One of many spontaneous discussions erupting on GoodReads which questions literary value of a ‘classic’ and its place within the literary canon.
Mirrors of Anonymous
The architecture of the internet and the affordances of digital technologies make replicating and transferring media a core practice of network culture, economics, and politics. Workers in the creative industries regularly copy and paste content from one computer application to another. They often back-up data to the “cloud”—remote hard-drives administered by data companies like Microsoft. New forms of peer-to-peer information sharing such as Wikileaks and the Pirate Bay and novel developments in information activism such as the hacker collective Anonymous exploit the copy-and-paste capacities of the internet and digital data to share immense amounts of information around the world. Politicians in states such as Iceland celebrate these practices and their political implications by reforming state laws to make their nations safe for the digital storage of controversial information. These acts of moving, storing, and replicating data have become daily events for millions of people and a re central to debates around intellectual property, cybersecurity, and global governance. Despite the centrality of these practices little is empirically known about this mirroring. Mirroring is the file synchronization of large or small caches of data. Used to harmonize files across a global media ecology or in servers in different locations around the world, mirroring is a practice intended to secure access to information. As more data is stored, catalogued, and made accessible, the importance of file synchronization—and the social and political implications of this practice—will continue to increase for businesses, governments, and citizen publics throughout the world. As yet, there is no coherent or empirically rich account of the diversity of mirroring practices. Across a specific set of cases, and with a precise mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods, this pilot study empirically documents the architectures and practises of mirroring.
Mirroring is often understood as a technical or infrastructural operation. Yet mirroring actually involves a wide range of social practices, political intentionalities, and geopolitical challenges. Corporations such as Microsoft synchronize their databases at select locations around the globe to enable real-time access to their cloud servers; peer-production communities such as Anonymous YouTube producers mirror each other’s video productions across the YouTube media ecology to maximize visibility; network activists such as Wikileaks encourage supporters to mirror their journalistic data in different legal jurisdictions such as Iceland in order to route-around national censorship laws; and users of cloud computers are beginning to change their use patterns by using applications and information no longer stored in local harddrives but rather in cloud servers throughout the world. Thus from corporate software cultures, to peer-to-peer communities, to hacker activism, and consumer societ y mirroring plays a key role in how computer science, social media businesses, information consumption, and digital civil society work. Spanning such a range of important settings and emergent phenomenon, the cultural practices and discourses of mirroring has received little to no critical scholarship.
In this preliminary phase, researchers in the Sociology Department at Lancaster University are using interviews with Anonymous YouTube video producers, ethnographic participation in Anonymous’ YouTube community, textual analysis of select Anonymous videos, and data analytic techniques to investigate the patterns of mirroring and duplication of YouTube videos by Anonymous. We are using the YouTube Data API (Application Programmer Interface) to build a dataset that shows the frequency and rate of video mirrors. We are corroborating this quantitative data with the data from interviews with Anonymous YouTube video producers. The intention is to build a map of mirroring practices from which to theorize this important digital cultural practice. Towards this goal of analysing YouTube Anonymous videos we are aggregating a list of Anonymous operations. These operation names form searchable key words that enable us to query YouTube’s API and quantify Anonymous videos on YouTube as well as their mirrors.
Cool! Anonymous can be very ephemeral, but any archive — however temporal — is key to creating the time necessary to properly study and understand it.
I agree, archives are ideal for studying (at least a part of) ephemeral online interactions and phenomena.
A hypothesis about difficulty… and my first collab video! Feat Philosophy Tube.
It probably goes without saying but I absolutely agree with the idea that–assuming people stick around–the reward for enduring (my word, not Emily’s) difficult media is great, and the likelihood the audience will take something additional away from it is higher.
When updatesupdatesupdates and I started making performance art around 2008 that was our modus operandi: how can we make performances which try to convey a reasonably complicated idea in as complicated a manner as possible before it becomes universally alienating? And then! Assuming that is successful! What does the audience actually get out of it? We did that for a number of years (memefactory being the most popular expression of that line of performance thinking, though by far the least complex) and the response was always heartening and encouraging.
