Movement, Aesthetics, Ontology is the theme for the IV Annual International Conference on the New Materialisms to be held in 16-17 May 2013, School of History, Culture and Arts Studies, University of Turku, Finland.
We have a very nice lineup including keynotes from e.g. Patricia Pisters and Barabra Bolt. I am happy to be a part of the organizational committee for this event. The CFP is now out and we are looking for both paper and panel proposals. I myself am particularly interested in stuff that connects new materialism with digital culture and social media.
For the whole CFP check out the conference website:
The Issue #2 of CTRL-Z is out and it includes a piece by me titled: “Exploring Augmented Reality —On Users and Rewiring the Senses”. In short this article discusses how our senses are captured by Augmented Reality and how our subjectivity forms with technology, often in the context of digital economy. Check it out here: http://www.ctrl-z.net.au/journal/?slug=karppi-exploring-augmented-reality
I am a HASTAC scholar class 2013 and for that purpose I was asked to write a short introduction of my PhD project and research interests. I decided to post the same thing here if some of you find it interesting. To be honest it mainly remixes the points and texts I’ve written here before but it also re-focuses my PhD abstract a bit. So here it goes:
I am a PhD Candidate in Media Studies, University of Turku, Finland. The tentative title of my dissertation is Disconnect.me – Re-configuring Users of Social Media and it is scheduled to be complete in 2013. The dissertation researches the means and methods how users are embedded in social media and network culture through interfaces, algorithms, protocols and non-human actors. Adopting disconnection as a method these themes will be dicussed from angles that challenge and contradict the taken for granted ideas of ubiquitous internet and media life. Through case studies the dissertation approaches topics such as digital suicide, Facebook memorial accounts and trolling. Affectivity of mediated environments is discussed in the context of augmented reality and Facebook’s frictionless sharing. One of the key themes of the dissertation is to explore how value is produced for users and from users. Thus concepts such as user profiles, user participation and user experience are understood and configured in the context of digital economy.
The dissertation is supervised by Jukka Sihvonen and Jussi Parikka and it will be edited from a collection of published journal articles which use case based approaches. The first article of this project is titled “Digital Suicide and the Biopolitics of Leaving Facebook” and it was published in the issue 20 of Transformations Journal. I have a book chapter coming out in an edited collection called Networked Affect (MIT Press) next year titled as “Happy Accidents – Facebook and the Value of Affect.” In addition I have two articles in review process and the last one of my PhD articles focusing on trolling is currently in the making. It will hopefully find its place in the next spring.
Evidently, I am interested in social media. My take on the subject is critical and I find myself often interested in analyzing the dark side of social media and trying to point out how things considered as anomalies might reveal interesting things about our mundane experiences and activities with and in social media. Theoretically my thinking is inspired by writings of Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault and the stuff that follows their train of thought. Recently I have found Gabriel Tarde’s work interesting in relation to digital economy.
In case you did not know November 2012 is Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo). This is my declaration for participation.
My goal is to write the first complete draft for the final article for my PhD dissertation. I will aim at 5000-7000 words. The tentative topic for the article is “Online Persona Management” and it will discuss the themes of trolling, Facebook and affectivity. Theoretically it is inspired by the work of Gabriel Tarde and especially the application of Tardean media studies in Tony D. Sampson’s excellent book called Virality (University of Minnesota Press, 2012).
Recently people have been talking about Facebook reach. Facebook has, at least allegedly, begun to experiment on monetizing the visibility of not only pages and groups but also the visibility of user’s posts and status updates. While using Facebook is ‘free’ and remains free, these changes imply that soon enough users are obliged for paying for visibility; if you want that your status update reaches your friends you can secure this with money. Now for pages the option to increase the reach by buying visibility has been available for a while. In addition there are also tools and statistics through which you can monitor your reach. However, for individual user the only way to monitor your reach has been by looking at the likes, recommendations and comments your post gets (filtered through EdgeRank of course). If you can buy reach, then the self-monitoring tools for Facebook are also bound to increase.
Now, the discussion of reach reminded me of a short piece that I planned for an article but that I for one reason or another rejected from the manuscript. This is a short excursion on how Facebook manifests its user engagement. It is a quick reading of Facebook’s Four Steps for Business Success site and the quotes below are from that site. I will post it here for the time being. It might find its way to somewhere someday.
The first step for business success in Facebook platform is to build a page for the business. “Your Page is the central place to grow your business, build your brand and develop relationships with your customers.” Creating a page begins from choosing a name and a category for the business. Then the profile is filled with visual and textual content: choose a profile picture and a cover photo, write a short passage describing the business. After the visual outlook for the page is selected one needs to invite users for the page. This is achieved by inviting Facebook friends and importing contacts from email addresses. After that one is ready to write a first post, which according for Facebook should be short, visual and optimized for example according to time and location of page users.
Connecting with people who are the right fit for the business is the second step for success. This is done by creating the first ad. First the promoted page is chosen, a new ad is then targeted for users that are not previously connected to the site. This ad can make the page more lucrative by for example offering discounts and coupons: ‘Like us today and receive a coupon for 50% off,’ ‘Like us to get access to exclusive sales and discounts!’ This ad can be targeted according to reach the right audience according “details such as their location, age, gender and interests so you know who you want to target them with your ad.” Moreover categories of ‘precise interests’ and ‘broad interests’ can be used to get a more specific audience. Broad interests refer to general interests and lifestyle of the user, precise interests refer to people who have expressed specific interest to a certain topic.
