Several weeks ago, I wrote a post about how we not only manage our image (outgoing) but also curate our view (incoming). As a very brief summary, I argued, based upon data from my own ongoing social media study, that despite the potential for social media to expose us to a variety of perspectives and opinions (creating a public sphere, or at least a public space), we discriminately select which perspectives and opinions to let in, and which to exclude. In doing so, we curate reality. Though this manifests in a variety of ways, a prevalent manifestation is the management of one’s Facebook News Feed.
A new push for the (apparently long present) feature on Facebook, in which users are asked to “star” the Friends whose content they want to make more visible, further supports this trend. More importantly, however, it demonstrates the mutually influential relationship between physical architectures, normative social structures, and personal practices.
The physical architecture of a space (online or offline) simultaneously shapes, and is shaped by, those who use it. For instance, the typical classroom is set up with an instructor who stands at a high desk in the front of a room, facing students, who sit in low desks, with their bodies and eyes oriented forwards and upwards towards the teacher. This both creates and reflects a particular power dynamic, and guides how participants in the interaction think about and act towards themselves and one another. Similarly, architectures of online spaces reflect and guide who we are and what we do in those spaces.