[DIGRESSION: One early show was obliquely about the fact that America went to war over the “existence” of weapons in Iraq. Though we never once said the word “Iraq” or the acronym “WMDs” or made any kind of overtly political statement of any kind (the climax of the performance was in fact a full-length screening of the music video for Under Pressure by Queen ft. David Bowie on YouTube) the number of people who connected the described philoso-scientific debate between those who thought vacuums were possible and those who didn’t (vacuists and anti-vacuists) to our then-current political climate–both were “wars about nothing”–was very high.]
Idea Channel is also based partially upon this line of thinking and influenced greatly by all the performance work I did before it.
I like the second part of this collab vid. I took the time to make a little transcript for those of you who are struggling to keep up with the speed of this speech.
Is YouTube poop Art?
On of the thigs that might seem to separate YouTube Poop from say Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa'or Van Gogh's 'Star Night' is that is essentially derivative. It is a mash up of other works wrong. Rather than create something totally original Poopers take other people's work and re-mix it.
But why can’t a remix be artistic?
In their paper ‘Digital Remix’, Colin Lankshear and Michelle Knobel said that a remix is taking one thing and looking at it from a different point of view whilst still retaining some of the original. And surely loads of art does that. Surely loads of art derives from other sources. Fan art derives from other creative works. So does fan fiction and AMV (note: Anime Music Videos) and cos-plays… like this amazing steampunk reinterpretation of Disney’s Ariel. Shakespeare was a remixer. ‘The Merchant of Venice' was inspired by an Italian text: 'Il Pecorone’, and a medieval one: ‘Gesta Romanorum' (click here for more info). ‘Romeo and Juliet' was a poem by Arthur Brooke (click here to read it) before it was ever a play and an Italian novel before that. And ‘Troilus and Cressida’? That’s reinterpreting the Trojan War. That’s remixing Homer.
Philosophy disagrees on what exactly the definition of Art is and even whether there should be a definition of Art, but just because something is derivative doesn’t mean we should rule it out as a work Art in its own right.
YouTube Poops fit a number of the suggested criteria for Art. George Dickie said that Art has to exist within an institution. Well, YouTube is a pretty big institution.
[Remark: interesting to hear some one refer to YouTube as an ‘institution (for Art)’]
But if that’s not enough for you there is also YouChew.net, the Pooper’s Paradise, where Poop theory is discussed, techniques are analyzed, Poops are even sorted even sorted according to their aesthetic value into good and bad.
Wittgenstein said that Art is creative material always was interpreted according to cultural context. Well the certainly a lot of context in YouTube Poops. If you take the audio from ‘Star Wars' and dub it over the video from 'Harry Potter' then that's not going to be a funny joke to position unless your audience already knows how separate and different those two things are. Or if you take sensor bleeps and put them over my little pony, then that's not going to be funny unless your audience knows that 'My Little Pony’, ostensibly anyway, a show aimed at a less mature audiences.
YouTube Poops have a lot in common with the movement known in artistic circles as surrealism. Bizarre juxtapositions, surprise non-sequiturs and randomness. Surrealism is supposed to be characterized though by unbridled emotive expression. Are YouTube Poops expressive?
I might seem weird to say that remixes can be expressive of an emotion or an attitude, but in his book ‘Remix’, Lawrence Lessig wrote that the growth the TV and the Internet over old-fashioned forms of media mean that audio and video are fast becoming the new writing, the new way of expressing information. Whereas in ye’olden days, if you wanted to distribute information you kinda had to write it down and pass it around. Look how things have changed.
[Remark: if we are talking about the popularity of a particular form, then I agree. If we are talking about the processes of production and distribution, then I strongly disagree since we still have to take time to ‘write’ down our ideas (in whatever form: text, audio, video, computer-code…) and pass them around. It is nonetheless true that the means to produce and distribute information have become more versatile, ubiquitous and perhaps accessible (though inclusion-specialists might disagree about this last item).]
Look at the use of infographics to give info, rage faces to express emotions, the rise of the reaction gif. Remixes can of course be expressive. Remixes can be thought-provoking, evocative, even political.
Whether an individual YouTube Poop is expressive probably depends on the Poopers themselves. Many make it out of boredom or for amusement or for catharsis. Tolstoy wrote that for an artwork to be expressive on emotion the artist has to sincerely experience that emotion whilst making it. And if a Pooper experiences amusement which is then communicated to the audience, then hasn’t something been expressed there, namely: lolz?
