became Embedded in Our Culture

The discussion is occurs during an episode of a podcast and occurs between Anil Dash (Function podcast commentator), Kenyatta Cheese (CEO of Everybody At Once & co-founder of Know Your Meme), and T. Kyle McMahon (lead digital and social producer from Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen) This podcast episode covers a wide variety of concerns, from the personal impact of the medium to how it has changed discourse in online spaces. More, this discussion seems to focus on how our culture in digital spaces has been totally changed by the onset of new media like gifs and memes.

I found their discussion on how intermediary platforms such as Youtube and Giphy are shaping and curating culture to be particularly interesting. Personally, because of the convenience of sites like Giphy, I do find myself overlooking the greater implications of their existence. Rather than creating a gif to demonstrate, visually, my own excitement, now I can just type the word “excitement” into Giphy or Twitter’s Tenor keyboard and find a plethora of images that the system has decided represent excitement. It’s a really peculiar shift and I’m not quite sure what it says about the direction our culture is shifting in but it appears we’re moving from remixing (active interaction) to recycling (passive interaction).

But, what do you think?

nightmarebeforechristmas1

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I think this is a great resource to have in our field guide as it addresses both the affordances of the gif medium as well as the anxieties surrounding its dissemination in online spaces. 8/10 ^.^

~Till next time~

Lost in Translation???

Hey~

DDA 304 asked us to play around with the powers (or lack thereof) of translation. We were asked to select a few paragraphs from one of our sources exploring the darkness of the web and translate it (using Google Translate) from English into a few different languages before, eventually, translating it back into English to see if it still makes sense. Essentially, this activity is an exploration of nonsense and the limits of language (my fave topics ^.^).

Anyway, I chose to play around with the first few paragraphs from this article about an art exhibition on memes. (Very interesting content, btw). This is the original passage I chose to translate:

If you’ve ever spent hours laughing at memes on the internet, you don’t have to feel bad about falling into an internet vortex of Willy Wonka’s face or a frog on a bike. Memes are in fact art – or at least according to one curator, who has made an exhibition around the eclectic internet culture.

What Do You Meme? will be at Holdron’s Arcade in Peckham this week, with the exhibition’s curator, Maisie Post, suggesting that they are the most democratic art form that we have.

Despite being dismissed as a lowbrow, the exhibition suggests that memes have much in common with folk movements that are created collaboratively for a collective to enjoy rather than profit from. However, their ability to reach global audiences makes them even more influential, as they evolve through different internet users and are absorbed into politics and the media.

If you’re left wondering ‘what is the meme-ing of this?’ (yes, it’s pronounced ‘meem’), Maisie Post explains than an internet meme is “simply an image, usually photoshopped, with added text that is often humourous, or relatable. This is then shared, and reiterated across social media platforms.”

My journey of translation is as follows: English>>>Russian>>>Czech>>>Welsh>>>Irish>>>Ukrainian>>>English

Here’s the final result:

If you sometimes laugh with memos on the Internet, you should not be bad when you’re at Villa Wonka or on a bicycle when you come to the Internet. In fact, art is a meme – or at least one custodian who was exhibited around an eclectic web culture.

What do you mean? This week we will be on the arcade Hold’ond in Beijing, as well as the curator of Maisie Post, if this is our most democratic form of art.

Despite the fact that the exhibition is incomprehensible, it is assumed that the memes are very common with common movements, so that the team can enjoy them and not win. However, their ability to reach a global audience makes them more influential as they develop through various Internet users and when they are taken by politics and the media.

What do you think it means? (yes, this is called “mem”), explains Macy Post, just before a photo on the Internet, with photoshop usually with additional text that is funny or often related. it is transmitted and repeated in social networks. “

I think the result is interesting. I bolded some of my fave lines. Some of the thoughts do make sense, though, which is very interesting. Much is said about what is lost in translation but what about what is gained? I think this exercise provides a new perspective on language and on the nature of nonsense in a linguistic sense.

Very informative ^.^

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~Till next time~

Net Art & Self-Representation~

Hey ^.^ welcome back to my dark little corner of the web~

So, this week we explored the wonderful and burgeoning world of net art.

