January 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
God I’m a sucker for this dogfriend shit.
December 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Last night a human and I finished catching up with Once Upon a Time –which surprisingly is a very good show, with excellent, well-dressed villains, and starts airing new episodes on Jan 8, check your local listings– so had to scrounge around for alternative shit to watch. Dexter was too much of a time commitment, and CERTAIN people have a limited tolerance for real life murdershows, and Ahh! Real Monsters was still downloading, so instead we watched documentaries on YouTube, like normal people.
The above vidya is one of the things we watched, a brief history of the Amen Break — which I promise you all know very well even if you don’t know you know it. As an added bonus Nate Harrison (the disembodied voice guy/filmmaker) unpacks and puts the righteous hate on current copyright law, oh what fun!
This of course led to discussions of other ubiquitous but rarely-isolated sounds, specifically screams.
Although I must say, I prefer the scream officially known as “Man, Gut-Wrenching Scream and Fall into Distance,” also known as the Howie Long Scream or simply the “Youraagh.”
Learning! TASTES GOOD DOESN’T IT.
In No Way Safe for Work and/or Life, Depending on the Person, or, An Open Love Letter to the Internet
November 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
My yesterday was easily the best –one of the best if you count ROFLshit– days I’ve had in a long time, due to the confluence of ART and INTERNET. My amazing unsinkable honeybadger of an advisor invited me and Brucce over for dinner and absolutely no work allowed; we were joined by her husband and son and son’s two friends. We had a shitton of supplies, including the most nightmarish doll-baby face mold I’ve ever seen, which made me happier than I could possibly say. As we worked on our respective projects we took turns playing our favorite YouTube videos, which as you can imagine (as anyone who knows us could imagine) got pretty NSFW pretty fast. Videos related, it’s our top picks, and by “top” I mean the videos that were replayed the most and/or elicited the most laughter.
The boys wouldn’t stop playing this song, which was disturbing (who am I kidding, I thought it was hilarious) on a number of levels:
I’m very sorry in advance (no I’m not):.
You’re gonna go to Hogwarts and do spells and shit, and you’re gonna be fucking pleased about it, also you’re are a wizard:
I’m sharing this because…well because I want to, but also because it reminds me of something Henry Jenkins wrote in the afterward to YouTube — namely that YouTube is indeed a game-changer, but not because it actually changed the game. Instead, it provided tools for people to broadcast the games they were already playing. As Jenkins explains, people have always remixed existing culture, and people have always created their own big and little and underground sub culture(s), and people have always shared the resulting output; that’s one of the things we’re good at, as humans. What YouTube allows users to do is go public with their private malfunctions (I say “malfunctions” with great appreciation). The site wouldn’t have caught on without existing interest, and/or existing need — it was a market just waiting to be tapped.
My particular market, which consists of all that is WAT (and has since before I ever even heard of computer, back when I was the sweariest girl on the playground), is hardly exclusive to me or to my family — as evidenced by the crush of bizarre, NSFW/L shit that gets posted to YouTube, for no other reason than because people can. As I’ve argued elsewhere re: the post ironic (or whatever I’d call it these days, “post irony” was so 2009) undercurrent of so much internet humor, the NSFW/L imperative functions as a feedback loop, as weird shit tends to beget further, and ever-weirder, weirdness. But if the aesthetic didn’t already exist, if there weren’t already an attraction to dirtwork and dickjokes, there would be no audience to fortify and spread and augment the weird. As always, and providing yet another reason I fucking love the internet, platform and proclivity feed into and strengthen each other. Poopoo the resulting poop humor all you want, but the process is amazing and to this little slop-farmer at least, strangely inspiring.
September 27, 2011 § 1 Comment
As I mentioned the other dia, I have
100 94 selections to muscle through before my final actual last GD exam, jesus. The process for orals is different than the breadth lists, is more about thematic connections than specific textual detail (not that I don’t need some of that too, but the exam is framed as a conversation as opposed to a time-crunched written thing), so each selection will just get a keyword summary (for quick scanning in the direct lead-up to the exam) which I’ll then follow with a more open-ended discussion about some related question or counterpoint or whatever I feel like, it’s my dumb blog & I’ll do what I want.
Youtube, Jean Burgess and Joshua Green (with contributions by Henry Jenkins and John Hartley), 2009
The business of meta-business! Participatory culture! Circulatory value! Embed that shit! Reeeemiiixxx! Grassroots! Astroturf! DMCA! Generativity! Vlog your heart! Bullies and flames! lonelygirl15! You nostalgia you lose! To YouTube or not to YouTube! I see white people!
Mark Andrejevic, “Exploiting Youtube: Contradictions of User-Generated Labor,” The YouTube Reader (2009)
Intellectual property rights! Desire for control! Divergent conceptions of value per a highly convergent medium! The question of exploitability! “The interactive information economy” wherein interactive participation runs up against entrenched economic models!
