March 6, 2014 § 2 Comments
You could be standing in line at the grocery store, twiddling your thumbs in front of an episode of Bridezillas (I don’t know what you do), or sitting through an all-day grant kickoff meeting, as I was this afternoon, when suddenly BOOM the heavens part and you are presented with a gift so pure, so beautiful, that you can hardly believe that it’s yours to keep and hold forever.
Case in point, the AMA Martha “My Everything” Stewart did today on Reddit, to which my little beauty childhood bestie Martha 4eva Kato (backstory here) alerted me via excited text message. I know, I know, to read it you’ll have to go ON Reddit. But that is a small price to pay, because how else will you learn the latest sexy sex tips? (“Always take a bath before and after.”) Or the merits of truffle oil? (“I think truffle oil is one of the few ingredients that doesn’t belong in anyone’s kitchen. It is ruinous of most recipes.”) Or how many tacos Martha Stewart can eat in one sitting? (“I was at a really good Mexican restaurant yesterday, and I ate one whole taco. I was still hungry.”) Or the secrets to proper towel maintenance? (“You should check your water, your soap, the temperature of the water, and your machine. Something’s wrong. Towels should last at least 20 years.”) Or some stone cold existential truths? (“We are all faced with serious challenges during a lifetime.”) Or how you should clean, as Reddit user joliekerr put it, a “steel riveted leather harness used for a strap-on dildo?” (“What’s a dildo?”).
So, I’m just going to sit here and let the joy just wash over me, because today is pretty much the greatest day of my life. Thanks to Kato for sharing the good news, and may god bless you, each and every one.
February 14, 2014 § Leave a comment
I’ve been contemplating how best to respond –if I should respond at all– to the recent University of Manitoba study conducted by Erin Buckels, Paul Trapnell, and Delroy Paulhus suggesting that trolls, or people who are said to engage in trolling behaviors (I would argue that there is a difference, or at least that how we define our terms significantly impacts whatever resulting findings), are marked by the so-called Dark Tetrad of personality traits: Machiavellianism, narcissism, and sadism. Not because I’m not invested in the conversation, obviously I am, but because my methodological approach is so far removed from those presented in the aforementioned study that it almost seems odd to compare these apples to those oranges.
Specifically, I chose not to ask psychological motives-based questions. One could, of course; it’s easy to see why this question –what exactly is WRONG with people who troll, anyway?– would be appealing to researchers and general audiences. But for the purposes of my own work, these were the wrong questions to ask. First, while I don’t doubt that many trolls/people who engage in behaviors described as trolling are indeed Machiavellian, narcissistic, and sadistic, perhaps at a higher incidence than within a random population sample (but perhaps not, depending on the population and sample therein), these conclusions are often difficult (if not impossible) to verify, particularly when you’re dealing with anonymous or pseudonymous subjects. Put simply, even when taken straight from the horse’s mouth, the fact that you are asking a troll ANYTHING immediately presents the possibility, if not high likelihood, that you are wading through a ten foot high puddle of bullshit. Because, again, troll.
So there’s that, but for me, the question of why individual trolls do what they do and what their particular damage might be is less interesting than why our culture is so amenable to trolls. That’s a completely different, and from my perspective, more dangerous line of inquiry, since it calls into question the seemingly clear-cut distinction between those who troll and those who are engaged in ostensibly “normal” behaviors — behaviors that are actually every bit as problematic (I’m looking at you, Fox News). Which happens to be the underlying thesis of my book and also everything I’ve ever written about trolls. I would make a joke about fruit salad or something, but I’m tired. Anyway it’s Friday, go home!
February 13, 2014 § 3 Comments
It is with great…..good lord, I don’t know, excitement? Gratitude? Relief? ALL OF THE EMOTIONS? that I announce that my book on trolls (which for those of you who are new to the scene, is a millionth-degree revision of my dissertation) will be published by The MIT Press (yes that MIT Press) in early 2015. This has been a long, weird road; let’s take a look back, shall we?
Here I am comparing my dissertation to The Human Centipede; here I am fretting about losing the ability to speak English during my dissertation defense; here I am smashing my head against the table post-deposit; here I am likening the process of writing a dissertation to The Shining; here I am dancing around the complex psycho-sexual relationship I have with my manuscript; here I am discussing my overall writing process and offering some SO YOU WANT TO WRITE A BOOK OR DISSERTATION tips. Good times!
The day the contracts were signed, my husband and I decided that there could be no more appropriate response than to rewatch our favorite art film Troll 2, which is actually about goblins and not a sequel. So that was great, but then Chris did one better by making and sending me this video, which serves as a reminder that I could not have done this on my own. I also had television.
So without further ado, I’m publishing a book! Here is the new, finessed abstract:
This book chronicles the emergence and evolution of online trolling, a wildly popular behavioral practice predicated on meme creation, forum raiding, and general disruption. It focuses specifically on behaviors born of and associated with 4chan’s /b/ board, one of the Internet’s most infamous and active trolling hotspots.
