Tag Archives: Blog

Sayonara

I’m saying “Sayonara” to The Eyeslit-Crypt and moving my operations fully over to http://jamiegrefe.com. This new site will serve as my blog and portfolio for writing projects. It’s also a WordPress site, so please, if the urge strikes you, do follow along.

It’s been a great handful of years working on this eyeslit beast, but it’s girth became too much, it’s pull too wide. I’ll leave it sit for now. Many folks still hit those Walker Percy and Lacan articles on a daily basis, but we’ll leave it at that.

Many thanks to my readers. I remain grateful.

Best,

Jamie

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Experimenting with Squarespace: the restless modern

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Last night I began experimenting with squarespace and may move The Eyeslit-Crypt over to the other side, at some time in the “near future.” The only damaging point is that I’ll probably take a hit in terms of traffic as the number of inbound links will be few and far between. If us “moderns” or “post-moderns,” or whatever we are, can be characterized by our restlessness, then I am a prime exemplar of that restless spirit. That said, as per the title of this article, I use the word “experimenting” on purpose, as I am just testing the waters. If I can achieve the design functionality that I crave here at WordPress, then there is no reason to leave, but if I can’t…

What do you think?

Eyeslit-Crypt on Squarespace

Edit: It was Samuel Beckett who, in Westward Ho, wrote, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” At this juncture, if I do decide to use squarespace, it will be a supplement to this page.

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Friendfeed Through a Systems Looking Glass: Feeding the Beast

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The following is a systems approach to the increasingly popular website Friendfeed. Recently, there have been many articles written about this site (I will provide links at the end of this post). I have written what follows through a Media Ecology systems framework with the hopes of “fleshing out” the system known as “Friendfeed.” The inspiration from this piece comes from various writings by Neil Postman.

Where Lies The Purpose

The purposes of Friendfeed are to accumulate and aggregate shared content from different social media websites. In turn, the aggregated content can then be re-shared, commented upon and “liked.” One can find purposes in this such as tracking brand popularity and public opinion, finding other relevant sources that may relate to content that you like or creating a network of information (a “feed”) as deemed relevant by certain “friends” that you subscribe to. Also, there is the purpose of oneself pushing likable or relevant content into the stream.

The Roles

People are assigned the role of “feeder” and “subscriber.” If one achieves a large amount of subscribers, then one’s shared content will potentially reach more people, which then could possibly be fed again back into the system creating a ripple effect of information flow. Subscribing to a large amount of people also results in a dramatic increase in one’s daily information intake depending on the social media activity of the person (or people) whom you are subscribed to.

Assumptions, Keywords and Change

The underlying assumption is that the information that others feed is of importance to themselves, their world, or to those in their knowledge-network. Some keywords that could be assigned to Friendfeed are the following: aggregator, aggregation, social media, lifestream, information-network, media accumulation, sharing and perhaps responsible browsing. The system is changing to the extent that users are starting to post comments about the shared content directly on the Friendfeed stream and not on the particular blog post or shared item’s page. This has upset some bloggers who wish to have their community gather and comment directly on their own blog. Also, it seems that the system will continue to change depending on the social media feeds that are available for feeding. Finally, with the development of various Friendfeed applications, the site is beginning to act as a nexus from which one need not stray too far from. Firefox has already created the “MySocial” Add-on, which neatly integrates Friendfeed into the Firefox Browser.

The effects

The actual effect of Friendfeed on users could be an increased willingness and openness to share content in a public space, the ability to keep track of others through their online activity and even as a search engine function whereby one can search fed content. On a different note, Friendfeed creates a mixing spot where the content that one feeds and “likes” are grouped together under the same feed. Friendfeed works against fragmentation by opening the stream flow of social media, while at the same time creates fragmentation by allowing others to comment on fed material directly through Friendfeed and not through the actual article’s site.

Alternatives and Otherwise

As of writing this post, I am not aware of an alternative to the service that Friendfeed provides and perhaps it is because of this that it has gained so much attention as of late. This leads to the next question: Can we do without Friendfeed? The answer would be “yes, but…” What I mean by this is that due to the fragmention that occurs through the stretching out of oneself via social networking and social media, there is a lot of switching to different websites to keep track of friends and others. Through Friendfeed, one can gather the activity of certain others and monitor activity from a centralized location. Through a Friendfeed application, one can even Tweet through the Friendfeed website itself. While we can do without Friendfeed, it does create an interesting spot from which to perpetuate interesting web media.