Summarizing notes on: “Imagining Twitter as an Imagined Community” - Anatoliy Gruzd, Barry Wellman & Yuri Takhteyev
Central issue: “We use this information to study this new form of community, one in which spatial proximity seems to play a minimal role.” (GWT, p.3)
Some background on the scientific ventures in this field of research:
”The notion of ‘community’ has often had a tension between concrete social relationships and imagined sets of people perceived to be similar (see Hillery’s 94 definitions of community, 1955). Until the 1970s, almost all relational definitions of community were locally-constrained, treating neighborhoods and communities as almost synonymous (Wellman & Leighton, 1979). From the 1970s onward, the proliferation of long-distance relationships led some community scholars to expand their purview to non-local ties among friends, relatives and workmates (Wellman & Leighton, 1979; Wellman, 2001).(…) A bigger challenge has come with the rise of the Internet because it has enabled people to interact communally without ever meeting.(…) For years, social scientists have responded by systematically showing that almost all people who interact communally online also see each other in person. They have found that the Internet and in-person contact extend and enhance each other, rather than replace each other (see the reviews by Boase & Wellman’s 2006; Chua, Madej & Wellman, 2010). That has been true for most modern forms of electronic communication services such as emails, listservs and instant messages, and social media such as Facebook and MySpace. They are all structured to allow people who know each other – now or in the past – to keep in contact. (…) Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows its users to send and read short (140 characters-long) messages known as “tweets”: Figure 1 provides a small sample of tweets. Unlike other social media, Twitter is asymmetric: if you follow us, we do not have to follow you. Indeed, the norm for those following more than 100 people is to have many more people following them. This means that these networks of followers of a person and those whom a person is following(which we call “sources”) have less dependence on in-person contact or local proximity (Takhteyev et al., under review)." (GWT, p.2)
Imagined Communities (some theory):
”To help stimulate our thinking about these questions, we turn to Benedict Anderson’s The Imagined Community (1983). In this book, Anderson was dealing with societies forging a new social identity by emphasizing a common – somewhat artificially constructed – community. (…) In Anderson’s imagined communities, “the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion” (p. 6). This seems to be what is happening on Twitter. Users could never know everyone on Twitter, but they are certainly aware of other users’ presence, especially in their “neighborhood” of sources. (…) whether people are primarily on Twitter to follow others, to promote their ideas, or to broadcast what they are doing (Naaman, Boase & Lai,2010), it is impossible for them to be on Twitter and not to be aware of other residents of this virtual place, just as in Anderson’s imagined community." (GWT, p. 4-5)
Beyond Imagined Communities (more theory):
”We want to see if Twitter can sustain and provide grounds for development of an online community that is not simply imagined by each user but that is built on the shared sense of community. Therefore, in addition to relying on Anderson’s work, we also apply two other notions of online communities: Jones’ (1997) notion of “virtual settlement” and McMillan and Chavis’ (1986) compilation of what constitute a “sense of community” (SoC). Both of these works build on Wellman’s fundamental insight (1979, 2001) that community is based on sociable and supportive social relations, and not on physical locality.” (GWT, p.5)
» conditions for ‘virtual settlement' according to Jones (GWT, p.5):
- More than two communicators
- Common-public-place where members can meet and interact
- Sustained membership over time.