Pulling from thousands of hours of participant observation, dozens of formal interviews with participating trolls, and a careful reconstruction of the history of online trolling, the book argues that the so-called troll problem is actually a culture problem. Not only do trolls fit comfortably within the contemporary American media landscape, they effortlessly replicate the most pervasive—and in many cases outright venerated—tropes in the Western tradition. Trolls may take these tropes to their furthest and most grotesque extremes, but at a very basic level, trolls’ actions are born of and fueled by culturally sanctioned impulses, immediately complicating the impulse to condemn trolls for their obscene and seemingly deviant behavior. These behaviors may well be obscene, but as this book illustrates, the most surprising thing about trolling is that it isn’t all that deviant. In fact, in ostensibly non-trolling contexts, similar behaviors are regarded as perfectly acceptable, if not desirable. Ultimately then, the book isn’t just about trolls. It’s about a culture in which trolls thrive.
February 5, 2014 § Leave a comment
There’s nothing I can add to this. From The Metro:
A woman is thought to have become the first person in Britain to be jailed for trolling herself.
Michelle Chapman was given 20 months in prison after setting up fake Facebook profiles supposedly of her father and his wife to send hundreds of abusive messages to herself, before complaining to police.
The 24-year-old, of Robins Close, Par, in Cornwall, was described as ‘wicked’ by Judge Christopher Harvey Clark QC at Truro crown court.
The court heard how her actions resulted in innocent people being arrested or receiving police cautions, as well as the breakdown of her father’s marriage.
Chapman’s year-long campaign of abusive messages only came to an end when forensic internet inquiries revealed the Facebook profiles had been created at her own address, This Is Cornwall reported.
January 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
My friend Mike Rugnetta, host of PBS’ Idea Channel, opens the above episode by stating that this episode will be a bit different than normal. “I got most of the way through writing it before realizing that I didn’t agree at all with what I was saying,” he admits, which for me anyway is the ultimate “you had me at hello” moment. Mike goes on to say that, instead of rewriting the episode, he decided to do a little good cop bad cop (well, red shirt/blue shirt), except instead of there being two cops (or two different guys in two color-coded shirts), it’s just him disagreeing with himself.
January 17, 2014 § 2 Comments
This is the greatest thing I have ever seen. Like, pack it up everything else. You will never make me as happy as this ad for Pine Bros Softish (SOFTISH?!) Throat Drops, starring Martha Stewart for some reason. Here’s some background, not that it matters (True Art needs no explanation). And this Funny or Die translation is ok, at least the part where she talks about entering her chair room.
+1 to everyone who was involved with this masterpiece.
December 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
I actually really enjoyed 2013, even though the last 12 months have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the future is fucking weird, man! On the personal front, 2013 was just boffo. Chris and I fled West, first to Washington State for a spell and then to Northern California. We also got married, and were graced by the rainbow armadillo cake of my dreams (unfortunately only the second most magical cake in all of Christendom). Plus I got a pretty great husband out of the deal, so three cheers for positive life choices!
On the pop culture front, oh boy! The following is a rundown maybe not of things I “liked,” because what does it even mean, to “like” something these days, but things that were interesting and/or made me laugh. Which is a much better designation than “like,” on account of laughter allows for more ambiguity. And interest can indicate just about anything!
My overall comment on the following media artifacts, and to pop culture generally, is that welp, the New Aesthetic has officially jumped the art and design movement rails, gobbled up a bag of MDMA and is now runaway-training all over Disney’s Tomorrowland. But a bit of backup is in order — as I discuss in this seriously tl;dr post, the New Aesthetic is a coinage often attributed to artist/futurist James Bridle, and was popularized in 2012 following a high-profile SXSW panel. It essentially refers to moments of overlap between the digital and analog space, the most conspicuous example of which is offline 8-bit imagery. Proponents of the New Aesthetic tend to frame these moments as Art with a Capital A, because of winking machines and stuff.
December 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
Earlier today, senior Huffington Post tech writer Bianca Bosker published an article arguing why we should all fear the online mob, and quoted a thing of mine, along with some things of some others, including Dr. Claire Hardacker (who someday I really need to meet). I agree with the basic idea that online mobs = scary, the vast majority of the time, depending on the case, and in honor of that series of caveats (which is essentially how I’d characterize my position) wanted to add to the below quote more thoughts on the subject. From the HuffPo article:
“Like more traditional offline deterrents … online shaming allows certain individuals or groups to model what is and what is not acceptable within a specific (sub)cultural context,” Dr. Whitney Phillips, a faculty associate in Humboldt State University’s sociology department researching Internet culture, wrote in The Awl last December. “But not just model — the second (and simultaneous) half of that equation is punishing, or threatening to punish, anyone who deviates from whatever established norm.”
But I have more thoughts than just that, oh my:
Not the most uplifting way to end the week, but that’s the internet for you.
December 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
I like how there is a whole genre of dubstep Christmas lights videos on YouTube! You may think I’m being sarcastic but you’re wrong! This is genuinely awesome! People sure do devote a lot of time to things! This one isn’t dubstep (or Christmas) but it made me clap with glee! Good for you, you guys!!
Related: the only Christmas song I ever listen to when it comes on the shitty car radio is that Trans-siberian Orchestra Chorus of the Bells song, a) because Chorus of the Bells is the only good Christmas song and the TOC version is EXTREEEEME and b) it reminds me of that give-a-give-a-give-a Garmin commercial from a few years ago, which makes me laff cuz capitalism. All the dubsteb versions make me laugh even more! Again I’m not even being sarcastic! Everything is WONDERFUL!!