This is system is related to other systems of knowing and behaving in a couple ways. First, with the proliferation of social media, there seems to be the desire to “keep in touch” with others, and by keeping in touch I mean, following their web activity. At this point, Friendfeed serves the purpose of being able to stay updated on one’s friends’ social media activity. Also, Friendfeed allows the anonymous tracking of certain others by the creation of an “imaginary” friend, a kind of online social media peeping, in which one can feed the “imaginary friend’s” content. Moreover, this site is a social networking site stripped of its symbolic overload of images and personal self-identification. That is, one’s Friendfeed page is minimal and based solely on streamed content.

Finally, the million dollar Neil Postman question “To what problem is Friendfeed the answer?” It seems that Friendfeed answers the problem of social media fragmentation, information-desire and the interest in anonymous tracking. Also, it acts as a stripped down social networking service constructed solely by one’s and other’s fed content. In this system, the human user is the food that sustains the site, food largely gathered from afar…and shared.

Some articles relating to Friendfeed include, but are not limited to:
Why You Should Use Friendfeed
Ten Friendfeed Visitors Beats 1,000 StumbleUpons Any Day
Friendfeed is This Year’s Twitter, But Why?
Friendfeed Applications
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A Messy Marco-Analysis of Social Media: The Labyrinthine Self

An example of a social network diagram.Image from WikipediaThe following is a messy macro-analysis of social media and I hope to elucidate these ideas in the coming weeks. Please bear with me. Also, if you have spent time with what is talked about here, please get in touch, suggest links, propose theories, probes, ideas, etc. I support fragmentation.

It seems that the decentralization of the self across a number of social networking sites multiplies and fragments the self while creating what I want to call: the labyrinthine self. A definition of the labyrinthine self could be: the self that is created from the decentralization of one’s identity through the fragmentation of one’s knowledge-networks as existing within various social media platforms.

An easy-to-understand example could be: one creates a Myspace page as a “Film Director,” one then creates a Youtube page as a “Film Director,” in order to extend one’s knowledge-network. In addition, to represent one’s “private” self, one joins Facebook to reconnect with old friends. In order to keep the world updated instantly, a Twitter feed is created, a “film blog” at typepad and finally a Secondlife character is designed in order to further spread one’s “films” or simply just to connect via the virtual world (with other Lindens). In doing this, one has essentially and willingly created the labyrinthine self, that is one’s self has extended to the extent that it has become impossible to fully keep track of and be in control of one’s own knowledge-network. In addition, the self in seeing itself existing across these platforms becomes fragmented. Data that is shared on Facebook is not shared on Twitter or Secondlife and so on. Moreover, even with sites that work to centralize one’s self (Friendfeed), I still see the labyrinthinization of the self. That is to say, even in the centralized space of Friendfeed, there is still a reliance on the labyrinth that one has created or that one is feeding off of. That is, what is Friendfeed apart from the decentralized sites that it allows one to share? Moreover, if anything Friendfeed sustains the fragmented self by willfully encouraging one to put back the puzzle of one’s social media existence.

Then, there is “data portability,” which is the sharing of data across time-space. This means, jumping from node to node along the labyrinthine tunnel, consciously decentralizing oneself, while maintaining one identity, perhaps something like a “master password.” In this way, one jumps from room to room – different rooms are experienced, but you are still you, fragmented nonetheless.

Within both of these examples is the unfolding of one’s knowledge-network and, moreover, the ability for one’s data to float through that network into a hither unknown area only to be re-appropriated by another person. That is to say, the “mash-up” trend in blogging. “Mash-up” is the conjoining of two or more things to create something new. It is kind of like cooking. If I mix one part “silly pet video from Youtube,” one part “crazy New York party pics from Flickr” and one part “book review from my favorite blog,” I create a new way of visualizing and interpreting the data, due to the unique context that I created. This leads to what we could even call “the mish-mash self,” the self that appropriates online symbols (images, music files, viral videos, photographs) and uses them to represent one’s self. In a way, this blog represents facets of my labyrinthine self and my mish-mash self. That is to say, one’s blog is a space where one, through the “mashing” of one’s favorite media, creates a new space, a new context from which to view the data.

Questions for Consideration:

How is the virtual representation of your identity transformed by your use of social networking sites?
How deep does your knowledge-network go?
Do you think that a centralized social media site will fulfill your social media desires? That is, do you prefer centralization or decentralization? What is the relationship of centralization and decentralization in sites like Myspace or Friendfeed?
Where does Secondlife exist in all of this?

The article that you have just read was inspired by and relates to: This blog
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