Seeing Ourselves Through Technology (Talk for UIC Communications Dept, March 12, 2014)

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Published on March 13, 2014

Author: jilltxt



How we use blogs, selfies and wearable devices to see and shape ourselves.

Seeing Ourselves Through Technology How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves Parmigianino: Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1524) Jill Walker Rettberg Professor of Digital Culture University of Bergen

Three modes of self-representation: Textual Diary: (CC) Ellen Thompson Selfie: (CC) TempusVolut Nicholas Fultron: The Fultron Annual Report, 2007. Visual Quantitative

Personal media are the opposite of mass media. Lüders, Marika (2008) ‘Conceptualizing Personal Media’. New Media and Society 10 (6): 683-702.

Photo: Jeff Hitchcock (“Arbron”) (CC)

Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearables to See and Shape Ourselves. 1. Histories of self-representation 2. Selfies 3. Cultivating the Self 4. Filtered Reality 5. Real-Time Diaries 6. Quantified Selves 7. Privacy and Surveillance

Why is it not permissible in the same way for each man to portray himself with the pen, as he portrayed himself with the pencil? Montaigne, in Essais (late 16th century)

Technology always distorts ...filters

...and allows us to see ourselves as we otherwise cannot First photographic self- portrait: Hippolyte Bayard: Self-portrait as a Drowned Man (1840)

To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge—and, therefore, like power. Susan Sontag: On Photography (1977) Image (c) Chris Felver

Germaine Krull: Self-Portrait with Cigarette and Camera (1925)

The photobooth - the first mass market selfie technology

The mirror on my phone

Filters can be technological. Filters can be cultural.

From Damon Winter: Life as a Grunt Alper, Meryl. "War on Instagram: Framing conflict photojournalism with mobile photography apps." New Media & Society (2013): 1461444813504265. It’s not the photographer who has communicated the emotion into the images. It’s not the pain, the suffering or the horror that is showing through. It’s the work of an app designer in Palo Alto who decided that a nice shallow focus and dark faded border would bring out the best in the image. – news photographer Nick Stern, qtd by Meryl Alper Filtered Realities

Miles Hochstein: A Documented Life

Eleanor Antin: Carving, 1972.

Noah Kalina, 2006:

People love it – and make their own versions

Tehching Hsieh, 1980-1981 Thanks to Mark Jeffery for telling me about this.( )

We follow cultural templates both in living and documenting our lives. (CC) Carlos Mendoza

Preformatted baby journals are examples of normative discursive strategies that either implicitly or explicitly structure our agencies. Van Dijck, José (2007) Mediated Memories in the Digital Age. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP.

What happens when these narrative patterns aren’t hand-crafted but are automatically generated? Image: (CC) Terren in Virginia

Manovich, Lev (2009) ‘The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life: From Mass Consumption to Mass Cultural Production.’ Critical Inquiry 35 (2): 319-31. Mass cultural production follows templates set up by the professional entertainment industry. Are we even more firmly colonized by commercial media today than in the 20th century? Image:

Social media marketing strategist for Findus Fish at Bergen Chamber of Commerce, Nov 28, 2013 The wonderful thing about digital media is you can measure it.

She meant Facebook results. But measuring is also increasingly a way we see ourselves - and others.

Sunday at home with the kids. Monday at work. Tuesday - walked to work, used standing desk, more aware of not just sitting still. Fitbit as diary

The Shine Misfit uses badges to represent your activity through the day. (the moment the Shine first detected movement - i.e. was picked up - becomes read as my wakeup time)

Our technologies track us in many ways we don’t even consider.

There are no digital natives but the devices themselves; no digital immigrants but the devices too. They are a diaspora, tentatively reaching out into the world to understand it and themselves, and across the network to find and touch one another. This mapping is a byproduct, part of the process by which any of us, separate and indistinct so long, find a place in the world. James Bridle Machine vision - new aesthetics

And of course, often we can’t see the data about us. But others can.

(this isn’t new) Benjamin Franklin’s virtues:Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Chastity, Tranquility, Humility

How academic positions are decided at the Humanities Faculty at the University of Bergen (Excerpt from faculty board meeting papers Nov 2013)

We bring up our children to expect detailed tracking

In the early twentieth century, the technology of public schooling was designed to regulate children to work in factories: children were trained to respond to bells, walk in lines, and perform repetitive tasks. (..) Web 2.0 technologies function similarly, teaching their users to be good corporate citizens in the postindustrial, post-union world by harnessing marketing techniques to boost attention and visibility. Marwick, Status Update, page 12.

“You need to measure everything, make adjustments, measure again.” Social media marketing strategist for Findus at Bergen Chamber of Commerce, Nov 28, 2013

But what about the things you can’t measure?

Measurements don’t give the whole picture? Then measure more. Put up more weather stations. Get more data to create a more complete picture. Anders Brenna (@abrenna) to Bergen Chamber of Commerce, 28 Nov 2013.

So what should we add?

Self-documentation for self-improvement (Chapter 3)

@jilltxt on Twitter Blogging 2nd ed (Polity Press, 2013) I’d love feedback!!

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