Author Archives: jennydavis

The Curatorial Life

curate1

 

So I’ve been thinking a lot about curation and its role in contemporary social life. I’ve had such thoughts before, and have since expanded upon them. Here’s where I am…

Curation is the act of picking and choosing, marginalizing and highlighting, adding, deleting, lumping, and splitting. Social life in itself is highly curatorial, as social actors necessarily filter infinite masses of stimuli, selecting and preening in intricate ways while sculpting performances out of the broad slabs that constitute affect, body, and demeanor. In what follows, I argue that new technologies—and social media in particular—amplify curation, facilitating its operation as a key organizing principle of augmented sociality.

Specifically, I briefly outline a three-pronged theory of curation, in which social actors curate their own performances, curate what they see, and are always subject to curatorial practices of others—both human and machine. I refer to curated performance as outgoing curation, curated viewing as incoming curation, and curation at the hands of others as third-party curation. (more…)

#review: Technologically Mediated Embodiment

This is the first post in a new Cyborgology series we call #review. #review Features links to, summaries of, and discussions around academic journal articles and books. This week, I’m reviewing:

Goodings, Lewis and Ian Tucker. 2014. “Social Media and the Co-Production of Bodies Online: Bergson, Serres, and Facebook’s Timeline.” Media Culture & Society 36(1):37-51. [paywalled PDF]

review

Goodings and Tucker work to understand the difficulties of embodiment in light of pervasive technological mediation, and in particular, Facebook’s Timeline. They do so using data from 8 focus groups, with a total of 25 participants.

The authors refer to technologically mediated embodiment as that embodiment which exists in light of, and conjunction with, pervasive electronic and digital media. Through the work, the authors identify two key problems or difficulties of technologically mediated embodiment. First, technologically mediated embodiment troubles communicative boundaries, as multiple networks, with varying expectations, converge together in shared social spaces. Second, technologically mediated embodiment stifles the fluid nature of personal biography, cementing the past in ways which inhibit future re-interpretations of the self. (more…)

The Telephone: A Highly Deficient Technology

via commons.wikimedia.org

via commons.wikimedia.org

 

When my phone rings, it’s almost always my mom, or her mom, or my partner’s mom. It’s always somebody’s mom.  For everyone else, the notification is a buzz, a ding, a quick vibration. For all of the not-moms in my life, we communication via text message, Facebook, Twitter, email, chat, or Skype. We connect regularly, but rarely through voice calls. When I do pick up the phone, I last about 30 minutes max. Then, my ear feels hot, my shoulders tense, and I refuse to ask “were you talking to me, or to Dad?”” one more time.

This is indicative of a wider trend. The telephone, as a medium of voice-talk, is in massive decline—at least amongst the texting public. A widely cited 2012 CDC study shows that over half of all American homes rely predominately on mobile devices, with almost 40% living in landline-free homes. And we all know, the cellphone is far better at just about everything than voice-to-voice communication.  With smartphones, the talk function seems almost like an afterthought, available in case of emergency. (more…)

Tikker: The Death/Happiness Watch

Ticker1

The Quantified Self is defined—in the tagline of the movement’s website—as self -knowledge through numbers.  With the example of the Tikker “Happiness Watch” (also known as the Death Watch) I argue for the primacy of self-knowledge within the movement, and the subservient role of numbers. (more…)

DARPA’s Robot Olympics

For those of us eagerly awaiting the Winter Olympics this February, we got an Olympics of a different kind to tide us over. Last weekend, the “Robot Olympics” took place at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in south Florida. Schaft Inc., a Google-owned Japanese company, took first place at The Games, officially called the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC). The events in which competitors compete, and the criteria by which they are evaluated, are nicely illustrative of Earnst Schraube’s technology as materialized action approach, and present an opportunity to push the theory further. (more…)

Elsevier:Removing Papers from Academia.edu Since 2013

 

elsivier

So, Elsevier pulled kind of a jerk move. And probably a move that’s not great for PR.

As it turns out, publishing giant Elsevier is taking down copyrighted papers from Academia.edu. Here’s a bit of background. For-profit publishing companies (like Elsevier, Sage, Taylor & Francis etc.) make authors sign a copyright agreement when they publish in the journals run by these companies. This gives distribution rights to the publisher, and takes them away from the author. However, many authors (like myself) sign said agreement, and then immediately post content on Academia.edu, ResearchGate, or other academic-based social networking sites.

Technically, posting our work on these sites is illegal. However, the publishers’ policies, which create false scarcity, exploit intellectual labor, and restrict knowledge sharing, are in a word, preposterous. Here’s why: (more…)

The Coolest Thing About Online Dating Sites

Via Qz.com

Via Qz.com

Quartz, a business and marketing website, recently released data on the Facebook dating app Are You Interested (AYI), which connects singles within the confines of their direct and indirect Facebook networks. Quartz’ data are based on a series of yes or no questions about who users are interested in, as well as response rates between users, once notified of a potential suitor. The data show that white men and Asian women receive the most interest, whereas black men and women receive the least amount of interest (see headline photo for the complex picture of racial preference by gender). The writers at Quartz summarize the findings as follows: (more…)

My Dog, the Cyborg

pill

This post is a question. A highly self-indulgent question. About my dog. Consider yourself warned.

The question is this: why have I, a person who explicitly rejects mind-body dualisms, readily altered my dog’s physiology through medicine and surgeries, but strongly resisted altering his brain chemistry through anti-anxiety drugs? Or, in other words, why am I so cool with technologies of the body but distinctly uncomfortable with technologies of the mind?

(more…)

The Tl;dr Self

tldr self1

The What-Would-I-Say App, (#wwis) created by HackPrinceton, has garnered widespread popularity. The app basically amalgamates your Facebook posts, rearranges them, and computes a best guess at what you, the Facebook user, would say. According the app’s creators, here’s how it works: (more…)

Re-imagined Authenticity

 

Over the last couple of weeks, a YouTube video (above) of New York artist Richard Renaldi has continued to populate my Facebook News Feed. Renaldi’s project Touching Strangers is such that he positions strangers together in an intimate poses and photographs them. Despite lack of prior contact, these photographs depict what look to be quite sincere expressions of emotion. Moreover, the subjects interviewed in the video say that they feel some sort of connection towards those with whom they posed. This is certainly moving, admittedly interesting, but as a trained social psychologist, not very surprising. It does, however, offer interesting implications for people’s oft-spouted rants against in-authenticity and identity work on social media.

Let me begin by discussing the sociology of the work. I will them move on the implications for authenticity in light of new technologies. (more…)