All posts tagged with 'social media'
Clay Shirky is a writer, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. He has a joint appointment at New York University (NYU) as a Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and Assistant Arts Professor in the New Media focused graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). His consulting practice is focused on the rise of decentralized technologies such as peer-to-peer, web services, and wireless networks that provide alternatives to the wired client–server infrastructure that characterizes the World Wide Web. His courses address, among other things, the interrelated effects of the topology of social networks and technological networks, and how our networks shape culture and vice-versa. His written work includes the books Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (2008) and Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age (2010).
3:15 p.m., Saturday, April 16, room 701 | Faculty respondent: Peter Asaro
The Social Meaning of Prison: Facebook and Twitter Access and Usage in U.S. Correctional Facilities
A changing media landscape has profoundly altered the institution of the prison, a space once characterized by walls, cells, and other physical barriers imposed to contain and isolate deviants from the greater community (Foucault, 1977). Whereas today’s inmates remain physically apart, they no longer exist in social and information isolation, a reality that has rewritten the meaning of “prison” (Meyrowitz, 1985).
Social networking forms such as Facebook and Twitter have only recently appeared in the American correctional facility, and their usage has increased opportunities for prisoners to connect with the outside world – and each other. Prisoner use of social networking has not only complicated traditional practices of institutional security and control (e.g. inmate coordination of riots), but has inherently altered the experience of imprisonment (e.g. inmate access to romantic relationships). While computer usage and internet access is prohibited in most U.S. prisons, inmates gain access to social networking largely vis-à-vis contraband cell phones or through use of for-profit intermediaries which allow inmates to create and edit online content through the mail.
In this paper, I examine inmate access and usage of social networking, and explore the implications of these practices on institutional control and greater prisoner social experience. I argue that prisons will not be successful in attempts to end inmate social networking, and should instead focus on using these formats to aid prisoner education and reentry.
Protocol Z: The Distributed Social Organization of Zombies
The object of my research is the representation of distributed social organization in popular culture. Specifically, I explore this concept via the increasingly popular zombie narrative. As evident in Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel series “The Walking Dead” (2003–), there is a tension between the hiearchical structure of the family and the “flat” organization of zombies crowds. I argue that this tension stems from a cultural fear of not only zombies but also anxieties surrounding the information age. In fact, the first decade of the twenty-first century has seen a trend of non-fiction books, such as “Crowdsourcing” (2009), “The Cult of the Amateur” (2007), and “You are not a Gadget” (2010), that warn of an oncoming horde. However, the zombies of these books are the participants and users of the internet. By articulating the concept of crowds by E. Canetti with A. Galloway’s “Protocol” (2004), I form an analytical framework that addresses the issues posed by S.J Lauro and K. Embry’s “Zombie Manifesto” (2008). The goal of such an analysis is to first question how zombies have become the vessal for fears surrounding the distributed network crowd and second, suggest that this horror sub-genre is an important space to experiment and to investigate organizational possibilities.
Rethinking the Image in the Digital Age
In this day and age, our instant communal interaction is mediated by images posted on social networks. Flickr, Facebook, Instagr.am and Twitpic are just a few examples of technologies creating a vast transformation in the way we experience both online interrelations and our daily lives. It seems that no moment we experience is complete without documenting it, posting it and waiting for an online friend to press like or comment about it. Technology is dictating an epistemic change in the way we view ourselves and experience our social contacts. Every experience does not start, cease to exist or truly felt unless this process of documenting-posting-commenting takes place. We are constantly aware to the presence of a digital camera, while sharing our every move.
Jean-Luc Nancy perceives the image as a unique being which allows our being-with to come to presence. In my proposed research, I wish to stem from Nancy’s perspective and view the image in the online arena, where it comes into presence and opens a possibility for being- with, whilst it becomes a part of an interface which has a set of pre-determined practices. This transformation, re-defining our social interaction and experience as spectators on the one hand and the practice of photography on the other, does not take place only within the web. Kodak, for example, recently launched re-branding in order to meet the new demands of the “Onlife” generation (Online and life – a combination of these two spheres through social networks). They are now trying to replace the ever-familiar Kodak Moment with a new concept: So Kodak – a new campaign for a camera with a share button. Meaning, technology does not only make us re-define our social engagement, it may also indicate that our epistemic perception is on the verge of transforming itself to a Shared one.
In this frame of mind, I also intend to discuss the community built through defined interfaces, as well as the absence of those who are left outside of this visual game. Mainly, I propose to observe visual knowledge which is migrating in social networks; its instability, ever-changing materiality, the changes these transitions also decrees in the practice of photography and the inherent shift it induces in our social interaction and being-with.
