27th Sep2012

“What the hell is that?” “It’s where you’ve been living this whole time.”

by averydame

Drawing from Soja’s discussion of spatiality: I’ve long been fascinated by the way websites, as spaces, shape conversation and change how users interpret co-participants’ motivations. As has long been noted, certain conversational cues such as prosody and nonverbal cues are lost in non face-to-face interactions. Thus, tools like the “emoticon” arose to compensate. None of that it particularly new. But I would argue, though, the specific strictures of a given space shape how users compensate: tags and gifs on tumblr, in example. These changes can also have more serious effects, such as the legitimization of social pressure to silence in-group deviants, which becomes the highly problematic “call out culture.”  What are some other changes, and more importantly, why does it matter that these spaces shape discourses?

So, I was reading Cassy’s post, and I’d actually like to bounce of that a bit, because it meets with part of what I’ve been thinking about. As she notes, Paglen’s blank spots may be read as black because they are spaces “occupied by women and/or feminized bodies.” How does this function in discussion of group spaces online? In example, the “discovery” by news organizations of mommy bloggers or transgender support groups by non-members. how and why does this discovery afford them “legitimacy”?

The graphic for this post is taken from Google’s visualization of Internet users using World Bank Data. For a different “progression” of percentage of population connected versus user  number (specifically because I think its commentary is relevant to Harpold’s article), see this flash infographic from the BBC. Both are based on, of course, Mercator projections. I’d be interested to talk about how mobile technologies have both changed and reinforced the dynamics of Harpold’s maps. What other borders, beyond national-political, create divisions of access?

Definition (Ongoing):

Community – A grouping of people that comes together around shared values or qualities. This group may have religious, social, political, and/or cultural aspects, perceives itself as distinct from others, and members may share cultural or historical connections. May have significant ties to a given space.

(Post title reference: “Like this. The map is flipped over.” “Yeah, but you can’t do that.” “Why not?” “‘Cause it’s freaking me out.”)

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