Tag Archives: Twitter

Ethereal Archives: The Evolution of Information Structures from Social Networks and Their Impact on Collective and Personal Identity

How do collective archives emerge from the individual digital memories of participants in social networks, facilitated by social software? Networks in northern California are studied and described as “ethereal archives” because they are widely distributed, linked through blogs, microblogs, and other locations in which content is always changing. Digital technology allows preservation of memories, and at the same time broadcast of those memories to the community in many formats, including text, photostreams, video collections and on social networking sites. Over time, events, objects and even people generate folksonomic tagging across platforms, and a shared understanding of the things being described.

These archives become an extension not only of personal, but of collective memory; both individual and community identities are shaped and preserved in collaborative ethereal archives, made up of numerous people’s online collections of text and other media. They are dependent for organization on social connections across the network expressed through links shared via numerous platforms, and studying an ethereal archive’s emrgence reveals that it both reflects and shapes the communities from which it arises.

I’ll be presenting a paper on the above, if I have enough money to get to Louisville for CCCC ’10.

History of the Internet in 8 Minutes

I learn about the coolest things on Twitter… Johannes from Monochrom posted a link to a short video relating the history of the Internet–note this is not about the WWW, but the actual development of the network.  It’s amazingly clear, and also makes use of very well done animated icons which are produced through a visual language called Picol (this link is to the blog about Picol, the one below the video is the user profile on Vimeo).

History of the Internet from PICOL on Vimeo.

Anyway, looking forward to the project being released for us all to play with.

Rough draft of an abstract

This is due tomorrow and this will be replaced by the final version when that’s done. In the meantime, suggestions are welcome.  And yes, my dear tweeple, and Facebook friends, and other connections, probably I will pester you for interviews or some such… You will be immortalized in academia –if you aren’t already! 😉

This paper explores the way collective archives emerge from the individual digital memories of participants in social networks, facilitated by social sotware applications. Examples are drawn from social networks in northern California, particularly the SF Bay area, though being largely carried out online, these networks are actually much more widely distributed.  These collective archives are described as “ethereal” because they are widely distributed, mainly linked through blog entries, twitter feeds, and other ephemeral locations. The evolution of these ethereal archives represents a response to the disappearance of space as a contraint on archives and archives now rather being constrained by time.

Digital technology allows us to preserve our memories both easily and without the constraints of space, and at the same time to broadcast those memories through blogs, microblogs, photostreams, video collections and social networking sites that incorporate all of these.  This already huge and rapidly growing mass of information is now instead constrained by time: the time it takes users and creators to navigate, find, and attend to any one item. Harold Innis argued for the importance of communication over time, because these archives become an extension not only of personal, but of collective memory.  Both individual and community identities are shaped and preserved in collaborative and ephemeral archives, made up of a few people’s Flickr sets, another’s blog, yet another’s Youtube collection, and many others’ Twitter feeds.  While digital media allow communication of all kinds to be preserved, the volume of communication is now so great that much is in danger of being lost in a sea of texts, images, audiofiles, and videos.

However, as these materials accumulate, sometimes they prompt the emergence of a community or strengthen and expand what was once a small and physically proximal group into a much wider and more influential network. As people connect, their personal archives are linked into what might be called an ethereal archive, dependent for it’s organization on the social connections across the network expressed through links shared through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and so on.  Not only will events or objects begin to generate folsonomic tagging across platforms, but people as well, most often in the form of @twitternames. Not surprisingly, clear examples of these ethereal archives have evolved around the San Francisco Bay area, wherein reside not only many technophiles, but also cooperatively minded people.

More about Facebook

Since I am speaking at two different conferences about the way people participate in Facebook, I have been (believe it or not) reading about Facebook, about relationships online, about what motivates participation, and so on.

here are a few things I’ve noticed:

  1. Though it was noted at least 5 months ago that many faculty are now using social networks and that 25-34 year-olds is the fastest growing segment of users, no one seems to be looking at how or why they use FB. Some articles have been written about faculty disclosing too much online, but so far I have found nothing else.
  2. Almost every academic study (and there are many) concentrates on either how kids/teens use FB, class, racial or ethnic differences in who uses FB, how to use FB to teach, or how to use it to make money.
  3. There are lots of non-academic slideshows and articles comparing FB and MySpace about how to make money or seduce women with FB. –I mention this because my search efforts are hampered by these kinds of documents cluttering the web.

But I have found some very interesting stuff about online relationships from Jonathan Marshall who has published about a concept he calls ‘asence’ including this one in Fibreculture. In brief, he argues that particpants in online communities experience asence, which he explains:

In offline societies, it is generally possible to tell whether a person is present or not. Presence and status are acknowledged by others making, at the least, eye contact or grunts in a person’s direction, or by their pointedly ignoring that person. Identity is reinforced by reaction. People are generally aware of who is listening to the conversation and of their reactions to each other. Online this is usually not the case. It is possible for a person to be present without others being aware of them: there is no marker of existence beyond the act of communication itself. “Asence” is the term I have coined to express this almost ontological uncertainty, or suspension of being between presence and absence.

Marshall goes on to argue that in an effort to overcome asence, participants will exaggerate gender characteristics and may also use romance and even netsex to reinforce intimacy. He developed these ideas from studying the Cybermind mailing list, but I think asence could explain certain behaviors I’ve noticed on Facebook. –more details on that soon.

Two other useful possibilities involved Fluxus and the theory that humans have evolved to be ‘infovores’ –love that term! But I’ll save those for the next entries…

And by the way, apparently Twitter addicts are 61.3% more likely to visit Barcamp.org than the average internet user. –Not directly related to anything, but it caught my eye. 😉