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This is an old revision of DigitalCultureBJR made by BonnieRobinson on 2018-03-26 10:09:06.


//Seeing Ourselves Through Technology// by Jill Walker Rettberg
*Worth noting right away that Rettberg's book is open source - licensed through Creative Commons, available as a free download. Like Isaac Newton (see Green's article) dissecting a dolphin for the public audience at the coffee shop,Rettberg is splitting open the world of technology and its impacts on humans for the public to see.

*FOUND a GEM in the acknowledgements section of this book!!! Rettberg writes, "And thank you to everyone at The
Wormhole Coffee for providing a writing environment where you can sip
an excellent coffee with a dragon pattern on top for hours surrounded by
other diligently typing people all in a time-travel themed environment." Awesome connection to this project!"
The Wormhole Coffee is in Chicago. It's decorated in pop culture throughout the ages. This ties in to the early thematic coffee houses of London.

Rettberg details the historical heritage of the blog. The blog is a descendant of the diaries of the past and like the diaries of the past, some are more self-reflective than others. Print is the earliest form of self-representation, followed by visual. Self-portraits became popular in the 18th century. On page 8 she discusses the grey area between self-portraits and performance art.

Interesting section about the expectations of this digital community - the Cultural norms - "People who just watched and
read and didn’t participate were given the derogatory term
, and it
was clear that the expectation was active participation. Seeing yourself
as a peer communicating with others was key to your identity online,
Markham wrote: ‘thr" - ough conversations, self and reality are co-created
and sustained’ (1998, 227). We ‘write self into being,’ but to ‘recognize
our own existence in any meaningful way, we must be responded to’
(Markham 2013a)." - page 13 a bit later - "But when we merely
lurk or follow, we position ourselves as traditional readers, as voyeurs, as
an audience – and from this point of view, we analyse the other writer
primarily as a text rather than as a living, breathing human being. "

*Possibly re-visit page 13 where Rettberg explains rules of engagement on certain social media. Tumbler doesn't allow direct comments. She discusses the social media of the 90s where whispering could occur. - Might be relevant to CoffeeHousesBJR.

Explore the difference between Self-Representation and Self-Expression; Self-exploration fits in here someplace also.(page 14)

"Regardless of the
content, it is striking that when young women in their teens and early
twenties for the first time have found platforms that allow them to speak
without censorship to large public audiences, society’s kneejerk reaction
is to mock them." - This reminds me of how the women treated the men during the early coffeehouse culture. Not sure what to do with that.???

Chapter 2 - Filters

She talks about how the original definition of filters is usually to remove something unwanted but how apps like Instagram can do that and they can also add things like color boosting to enhance an image. Then she uses this convenient analogy to COFFEE - "A coffee filter does some-
thing similar, though coffee filters are not mentioned in the OED’s list of
usages for filter. Technically the coffee filter does stop the ground coffee
beans from getting into the pot beneath, but the
of a coffee filter is
to add flavour to water by slowing its flow through the coffee beans."(page 21) Continues this analogy on page 23 -"Perhaps in this case,
social media is not simply the kind of filter that removes impurities, but
also shapes them and flavours people as the ground coffee beans flavour
the water that passes through them. "

page 25 - "We can
and often do resist or change cultural filters, but most of the time we
simply act according to the logic of the filter without even realising that
that is what we are doing." This makes me wonder about what type of filters people wear or apply when hanging out at the coffee shop. Also, fun experiment idea if I am brave... what would happen if a customer ignored those cultural expectations and behaved completely differently?
page 25 - "The photo filter both aestheticises and perhaps, as Sontag wrote of
images of war , the filter anesthetises our everyday lives (1973, 20). At the same time filters show us images that look
different than the world we are used to seeing." Could this be why people go to the coffeehouse? It both aestheticises and anesthetises their everyday lives? Work seems more glamorous when done in an urban, artsy setting - and by association, your life feels less miserable by having this escape.???

