An entire train full of crude oil slides and tumbles 11 miles down hill. Image from NBCNews
One morning, in the seventh grade, my math class was told to prepare for a surprise standardized writing test. A writing test with no warning in math class wasn’t the weirdest thing we had been asked to do. Jeb Bush was our governor and Florida was a proving ground for what would later be called “No Child Left Behind.” Tests were common and testing different kinds of tests were even more common. You never knew if the test you were taking would change your life or never be seen again. This one was a little bit of both. The prompt was really strange, although I don’t remember what it was. As a life-long test taker (my first standardized test was in the 4th grade) you become a sort of connoisseur of writing prompts. This one didn’t seem to test my expository or creative writing skills. It just felt like a demand to write and so we did. We wrote for about half an hour. (more…)
As a professional sociologist, I maintain membership in several listservs and social networking site groups centered around my areas of study. Every now and then, someone will post a request for a particular academic article to which they do not have access at their home university. Quickly, another member of the group provides the article, and we all go about our business.
Not having access to one article, for a connected professional, is no big deal. But imagine if that same professional never had access to academic articles unless they were willing to pay—exorbitantly—to get beyond publishers’ paywalls. Were that the case, it would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for that professional to conduct research. (more…)
Like many Americans, I spent Sunday evening watching the Super Bowl. This entailed tasty snacks, a comfy couch, and lots of head shaking because, well, the Denver Broncos. It also involved Facebook and Twitter. The day of, day before, and day after were full of commentary, predictions, snarkiness, and declarations of various sorts. Indeed, Sunday’s Super Bowl, like all media events, incorporated multiple media. One item, within one piece of this media ecology, keenly sparked my interest: The Twitter feed of @YesYoureRacist. (more…)
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…)
Of all the games that comment on themselves – and it seems like there are more and more of those – I won’t say that The Stanley Parable is the best, but I definitely haven’t played another that made its intentions more blatantly clear or went for what it was after so aggressively. The Stanley Parable, originally a Half Life 2 mod, has a lot to say about games. But I think it also has a lot to say about everything.
Once, many years ago, a friend and I Got Into It via a series of Livejournal comments.
Yes, you already know that this is going somewhere good.
I’ve long since forgotten what the It was about, though it was probably something exactly as silly as you’d expect. I don’t remember how it resolved itself; that friend and I are not friends anymore and haven’t spoken in nearly a decade, so I can’t ask them without things getting weird. What I do remember was one thing this friend said, which I’ve remembered as long as I have because it might be one of the single most ridiculous things anyone has ever said to me in any setting: I mentioned that I didn’t like their tone, and they responded, “there is no tone on the internet.”
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…)
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…)
You are standing in an open field west of a white house.
This is the second in a series of autobiographical accounts by Cyborgology writers of our early personal interactions with technology. Half autoethnography, half unrepentant nostalgia trip, this series looks at what technologies had an impression on us, which ones were remarkably unremarkable, and what this might say about our present outlook on digitality. Part 1 can be found here.
In order to understand my relationship with computers, you need to understand that I have terrible handwriting.
Do not try to tell me that yours is worse. It isn’t. I promise. My bad handwriting is a combination of a number of different things both contemporary and historical, including an inability to hold a writing implement in a way that even approaches comfortable, impatience, the fact that I literally never learned to form letters “correctly”, and probably some neurological stuff that goes formally undiagnosed. I don’t just write illegibly, I write illiterately: I skip letters, I place them out of order in words, I can’t space or block sentences. I completely abandon rhyme or reason when it comes to capitalization (my punctuation is impeccable, though). I’m not dyslexic, not that we’ve ever been able to determine, though again, there probably is something going on there. I just… can’t write by hand. At all.
And I’m a writer.
Hello, Cyborgology…it’s been a while. I’ve missed you, but I haven’t quite known what to say. Which is weird, right? Strangely enough, I’ve got half a dozen half-finished posts on my computer—twenty-thousand someodd words of awkward silence waiting to be wrapped up and brought into the world.
Writer’s block happens to the best of us, or so I’m told. What’s been strange for me is looking back and realizing that the last thing I posted was my piece from the beginning of #ir14, the 14th Annual Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers. I say “strange” because I had an amazing experience at #ir14, and left it feeling so excited about my field and my work and what I imagine to be possible. And yet, in the two months since, something’s been off. I’ve managed to submit to a couple of important abstracts, and I continued sitting in on a really cool seminar, and I’ve plunged into the work of helping to organize this year’s Theorizing the Web (a conference about which I’m passionate, to say the least). But my words went somewhere, have been gone.
I realized recently, however, that it’s not about some kind of post-#ir14 crash. It’s actually about what happened after.