Monthly Archives: December 2012

On life.

I should have been working this afternoon – and I have been, really, for the most part – but I just finished watching this seven-part documentary online about the Boxing Day tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean in 2004.

I remember it well, of course. I was in Singapore with my family at the time. On Christmas eve we’d seen cheap flights from Singapore to Phuket for Boxing Day and had thought about buying them. For whatever reason, the flights weren’t booked, and we didn’t go.

I awoke with a jolt in the morning, conscious of a tremor. I didn’t know what it was at the time, of course – Perth isn’t prone to earthquakes, and I didn’t expect to feel one twenty stories high in a building in Singapore, either. The unfamiliarity of it meant that I assumed I’d just been dreaming. Turning on the news that morning though, I realised what I’d felt.

We were lucky. The phone calls and texts messages from concerned family back home started coming in, but we were find. Singapore wasn’t hit and our decision (or perhaps laziness!) not to go to Phuket had ultimately saved our lives. It was chilling, though, knowing how close we’d been.

The documentary I watched this afternoon has been around for a few years, I think. It may have been shown on Australian TV at some time as parts of it look familiar. If you have a spare 70 minutes & some tissues, I definitely recommend watching. All the footage was taken from the cameras of survivors as they filmed the tsunami & aftermath. It’s harrowing but probably important for people to see. Because, really, life is short, and death can be sudden, and it’s horrible to think of anyone wasting the time in between.

Well then.

It’s a little bit hot in Perth at the moment.

We’ve got 5 days in a row forecast to be over 40 degrees celsius. That’s pretty stinking hot.

I feel like I’m in an advertisement, all beads of sweat and ice-cold cans of (diet) cola being rubbed over perspiring brows… only far less glamourous. I’m sweating like a pig. Only pigs don’t sweat, apparently. I’m sweating like someone who finds this heat uncomfortable but knows she has no right to complain because she spends half the year wishing for summer.

My days are going to be spent doing this:

2012-12-27-13-31-00

And I’ve set up my computer in the only room in my house with a decent aircon system, because it’s just too hot to work anywhere else. I’ll possibly live in this room for the next week. There’s plenty of couch space for sleeping.

study

The idea of doing anything in this heat is just a little bit depressing, really. I might go make myself an espresso martini. That’s an acceptable study beverage, right?

The curious case of GOMI: The dark side of having an audience.

The web is seriously creeping me out today.

Or, more accurately, I should say that the people on the web are creeping me out. For the first time in the more-than-a-decade that I have been blogging, I suddenly feel quite uncomfortable with the idea that people, for no good reason other than to express themselves, share the minutiae of their lives online for the entertainment of strangers.

Perhaps it’s because I spent far too long today trawling the forums of the Internet’s bitchiest hate site, Get Off My Internets!, taking screen shots of conversations that I will reference in my thesis… and then doing some very internet-stalkerish back-trawling of the blog posts that were the subject of those conversations, relying upon the fact that many of the blogs they referred to were blogs I knew so well that all I had to do was look in the archives at a particular month, and (generally) locate the post in question without too much trouble. All in all, I feel a little bit dirty.

GOMI isn’t a particularly nice site, but it’s a free Internet, right? We’re all entitled to our opinions. Perhaps why I feel so strange about it is because the users express many of the opinions I’ve had, but kept to myself. An unfortunate side effect of researching blogging for the past four years is that there are blogs and bloggers that I am sick to death of, but keep reading because I have to for my research.

I still feel like bloggers are real people, and should therefore be exempt from the dissection and character assassination that celebrities are subject to. At the same time, the moment that you choose to put your life online, you essentially have to accept the fact that you will be criticised, for everything from your poor grammar, to the fact that one of your eyes crinkles a bit when you smile, to the fact that your baby is a bit too chubby to be cute – and he has a weird name, anyway. And that’s not to mention picking apart the financial situation of those bloggers who are able to work from home, or (good heavens!) not work at all. (These are all examples of real posts that I read today, and are far from the most vitriolic.)

I’ve been blogging in some form since before I even knew it was called blogging. I blogged at LiveJournal (remember that??) from 1999-2002 before starting my previous blog, and this is what i think: (atiwit:), in 2004. I stopped posting to atiwit: at the start of this year during another crisis of confidence in which I suddenly began to feel a bit too exposed.

Neither of my blogs ever drew particularly big audiences. At best, atiwit: had up to around 500 visitors per day, and the only thing I ever saw written about it on a site (other than blogs written by friends) was when someone referred to my smoke detector battery removal method on a forum. Perhaps there were other things, but I never saw them, so as far as I am concerned, they don’t exist. (Yes, I vanity Google, but the forum post was actually discovered via link trackback.)

I’ve never felt entirely comfortable with the idea of online celebrity. Being Big on the Internet always seemed a bit too… invasive, I guess, and after reading GOMI today I’m pretty sure that I’ll never be striving to do anything exceptional with my blogging (not that I need to work on that – now that I’ve converted to research blogger, I’m getting 1/10th the visitors that I used to).

Get Off My Internets is such a peculiar site, and more than a little disturbing – but then again I’ve always subscribed to the policy of ‘Don’t like it? Turn it off!’. I will turn off the radio in my car if I don’t like a song. I will skip an episode of a TV show that I don’t like if I’m re-watching the series for the fiftieth time. I won’t read blogs that shit me to tears unless I absolutely have to – and I certainly won’t post about how much I hate it on the Internet.

