MAIN POST: week 7 blog question

Week 7:
Lovink (Reader, page 222) also argues that: “No matter how much talk there is of community and mobs, the fact remains that blogs are primarily used as a tool to manage the self”.

Discuss this argument giving an example of a blog.

Blogs are a peculiar sort of medium in that they have links with the most private forms of writing, ie. diaries and journals, yet they are meant to be public pieces of writing. In fact, Lovink notes this history of diary keeping and its relation with blogging, highlighting Thomas Mallon’s arguments about how no one can write anything just for himself (6). This narcissistic, self-centered focus of diary keeping, and in relation, blog writing, contrasts with the model of high interactivity that new media is offering us. Blogs sit on a peculiar boundary between public and private, allowing accessibility and social interactions, based around very personal material.

Lovink’s arguments seem to be very narrow minded, considering the wide range of blogs available on the Internet. These blogs may be similar in its counter-chronological format, yet the writing styles, content and publishing purposes can vary greatly. I agree with Lovink, up to a certain point. There are certain characteristics that distinguish more self-centered blogs from other more content focus blogs, that may contradict Lovink’s claim for blogs as a tool for self management (28).

Most blogs on the Internet take the form of a confessional, personal journal, usually authored by teenage girls from their bedrooms (Solove: 24) (example). These blogs do indeed act as a form of structuring, by writing things down and noting it with pictures, these accounts of day-to-day lives records and reflects on the self accordingly. However there are blogs that are mainly focused on certain content (example), most often authored by more than one blogger, which have none of the personal touches that the confessional blogs have. These blogs usually push for interactivity and community more than personal blogs as they are often commercially backed, meaning that the viewer interest and popularity becomes an important part of the equation.

New York blogger, Gala Darling’s blog is an interesting one, because it sits somewhere neatly in the middle of the above two extremes. The content can be seen to be very community focused, with many entries providing links to interesting websites or inspiring videos, as well as competitions and opportunities for readers to participate in. Yet there seems to be no comment function, which is interesting in considering that comment functions are often provided but do not seem inherent or even necessary to the medium.  The entries often note what she is wearing and where the items are from, as well as the public appearances and job opportunities she has been to. These personal touches can serve a self-reflective function, archiving things that she has experiences by placing them on the web. The most obvious examples are blog entries where she puts together the outfits that she has enjoyed wearing the most during the year – whilst it can be seen to be interesting from a fashion standpoint, the basic impulse is inherently narcissistic.

woowoo

Screen Capture of Gala Darling

(word count: 468)

Daniel J. Solove, ‘How the Free Flow of Informaiton Liberates and Constrains Us’, in The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumour and Privacy on the Internet, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 17-49.

Geert Lovink, “Blogging, The Nihilist Impulse”, in Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture, London: Routledge, pp. 1-38.


progressive disclosure and digital natives

This article in Six Revisions explains the technique of Progressive Disclosure that web designers use to arrange more information in a less cluttered fashion. Progressive Disclosure allows information to be displayed as the user needs it, like drop down menus that appear when the mouse if hovered over it. WordPress uses this feature in its toolbar, allowing users to navigate easily between blog tools and functions. The article also highlights possible problems these features pose, such as accessibility and compability. There is nothing more annoying than drop-down bars that either don’t function, or haven’t loaded properly.

I find it interesting that these designs can be implemented with such ease and have a whole Internet audience figure out how to use it. Granted it’s not rocket science, but progressive disclosure works on the principles that the menus are hidden unless you know to hover your mouse over it. Yet these interfaces are extremely intuitive and most Internet users don’t even think twice about it. The same goes for the way we scroll on touch screens. Ever since Apple released a range of products that made scrolling just the flick of a finger, most users of technology expect some sort of touch screen functionality in the same manner. When we go to musuems and encounter screens, more or less we expect to be able to interact with them physically.

Webdesign is a funny thing, because new things can be introduced and the manner in which audiences react to it can be unpredictable. My blog right now is using a theme that is based very much on minimalist design. The colors and simple, the lines are clean and clear cut. Images are positioned amongst the text very carefully. Yet I remember the way I would create glitter banners and customized mouse cursors when I was 12 and using ICQ to talk to strangers, and I wonder if we’ve lost a bit of the fun in just how amateur user generated content can be.

http://www.GlitterMaker.com/ - Glitter Graphics
http://www.GlitterMaker.com/Glitter GraphicsFacebook LayoutsFacebook Banners


remix reschmix

Just a quick post about the manner in which online media often take existing cultural texts and remix, alter or modify them to create new texts, with new original meanings. Lately, my favorite has been the following:

3eanuts

peanut for an elephant

screen capture of 3eanuts

This website takes Charlie Brown comics and removes the last panel, and therefore takes away the punchline, modifying the meaning of Charlie Brown into an investigation into existential angst…

Friday Political Remix

This video takes the original text and create new meaning by changing what the politicians are saying! Instead of political rhetoric, they are just singing Friday, by Rebecca Black. What is interesting is the juxtaposition of the banality of the lyrics, which is something many commentators have said are potentially representative of modernity (depressing), and the supposed importance of political debates.