3:15 p.m., Saturday, April 16, room 716 | Faculty respondent: Eugene Thacker
Mourning Becomes Electronic: Death and Memorial in Cyberspace
From the dreaded computer viruses of the early days of cyberspace to the so-called dead links of contemporary web parlance, biological processes influence our articulation of cyber technologies. This paper examines how the internet engages metaphors of the body, with special attention to interventions it makes regarding the finality of death. Derrida is not the first to note that death is at least partially culturally constructed; how might culturally specific understandings of death develop within contemporary cyber culture? Popular social networking sites Facebook and MySpace nominally suggest physicality and geography, respectively, yet they exist solely in the digital realm. What sort of afterlives develop when social network users die? In a realm devoid of physical entities, what do their survivors mourn?
This paper asks how newly developing conventions of cyber grieving might, in the process of mourning the dead, grant the deceased a form of immortality, even as it investigates how the finality of death might drive social communication among the living, in the digital realm. How might the internet provide a new forum – a new medium, in both the cyber space and spiritualist senses of the word – for memorial communication? Developing conventions of cyber grieving shift what Eve Sedgwick calls the “place” of memorial to the shared space of online social networks. What happens when social networking conventions elide the conditional “as if” which Sedgewick describes as characteristic of memorial communication? To whom do we speak when we memorialize the dead online?
Supplementary materials: Video: Pocket Cemetery
Networked Mortality: Perceptions and Projections of Death in Digital
The death of anonymity, the death of Adobe Flash, and the death of the internet itself; digital life has certainly received its share of predictive dramatic endings but what about death of the users? Where and for how long will our digitized information be searchable and interactions recorded? As we increase the technological ways in which we can track, capture, upload, and locate ourselves we extend the lifecycle of memories and perhaps our relationship with mortality. This paper will address portions of my thesis that speak to our growing online memorialization processes and turn to historical rituals and urban symbolism and discourses on death to look at how networked mortality is revolutionizing life, technology and projections of mortality.
The presentation will look at the intersections between mortality and digital culture, mapping our interactions with death through social media against theorists including Phillippe Aries’ analysis of western attitudes toward death from the middle ages to the present. Specifically, a look at the mediums—such as newspaper obituary sections—that have in the last several decades been used to acknowledge death juxtaposed against today’s involuntary networked memorial, or the memorial that occurs when a digitally and socially connected individual passes away. Finally, the presented paper will challenge whether the online medium alters existing social practices related to mourning and has the power to influence our digital consumption.
Supplementary materials: Death on Facebook infographic | “As Older Users Join Facebook, Ghosts Reach Out,” New York Times | Radiolab episode: “After Life”
The Materiality of Deletion
Delete. Erase. Trash. Wipe. Shred. Tape over. Sanitize. Undo. The words used to specify the removal of a record is as diverse as the formats that it can take shape in. Files are deleted from the drive. Audio and video wiped from tapes. Words erased from paper. For more certainty, the paper can be shredded. Tapes burned. Hard drive dismantled, platters grinded.
As effortless as it seems to delete a file, undo a word, or even wipe a tape, the physical proximity and possession of the recordable medium no longer provides a tangible guarantee. The comfort of the possibility of effortless deletion has proven disruptive when the computer is plugged into the network, files systems scattered and distributed, users clicking in and sharing out. Material presence of information never guaranteed the author control of the content, but the language of expressing and representing control over information is changing.
This project is about verifying and testing the hypothesis that a meaningful change is taking place in our relationship to the materiality of deletion. My proposal is to foreground the tools, surfaces and grammar involved in record deletion across a spectrum of media. To explore the question: are we agreeing to forget without material verification?
11. a.m., Saturday, April 16, room 715 | Faculty respondent: Dean David Scobey
Added Value: Signs and Symptoms of HIV/AIDS Awareness and Activism
This paper argues that the commodification of HIV/AIDS awareness and activism in the product (RED) brand relies on unstable branding logic that operates as a sign value without a material basis. Activism around HIV/AIDS has evolved since the disease was first diagnosed in the early 1980s, and the business community has increasingly taken on the AIDS crisis within the framework of “cause marketing,” using diverse promotional strategies. The paper provides a preliminary sketch of the cultural history surrounding branded HIV/AIDs awareness in the fashion domain as context for its discussion of product (RED). It then argues that the increasing commodification of HIV/AIDS activism currently seen in product (RED)’s advertising has culminated in a “meta-brand,” in which (RED)’s sign value of compassionate consumerism obscures the material reality of the AIDS crisis. Goldman and Papson (2006) argue that capitalism is increasingly branded with qualities of care and benevolence, producing a sign value that informs the advertising and promotional activities of corporate brands and banks. Following Goldman and Papson, this paper suggests that (RED) likewise signifies care and compassion around HIV/AIDS of HIV/AIDS activism through a “meta-brand” strategy. Utilizing their model, this paper demonstrates that the (RED) brand’s sign value is precarious and bears little relation to the material reality of the cause it is marketing. It subsequently becomes unstable and prone to a crisis in its identity, undermining its purpose as an activist mechanism.