The thing about social media is it always has the potential to have a dark side. Each of these platforms, even when designed to discourage cyberbullying, inevitable fall short, and somebody ends up hurt or in danger. Is there a dark side to the Coffeehouse? That will be interesting to investigate!
"And we are part of cultures that
also have their sets of filters: rituals, customs, terminologies, assumptions
and prejudices that are sometimes visible to us and sometimes taken for
granted." - page 32

Chapter 3 Selfies

Super COOL FIND! Rettberg uses the work of a photographer/artist who took photos of herself everyday for 15 years to discuss what it means to have serial representations of ones self - and what that means in the midst of the culture one is in. The COOL thing is that this photographer works at my college! Suzanne Szucs! I know Suzanne - but I didn't know anything about her work or how well known she is. I certainly didn't expect to see her referenced in a book about blogging and technology~ Just a weird coincidence! Now I think I might have to contact Suzanne to have a conversation about going public with yourself. She turned herself into an art exhibit. It sounds like it was brutally personal and honest during the course of those fifteen years - a sort of diary collection -.

Profile pictures. Rettberg writes about the profile picture as a form of self-presentation. It doesn't always show one's whole face - or even any facial image at all as people can select cartoon characters or logos or any sort of image for their profile. They can also switch out their profile whenever they want - exercising identity performance rituals. (page 41)

*The profile picture might be the closest connection I can make in this chapter to coffee house culture because of the identity performance connection. People only reveal the part of themselves they want to reveal. If they want to dress classy and chic, they can. If they want to come in their workout clothes looking like they just hit the gym, they can do that too. They may or may not have a sophisticated career or plans to go to zumba later. The serial and cumulative self-representations would enhance their identity. Several days of showing up in gym clothes would seal someone's reputation as the fitness fanatic, but it still may or may not reveal the "truth" about their lifestyle.

Chapter 4 - Automated Diaries

This chapter asks the question, how do these devices and apps filter our lives? For this project, how does the coffee shop (physical space, culture, events, stuff on the pinboard) filter our lives? That will be a fun pun on filter. lol.

She looks at a variety of apps that track our lives or push us to contribute online. She went into detail about quite a few. The most interesting, I thought, was her review of an app called Narrate It - It was a camera device that she wore in an attempt to capture all of life's precious moments, especially with her children. Her review was less than glowing as the device didn't capture any of the images she would have wanted. But it made me think about how often times, we do what's marketed to us without really thinking about it and often without receiving the promised results.
I wonder how this will work in the coffeehouse culture. Questions for interviews: Do coffeehouse goers find themselves consuming the culture mindlessly - or being more and more shaped by that culture? Are they getting out of it what they thought they would? In what ways is it shaping who they are?

Chapter 5 - Quantified Selves

Not spending much time here as it mostly discusses our role as users of data tracking services - which doesn't apply that much to blogging or wiki writing

Chapter 6 - Privacy and Surveillance

Foucault is often referenced when discussing the technology of the self; Foucault also theorized that surveillance led to more tempered behaviors. There was a powerful force there that kept people from doing things they knew they shouldn't. The term used: Panopticon. "Vaid-
hyanathan proposes the term
cryptopticon." - page 85. Cryptopticon means we know we are being watched, but we don't know when or how or how often or how much; therefore, we no longer care.

Weblogs: Learning in Public - Jill Walker
Revisit Steve Johnson's quote on page 3 about how blogging sharpened his thinking and writing skills because he was aware of his critical audience.
This article is about Walker's experience with having her students blog. The students were amazed and shocked when outsiders (people outside of the class) were reading, linking and commenting on their blogs. They didn't think people would read their work. This began to shape what they put into their posts. On page 6 she tells about how her students began embracing the practice of blogging as a way to teach one another, collaborate, share links
she refers to it as participating in the gift economy.
Quote something from page 6 - last paragraph above the new heading - This paragraph talks about the collaborative nature of blogging and the "code of conduct" that is expected within the community.

| Aimee Morrison Weblogs Text and Practice
The weblog began as a sort of "digest tool" says Morrison for computer programmers and folks who like to play around with the internet. The blog is now multi-genre. You can find diary blogs, academic blogs, political blogs, special interest blogs...
"The weblog as a writing form is fundamentally about fostering personal expression, meaningful conversation, and collaborative thinking in ways the World Wide Web had perhaps heretofore failed to provide for;" GREAT connection to coffeehouses!

