social network

The Death Of Cyberspace

Right so after the last post let me try to confront the problem in a less, say, agressive manner. Also I am home alone with one flatmate (who’s playing some sort of online football tactic game… not really my place) a gin tonic and waay too many home rolled cigarettes (and it’s friday night… no judgement). So feel like I should do something else than watching series. Let’s start here: We all know that moment, when we log on to the blue and white screen, hoping to see a little red square above the globe or the little letter, maybe even a red icon above the little icon of a person, someone new might be interested in befriending us. We scroll down to see what up’, we like “j’aime”, we comment or we get pissed off by some council man from Poland posting inappropriate “Denmark’s killing whales posts”. We hear that little specific sound, two notes, alarming us to someone trying to get in contact with us and we decide whether we are just ignoring it or in the mood to respond… We all know what I am reffering to. We have our mail open, just in case, or you mac people get notifications whenever new post has arrived. Our phone is next to us, and (if you are someone like me who always has it on silent) at the slightest vibration we think someone might have hit the send button to great us with a message (cause yes yes Turkle you are right no one ever call us anymore… Or maybe I’m just not worth calling… Frightening thought). We always have our phones charged cause god forbit we should run out of battery, not so much cause of the calls (since there are none) but for, say, Google maps, you’re meeting someone, you want to google something, call a cab, use Hungry House to order food… Let’s just say our phones are never off, and I admit having said “I feel like something’s missing when I go out without my iPhone”. Yes yes Turkle maybe we are addicted to technology (and no I am not forgetting all of you out there who don’t have either iPhones or Blackberry’s I know you still exist!!) but maybe we are also considered human beings who know when to turn it off… I know my flatmate is right when he says some people are maniacs when it comes to social networks and being connected all the time, but I also know as he said so himself that when he goes off to the country to see his family there is no cell reception or web connection so he is off line and he likes it. Maybe Kevin Kelly who says he is in love with the web itself shouldn’t be taken that seriously… Maybe and even if his love for the web has become something both erotic and idealistic, maybe we are not all masturbating to the idea of our internet connection and all the beautiful possibilities the web can offer today… And imagine if we were, well maybe not masturbating but loving the internet, would that be so bad…? It seems Clay Shirky is onto something with all his different examples of how we can use this interconnectedness for something besides sharing jokes or tweeting pictures of our latest dinner. And as I said in that last post… The whole idea of us living two separate lives, one off line and one online… Well it is just ridiculous! Yes maybe there are people getting sucked into cyberspace but hasn’t there always been people who had problems…? I said it before… The off and the on’s are inseperable, let’s face it I usually use FB for posting weird shit to my flatmates, or to arrange a library meeting or to catch up with people from Denmark or Paris, it may not be super exciting but that’s just how it is. You check events, you ckeck out a new band you check out this restaurant someone went to that looked cool. I wonder if one were to count the number of times a person created a second life on FB with a fake identity and a more appealing personality and the number of times people like you and me use FB as an extension of our everyday life (thank you McLuhan), which one would be the most common… I’m guessing the last one would be of a lot higher amount than the first one. No I don’t have any statistics and no I’m probably not qualified to have an opinion, but isn’t this almost just common knowledge… So voila, that was an attempt to say it differently, should now go and get my flatmate off his second life as a football manager… He might get sucked in…