This is “born-digital” art that is created for and designed to be experienced online in a digital environment. That digital component is what delineates this kind of art from trad art. In many ways, this kind of art is liberated from the exhibition context of the museum in that the Internet becomes its gallery space. Of course, this creates some concerns over accessibility and privilege, which I have discussed before, but I would like to focus more on some of the interesting ideas being explored in net art projects in this post.

Particularly, I’m interested in how much of net art is exploring the presentation and representation of self in this digital age. In my bonus post this week, I discuss some projects like MouchetteBODY ANXIETY, and Emilio Vavarella’s (@emiliovavarellaDigital Skins series which each explore different facets of self in creatively digital ways. What is most interesting to me about pieces that explore how digitization has affected self-representation and its aesthetics is the prismatic depictions so often utilized to convey a sense of the multi-dimensional. In her essay “Stories of the Self on and off the Screen“, Dr. Ruth Page discusses the fragmentary nature of self in the twenty-first century and how emerging digital mediums like Eliterature (which is arguably both literature and net art) are in a position to convey that “partiality”. Page emphasizes how the transmediality and multimodality of digital mediums allows for new narrative structures which are often non-linear. This non-linearity often mirrors real-world experiences of life. It’s interesting that digital mediums can, in some ways, provide more “realistic” representations of the experience self than trad formats. Neither is “better”, just different. Digitization has, in many ways, allowed for a diversity of perspective that can really be engaged with. Eliterature and net art really allow for a new perspective to become a whole experience.

I find these capabilities to be fascinating yet often overlooked. In class, we spoke of the “aura” of art and how digital/net art is often dismissed or placed second to trad/classical art because it is viewed as lacking some kind of “aura” that makes it “true art” (whatever the f*ck that means). I find this to be a rather pretentious view on art. The idea that a work of art must be a physical thing viewed in a museum in order for it to be considered of artistic merit/worthy of transcendent thinking is rather limiting, to say the least. Also, it makes me wonder who is art for? If it must be viewed in a museum or through some kind of institutional authority, this indicates to me that art is only for a select few and that people outside this select few are somehow incapable of properly appreciating it. i think there’s an elitist, perhaps imperialist hold-out, attitude here. Because net art is, in many ways, more democratized than other art forms and more accessible in that the threshold for participation in creating it is still rather low (basically have access to a computer), I think it receives unnecessary criticism from the art world and the “peanut gallery”. Somehow, because of digital intervention and the perception that digital mediums are somehow inherently imbued with less meaning, net art is viewed as lesser than. Which is very sad considering how many really creative initiatives and works are being created using this technology (as mentioned above).

In our studio visit with digital artist Alex Saum (@alexsaum) this week, we talked a little about the depth of meaning that can be captured in a digital work. For example, her E-Poetry collections explore issues of self, identity, and self-representation in the digital age in very multimodal, visceral ways. The performance of self online becomes her art, reflection on these mediums her practice. Art, life, and the digital are all in dialogue with each other in her works. Both the positive ways in which digital media allows us to extend ourselves and the negative ways digitization curtails authenticity online are explored in Saum’s work. These complex ideas and their intersections culminate in these beautiful and movies works of digital poetry. Her work really allows for a prismatic view of self and allow for reflection upon current practices of the presentation of self in online spaces. For example, in Saum’s poem “Ashes to Ashes #YOLO” (2018), the question “Where are the people?” is looped over a video of Saum filmed in the style of Youtube confessionals. This poem seems to be making a statement on the commodification of self in the twenty-first century and how self has become more of a product and a performance online than an actual lived experience. The confession here is that rather than online spaces allowing us to be more real, they are allowing us to less authentically ourselves.