"In its most rudimentary incarnation [in the mid 1990s], the weblog was a simple HTML page featuring annotated hyperlinks to sites of interest to the page's author." These blogs were used primarily in computer science (programmers, engineers). The blog was established and acknowledged as a genre by 1997, but the blogosphere at this time was a small group of readers and writers. In 1999 easy-to-use blogging software was developed and shortly after, weblogs became referred to as blogs. By 2006, 54 million blogs were published.

In the early history of blogs, posts contained more hypertext intended to direct the reader to other places for further research or a broader perspective on a topic briefly introduced by the author. As blogs shifted toward the personal and often diary-like posts, hyperlinks almost disappeared altogether.

Morrison suggests that something unique about the blogging culture is it's promotion of conversation. Feedback and comments are encouraged through the built-in commenting tool at the end of each post. Morrison points out the while the intention of the comment feature was to allow anonymous and free exchange of thoughts and opinions, promoting democratic ideals, these ambitions have not been able to really come to fruition due to the invention of spam-bots and other internet trolling. Each blog owner has the capacity to set up some gatekeeping tools to keep the riff-raff out, but this, of course, hinders the democratic practice along the way.

Community among bloggers does happen as writers will link to each others sites in their posts. The blog roll is another place where writers keep an ongoing directory to their community - the word community is used by Wordpress and maybe other sites.

2004 seemed to be the year of the blog. The word was chosen as word of the year by merriam webster and TIME magazine chose a blog of the year. One attribution for the explosion of blogs in 2004 is the presidential election. Many political blogs popped up like campaign signs in neighbors' yards. Blogs also took off in academia as young college students were writing various types of blogs. These students then became professionals, and ushered blogs into the academic world.

Rebecca Blood is referenced for her contribution to the etiquette of blogging; however, her rules came from a journalistic background and did not penetrate the wide participation that in recent years became the blogosphere. Another writer addressed the split in audience here.
Morrison references other experts on the variety of blogs: "According to Jeremy Williams and Joanne Jacobs (2004), "the great beauty of blogs is their versatility," and they lay out yet another taxonomy based on who is writing and what about: among the authorship categories they discern "group blogs, family blogs, community blogs, and corporate blogs," as well as "blogs defined by their content;" She points out that a handful of political bloggers have been successful in shaping media, again demonstrating the importance of blogs to a strong democracy.

Morrison points out the male dominance in blogs during the early years up through 2004 when this piece was written, but I want to see more recent data on this. Females out-numbered males 2 to 1 (???? 2/3).

|Andy Koh and company's survey on ethics of blogging
Koh and company divided blogs into two categories: personal and non-personal and conducted a survey to determine if each group held to a code of ethics and if so, were the codes similar. They looked to authors like Rebecca Blood who advocated for a code of ethics similar to that found in journalism. Their hypothesis was that they would find this code to be more predominant among the non-personal bloggers, but once the data was collected they discovered both groups to be quite "ambivalent" about the need for a code to exist. Koh and company surmise this has something to do with the fact that blogging is not a money-making endeavor. At the time of their study (2005) around 24 individuals were making a living blogging. Because it was seen as more of a hobby, the bloggers didn't see much urgency in having a code; in fact, most surveyed didn't rate personal accountability very high on the priority list either. Koh and company do admit that the study had limitations and therefore is not conclusive.

Comments from Will from Cafe Steam about how blogs compare to coffeehouses

Trying to maintain a captive audience comparing readers to customers. Keeping it new while maintaining the values you started. Bloggers want to be creating consistency but new stuff.

