Internet.org and tyranny of freedom

The mirage of free internet offered by Facebook’s Internet.org and Airtel Zero.

Internet.org and Airtel Zero are services that are allowing users in the Global South to have access to the internet in ways that have not previously been possible, but this access comes at a price, as Mahesh Murthy aptly discussed in his blog post shown below (fascinating original here).

What users of these seemingly altruistic ventures are presented with is a carefully selected group of sites; a representation of the internet that is by no means representative of the whole experience.

These projects reveal an interesting act of translation; a selective, consciously curated translation of ‘online reality’ into a new, confined, and restrictive format.

But of course, the old Italian adage “traduttore traditore” , which roughly translated (ironically…) into ‘to translate is to betray’ applies aptly here. We see a translation of online reality into a new medium that has purposefully and consciously chosen to present the online experience in a certain manner which, due to the selective and purposefully limited nature of the venture, ultimately serves as a betrayal of the original experience. Continue reading

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Call for papers: Symposium on Trolling and Gender.

This sounds awesome. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend. There’s a lot of work to be done analysing and contextualising trolling.

I’m working on a paper looking at the rise of trolling in ‘anonymous’  apps such as Yik Yak. It’s been a long time since anonymity has been a key aspect of social interaction online, and it’s interesting to see the rise of trolling on these types of ‘anonymous’ sites. My own paper revolves around the implications of Yik Yak and other such sites for the ‘digital panopticon’, and how this leads to a rise in trolling. Who is being viewed? By whom? has the recently discussed synopticon (or even omniopticon!) become clouded? How are the users adjusting behaviours etc.

The call for papers is below. Hopefully I’ll see you there!

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Facebook shouldn’t be conceptualised as a social space; it’s an agora.

Here’s an analogy that I’ve been playing with for quite a while. I’ve been trying to find the best way to describe Facebook that adequately sums up the experience; something that serves to capture the many varied aspects of the Facebook experience, and I think I’ve finally found the answer – Facebook is a modern Agora.

This may seem slightly odd, but it’s a metaphor that I’ve found useful when thinking about various Social Networking Sites, and I think it’s worth explaining and fleshing out.

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Online/Offline – Why it’s not a clear cut dichotomy any more….

A while ago I wrote about how there’s been a breakdown in the public/private dichotomy. This time I want to discuss another dichotomy, the online/offline dichotomy. If anything, this dichotomy is more pervasive than the public/private divide, and potentially more damaging for digital sociology, as it affects the ontological approaches we take to the digital medium.

Today, I give my take the online/offline divide. It’s a much discussed topic; a topic that has, and is, changing, and a topic that it seems there’s much disagreement on. Should we view them as separate realms? Should we contextualize the internet? How much do the two realms influence each other? Are the even two realms, or are there less? Or more?

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Facebook isn’t dying, it’s stagnating

In the last year there’s been a rather large shift in the air in Social Media. Facebook is no longer the ‘too big to fail’ site that once it may have seemed, and instead it is facing new and diverse competition from a number of interesting companies creating varied and compelling social spaces for interaction.

The inevitable and increasing diversity of social media platforms has led to many academics and media sources predicting a mass exodus of youths away Facebook, and towards other, ‘cooler’ platforms like SnapChat or Instagram. UCL’s prolific and inspiring Daniel Miller, for example, wrote a fantastic piece at the beginning of last year predicting the mass exodus away from Facebook. Similarly, a large number of media outlets have written about teens leaving Facebook for other Social Networking Sites (See here, here, here, here… the list goes on…)

Having conducted research into the Social Networking habits of teenagers over the last year, I was keen to see if this was true. Were teenagers leaving Facebook? What was driving them away? Where were they going? What had changed?

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