There Is No “NO” Button…

This post may be late because it’s a certain snarky blog poster’s birthday on Sunday, the 24th….

Hello~

Welcome back to the hellscape ^.^ This week, we’re exploring the circumstances that led to a post-truth Internet and the creation of a platform that is responsible now, more than ever, for spreading more “fake” content than real.

Strap in!

There Are Only “Okay” Buttons

In this day and age, I think it’s a given for most of us to believe that more than half of what we see online is fake. At the very least, we don’t necessarily believe that the content we encounter online has a high truthiness factor. This may be exclusive to younger generations but I do think it is a growing sentiment, regardless of political or social leanings in many case. No one believes everything they see online anymore.

But, why?

This week, we explored some of the strategies people can use in order to determine whether or not a source of information is credible. One of the methods we explored is Mike Caulfield’s “Four Moves“. I consider this a “work backwards” method. Essentially, before considering how truthful information is, you should look at the context in which this information exists–Are there other sources cited within the source? Are there other credible publications put out by this source? Can claims made within be verified by other sources? No? If not, why? To me, these all seem like basic moves one makes while conducting thorough and rigorous research. But, as we can see in this analysis of a suspect photo, these steps are apparently not so obvious.

Then why do so many people think the Internet is so fake if this kind of rigorous inspection of information is not so common?

Personally, I believe it is because of the recent and rigorous work of others done in exposing cover-ups both online and IRL that has made people more suspicious in this age. Also, I think political leanings have served to make people suspicious of all information they come across online, especially if it contradicts their world view and regardless of whether or not it comes from a credible source. We are living in “shady” times and I think the Internet has been used in the service of being shady but has also served as a microscope through which to inspect this shady activity.

Anyway, like being tracked online, I think this idea that the Internet is fake is a concept many of us now take as a given and, really, have come to expect. We don’t necessarily all remember a time when the Internet was a place where you could be fake and it didn’t matter. Which, is another aspect of this issue: the idea of being fake online is almost entirely associated with nefarious activity or with this sense of wrongdoing. Basically, if you aren’t you online, the same you you are IRL, then you have something to hide or you are purposefully trying to fool people into believing you are something you are not. There’s no playfulness or idea of experimenting with identity anymore. (Well, I do think some of that is coming back but I’ll save that discussion for a future post.) I think our jadedness with the post-truth Internet could more aptly be described as an expression of our fears–our fears of being fooled or being ridiculed or being made fun of for falling for something we believed to be true. I believe there’s a lot of complex emotion wrapped up in our ideas about the Internet and it’s ability to rapidly and unrepentantly spread false information.

This article, by Max Read, explores the web of ideas surrounding the post-truth Internet. Essentially, the core argument of this article seems to be that it’s not just one component of the Internet that is fake–it’s all of them. There are fake people using fake sites made by fake businesses to, ultimately, make real money. According to this article, that’s largely the problem. Read states, “Everything that once seemed definitively and unquestionably real now seems slightly fake; everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the real.” Here, Read is referencing the concept of Inversion. Basically, the Inversion is the tipping point where “real” traffic becomes more suspect online than bot traffic or “unreal” traffic. Computer systems and tracking systems become more apt at tracking bot traffic than traffic on sites committed by real users. It has a strong Matrix texture to it, in some ways. I think Read makes a very compelling case in this article for more attention to be paid to fake news and online tracking around it but I’m not sure I totally buy into everything he’s saying. At least, I don’t necessarily agree with some of his premises.

Mainly, I find it contentious to say that we are anymore fake online than we are IRL. Sure, the Internet provides more opportunities to be fake in some regards but, ultimately, I think it is preposterous to say that we are anymore real outside of the Internet. With how much social, academic, professional, political, cultural, etc. conditioning we have experienced every second of every day, from the moment we are alive, I think it’s inaccurate to say we are real outside the Internet and fake online. Like, I can’t agree with that. I think it’s more nuanced. I think it’s more complicated. (Check out my thoughts on that here.)