» conditions for ‘sense of community' accoding tot McMillan and Chavis (GWT, p.5):
- feeling of belonging (membership),
- perceived ability to make a difference to the community (influence),
- providing and receiving support by other members (integration and fulfillment of needs)
- sharing history, common places, time together, and similar experiences (shared emotional connection)
”We used Twitter’s application programming interface (API, http://apiwiki.twitter.com) to automatically retrieve a list of Barry Wellman’s followers and sources. Then using the same API, for each pair of Wellman’s followers and sources, we determined who follows whom." (GWT, p.6)
Structured along the conditions identified in the theory:
* Imagined Communities: common language (GWT, p.7), temporality or homogeneous movement through time (GWT, p.9), de-centralization (GWT, p.9);
* Virtual Settmelent: interactivity (GWT, p.12), variety of communicators (GWT, p.13), shared place for contact and interaction (GWT, p.13), sustained membership (GWT, p.14);
* Sense of Community: membership (GWT, p.14), influence (GWT, p.16), integration and fullfilment of needs (GWT, p.17), shared emotional connection (GWT, p.18)
“An ‘imagined’ community on Twitter is dual-faceted. It is at once both collective and personal. It is collective in the sense that all tweeps belong to the worldwide set of tweeps who understand Twitter’s norms, language, techniques, and governing structure. (…) Yet, community on Twitter is also personal since tweeps imagine they are following and talking to unique and identifiable tweeps. The collective Twitter community forms around high centers that are popular individuals, celebrities, or organizations such as media companies. Yet, even less popular individuals on Twitter can play the role of local high centers of predominantly mutual networks. The high centers in the personal Twitter networks are often characterized by high betweenness centrality: a social network analysis measure that indicates how many times an individual appears on the shortest path between all possible pairs of people in the network. Because tweeps with high betweenness centrality link different social circles, they play a critical role in community building and information gatekeeping on Twitter." (GWT, p.19)
“Our study provides at least two possible reasons for why Wellman’s online community has grown while maintaining a sense of community. First, the presence of a core set who actively interact with each other and participate in the community for a long time is one of the keys to building a successful online community. Individuals who form this core group likely joined this community because it promised an easy way to follow their friends or colleagues. (…) The second possible reason for the success of Wellman’s community is that it is open to newcomers. This openness is made possible by Twitter’s asynchronous method of making a connection to other tweeps. Any tweep can start following any other tweep without requiring the other tweep to follow them back. In this community, tweets from newcomers are often responded to, making it easier for them to get connected. This atmosphere can be in part explained by the trust, professionalism and informality among the active mutuals." (GWT, p.20)
A nice bold statement to end with: “Indeed, Twitter turns out to be an implementation of the cross-cutting connectivity between social circles that 19th-century sociologist Émile Durkheim (1893) argued was the key to modern solidarity." (GWT, p.21)
Luke and Freebody (1999) write that effective literacy requires four basic roles (not necessarily sequential or hierarchical) that allow learners to: “break the code,” participate in understanding and composing,” “use texts functionally,” and “critically analyze and transform texts by acting on knowledge that texts are not ideologically natural or neutral.
Kellner, D., & Share, J. (2007). Critical media literacy, democracy, and the reconstruction of education. In D. Macedo & S.R. Steinberg (Eds.), Media literacy: A reader (pp. 3-23). New York: Peter Lang Publishing
Found on page 10
Summarizing notes on: “Reading behavior in the digital environment: Changes in reading behavior over the past ten years” - Ziming Liu
Note: It is important to note that this article was published in 2005 (almost 10 years ago).
Central issue: “Whether people like digital media or not, reading and literacy are being redefined by the arrival of digital technology.” (ZL, 701)
References to other research: ”The impact of digital media on reading has increasingly been the object of empirical and theoretical exploration by researchers from a wide range of disciplines, notably psychology, computer science, education, literacy studies, and library and information science. (…) With the growing amount of digitral information available and the increasing amount of time that people spend reading electronic media, the digital environment has begun to affect people’s reading behavior.A number of scholars argue that the arrival of digital media, together with the fragmentary nature of hypertext, is threatening sustained reading (Healy, 1990; Brikerts, 1994)." (ZL, 701)
» Note: here are some more recent articles on the subject of changing reading behavior in relation to digital media which I summarized and posted on this blog:
“How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Ebook?" - Kristen Gladiuk
“Reading, in a Digital Archive of One’s Own” – Jim Collins
“Redefining Reading: The Impact of Digital Communication Media” – Naomi S. Baron
Scope and methodology: “The digital environment has begun to affect how people read. (…) This study attempts to explore reading in a digital environment [by attempting] to investigate how people’s reading behavior has changed over the past ten years by self-reported measures of their overall reading experience (including work-related reading and leisure reading). (…) It seems unrealistic to ask people to report detailed changes: however, it is feasible to ask people to report general changes (e.g. increasing, decreasing, no change).” (ZL, 703)
Limitations: “It targets people who are between 30 and 45 years of age. The inherent limitations of self-reported measures and the small sample size of this study mean that the results cannot be generalized across different age groups. Since an entire generation that has grown up with new technology is likely to have different expectations and behaviors toward the use of digital media, studies on the demographic variable are needed to fully validate the findings." (ZL, 710)
Findings (based on the results of 113 questionnaires):
- “In the digital age, people are spending more time on reading." (ZL, 704)
- “More browsing/scanning and keyword spotting." (ZL, 706)
- “Increasing one-time reading and selective reading." (Idib.)
