Skip navigation

This post originally appeared on Cyborgology – read and comment on the post here.

Stories In Focus, posted by Sarah Wahnecheck two days ago, is a brief exploration of Bokeh that strikes me as a great start to something bigger. This is just a quick followup, asking Sarah and others to think more about the reality that amateur, documentary and news footage is increasingly coming to look like art films, specifically the effect of having one thing in sharp focus with the rest blurred and out of focus. Read More »

Advertisements

This post originally appeared on Cyborgology – read and comment on the post here.

Bodies and screens, voices and tweets, hallways and backchannels, experiencing the American Sociological Association meetings this weekend in Denver means stepping into an atmosphere oversaturated with information. The bombardment can sometimes be overwhelming, with more sessions than you can attend and more tweets than you can read. This isn’t going to be a post on why we should use Twitter at conferences, Whitney Erin Boesel already did that more diplomaticly than I could pull off. Anyways, framing it as ‘why do we continue to meet face-to-face?’ would be more interesting for me. Instead, I simply want to argue that there will not be separate online and offline conferences happening, that Twitter isn’t a backchannel and the session room isn’t the front. The reality of the conference is always both digital and physical for everyone whether their noses are buried in a screen, sheets of paper, or staring unblinkingly at the podium. Read More »

This article appears in Italian in the newspaper Corriere della Sera.

«Ma, quando di un passato antico nulla sussiste, dopo la morte degli esseri, dopo la distruzione delle cose, soli, più fragili ma più vivaci, più immateriali, più persistenti, più fedeli, l’odore e il sapore rimangono ancora a lungo, come anime, a ricordare, ad attendere, a sperare, sulla rovina di tutto il resto, a portare senza piegarsi, sulla loro minuscola goccia quasi impalpabile, l’immenso edificio del ricordo» (Marcel Proust, La strada di Swann). Avete notato com’è cambiata l’estetica dei social media? A dieci anni dal suo avvio, il social Web sta diventando sempre più sentimentale, bello e profondo, e presenta di noi e della nostra vita un’immagine a cui guardare con nostalgia. I social media sembrano sempre meno degli scenari futuristici con un design freddo, pulito e minimalista. La visione cyberpunk di un futuro connesso digitalmente era una fantasia. Nessuno in realtà voleva i colori sgargianti e le tute argentate esibite nel film Tron, che sembravano rendere il passato irrilevante e da dimenticare. Era una visione della tecnologia che ora sembra quanto meno limitata.

Dato che di noi possiedono ricordi, identità, interazioni e relazioni con gli altri Read More »

This post originally appeared on Cyborgology – read and comment on the post here.

Discussing the relative strengths and weaknesses of education as it occurs on and offline, in and outside of a classroom, is important. Best pedagogical practices have not yet emerged for courses primarily taught online. What opportunities and pitfalls await both on and offline learning environments? Under ideal circumstances, how might we best integrate face-to-face as well as online tools? In non-ideal teaching situations, how can we make the best of the on/offline arrangement handed to us? All of us teaching, and taking, college courses welcome this discussion. What isn’t helpful is condemning a medium of learning, be it face-to-face or via digital technologies, as less real. Some have begun this conversation by disqualifying interaction mediated by digitality (all interaction is, by the way) as less human, less true and less worthy, obscuring the path forward for the vast majority of future students.

This is exactly the problem with the op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times titled, “The Trouble With Online Education.Read More »

This post originally appeared at The Atlantic – read and comment on the post here.

Sometimes the Internet seems to jump from the screen: When that avatar you only knew on Twitter materializes in physical space in front of you; when you see graffiti on a wall with a Twitter hashtag; a mouse-pointer-arrow charm necklace; a QR code protest sign; when you get dizzy trying to come to terms with these physical instantiations of what began as digital.

How do we understand these objects? What do we call them? Why do they exist? What do these objects say about the complex relationship between information and material, digitality and physicality, atoms and bits? Read More »

This post originally appeared at The New Inquiry – read and comment on the post here.

