___With the Lilly Allen “Hard Out Here” video blowing up teh interwebs this week, I wanted to briefly revisit and expand on my earlier piece on “trolling as the new Love & Theft.” You can read it here. In particular, I want to expand my argument there in the direction of a conversation Nathan and I were having Tuesday over Twitter. We were talking about the idea of “coincidental consumption.” There Nathan defined it as a “passive byproduct of the sharing economy.” I don’t think it’s entirely passive..or active–it’s a both/neither case, as I see it. Coincidental consumption requires activity, input, and attention; it’s just that all these are indirect, or, if direct, momentary digressions. It’s a co-incidental consumption: it happens together with the primary mode of attention and address, but as a secondary or tertiary (and so on) concern.
After seeing today’s XKCD (above) I sort of wish I had written all of my digital dualism posts as an easy-to-read table. I generally agree with everything on there (more on that later), but I’m also pretty confused as to how Randall Munroe got to those conclusions given some of his past comics. I can’t square the message of this table with the rest of Monroe’s work that has maligned the social sciences as having no access to The Way Things Are. The table is funny specifically because the social scientists he pokes fun of, did a lot of work to make those answers plainly (painfully?) obvious. How does someone with an obvious resentment for the social sciences, also make a joke about how we were always already alienated? (more…)
Image from the 365 Days Project, where they discuss a 1981 Christian radio show about hidden Satanic messages in rock songs. You can listen here: http://ubu.com/outsiders/365/2003/012.shtml
This post is gonna wind its way through the last 30 years of pop culture on its way to saying something about Jenny’s recent post on “The ‘ought’ of Technology.” I want to broaden the lens from technology in particular to pop culture in general, because I think the “ought” Jenny identifies isn’t limited to tech use. The imperative to be moderate is a more generalized cultural norm. This concept of moderation may help us think about how norms and conventions about tech use are integrated in and impact other, less explicitly techy phenomena. It may also explain why nobody cares anymore about kids hearing hidden messages–e.g., from Satan–on records, but worries more about their BMI and their diet. (more…)
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…)
This post is basically speculative. It’s a question, or rather, a hypothesis. I’m not citing empirical evidence so much as suggesting a line of inquiry, which then needs some grounding in empirical evidence. The question is this: If Afrofuturism uses UFO/alien spaceship imagery to describe slavery and middle passage,* can, and if so where, do drones fit in Afrofuturist mythology?
There are no more media in the literal sense of the word (I’m speaking particularly of electronic mass media) – that is, of a mediating power between one reality and another, between one state of the real and another. Neither in content, nor in form. Strictly, this is what implosion signifies. The absorption of one pole into another, the short-circuiting between poles of every differential system of meaning, the erasure of distinct terms and oppositions, including that of the medium and of the real… Circularity of all media effects. Hence the impossibility of meaning in the literal sense of a unilateral vector that goes from one pole to another. One must envisage this critical but original situation at its very limit: it is the only one left us… the medium and the real are now in a single nebula whose truth is indecipherable.
Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation
Halloween is said to be a secularized celebration of the traditional Christian holiday, All Hallows Eve (itself appropriated from pagan ceremonies to remember the dead). This, of course, is false. Symbols of death and of our connection to what lies beyond (e.g., pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, witches, etc.) do little more than provide a textured backdrop to masses of fantasy heroes/heroines, sexy [fill-in-the-blank], cross-dressers, and, increasingly, it seems, racial/cultural appropriators. During Halloween, we do not celebrate our traditions; we cannibalize them. And, that is what makes Halloween unique. Halloween is a celebration of the present–a reveling in the zeitgeist of our time. Halloween is the quintessence of our post-Modern cultural logic. (more…)
I came relatively late to creepypasta. I think I actually discovered it right around Halloween a few years back, through some recommendation links I saw floating around from friends. Creepypasta, for those who might still not know, is a kind of circulating web-based piece of horror fiction, sometimes written and sometimes in the form of images or video. The term appears to come from “copypasta”, which in turn appears to come from “copy-paste”. This is significant because of what it indicates about creepypasta’s webby origins, which are in turn indicative and revealing of some further things.
When I was young, Robert Stack would visit me in my dreams. His monotone voice and sharp eyes would come through my wood-paneled RCA cathode-ray childhood TV and settle in my subconscious until I went to sleep. During the day Unsolved Mysteries was an opportunity to, “solve a mystery” from the comfort of my own home. If I watched the dramatizations closely enough I thought I might recall some repressed memory of an alien abduction or I might notice a telltale tattoo that marks the new neighbor as a relocated serial killer. Solving these Lifetime-disseminated mysteries was a sacred trust that I did not take lightly. Everything from persistent hauntings to serial killings were on my plate. When you grow up in South Florida, extra terrestrial abduction and friendly serial killers seem so plausible. If we were able to fit over a million people on a sandbar and intoxicate them long enough to stay through hurricane season, anything could happen. But no matter how much I investigated I always seemed to disappoint Robert. My neighbor with eight fingers that loved ham radio was not the man suspected of murdering two teenagers in Ohio; he was just really racist. The lady across the street was not a reoccurring spectral phenomena; she was just 90 years old. None of these people were particularly extraordinary —let alone extraterrestrial— but Unsolved Mysteries injected a sense of the enchanted in an otherwise mundane suburban landscape. (more…)
Happy Halloween Week, everyone!! As much as I love free candy from strangers and the widespread creativity of costuming, Halloween inevitably brings with it a darker reality—and I’m not talking about monsters or ghouls. Unfortunately, Halloween becomes a showcase of Americans’ systemic racism, as displayed through ill-conceived racially fraught costume choices.
Below, I’ve compiled some nice resources to share with undergraduate students (or anyone, really) to facilitate discussions about and dissuasion from, the racist choices so many people make this time of year.
Keep in mind, the most effective form of anti-racist conversation is the one that happens *before* someone has a chance to engage in racist behavior. You get to avoid all of the messy defensiveness.
This list is far from exhaustive, but has some really useful material. Additional suggestions welcome in the comments section
In last week’s excellent post on drones, Sarah argues that surveillance is what makes an remotely controlled, semi-autonomous robot a drone. As Sarah puts it, “a drone is what a drone does: it watches.” Or, more precisely, it “gazes,” or watches with the eyes/from the perspective of hegemony, and for the purposes of surveillance, normalization, and discipline. In this post, I want to both agree and disagree with Sarah’s definition. I agree on the fundamental premise, that a drone is what a drones does–surveil/normalize/discipline. I disagree, however, that this “doing” is primarily watching, a manifestation of the phenomenon we both call “the Gaze.” Droning, at least as I want to define it here, is a practice of surveillance distinct from Gazing.
We live in a cyborg society. Technology has infiltrated the most fundamental aspects of our lives: social organization, the body, even our self-concepts. This blog chronicles our new, augmented reality.