- “Increasing non-linear reading and declining sustained attention." (Zl, 707)
- “Decreasing in-depth and concentrated reading." (Ibid.)
- “Annotating and highlighting (…) People liek to annotate when they read, especially for in-depth reading. (…) Annotating and highlighting while reading is a common activity in the printed environment. Has this “traditional” pattern migrated to the digital environment when we read electronic documents? The answer is no, as indicated by the survey results." (Ibid.)
Why are people less likely to annotate or highlight digital documents? It seems that many people search or browse digital documents, but when they need to read some documents in depth, they will rpint out and then annotate printed documents. (…) Annotating electronic documents is certainly possible, but it does require much more resources and additional skills rather than a simple pencil or highlighter (McKnight, 1997). O’Hara and Sellen (1997) also find that annotation on paper is smoothly integrated with reading, but online annotation is distracting. One respondent reports that “highlighting and annotating digital documents does not come naturally and takes practice”. (ZL, 708)
» Note: I believe the integration problem for electronic reading and annotating is now largely solved by new technologies (e.g. Copia), though it might still “not come naturally”.
It is interesting, however, that annotating and highlighting are seen as an interact part of reading practice and affects that reading experience or reading pleasure.
Conclusions: ”In an increasingly digital environment, readers (especially younger readers) are likely to gradually develop the screen-based reading behavior, and to increasingly use a variety of strategies (e.g. browsing and keyword spotting) to cope with the information-abundant environment. One the other hand, readers wil continue to use printed media for much of their reading activities, especially in-depth reading. In-depth reading usually involves annotating and highlighting. People’s preference of paper as a medium for reading also implies that paper is unlikely to disappear in the digital age." (Zl, 709)
This is pure genius if you ask me!
A great example of creativity and ingenuity.
Millions of People Reading Alone, Together: The Rise of Goodreads The founders of the social network talk about its success in 2013 and its goal of making literature a community experience.
A nice summary of what Goodreads is about.
People also love numbers when they want to measure success… so lets look the numbers :D
In 2007, Otis Chandler developed a social network for bookworms because, rather than relying on media reviews and bestseller lists, he wanted to get reading recommendations from friends. Goodreads.com would be a tool for discovering new books. But now that more than 25 million people have discovered Goodreads, the site offers much more than a chance to virtually peek at friends’ bookshelves and compile lists of titles to read in the future.
Today, Goodreads allows users to catalogue all the books they’ve read or want to read, post updates on what they’re currently reading, and evaluate all those books with ratings and reviews. And it’s the reviews, in particular, that make the network so valuable to its members, according to Chandler. In an Atlantic article in 2012, Sarah Fay wrote: “For now, Goodreads is basically Facebook with books, but if enough contributors set the bar high with creative, funny, and smart reviews it might become a force of its own.” Such reviews have certainly been forthcoming over the past 18 months. The site also has more than 20,000 book clubs, a repository of literary quotations, a Netflix-like recommendation engine that suggests new books based on the ones users have already “shelved,” and an annual awards poll that’s gaining influence in the larger world of publishing.
If there is one crucial lesson to be learned from engaging in DIY projects and participating in online ‘affinity spaces’, it is most likely this!
I browsed other projects and even the “basic” ones seemed too advanced and I didn’t know what they were talking about, but I could always learn. It was easy to read about how cool a project was, but far less satisfying than actually building. Then I realized my problem was not lack of smarts, but lack of confidence. What if I started this and it just didn’t work? What if I have to ask a simple question that sounds silly? What if I make a stupid project that’s useless?
Once I realized this was the problem I decided to jump in feet first.