The deep infiltration of digital information into our lives has created a fervor around the supposed corresponding loss of logged-off real life. Each moment is oversaturated with digital potential: Texts, status updates, photos, check-ins, tweets, and emails are just a few taps away or pushed directly to your buzzing and chirping pocket computer — anachronistically still called a “phone.” Count the folks using their devices on the train or bus or walking down the sidewalk or, worse, crossing the street oblivious to drivers who themselves are bouncing back and forth between the road and their digital distractor. Hanging out with friends and family increasingly means also hanging out with their technology. While eating, defecating, or resting in our beds, we are rubbing on our glowing rectangles, seemingly lost within the infostream. Read More »

This blog collects all of my writing across various sites around the web. Please comment and link to the posts from their original location, which appears at the top of each entry. Thanks!

My Twitter is @nathanjurgenson; I’m there a lot.

My site is nathanjurgenson.com

I co-founded the Cyborgology blog and the Theorizing the Web conference with PJ Rey.

Photoblog | Facebook | Pinterest | gmail is nathanjurgenson at gmail

This post originally appeared on Cyborgology – read and comment on the post here.

dont read all of the tweets

There is often the assumption that the information economy expects us to consume more and more, leading us to process more but concentrate less. Some have called this a “fear of missing out” (or FOMO), a “blend of anxiety, inadequacy and irritation that can flare up while skimming social media.” However, most of these arguments about FOMO make the false assumption that the information economy wants and expects us to always process more. This isn’t true; we need to accept the reality that the information economy as well as our own preferences actually value, even need, missing out.

Many do feel in over their heads when scrolling social media streams. Especially those of us who make a hobby or career in the attention/information economy, always reading, sharing, commenting and writing; tweeting, blogging, retweeting and reblogging. Many of us do feel positioned directly in the path of a growing avalanche of information, scared of missing out and afraid of losing our ability to slow down, concentrate, connect and daydream, too distracted by that growing list of unread tweets. While it seemed fun and harmless (Tribble-like?) at first, have we found ourselves drowning in the information streams we signed up for and participate in? Read More »

This post originally appeared on Cyborgology – read and comment on the post here.

While tech-writers often act as if the Web is something out there away from society, we all know (and they do too) that technology is always embedded in social structures, power, domination and inequalities. And the words we choose to talk about tech, while seemingly innocuous, betray some pretty heavy political predispositions.

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story looking at a “new digital divide” where “poorer” folks aren’t using the web in a “meaningful” way but instead are “wasting time” on social media. I was reminded of how Facebook users looked down on MySpace users a few years ago or the current racist rhetoric surrounding iPhone versus Android mobile phone users. Technology is often an excuse to reify the fallacy that those less privledged are an other, different, less capable and less human.

Whenever someone declares what Internet-use is “meaningful” versus a “waste” we must be critical: who is making the claim? who benefits from these too-commonly constructed hierarchies? And here, as usual, we are dealing with a hierarchical framework created by privileged folks for everyone else to placed within. Read More »

This post originally appeared on Cyborgology – read and comment on the post here.

–Listen to the show here–

The Diane Rehm Show took to the air, ending 45 minutes ago, to debate how Facebook is making us lonely and disconnected and ruining just about everything. This is my quick first-reaction. On one side was Sherry Turkle, that avatar of “digital dualism” (more on this below) who recently wrote “The Flight From Conversation” in the New York Times and Stephen Marche who wrote “Is Facebook making us Lonely?” in The Atlantic. On the other side was Zeynep Tufekci, a researcher who communicates as well as these journalists*, responding to Turkle (also in the Atlantic). While Turkle and Marche’s headlines are intentionally catchy and dramatic, they are also sensationalist and misleading. The reality is not as captivating and Tufekci’s headline in response is far more accurate: “Social Media’s Small, Positive Role in Human Relationships.”

This is one of the many lessons provided by this hour of NPR: catchy arguments tend to trump data, even on nerdtacular public radio. Tufekci, outnumbered, did well given the dearth of air time provided relative to the more sensationalist ideas on the show. Further, the show (@drshow) seemed completely unaware of the fast-moving and engaging Twitter backchannel discussing the topics in much more nuance and detail than much of what was said on-air. [You’ve already enjoyed the irony of this as opposed to Turkle’s argument, right? Obviously.]

The next lesson Read More »