Love and Sex With Robots Or Sherry Turkle’s Inquisition of Digital Evangilists

Okay so I was reading this book by Sherry Turkle, Alone Together – Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Each Other, and it really does merit a little blog post. See when she talks about technology and social media she is like a Christian talking about the Antichrist… Harsh, ruthless and judgmental in a very “I am a psychologist so I just want the best for you poor people who do not realize to which state you have become addicted to a lonely life of screen watching and mouse clicking replacing your human friends and lovers with computers and robots” way… I cannot decide, cause there are obviously pins of truth in her musings, and I am certainly not trying to be cleverer than a professor and a psychologist but it is just a little too much. I do agree with the fact that texting and Facebook chatting can be annoying. As I mentioned in an older post it sometimes feels like modern dating only exists in virtual online life. You wait for a text instead of a call and instead of telling someone on the phone (cause that is a good old voice to voice technology item, not nearly as dangerous as robots) how you feel you write ❤ ❤ :-p ;0) ❤ in a text (I wish i could make these virtual smiley pieces of art where it reassembles a panda or a thumbs-up, but I am not that talented)… Okay well maybe that is a little excessive, I almost never use smileys in my texts, I also don’t really tell people I like them on the (i)Phone, but you get my point. It is true that when communicating sometimes it would be nice to hear a voice or instead of deciphering weird text messages and wondering whether he was being sarcastic or honest or playing the game of “must not text back before at least 12 hours” and then waiting around for a response and then wondering whether to put x or xx or xxx at then end of your text or just putting nothing or “take care dude”. Ah yes living in virtual life can be quite exhausting, with the rules of texting and the stalking of Facebook and Twitter and, oh my, there are so many. Maybe that David Levy is on to something about exchanging men (yes yes or women) for robots (NB from his book Love & Sex With Robots). They would definitely be longer lasting in bed and apparently know more than all the worlds knowledge of sexual positions (which seems to bed one of his main points), but maybe I’m not so much into cold metal between my legs (when it’s not my bike of course)… Maybe I’m old-fashioned because I still think of R2D2 or 3PO when I think of robots and I really wouldn’t want to have sex with them, they are cult robots not to be thought of in a sexual way (and 3PO would honestly just piss me off in the end..). Maybe David Levy’s robots are cool plastic silicone ones, but then isn’t that just like having sex with a working, walking and talking dildo… Can’t decide, maybe that’s the whole point of robots in bed, that they are just performers. I am still not sure about that idea though, I kinda like real flesh and blood men (hoo maybe David Levy’s robots are also made out of flesh and blood… Sick shit dude!!) and kinda like that they don’t know all there is too know about all the worlds sexual positions… Just imagine the pressure: “no robot don’t know that one, no robot don’t know that one, no robot don’t know that one, do you just wanna do missionary..? no, oh okay… Yeah definitely not keen on the robot sex, but I like how it has become some men’s (aka David Levy’s) fetish or at least that it is now on the market like S/M, Latex, Swingers or Golden Showers… I dig the whole ‘free choice’… See the thing is Sherry Turkle talks about people praising the internet as heroic narrators… “Effusions of digital evangelists who confuse technological advance with human progress” and then she decides we as humans have become blinded so much from the need for technological advancement and more and more social media, that we can’t see clearly anymore and that we therefore get sucked into virtual life and can’t even choose our life outside online cyberspace anymore. First of all, stop with the whole cyberspace… There is no cyberspace and online activity does not necessarily mean we alienate ourselves from “real” life… And why do we keep having to make that distinction, online activity is just as big a part of “real life” as “real life” is a part of online activity. We don’t go to Cyber every time we log on or go Wifi (even though, man, it does sound like a cool place… Cyber: Where the milk is fresh and there is always free ice-cream, stop by any time) Frankly that whole cyber statement is getting old. And then maybe Turkle, maybe give people some credit. Stop thinking that as soon as the first sex robot is on the market we’ll all go and buy ourselves one and stay home for weeks and weeks and have constant sex with our over talented robots. I’m not saying people wouldn’t buy them, they probably would and a lot (especially if Steve Jobs was in over the design) but it is always like that with the newest technology fling. Something new comes out, gets overhyped and then people move on… Funny how when society is changing there are always these critics who thinks the apocalypse is now near, and wait, listen, they can almost hear the trumpets… And so they write books like Sherry Turkle’s warning us about the digital Evangelists as if they were the devil trying to fill us with evil cyber thoughts. Here is a counter example: I have a friend with whom I have had an email revival, in the space of circa one week we have in total written about 36 emails, and these are not rotten little short emails these are actual essays (well most of them at least). Hope you are all out there thinking oh my goood she’s been sucked into the Space of Cyber… Now we don’t live very far apart and we do see each other fairly regurlarly but there is just such a difference in writing than in speaking, also keep in mind that this is not stupid texting it is just like writing a letter, yes, that is what e-mailing is… Maybe Turkle wouldn’t call this a counter example, maybe she would say we are a perfect example of technology gone bad. I’m gonna say the opposite. I find it refreshing that the old art of writing a letter has actually become present in my emailing my friend, I sit down I have a coffee and a cigarette and I think about my answer. So put that in you bong Sherry Turkle and inhale…. Stop talking about separate cyber divided online virtual lives in an alone togetherness, where the only communication form is through our phones, and where we dig robot sex and give people some credit!!! Maybe this is not the end of all human common sense, maybe this is not the end of the world. Maybe people are actually capable of finding their way through technology and The Space Of Cyber while still caring for and keeping human contact a factor in their lives… Maybe I’m wrong…