Snake whilst watching Youtube

This isn’t so much remix as intertexuality, but it’s fun nevertheless. It’s a nice example of creativity mixed with the typical sense of ‘know how’ that the internet runs on. Without insider knowledge, you wouldn’t laugh at the memes, you wouldn’t know where to download files, you wouldn’t know what sites are about what. Then it also shows how people often don’t find things out by themselves anymore, and the endless game FAQs are a good example of how simple the Internet has made…things…games…

 

BAM!


hamsters in a wheel

 

wow! look at this! pokepoke

Photo sourced from Flickr, by Siemens

With the Internet comes the promise of the exciting Everything, Everywhere, Now. Ads for smart phones and internet providers capitalize on this all empowering idea of mobility and connectivity, providing endless possibilities and productivity. Yet this constant connectivity becomes burdening when it means that you are never free from the responsibility of being connected to everyone. There is pressure for e-mails to be responded to, no matter week day or weekend. Location is not a problem, with software like Skype allowing videochats for free. There is always something that you haven’t watched, an article you haven’t read, the latest meme you are not clued into. Things are constantly moving, and the newness of trending internet topics assures that older ones are buried in a constant renewal of information.

Lovink argues that the speed of events and that rate at which their occurence is replaced means that there is a real danger of these online phenemenons to disappear before there is a real chance for critical discourse to acknowledge or reflect upon it. The most common type of commentary that tends to surface and respond to internet phenemenon quickly are blogs and websites, which are also partial to this archiving of information. With this wealth and speed of information to be gauged and absorbed, news outlets find it difficult to confront such staggering amounts of data. The 24/7 nature of the Internet means that news always has to be current, it cannot be just from today or the day before. Whilst this allows perks such as stories being updated as they occur, it means that journalists are often held to the clock. This means that stories are being churned out day after day, and it could be argued that the quality of journalism has decreased since the overwhelming push of new media. The Federal Communications Commission has dubbed this effect the ‘hamsterization’ of journalism.


IS kevjumba a heterosexual bear wrestler?!

I find that the interactivity of the Internet constantly astounds me. Surfing the Web is such an individual, personal experience, we often forget the sheer power the Internet collective can have. Sure, only a small percentage of Youtube users actively create material, but when asked to participate and produce cultural outcomes, the collective can do awesome things.

Recently, YouTube celebrity Kevjumba made a videoabout how the first thing that comes on when you hit “Is Kevjumba” into Google was the query “Is Kevjumba gay?”. In orderto fortify a manlier image of himself, he asked his viewers to search “Is Kevjumba a heterosexual bear wrestler?” in hopes of messing with the popularity and rankings on Google to change the top query. And Alas! Now you don’t even have to type “Is Kevjumba”, you only have to search “Is” for the entire phrase to come up. That’s pretty impressive.

homosexual bunny...cuddler? i don't know.

Screen Capture of Kevjumba Google search

This sort of display calls into question what it actually means when YouTube is described as an online ‘community’. Jose Van Dijck argues that the term usually only applies to groups that have things of ‘taste’ in common, instead of a real translation of the type of interactions and contributions that occur in ‘real life’. These sorts of loose metaphors of common vocabulary often become problematic when we try to transcribe it from offline to online worlds. The oft quoted example would be the manner in which we use the word “Friend” on social networking sites versus real life.

Problematic!!!


internet hoaxes and twitter gullibility

Alexia Tsotsis on Techcrunch recently posted an article about how “If something on Twitter seems too bad to be true, it probably is”, claiming that as an internet audience, we are becoming more and more gullible. In some senses I can see the point the article is making, in that the more information the Internet throws at us, the more we are exposed to images and videos of extremes. An ongoing focus point of Internet entertainment seems to be examples of remarkable stupidity, with videos such as Miss South Carolina answering a question on Teen USA becoming viral. Hilarious.

Yet I also question this side-show like fascination and its apparent evidence of our gullibility. Re-tweeting something that one finds interesting, or worthwhile to check out doesn’t mean that one has guaranteed its viability. Users of Twitter are hardly likely to closely scrutinize all the links they retweet for validity. I came across the supposed eHarmony video of a girl crying about how much she loves cats because they were posted on Facebook a couple of times by more than one friend of mine, but I was skeptical. So I checked out the Youtube account of the creator, and she only had one other video which was clearly for humorous/entertainment purposes so I dismissed it as a spoof of some sort. And when things like this are so easy to track down, hoaxes rarely stay secret for long.

Remember lonelygirl15?