//Seeing Ourselves Through Technology// by Jill Walker Rettberg
Notes:
*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
lurker
, 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
point
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 http://digitalhumanities.org/companion/view?docId=blackwell/9781405148641/9781405148641.xml&chunk.id=ss1-6-1&toc.id=0&brand=9781405148641_brand 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 matters. Crown, 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).

In 1999 Williams and Hourihan were the originators of the free online service that made it easy for users to "make their own" blog with the company, Blogger - forever changing the term from Weblog to just blog (102).

In many ways - or maybe in THE way, Blogger started the Great Divide between the original webloggers and the new generation (114-15). "Some of the original link-based weblog pioneers from 1998 felt that the Blogger-based blogs were an entirely different species from the genre they loved...In this view, Blogger was diluting the very identity of the weblog pursuit: it was blurring the line between weblogs and online diaries, a line that had never been visible to anyone except the most hardcore webloggers"(115). Rosenberg says blogs were now written by teens and grandmas. :) The pioneers attempted to separate themselves by reserving the term weblog for their linked work and blogs for the others, but this never stuck (115).

The company, Blogger, grew exponentially in user accounts but rapidly ran out of funds. The creators saw their successful business sinking. The situation became so devastating that co-founder Hourihan felt she had to resign. She was heartbroken, and she blogged about it (122). Her public pain got attention, and as a result, several of the companies admirers came through with donations generous enough to keep the company, now under Williams authority, afloat. The company struggled financially but still attracted new accounts daily(124). After 9/11, many people began blogging about their pain and blogging became a real part of the daily life for many people. Williams was working on unveiling Blogger-Pro which would provide a few more features for the blogger and bring in a little money to the company (125). This worked and Blogger was back in business. In 2000, Blogger hosted around 3,000 accounts and by the end of 2002, that number exceeded one million! (128). The company was doing some incredible things that caught the attention of Google. Google liked the way blogs worked to link content inside the internet. After a few meetings, Williams agreed to sell the company to Google in 2003 (127).

In the chapter The Exploding Blogosphere, Rosenberg mentions a sci-fi book published in 2003 by Cory Doctorow called Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. The novel is set in the future. Survival and money are no longer motivators for human behavior, but status remains a motivator, so people are still competitive and compare themselves to one another. Indicators of success are not wealth or materialism but rather "a measure of respect earned from one's peers for acts of skill or successful daring or generosity'(202). This new currency was known as "whuffie.' The readers connected the fictional currency with something that was already taking place on the web in circles that operated as part of a "gift-culture' where users were linking, cross-referencing, commenting, providing feedback, sharing intellectual property (open source was gaining a lot of attention). In this culture, "your standing is based on how much you give away" (202).

Docotorow was a blogger himself and found the blog personally motivating, in fact, he found it critical to maintaining intellectual energy and creativity (202-03).

Although there is some debate about who invented the term blogosphere, in 2002, William Quick wrote, 'I propose a name for the intellectual cyberspace we bloggers occupy: the Blogosphere'"(205). Rosenberg points out that one problem with the term was the definite article "the" because what may have at one time been a small collective community, was now a global movement with many micro communities within it. There was overlap and there were long distances between. It was a mess. He compared it to outer space with new galaxies emerging all the time (205).

With new developments popping up all over the place, users were finding navigation to be overwhelming. The number of sites was impossible. Out of the need to harness the potential of the web and reign it back in to give each user more control, the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed was introduced (208). Now users could identify their preferred blogs or sites and be updated each time something new was posted. They no longer had to keep a long list of bookmarked pages and click on each one daily to see IF the site had anything new to offer.