“The Democratic Value of Art Making” is one of my fave poems from the #SELFIEPOETRY collection. “We can’t all be poets but well all have literary value.” is such a f*ck you to the establishment and the institutions believe art and creative practices only have value if they’re profitable. More, it’s a f*ck you to the whole concept that you must have market value in order for you to be valuable. It’s a f*ck you to capitalism. Net art is such a f*ck you to capitalism~

This is an interesting concept proposed in not only Saum’s work but in Vavarella’s work and the work of many other digital artists. As states before, online spaces were supposed to democratize information, self-expression, and many other ideals. But, instead, they seem to have become these places where we can be anyone but ourselves, we can tell anything but the truth. Saum’s work seems to be connecting this bastardized democracy online to consumerism and the commodification of online spaces. Especially in the US, the digital world is fast becoming a for-profit enterprise which infringes upon the ideals of community and equity and the free-exchange of ideas that the Internet, for most of us, was founded upon. I view Saum’s work as spreading awareness of this but also as a kind of protest in that in the process of reflecting upon the practice of growing in-authenticity online, Saum is revealing truths about herself and her values which resonates with many of us. I think a lot of are against the commodification of online spaces and the rise of “influencers”, of personalities/personages for profit. Everything else in the world is already so commoditized and we are so consumed by it. I think we all want a space where we can explore ourselves for our own sakes.

In this way, a lot of digital art and net art is commentary on consumer culture and the contemporary digital practice that is being sold to us. Some of it seems even to be a protest, a reassertion that we don’t have to be these fake people online, that the digital does not have to be associated with the fake. I think this is important work artist like Saum are doing. Even is Saum herself doesn’t necessarily see herself in her work (“Works of art are always representations. They aren’t me.”) , her commentary on self-representation and its shortcomings is valuable in that it reminds us we can be real online if we want but we don’t have to be who we are online either. What is important is that we still hold onto a sense of self in this social media deluge and that we don’t let anyone decide our value for us. The hustle some influencers have though is fascinating, their ability to make a brand of themselves demonstrative of some admirable ingenuity and creativity even if I have some ethical disagreements with the franchise.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed perusing my thoughts on the matter. If you want to hear me scream more about self-representation in the digital age, be sure to check out my thesis blog~

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Field Guide Contribution

As mentioned, be sure to check out my bonus post on different works of net art. I curated a small collection of works that focus on self-representation of many different kinds.

Daily Digital Alchemies

For one of my DDAs this week, I provided a small glimpse into a world without words and speculated about what the descent of that kind of nonsense would do to humanity. I hope you enjoy a taste of my dark, twisted sense of writing. I prefer to write darker, more nihilistic tales with tragic or unapologetically cruel characters ^.^ This kind of writing is more engaging and interesting to me~

For my other DDA, I came up with a taxonomy of sorts for a digital moth. Apparently, its Latin name translates to “skiing schoolgirl” so I played with that. I also sent out a request for a moth of my own but I’ve yet to hear back and, also, I hear the generator may be broken? Anyway, I tried~

Extras

In case you didn’t see this thread in #netnarr, @ronald_2008 and @dogtrax remixed my Twitter photo in some very cool ways.

And I returned the favor:

Both @dogtrax and I remixed our images using Lunapic. I suggested a DDA using the tool (which I hope goes over better than my other suggested DDA for creating a Cyper Punk name which was never published so idk I can only make suggestions~).

Also, I shared this interesting video on how the “meme-ification” of celebrity personage affects our own reality. I think it ties in rather well with our discussion around memes, net art, and self-representation in the digital age.

~Till next time~

Exploring Net Art~

Hello~

This week, we’ve begun to explore the emerging and fascinating world of Net Art. In order to help familiarize us with more of the purview of this field, we were asked to explore the works of different artists and collectives. (Heck yeah!)

I chose to explore the net art works of three very different people(?). Each work drew me to it for varied reasons. Mostly, I’m interested in how online spaces intersect with practices of identity construction so I gravitated towards works that explore that subject matter.

The first artist who’s work I looked at is one I am familiar with: Emilio Vavarella. For my thesis, I have explored some of his work. Of particular interest to me is his Digital Skins series. In this collection, Vavarella experiments with the manipulation of the human form in digital spaces. The purpose of this project seems to be exploratory. Vavarella seems interested in how digital spaces affect/challenge the boundaries of self and what is considered to be part of self. Interestingly, Vavarella also touches upon the idea of the skinwalker which is a creature from Navajo lore who was believed to be able to project themselves into your body and become you by just making eye contact. This ancient idea of identity theft is interesting to contrast against contemporary instances of the act which, also, often involve minimal contact with you but can have life-altering affects.