Malin Wahlberg, “YouTube Commemoration: Private Grief and Communal Consolation,” The YouTube Reader (2009)
Memorial video tributes! Vernacular memory! Online grief culture! An American phenomenon stemming from funeral as mega-industry! “A Grotesque Corpus of Sentimental Kitsch!” Cancer and suicide = most popular! Formal consistency! “Perverse voyeurism!” The problem of bullycide! WAIT A SECOND, SOMETIMES AGGRESSIVE NON-COMPASSIONATE RESPONSES?????
Patricia G. Lange, “Videos of Affinity on YouTube,” The YouTube Reader (2009)
Attention as (social) capital! Metrics of (temporal) value! As expressed through the creation/consumption of “videos of affiliation!” Micro-negotiations of attention! Via online affinity frameworks! And emotional interpolation! Home-mode communication! Phatic/contact communications! (Dis)embodied self-referentiality!
So those were my readings, now let’s sit by the fire and chat hmm?
Today’s magic moment hails from “What Happened Before YouTube,” Henry Jenkins’ contribution to YouTube: Digital Media and Society Series. As he argues, YouTube may be a relatively new platform but it certainly doesn’t represent a new set of behavioral practices. People have been mixing and mashing and self-publishing for decades, sometimes online, sometimes on kitchen tables, but always in the service of some larger group ethos. Participatory/remix culture(s) weren’t engendered by YouTube, in other words; rather, the success of YouTube was and remains dependent upon the preexistence of participatory/remix culture(s). Without a built-in audience for the weird and wonderful crap people do, there’d be no point to throw it online. Is the basic idea.
This was nicely backwardsing, another one of my fav-or-ite things, but the most interesting section (to me) came later, in Henry’s discussion of the limitations, or at least the (potential) ethical/interpersonal/political ambivalence, built into home-brewed content — particularly in terms of decontextualization. I immediately thought of Bed Intruder, maybe not the most obvious place for my brain to go, but a place my brain has gone many times before (lolwat). I’m assuming that anyone who’d take the time to read this blog would be well-versed in the Dodson affair, but you know what they say about assumptions. Before I give any background, though, here’s the VIRAL VIDYA, which now that I think about it is actually the appropriate place to start (in that it’s entirely the wrong place to start, but more on that in a minute):
YOU GUYS THIS IS SO FUNNY, is it any surprise the video’s amassed over 90 million hits? I mean it’s comedy gold. Because “hide yo husbands???” LOL MEN DON’T GET RAPED. And Antoine Dodson? What a lulz cow! I mean! What crawled up his weave amirite? Actually this (there may be an ad, sorry):
To recap: some guy broke into a house and tried to rape the woman inside. The local news showed up and interviewed the woman’s brother, who was still very upset. Ha…ha? Apparently so, since the story, particularly Dodson’s imprecation, became immediate remix fodder — thus accomplishing the truly Herculean task of making a punchline out of rape, poor people, black people and gay people. Cool story indeed! But calm down grandma, I’m not about to wag my finger at all the (ahem probably mostly straight/white/haven’t-been-raped) people who took some form of pleasure in the original newscast, remix and/or subsequent meme-cluster. Myself very much included, I mean let’s be honest, the world is a slippery beast.
What I am saying is that context is an awful easy thing to lose online. This can be a good thing, this can be a bad thing, this can be an entirely indifferent thing. It really depends on what side of the fence you happen to be standing on, for example if it was your house that was broken into, or your sister who was nearly assaulted. Regardless, the magical disarticulations of online content has a very clear and very immediate impact on both the reception and (re)creation of content — which at the very least is something to consider.
August 26, 2011 § 1 Comment
TED Talk: Christopher “moot” Poole: The Case for Anonymity Online (2010)
First of all, Tom Green? The bum in on my wat. Um er. Hey everybody! My name is moot. No it’s not. My name is Christopher Poole. No it’s not! OR IS IT. So! Wow, TED, ok. I translated the Futuba channel format to English America. And now holy crap it’s so popular! The website is called 4chan, it’s anonymous, ephemeral, no memory, no registration, no nothing, just pictures of kittens and “rate my cawk” threads. Basically it’s a meme factory. LOLcats, RickRoll. Really digging into the memory banks for some G-rated shit. The community has come up with their own set of rules, “The Rules of the Internet.” For example, treat others as you’d like to be treated, and a penny saved is a penny earned. Also if it exists, there is porn of it, no exceptions. Back to /b/, which apparently you’re not supposed to talk about, and this thing that happened one time where I was voted the Most Influential Person in the History of Magazines. MARBLECAKEALSOTHEGAME, look it up! Oh and Anonymous, you can’t forget about them. They hate Scientology so much! You know what else they hate? Animal abuse. Once they even saved a cat! All these deviant Cyber Trolls, with secret hearts of gold!