I’m writing a chapter at the moment about identities and audiences, and I’ve included a case study of one particular blogger (who I won’t name here, as I don’t particularly enjoy her blog anymore, but I don’t think she needs extra negative attention) who received an immense amount of backlash from her readers when she changed the genre of her blog. She’s a perfect case study in how identity and authorship are really discordant concepts online. The audience of a blog has much more of a say in identity and authorship than they ever would “in real life”, and yet they’re only privy to part of the story – the identity that the blogger chooses to display. Bloggers essentially separate that part of themselves that is the blog-subject when they publish online, particularly when they become ‘successful’ bloggers. Audiences (or, in the case of face-to-face interactions, those that we engage with) always have a say in the person that we feel ourselves to be, but it’s never more visible than it is online.

I can’t help but feel that the reason so many people on GOMI are determining that bloggers are complete ‘flakes’ and nutjobs is because we, the audience, are causing them to be so.

Proceed with caution.

Oh, the irony.

Just last week I posted about the fact that people mistakenly think that because I am doing a PhD in Internet Studies, I know how to fix computers.

getting all meta and screenshotting my own blog. yeah.

getting all meta and screenshotting my own blog. yeah.

I don’t know how to fix computers. And yet I just caught myself sending my sister a text, telling her to bring her computer up to Perth with her this weekend… so I can fix it. She has that AFP virus that’s going around. I’m only going to follow instructions I’ve found online to remove it, but, I wonder if this is why people think I’m more useful with computers than I really am? :/

[In other news, I definitely just took advantage of super cheap airfares to book a two week long post-thesis holiday to South East Asia. I guess that means I now have a definitive due date!]

Flickr – the web’s most successful SNS?

As the picture above suggests, I’ve been an Flickr user for 8 years, and Instagram (though I do use it) does not even compare. One of my main reasons, other than research purposes, for using Instagram was the fact that my social network on Flickr was limited. There was nothing wrong with the site – it’s just that the kids (i.e. my friends) hadn’t caught on.

Flickr has recently launched a new smartphone app (as far as I know it’s on Android & iPhone – I’ve got an Android and it’s definitely available there) that makes navigating, sharing, and socialising easier than ever, whilst the web-based site remains as good as ever.

I’m going to comment more on the whole Instagram-photo-ownership-shebang when I’ve had my morning coffee and sorted out what this day has in store for me, but in the mean time you can read what Tama Leaver had to say about the service’s updated terms of use.

I don’t know if I’ll jump ship on Instagram entirely, but I’m going to preference Flickr once more – just like I did for 7.5 of the past 8 years.

8,993 photos in to a flickr love affair

 

When I speak

If communication and self are inseparable, then surely the self is part of a network, a collection of links, not an object. We usually feel ourselves to be discrete entities, but that is not a particularly useful way of understanding the self. Delineating analytically where the self starts and where it stops, what is me as opposed to what is you, is an impossible task. Part of me lives in the languages I speak, and that part is also a part of millions of other people; when I speak, we all resonate.

Paul C. Adams (2005). The Boundless Self. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, p.xii

Late night study tunes: edn. VIII

I’m struggling to find the time/motivation to write a real post at the moment. I’m been working my butt off so my life pretty much revolves around study at this point. I’ve been sitting at my desk since 11am. It’s midnight. That’s a long time. But I’m getting lots done.

My insatiable thirst for knowledge is biting me on the bum, though, because I need to stop reading and just finish writing! I’m so close but the editing process is just highlighting so many gaps in my research that need filling… particularly as certain parts of this thesis were written prior to 2010, and you know – the Internet, it changes quickly.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to music all day, which has been nice. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve gotten used to having constant sound, and I can actually listen to stuff with vocals in it again! So although I’ve listened to heaps of different stuff all day, I thought I’d post this:

This is the debut, self-titled album from a group of young Australian guys (I think they might be brothers?) named The Rubens. They’re just really good. That kid who’s singing has a beautifully soulful voice that more than likely belies his youth, and for a young band (both in terms of age and time spent together as a group) they have a really smooth sound. I love a great debut album, but sometimes you listen back to them after a while and it’s almost shocking to hear the rawness of early work. I feel like this is a much more polished effort, though, but still an honest recording.

I’d be really interested to know what my tiny handful of readers out in Internetland are listening to lately. I’ve been devouring new music lately… something about the final stages of my thesis and my renewed thirst for knowledge is transferring over to music, as well.

The web is us/ing us

I’ve just been reminded of this video in an article I’m reading.

It’s one of the first videos we show the (mostly) first-year students in the unit I teach. It’s really interesting to watch it now, I think, in a “look how far we’ve come” kind of way. I research the Internet for a (pseudo) living, and the speed with which it evolves still blows my mind on the reg.

The guy who made it, Michael Wesch, is a cultural anthropologist who does some really interesting stuff in digital ethnography, which is right up my alley (of course). I’d definitely recommend having a read of his blog if you’re at all interested that kinda thing.

… we are indeed.

We authors tend to think that each of our houses is, if not unique, at least unlike the others we can see in the neighbourhood. Whether made of clay and wattles or ray-traced on a computer screen, we think of our huts as distinctively crafted. It is a shock, an affront, to think we might be living in modular housing. But in an increasingly collaborative, technological mediascape, we are indeed.

Michael Joyce (2008). ‘Authorship as re-placement’ in Donovan et al, Authority matters: Rethinking the theory and practice of authorship, p. 262.