The next development then was a competitiveness among bloggers - who can gain the most "whuffie," so to speak. The competition became very real with something called the Technorati Top 100 publishing the superstars of the blogging world, an updated A-list that bloggers aspired to be on(212). Rebecca Mead wrote criticized this phenomenon in 2000 for the New Yorker "The myth, of course, holds that all bloggers are equal, because we all can set out our wares on the great egalitarian internet, where the best ideas bubble to the surface. this free-market theory of information has superficial appeal, but reality is rather different" (212). This idea grew and was addressed in a widely read essay by Clay Shirky
*read his essay. In the next few pages 214-217, Rosenberg summarizes Shirky's argument which is that blogging isn't inherently unfair, but mathematically,, the system is configured in a way that those at the top will continue to be at the top and those at the bottom will have a nearly impossible time trying to move up. Shirky explains that any attempts to break into the center circle of superstars have less potential each moment as more and more blogs populate the space. There is some hope for new bloggers because there are ways to accelerate your visibility, but earning your "whuffie" has now become a complicated and convoluted thing.

|Rebecca's Pocket history of weblogs
Blood says something interesting happened in 1999, and then she goes on to state how the blogging community was forming "tribes" and it was easy to see which "tribe" bloggers belonged to by the blogroll on their sidebars.
Blood quotes Greg Ruggiero of the Immediast Underground, who makes a distinction between what the media does and what bloggers do. Ruggiero explains that media (meaning television and newspapers, I think) has a passive audience; whereas, blogs have a participating public. Participation is crucial and imperative to the blogging community.

"His readers will remember an incident from their own childhood when the blogger relates a memory. They might look more closely at the other riders on the train after the blogger describes his impressions of a fellow commuter. They will click back and forth between blogs and analyze each blogger's point of view in a multi-blog conversation, and form their own conclusions on the matter at hand. Reading the views of other ordinary people, they will readily question and evaluate what is being said. Doing this, they may begin a similar journey of self-discovery and intellectual self-reliance.

The promise of the web was that everyone could publish, that a thousand voices could flourish, communicate, connect. "

|Dannah Boyd, "Am I a Blogger?"
Come back to this text when I want to explore self-representation/expression.

Tapscott, Don and Anthony Williams. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes EverythingPortfolio, 2006.

– Peer production communities
Dan Frye, a director for a Linux development group formed by IBM in 1999 said “the toughest job in the early days was figuring out the right way to join the community” (80). IBM learned that the most sure way of being accepted into a community was to “take on the unglamorous tasks that need doing” (80). “’One of the things we learned early on,’ says Frye, ‘is that people participate in open source communities as individuals. You are not employee X of company Y. You are a lone human being. The company you work for doesn’t impress the programmers in the community. And eavh of these communities is different, so every time you want to work on something new, you have to learn about that community in order to join it and be effective’”(80).
Pg. 81 – a philosophy of open source software is “to spur quality and fast growth rather than just proifts based on proprietary ownership of intellectual property.”
83 –“IBM provides a surprising example of how a large, mature company with an engrained proprietary culture can embrace openness and self-organization as catalysts for reinvention.”
Pg 72 Wikipedia now has over one million registered users with a central group of active members (about 5,000) that keep the project up-to-date. “To some it remains a mystery why people volunteer to peer produce Wikipedia.” Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, “just shrugs, ‘Why do people play softball? It’s fun, it’s a social activity.” Some of these volunteers are passionate about certain topics, and many of them just like the idea of building a repository of information that is a free resource for people all around the globe. They view it as a charitable deed.

Matt Barton – English professor at St. Cloud State
look him up and try to contact him! Making a Wikipedia page on English rhetoric.

Pg 76 Wales talks about how the community maintains a strong, environment. He hesitates to implement a top-down approach. He finds that can squelch creativity and instrinsic motivation and “kills community spirit.” So he doesn’t want to police the site – even though by keeping it open source, it is vulnerable to erroneous entries or edit wars. He doesn’t want to punish people for “minor infractions.” He explains it this way, “We want to get out there and clean up the park so people don’t feel that they live in a slum and can break windows if they want to. We’d rather try to build a healthy, positive environment so people feel positively inclined to contribute in a constructive way” (76).

Pg 147 – The public may be moving in a new direction when it comes to consuming media and news. The consumers may be at a place where they “trust the insights of their peers over the authority of CNN…”


|The Internet is Broken









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