Feedback is crucial. We have an incredible outpouring of support. Get great reviews. Focus on positive experiences.

Independence autonomy, connection to bloggers

Source: Rosenberg, Scott. Say Everything: how blogging began, what it's becoming, and why it mattersCrown, 2009.

The introduction to Rosenberg's book is a series of posts written in live time on Sept. 11, 2001 from James Marino, who sat at his office in New York, witnessing the horrific attacks on the Twin Towers and blogging about it. The events of 9/11 changed the way society viewed blogging and journalism as Marino was not alone in posting this in-the-moment news coupled with his personal emotions.
New York Times reporter, Amy Harmon, did a |story on "how people used the Web during a disaster" (5)
Continuing with Harmon here for a moment- Harmon's article was written immediately after Y2K, the big nonevent of the century. Internet users said that "the computer network made for a more intimate world celebration" than watching the events on tv. The users described it as a more personal connection as well as a global connection as people from all over the world flooded to chat rooms for New Year's Eve in 1999.
-- Back to Rosenberg
In chapter 3, a chapter devoted to the story of programmer Jorn Barger, Rosenberg explains how Barger coined the term weblog and really furthered the science of hyperlinking texts in his effort to invent effective ways to collect useful sites from the web and get these sites into the view of users. Barger had avoided the internet for sometime because he felt it was overloaded with useless material and it was impossible to find the "treasures" he wanted to find; however, once he thought of the weblog concept, he regained momentum and got to work developing this system of filters
the term that originated as a result of the weblogging practice(79).
Barger was not the first blogger, Rosenberg is quick to establish. In fact, he notes the impossibility of trying to identify who the first blogger was since the genre has gone through an extensive and complicated evolutionary process. Barger is known for inventing the word, weblog. Barger was not too concerned about audience. His advice for webloggers was not to edit themselves,but just to "edit the net" (82). Barger was interesting in collecting links to all of the "treasures" he was interested in (82). *I think this is what my classmates have done in their final projects. Will, Aidan, Andrew, and Abbie all seem to be working on collections of treasures they're finding on the web.

Page 85 has interesting material
bloggers made a conscious decision to get off the hamster wheel of media as we knew it (obsessed with #of followers, commercialization, commodification and powerful influence) to "construct a new, alternate universe"(85). Third place?
"In 1998, webloggers ...first became conscious of themselves as a group... who constituted a distinct community" (85).
Jesse James Garrett, a web editor, decided in 1998 to try a little experiment - mostly as a hobby during his downtime. He wanted to surf the internet and try his hand at weblogging, creating a web of links to things he found interesting. He described it as moving from "consumption of the internet" to "making the internet" (85). He started sharing sites and lists of links with a friend who would then share with him, and eventually, he was producing a list - what we now know to be "blogrolls" (86).

Garrett and Blood found each other through his blogroll and cross-link system. This discovery led to their marriage in 2001 (89)!

In the late 90s, bloggers were often criticized as narcissistic non-writers who didn't have anything of value to bring to the web scene, but for this small community, "what they were doing felt special" (90). They did it to "amuse and impress one another" (90).

Jorn Barger was eventually ostracized by many of his own followers when he began linking often to anti-Israel sites. His reputation became questionable in the blogosphere. Rosenberg says, "in the world of weblogs, you were what you linked to" (97). *I wonder if this is still considered true because if so, this would not seem to be a very good tool to foster democracy - shouldn't all voices be allowed to express their ideas as long as they do so with civility? In 2008 Barger published this quote on his page: judaism is racism is incompatible with democracy (95). This makes me think about how differently people interpret the term democracy. For some, (probably Rosenberg), it means being encouraged to share your voice regardless of what race, religion, gender, socioeconomic status you are. For others, it might mean that by adhering closely to one set of beliefs, you are at odds with the ideals of equality. Evidently, these differences in opinion were not able to be resolved via weblog communication. I do not know whether Rosenberg reached out directly to Barger to address any of his concerns. Rather, he removed Barger from his links in 2000 (95).

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