Something important that Read does talk about and that I agree with is that only advertisers benefit from the current state of the Internet. Currently, the Internet is good for ads. This is, in large part, due to unregulated data tracking and places like “click farms”. It is far too easy to game the system.

Episode 2” on the documentary series Do Not Track explores easy it is for different entities to track us, cull our data, and place targeted ads. Cookies, which are not regulated in the US Communism is apparently cool so long as it’s for surveillance and everyone gets a cookie,  can attach themselves to our computers and send back fairly comprehensive profiles based upon our data. It’s incredibly too simple.

It seems that so long as perpetuating  and pedaling inaccurate information is profitable, it’s not going to stop anytime soon. Under this system, you and I only have value so long as we can generate revenue. More than that, it doesn’t seem to matter if you are I know what is and is not true because that has no value under this system. As stated in Do Not Track, there is no “No” button for cookies; only an “Okay” button. Even if there were value in demonstrating resistance, there’s no way to do it. Which, to me, seems pretty bleak. Like, the Panopticon doesn’t even care anymore if you know that there’s no one really in the tower. That’s scary.

All this said, I feel like I need to reaffirm my own belief in the power of truth and of speaking truth to power. Though it may not have any monetary value, truth is one of the most worthwhile currencies. Every may pass but the truth will always remain. It is gold. Right now, it may feel like we’re trying to get gold out of mercury, like it’s pointless to try for the truth let alone care about it. But, it’s important now more than ever that we are consistent in our efforts. The truth doesn’t always have to be the loudest voice to be heard; just the most consistent. Power will never hear a truth that isn’t voiced. More, you and I will never believe the truths we don’t reaffirm for ourselves. If anything, that is what the Internet is revealing to us.

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Bonus Post

This week, I added some articles to the field guide that elaborate more on how misinformation proliferates and perpetuates in online spaces. These articles focus on the problem of fake news and just how easily it is to spread on the Internet. I think these articles provide some reading strategies that could be useful for further developing digital literacy skills.

Daily Digital Alchemies

This week, I had some fun and created an alternate persona online named Veronica ^.^ She swears she has no idea where any emails may have gone or where any video tapes are or what the word “collusion” really means…..>.>

Also, I had some fun with pixelating an image of the night sky which I feel represents my feelings towards alchemy: that alchemy is a bright light in an otherwise dark sky. (Same as the truth.)

~Till next time~

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Shadow Girl Reflects VI: Sharing

“World building” is somehow a difficult concept to attribute to the world–proper, so to speak. Actually, it’s kind of a hard term to think of the world in/with because the world is built, isn’t it? All around us, there are these constructed and contrived places. Infrastructure and institutions. Spaces with such seemingly benign, or, should I say, obvious stories that even considering them as storied spaces at all is bizarre. Like, I know why the library is in the center of main campus–access and availability. And, a library is a resource center, one that provides books for your needs/interests so long as you have a card with the institution. It’s all very prescribed. Background noise at this point. Facts my brain doesn’t need time with to process and sort.

And, yet…

There is a world that exists behind or beyond that kind of dictated, socio-culturally enforced, shallow surface. When I think of the library, utilitarian purposes don’t exclusively come to mind. The books I’ve checked out do. The conversations I had with the librarians do. The friendship I formed with one of the librarians does. Even, all my anxiety about tripping down the library’s totally trippable steps comes to mind when I think of the library! (Don’t judge. I’m afraid of all heights equally and I’ve seen more than a couple of people miss those tricky steps~)

Anyway, it still sounds weird to think of my own personal experiences with an environment or place as being “world building” but, I guess they are. I mean, it’s how I see my world–through my interactions with it. Those interactions inform how I navigate and how I structure my life. If I had a poor experience at a certain restaurant, I probably won’t go back there, regardless of how hungry I may be and my proximity (i.e ease of access) to it. Through a utilitarian lens, when hungry, I should go to the nearest place that provides food. But, that’s just not the reality of the world. Not the one I live in, at least. I’m not eating someplace where I don’t like the service. End of story.