Of the importance of this project, Vavarella states, “In today’s network society, bodies have left that organic condition and are characterized by transient statuses: individuals have become di-viduals, data aggregates, samples, signals. The last boundary between us and the world, our skin, has become a transient membrane that changes along with the trans- and meta- human forms under it. The space that was occupied by the skinwalkers of the past has been taken over by infinite reconfigurations and mediations. What remains the same is that to be human still means to constantly shift through generative metamorphosis, corruptions, and de-generations that escape any clear categorization.”

I give this series a 10/10 and definitely recommend checking it out. I think it asks us to consider our evolving place in digital spaces and how digital spaces are changing our perceptions of self and what constitutes as self.

Toshiaki-2-PRINT-comp-e1454433469758 (evavarella)

 

Another work I explored is MouchetteTo me, this work really toes the line between art and Elit. I was interested in this work because it was described as a piece that explores issues of identity online. According to its entry in the Net Art Anthology, this is an interactive work that explores the fictional life of a young girl who is morbidly fascinated with topics such as suicide and death. (This work is inspired by a Robert Bresson film of the same name–which was based upon a Georges Bernanos book–in which a young teenage girl does commit suicide after a life of tragedy.) In this piece, you can respond to inquiries made by Mouchette (which means “little fly” in French) and kind of follow her oddly naive yet surprisingly serious thoughts. The text is often accompanied by grainy, provocative images that, at times, contrast with the textual content.

Honestly, I find the work to be morbidly fascinating in the same way that Jason Nelson’s This is how you will die is fascinating. As Mouchette precedes Nelson’s work, I wonder if any inspiration was drawn from it? That said, I do recognize that this work could be a little disturbing or triggering for some people (especially the feature where you suggest the best way for a 13 year old girl to commit suicide). I think being provocative and “edgy” is only part of the work’s purpose, though. More, I think the work is meant to be a reflective piece, one in which we can explore the darker parts of ourselves and our culture in order to better ourselves and our world. The digital aspect of the world seems also to ask us to consider how digitization affects the ways we relate to ourselves and our world.

I’m going to give this work an 8/10 because I feel like it really provides a meaningful experience in which users actively participate with others in the processes of identity construction.

2019-03-22 (3)

The last net art work I reviewed this week is the BODY ANXIETY project. I chose to review this work because the prescription of its purposes reminded me of the intent of the Guerrilla Girls collective. Essentially, both seek to challenge the male gaze of the world and, particularly, the male gaze of the female experience and the worth of that experience. The net art project seeks to accomplish this through female artists employing video and other digital mediums to capture their experiences and share them online. This project seems to be about changing the narrative around female identity in public spaces and, more, about reclaiming that identity by utilizing new spaces for diverse voices provided by the Internet. It’s about reframing female identity.

As a female-identifying person myself, I found this collective to be very powerful and inspiring. The featured approaches to gender expression are all so different and powerful in their own ways. I found May Waver’s contribution to be particularly compelling to me. The “glitchy” kind of replication she uses to distort her images reminds me of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe prints. I think Waver’s work, in some ways, re-imagines the mass production and commodification of the female experience in the digital age. It’s just a constant bombardment. The female form is used as an advertising tool so often we’re numb to it. Waver’s work explores how that affects our perspective on ourselves in our daily lives.

I give this collective a 9/10 because I think it provides an excellent lens on what the female experience is in the digital age. I think it’s focus on reasserting and a reclaiming a sense of sense from the so often toxic miasma of contemporary digital life is incredibly important.

For comparison

Some pictures of Guerrilla Girls work from my latest visit to the Brooklyn Museum of art.

I hope you enjoyed my perspective on these works and decide to check some of these pieces out for yourselves! Net art is definitely expanding what it means to not only create in the digital age but it means to be at this moment in time.

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~Till next time~