Now liking a page and advertising a page is not enough. The third step is to engage the audience to the page. “When you post content and have conversations on your Page, you’re building loyalty and creating opportunities to generate sales. Learn how to create content that will keep your audience interested.” This content can be promoted to users. It ensures that it will appear to their news feed and become noticed. Promoted posts reach the likers of the page and also potentially their friends. Indeed this influencing the friends of fans is the fourth step to business success. “When people interact with your Page, their friends can see it in their news feed as a story. Expand your audience by promoting stories about people engaging with your Page.” This can be done to something Facebook calls as Sponsored Stories. “Sponsored stories ensure that more people see when their friends have interacted with your business on Facebook. They can show in the news feed on desktop and mobile, and in the right hand column of Facebook.”
Now these four steps for business success will become especially interesting, if the monetization of status updates really will take place and one is to need instructions for personal success in Facebook. Self-promotion, that’s where the money is.
Here’s my abstract
*Frictionless Sharing – Facebook and the Economy of Affect*
An individual’s participation in social media can be defined by recourse to two regimes of understanding—explicit and implicit participation. Explicit participation is driven by individual motivation and desire and it includes different forms of content-providing activities such as sharing photos, participating in discussions or “liking” things. Implicit participation refers to the ways that a member of Facebook benefits from explicit participation. It involves the data produced when members share, communicate and interact. Through these categories it is possible to understand how users participate in social media generally and what kind of economic models follow (Schäfer 2011; Dijck 2009).
My paper argues that recent changes in Facebook indicate that a third category—affectivity—needs to be added to those of explicit and implicit user participation. I discuss affectivity as the third model of participation through a case study of Facebook’s frictionless sharing. On September 22, 2011 Facebook introduced Timeline. Timeline collects Facebook and other online activities and shows them in a member’s profile. One’s friends see what song one is listening to, where one is and what one does if one allows the platform to track and share one’s activities. While Facebook’s members have shared similar activities since the site’s inception, Timeline’s novelty lies in how the sharing begins to happen.
With Timeline, the activity of explicit participation is transformed into the passivity of frictionless sharing. Facebook’s algorithms monitor members’ activities and post them automatically to the Facebook Ticker window. Instead of merely mining a member’s data, however, Timeline allows Facebook to begin controlling what kinds of information spread, what will be encountered and what will be shared. The possibilities for contestation are clear and I discuss the battle over intensities with reference to the non-subjective autonomy of affect, as proposed by Brian Massumi (2002). Rather than reducing affect to subjective emotions, I conceptualize it as transmitted between and among both human and non-human bodies (Bennett 2010).
Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter. A Political Ecology of Things . Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010.
Dijck, José van. “Users like you? Theorizing agency in user-generated content.” Media, Culture & Society 31, no. 1 (2009): 41-58.
Massumi, Brian. “Notes on the Translation and Acknowledgments .” In A Thousdand Plateus , Gilles Deleuze and Guattari Félix, xvii-xx. London, New York: Continuum , 2004.
- - Parables for the Virtual. Movement, Affect, Sensation . Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2002.
Schäfer, Mirko Tobias. Bastard Culture: How User Participation Transforms Cultural Production . Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2011.
According to recent news Facebook is going to include deactived accounts in total friend count. Webpronews.com says that Facebook has given a statement where they explain this with the possibility to “prevent any possible security risk posed by temporarily deactivated friends.” When deactived accounts are showing, users will be able to defriend them if willing.
When you click on the image of a deactived friend from your friend list a following notification appears: “This account has been deactivated. Only you can see N.N. on your friends list. You have the option to unfriend N.N.”
Now Facebook’s explanation is definitely plausible. Deactivated accounts are vague points existing on the verge of actual and virtual; any deactivated point can be reactivated (and hence as Facebook suggest create for example a security threat).
However, for me, the problem of deactived accounts showing on the friend count imply another transformation regarding the role of the user in social media that needs to be problematized. Indeed, the question is, what do these passive ‘users’ tell us about social media and participatory culture since they do not participate or generate content? Might they actually indicate a somewhat bigger change in how user is understood and defined within social media?
Symantec in association with Facebook released an interesting document of scams and spams on Facebook. New methods of phishing, clickjacking and share-baiting emerge constantly. What interests me theoretically is, what do these actions of mischief tell us about the user experience of Facebook on a level that exceeds the good and the bad. Is not the whole environment created for clickjacking and share-baiting? Likes, recommendations, comments are technologies of affection and contagion – the two central elements of using Facebook. Hence I recommend that the report should be read together with “Towards Evil Media Studies” by Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey.
The Nonhuman Turn conference in Milwaukee Wisconsin 3-5, May had an impressive assemblage of plenary speakers. The video recordings of the presentations by Massumi, Manning, Chun, Shaviro, Hansen, Morton and Bennet are archived at the C21@UWM USTREAM channel. Check them out here http://www.ustream.tv/channel/c21-uwm/videos
My favorite? I think Wendy Chun’s presentation was fantastic.