I’m not sure if there’s a means of communicating all the stories a space can accumulate in a way that isn’t overwhelming or too selective, still. Like I said earlier, my brain can process a place’s utilitarian, dictated purposes like second nature. Increasing the amount of info (i.e stories) it would need to process in a short amount of time may become more of an interference in how I’m informed about a space instead of an improvement. Maybe. Our brains are capable of processing such an abundance of info though–but it takes time to do it well. And, I think when it comes to attaching a multitude of associations to a place, time becomes a reasonable concern. Over-stimulation, a major concern. Plus, how much does every person who walks through/uses the library need to know about my fear of falling down the stairs? What would that meaningfully add to their concept of the space? Would they walk a little slower down the steps? Again, maybe. If they cared. Which is another thing.

I may know the technical purpose of a space and know the intended use of a space, but that doesn’t mean I care. For another example, the Quick Check’s (local convenience store) back lot by my high school may have been intended for parking–and it was used for parking–but everyone also knew it was a great place to skateboard after the skate park closed. And, to be honest, that function superseded the original because it was the only one most anyone cared about. The police would come by and round you up every now and again but that didn’t deter anyone. So, that was my roundabout way of explaining that there is a level of care that goes into the conceiving of a place. It’s the functions that everyone cares about that become a place’s associations, become what it is renowned for. Applying this idea to storied spaces, to me, means that people will still only care about a select few stories themselves because there’s nothing stopping them from doing that. Attempting to give a place a greater depth of meaning through attributing more stories to it, while admirable and overall nice, doesn’t ensure any intentions will stick. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer :/

Still, I think there’s some merit to using digital means or digital storytelling to help inform people about how to conceive of a place, how to build it. At the very least, it can provide a place for a record of another place’s experiences. Like, a lot of museums have apps now that allow you to explore the entire museum via your phone. Some even have cool activities you can do whilst meandering through the galleries. Essentially, those who do care about what lies below the surface of a space can dive in. I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable for other spaces like universities to have apps specifically for cataloging the experiences of their students in order to possibly enrich experience of the entire space overall. For any place, really, I don’t think that’s unreasonable or, too far off from reality. Not with the way technology is developing.

(Let me know if any apps already exist that are attempting to do what I just spent for-freakin’- ever describing!)

Sharing Stories

Apparently, I was in a sharing mood this week. Adding a dash of “feelings” to both this week’s blog post and to the Padlet. Just couldn’t help myself.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about the purpose (or, intended purpose, should I say) or, really, the person, behind the writing on this blog, I’d check out this week’s post. Also, if you want to hear me curse at Audacity. And, read a story in my own voice….

(Speaking of, the items I used to make the sound effects are, in order, sticks of vine charcoal for the tinkling sound in the beginning, 2 faux-skulls banged together for the steady beat + mortar & pestle, a stick of vine charcoal snapped in half for snapping bird bones, and a handful of tortilla chips I crushed for the crunching bone sound. Kind of difficult guesses. Sorry~ but not really)

Creative Enterprise (i.e that section you can skip if you don’t care~ I’ll only cry myself to sleep a little bit)

This week saw a grand total of….*drum beat* bot story written.

Skin Girl

This is largely due to the fact that I have a new-found addiction to My Favorite Murder. That podcast I mentioned in my blog post this week. It’s ruining my life (i.e productivity) and I love it. Highly recommend.

Anyway, before I became a raging addict, I did manage to finish a jewelry-making project–a necklace that I’m still describing as “blood-splatter wings” because I haven’t picked a name yet…. Like I said, this has been a poor past few days for getting sh*t done.

Also, I’ve managed to acquire some bones (chicken, relax, and ethically gathered) for my project I’m working on now. Have a new friend who dabbles in taxidermy. Score. So, definitely check back to see how that turns out.

Hopefully, the creativity will pick back up. I’m like half-way through the podcast’s archive so I’m on my way to getting it out of my system. Or, you know, maybe I’ll accept moderation into my heart….

Final Thoughts

I like the idea of storied spaces catching on. Would make the world feel “homier”, I think. Less indoctrinated and more lived in.

