Posts Tagged ‘ interaction ’

“You have to be somebody before you can share yourself”

:: Inspired by Calvin’s Schrag’s book The Self After Postmodernity, I am in pursuit of a philosophy of The Self After Facebook. For the autobiographical tone of this pursuit, I am indebted to Tom Sherman‘s Before and After the I-Bomb: An Artist in the Information Environment. I recently found out about another book that might be to my liking called, You Are Not a Gadget, by Jaron Lanier. I LOVE the UK edition front cover (see above). I’d like a poster of it for my office wall.

:: I’ve been thinking more about the social and interactive aspect of networks the past couple of days. Hannah Arendt (1958) wrote that “the subject appears and exists only in relation to others,” specifically through our actions and words – who you are is disclosed through your words and deeds. To examine the networked self, we need to not forget about the social behaviors of others, and of the network at large. To understand the post-Facebook “self” we need to understand the “social” in social media. The postself exists not merely through self-interpretation but through relations with others on/with/in the web. The internet has been described as a place where people engage in identity work, and an important arena for inquiry into the production of postmodern selves (Broad & Joos, 2004). The internet has evolved into a place/space for human interaction with social media. What is “social” about social media? (see Ron Burnett’s blog in the previous link for a good overview) What makes it more than a collection of individual actions?


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“Cousins, come play with us”

Serendipity…
Two significant things happened recently:
1) I watched the movie Fahrenheit 451
2) I became aware of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) website

In the 1966 movie, directed by Francois Truffault, based on the novel by Ray Bradbury, there is a scene in which a domestic wall/video screen functions as the stage for an interactive “play” between the virtual “actors” and the “real” actor at home. The actor at home is invited to participate in dialogue with the other actors when he/she is called upon by name, this making the home actors feel like they have contributed to what transpires in the play. The television program is titled ‘Family Theatre’ and the host refers to the audience as ‘cousins,’ just as everyone in the film/novel refers to one another (a bit cultish). The technology, or rather I should say those who produce the technology, create a false sense of belonging in those that participate. The director makes this idea apparent through the exaggerated absurdity of this scene.

It was exactly 20 days following my ‘outing’ to Fbook, when I flipped to this movie playing on TCM. Although I’ve spent years thinking about these sorts of ideas, this particular scene in the movie really struck me as an early precursor to the false sense of collective identity Facebook offers. Participation and that sense of belongingness is developed from a constructed interface, designed with specific requests and limitations that meet the needs of the creators. This is not to say that there is no value in the interaction that occurs, for both FB friends and the family actors, just that we should be reminded of the layered ‘screens’ that exist between our selves and the “stage”. And…that we need to consider who is asking us to participate.

Coming into the Fbook community, I knew the difficulties that would exist if I were to want to leave with all of my information. In fact, I might have scared off some ‘friends’ by  making a post about this only four days after joining. It was then that I realized that Fbook won’t allow you to post the website name for a group that will help you commit facebook suicide, stating that members find this information offensive. My first authentic Fbook censorship.

On April 28th, EFF published “Facebook’s Eroding Privacy Policy: A Timeline,” clearly revealing changes that have occurred in the interface from 2005 to 2010. Yes, they are making it easier for us to connect by connecting all of our applications together, but how do they know this is what its ‘users’ want? As an author of a recent Wired article states, “it seems almost inevitable that the web will become, at least for the near future, an extension of Facebook. Like it or not.”

More thinking to do…

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