Brand Yourself: Freelance Writers, Social Media, and the Discourse of Self-Promotion
Due to shifts in corporate workplace structure and the rapid development and proliferation of new media technologies and modes of communication, the process of finding work and shaping one’s career is different now than it was even a decade or two ago. At the same time, late capitalist society has witnessed what Norman Fairclough calls “the colonization of discourse by promotion”: that is, the saturation of public dialogue by promotional speech typical of consumer culture, even in the most informal social exchanges. One striking example can be seen through the “microblogging” website Twitter.com, which, in its relatively short life span, has become an object of interest for business gurus and marketing experts who have built a cottage industry around how to use the site for “personal branding” – the crafting of one’s online persona for social and/or economic gain. Drawing from discourse analysis practices and informed by Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of social capital, this paper explores self-promotional discourse and “brand-building” through interviews with a group of people for whom networking and personal brand cultivation is of particular importance: freelance writers and editors. The following questions are raised: How have we internalized the discourse of personal branding? How do our professional and personal lives blur together online (and off)? And what are the subjective implications for a culture in which even a seemingly casual online exchange carries the performative overtones of “always be closing”
Who is Responsible? Liberty Mutual’s Construction of a Faux Public Sphere
The strategically crafted practices a company disseminates regarding its “corporate social responsibility” has become a popular industry buzzword referred to as cause-related marketing (CRM). Though CRM measures are overt, advertisers are considered cultural mediators of an affect industry pioneering creative methods to reach and move consumers towards consumption.
Recently, there has been a mounting trend to articulate social contributions through interactive forms of online advertising, which are less easily distinguishable. New media CRM mediations, I argue, are complex cultural sites of veiled corporate objectives and mixed consumer interactions.
As existing companies shift gears in their public portrayal of social consciousness, the aim of my project is to gain a richer understanding of the conflation between consumerism and citizenship. One such commercial space that presents the ideological tensions of corporate responsibility may be studied within Liberty Mutual’s The Responsibility Project website (www.thereponsibilityproject.com). After receiving tremendous positive feedback after a television ad campaign tagged “Doing the right thing,” the insurance company announced its commitment to this upright moral principle by developing a website specifically dedicated to nurturing conversations of civic responsibility. Forging partnerships with other “responsible” enterprising organizations such as NBC, the website features a library of celebrity films, a blog, and stories for all users to engage in discussions regarding ethically challenging situations. This paper is focused on tracing the collective value grafted within this social media ad that assigns the affective prospect of social change to consumption. From a critical cultural studies perspective, I offer the concept of a faux-“public sphere” to analyze the discursive strategies of Liberty Mutual within this interactive advertisement (Habermas, 1989). Here, textual analysis of the Responsibility Project website offers a unique optic to examine mechanics of Liberty Mutual’s posturing of citizenship. Finally, analyzing the user-posted comments offer a rich understanding of the shifts in consumer culture and the interactions within the faux-public sphere.
Traveling at the Speed of Light: QR Codes
The small dark lined bars appearing on products and/or price tags employed for retail inventory purposes have graduated from practical non-human clerical activities to 21st century social networking, product enhancement and consumer activity. Advertisers have been co-opting codes as a tool to capture the imagination of the public by creating a direct link to product information and/or activities. These creative elements enhance the item’s visibility and desirable factors by offering up lush visual interactive digital material. Employed largely as an element within marketing campaigns, the “QR” code(s) (Quick Response) allow the user to travel to an alternate universe, creating a time and space shift through mobile application and device. Individuals have the ability to receive and act upon geo tagged consumer offers, DNA ancestry portraits and a bevy of entertainment options from landing on a micro website to viewing holiday films. Just as 20th century travel was explored and institutionalized by automobiles, trains, planes and spacecraft, 21st century journey has arrived through the reconstruction of time and space by traveling within mobile technology. The exploration of this growing phenomenon is examined through diverse examples of QR codes and digital imaging that illustrate a connection to 19th and 20th century communication practices and outlets, the cultural shift of human to non-human interaction and results of those findings.
Supplementary materials: Vanity Fair/GQ advertising spread for Broadway Empire | Critical Themes Conference participants who wish to download a mobile QR code reader may visit the I-nigma reader application website or visit the app store on your mobile phone and request I-Nigma. It is a free installation.
Alex Cline is a dissident researcher and social media technician, interested in the role reappropriated technology plays in supporting autonomous spaces. Originally from London, he moved to the NY Metro Area for high school and now traverses New School as a Philosophy student and a Research Assistant in the Eugene Lang Culture and Media Department. Other current projects include a reconsideration of the composite individual in Spinoza’s Ethics, a critical media analysis of Russian subversive art group Voina, and a forthcoming panel on Youth and Precarious Labor. http://newschool.academia.edu/AlexCline
Tracy Miller is a New York-based editor and writer, and an M.A. candidate in the Media Studies program at the New School. Her research interests include the impact of technology on everyday communication; online communities and social networks; political economy of media; and the evolution of journalism in the digital age. As a journalist specializing in online media, Tracy has held editorial staff positions at the New York Daily News, AOL, and Prevention magazine. She earned her undergraduate degree in English from Kenyon College, graduating magna cum laude. You can find her riding her bike around Brooklyn, or on Twitter @MillerTracyL.