The thing is, 4chan is a place without filters or limits. This is unusual; with the rise of social networking sites like Facebook and canv.as, the internet is moving towards persistent user identity and away from privacy, aka the freedom to be whatever self we feel like in that particular moment. In conclusion, I really think it’s a shame. Oh and now Q&A. Re: anonymity, there are plenty of downsides. But abolishing anonymity entirely would be worse. Here let me walk a very fine line — saying whatever you like is powerful. Doing whatever you like is problematic. So let’s hear it for anonymity! Re: the risks of a consequence-free zone, oh man. Well, I asked /b/ what I should talk about here, and within 24 hours there were 12,000 responses. None of which I could say in public lol. Re: the commercial picture of 4chan, there really isn’t one. Although I did finally move out of my mom’s basement! THE END
TED Talk: Clay Shirky: Institutions vs. Collaborations (2005)
First of all, watch the video. Second of all, watch the video — seems silly for me to summarize point-by-point a thing you’re perfectly capable of watching yourselves. It’s not just about access, i.e., the video’s right there, but more about how cool this is. As opposed to the vast majority of dated (dated = earlier than 2008) new media research, the typical response to which is haha that thing doesn’t even EXIST anymore, cool story though, this argument a) still holds water and b) calls attention to a set of groundbreaking concepts most of us have internalized as natural and necessary. Take tagging in fotos, for example. Shirky’s like, let’s say I need a pic of a half-naked mermaid titsing around Coney Island (this is the internet, after all). Why, thanks to the miracle of tagging, all I have to do is run a quick image search on Flickr! I mean duh, what else would you d——— and then it hit me, we haven’t always been able to fire up our machines and just FIND things. An obvious, almost embarrassingly naive thing to say. Because NO SHIT FUCKLOCK, it’s not like I didn’t already know this somewhere in the recesses of my lizard brain. Still, we’ve become –I’ve become– so accustomed to a particular relationship to data and so thoroughly reliant on the most robust of all possible access that I simply cannot imagine a world in which my informational needs are not immediately met. I lived in that godforsaken world, for years! And yet I have forgotten.
Shirky’s talk is kind of amazing, in other words, because it provides a snapshot of what the world was like — what might have seemed far-fetched, even revolutionary, to a 2005 audience is now business as usual, so much so that imagining the alternative requires, well, imagination. A must-watch for anyone interested in institutions generally. Also chaos, which REIGNS.
Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody (2008)
So I took my talk and made it a book. The basic argument is that the world is changing, the world has changed. But how and why these changes have occurred, and through what means, might be surprising. Yes yes, computers and internets and social networks are all material things, and in that sense have been literally impactive, but the revolution isn’t explicitly technological. It’s social, it’s about communication, it’s about what has been allowed to flourish (passive construction used deliberately). Take the tagging of fotos on Flickr — until recently, such a thing would have been unthinkable. Because going through and manually classifying hundreds of thousands of photographs? It’s a cool idea I guess, but hardly viable from an institutional perspective. A company would have to hire a bunch of people (and/or a smaller company), who would need direction, which would require oversight — and for what? Nothing that would recoup the initial outlay.
What networking technologies have created, then, is a spontaneous bypass mechanism. We don’t have to run everything we do through the cost/benefit five year plan of some lumbering corporation or government agency helmed by pedos and crimelords. “Value” has been untethered from “worth,” ushering in an era in which the latent becomes –at least, has the potential to become– manifest. The platforms across which these latencies travel are value neutral; they are conduits for who knows what, new and interesting behaviors I guess, and can’t be framed as either good or bad. Because again, by themselves, networks are useless termini linked together by inanimate hunks of carcinogens. But networks can’t and shouldn’t be taken by themselves. Consequently I reject both technological and sociological determinism; neither are fully able to account for the coevolutionary nature of meat and plastic. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s what has happened. Deal with it. Or don’t, I don’t care — the world marches forward either way.
What I learned from these fine scholars
Probably my favorite line from Shirky’s book (and which I unknowingly echoed in my response to his TED talk) is that “communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring” (105), a statement just as applicable to Mootle’s study in motherfuckery as it is to Shirky’s booktalk. We no longer marvel at the fact that networking technologies have changed maybe not everything but a shitload of some things (even just to the extent that, like it or not, we have to DEAL with them). For many of us, their existence is taken completely for granted. I’m suddenly thinking about a paper I wrote in 2005/2006 — something about Bush-era Republicans and humor (more like lack thereof, LOL those assholes). I wanted to cite a segment from the Daily Show, but that was juuuust as YouTube was becoming, and/or starting to become, the go-to place for obscure media artifacts aka my new best friend. I might have been able to find one or two there, I can’t remember exactly, but know I had to seriously DIG for the rest, sometimes relying on transcripts of the exchanges I was looking for. I didn’t know how to cite any of it, and wasn’t even sure these were “legitimate” sources (at least from my professor’s perspective). Looking back on that I can’t help but scratch my head, like, really? That’s what research was like? -which of course makes me acutely aware of the interim years, particularly all the things that have had to happen to render the old model (of research, of collaboration, of knee-jerk institutional resistance) almost entirely unintelligible…