Actually, it would be cool, I think, to create a kind of storied space with my writing an art. Like a show or an exhibit that sought to join the two mediums together via a personal interjection of some sort. Maybe that could be accessed in a digital format. I’d like to find some way to get people to hear me reading my stories too–so, that could also be an element to this concept. Think that would be pretty cool and be a way to “story a space” because everyone would have their own interactions and experiences with the exhibit to add to the ones that are already installations of it. It’s something to think about anyway.

Shadow Girl signing off~

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Shadow Girl Reflects V: Silent

So, you may have noticed that I’ve been rather silent this week. Or, maybe you haven’t….

Anyway, the reason why Shadow Girl has been on the down-low these past few days is because she is currently–and unfortunately–without a reliable mode of access to the digitalscape 😦

Last Wednesday, in fact, my laptop decided to–moment of silence–die. At least, that’s the official diagnosis till I hear back from the repair techs. (And, tbh, they’re outlook was not very encouraging.) Since, I’ve been relegated to an ancient–see, shitty–tablet that I haven’t used for a while. As you can imagine, my internet travels have been quite slow. I wish I could say I’m taking the, uh, scenic route but, I can’t really see the images yet. They’re still loading….

To make a long story short, I was unable to play around on Audacity this week or with using sounds to create a narrative. Hopefully, I will be able to do that soon but now was a really bad time for my laptop to pull a kamikaze. (See, financially) But, I will figure something out.

Sorry to ditch once more on an opportunity for me to share my voice. Keeps seeming to happen…. First on the Studio Visit and now with Audacity T_T For some reason, the universe is conspiring against me, it seems. (Vengeance shall be wreaked, mark my words. My revenge will be inevitable, Universe.)

Creative Enterprise

Despite my difficulties–see, struggles with ancient relics of the technological age–I was able to add to my own creative pursuits. A poem and a story.

Attrition~ poem I posted to YWP about how hard hope can be to welcome inside, more, how hard it can be to accept an invitation out. (Look out for more posts from me on YWP!)

Split Girl~ Another twisted tale ^.^ This one may be a little disturbing for anyone struggling with their gender identity–may evoke gender dysphoria–so fair warning.

**My writing is never meant to offend but I am aware that it still can. And, I’m sorry if that happens. Let me know if there are any tags I can add to help alleviate any issues :)**

Aside from these new works, I’ve a few others I’m rather proud of (All can be found under the Killing It tag):

Bone Girl~ What fortunes lie in your bones?

Bone Girl .V~ Every bird hatches from some egg…

Wasteland Girl~ How dangerous can you be?

Dream Girl~ How much can you take before you crack?

It Will Be Satisfied~ Bad karma’s a b*tch.

Ghost Girl~ What lies have you been tricked into believing believed?

And, my long-running series (which should be back to weekly updates by next week, fingers crossed….)

Living Dead Girl

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV,

**All are inspired in some way by random, bot posts. Some more closely, other loosely. In my opinion, using bot posts for writing prompts is an easy way to incorporate technology into the classroom in a meaningful way and, it is lots of fun ^.^ Unexpected and nonsensical but full of endless creative, well, enterprise.

Speaking of….

Not digital storytelling related exactly but, remember that scalex analogy I gave at the end of this post? Remember that scalex protects one side of a metal piece while the other is enameled? Well, I’ve finally finished that piece I was working on!

Untitled (TBA) Copper, enamel, epoxy, acrylic paint, & resin

Like I said, this isn’t so related to digital storytelling, per say, as it is to creativity itself. But, all of my work is related in some way to my writing and this piece is certainly no exception. I’m rather proud of how it has turned out ^.^ See? The scalex was totally worth it. Without it, I never would’ve been able to create this work. Maybe I’ll bring it to class Wednesday night….

(Does it look like how I write?)

Final Thoughts

I’ve had a rough week. Productive in some ways but disheartening and aggravating in others. Hopefully, next week will be something worth writing home about!

Catch you all on the flip side!