Is the glass half full or half empty…?

Right so I’m now half through this master I’m doing or more likely almost finished and yet soooo far from the final result. I still need to do this thesis. Now this may sound fairly straight forward and one would very much think that is the case, only I cannot help feeling a little like Sisyphus must have felt pushing that stone up the hill. The bloody thing keeps rolling down over and over and it seems as if I am getting nowhere at all (wallowing in self pity is probably not the answer to this at all it’s just so easy). This “getting nowhere” may be due to way too much ‘Friends watching’ and waaay too little reading and I’m therefore attempting to turn this around. Sometimes you just have to reach rock-bottom before you can push the stone back up the hill (or whatever it was them Greek dudes said).

I’m thinking now that maybe I should have chosen something about branding or cultural marketing or something with cultural economics… Something where there would be a lot of reading and figures and statistics and straight forward answers. Maybe there never is a straight forward answer and maybe I should just get over myself and get on with it. See I have chosen to do my thesis on photography and social networking, more specifically on iPhone App’s such as Instagram or Hipstamatic that are themselves photographic social networking. As most ideas before they become something else, before they transform into something one can actually grasp, it is a good idea…  But it is still only that. Now the outcome obviously depends on what I do with it. To elaborate, what I was thinking was throughout October and November to get in there and do a lot of Instagramming’, do different themes of pictures every week and in that way try to get to know this social network better, try to understand which pictures people like and enjoy the most and why.

To throw some theory in there with the pictures I have until now been looking (not enough) at Liz Well’s Understanding Photography and so far I gather (maybe this is obvious too) that depending on the theorist the ways in which they look at photographs are very different. I could probably do this thesis with focus on just one thinker say Susan Sontag for example, but I’m feeling that the whole discussion would then just be limited to her ideas. For this to be interesting, I’m thinking there should be a discussion about the different ways we use photographs and why. Especially in these new photographic social networks. It may not be groundbreaking news and breathtaking new ideas but hopefully it will incite discussions, conversations and maybe, hopefully, give a better understanding of these networks and why they are not a complete waste of time… Maybe it will turn out that they are, but then hopefully there will still be an explanation to why.

Now because this project is about social networking I feel it would be stupid not to blog along about it in the same time. I will therefore try to post regular blogs about the advancement of the project. The pictures will be here on the blog, on a specially created Tumblr, on Instagram and hey let’s throw in Facebook and Twitter as we go along. I’ll probably try to alternate though, let’s not be too crazy and spammy’. Any comments, thoughts, critiques or useful links are more than welcome. On Instagram I am ‘myellafyrstenberg’ and I’ll post the Tumblr link shortly.

Because it is such a nice and sunny day I think the first theme should be lights…

Stay tuned for more and thanks’ for stopping by!