Thursday, June 25, 2015

status updates r good for writers & readers (even academics!)

image source
Inspired by an update i read this morning, one that reverbs familiar advice about how to write (as an academic), i have been reading about a FB recall study that's linked to the relevance and persistence of status updates. It's Dr. Laura Mickes, et al (2013) but new to me. i was inspired to read it after reading a claim suggesting that, in part, FB updating too frequently could be damaging our abilities as (academic writers), or at least our daily productivity. i almost always resist such advice because my experience has been that without FB i may have left academia altogether. More conceptually, i think about how in an attention economy, being read and remembered seems nearly as important as that project you've been developing with care over time. Maybe *too* much, by some writers' standards, but perhaps it's simply *in time*; and, given the social connectedness emerging from FB participation -- a gift difficult to generate in some life situations -- the timeline is less relevant than the balance of sociality and productivity. In many ways, i'm relieved by the study for how it frames my understanding of the value of FB and spending time here, especially because, as the FB memory study reveals, according to Mickes, "The gaps in performance between Facebook recall and literature recall are on a scale similar to the difference between amnesiacs and people with healthy memory." To me, this does not suggest that updating is superfluous, silly, or irrelevant to my development as a writer, academic or otherwise. It validates updating as a potentially valuable aspect of our writerly lives. In earlier parlance, we might have called it "invention," posthumanist thinking might consider our updates as representations of lived experience that interface importantly with our teaching and scholarship (Hendry, 2011, ctd in Snaza & Weaver, 2014), and digital media scholars might suggest an "interface effect" (Galloway 2014) that reveals interfaces as neither simplistically good or evil but instead as *what is*, as thresholds, doors, and apertures that invite these very sorts of critiques. Finally, to be clear, the update that started me on this path was *fine* ... very pragmatic advice from a very prolific academic writer whom i admire. The interface experience this morning encouraged me to dig in to the feeling of shame (i doubt was an intended effect of the original update) i associated with the familiar admonition. I am relieved of shame, I'm writing, and I've discovered a few new texts that aid my thinking about social media, writing, and acceptance.

Note: The Mickes quote above is from a Fast Company​ article by Jennifer Miller. The piece contains a link to the study, as well.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

trauma dot com

"memory" by Stanley Yuu
A friend's FB post prompted me to look up some old posts I'd shared about "the boatwreck." I have enjoyed reading them again, though their content is always somewhat provocative, releasing additional forms of trauma that attach to my current situation, about which I won't be writing publicly for some time but which involves my mother's still fairly recent passing and my father's relocation to a facility very near my new condo in "my new life."

So but the recollections seem to want to inspire additional writing and reflection. I had been in therapy with the brilliant Salt Lake City professional, LaDonna Moore. I owe her letters of gratitude on unicorn fur-spun pages for helping me get past not only the immediate trauma attached to Mom's death but also years of pretty ridiculous thinking, ironically the very thinking that helped me survive my upbringing's troubles.

Since Mom's passing, and when the situation evolved here in "my new life," I had to go find a new therapist. Thankfully, her office is only a 5 minute drive (!). She too is helping, in similar ways with very different approaches. I don't want to say much more about it (see how that worked out for me at end of paragraph 1?!).

I'm grateful for how social media enables me to find the traces we share, the interests that motivate us, and the frail tissues of affective memory that linger, fade, and reilluminate our lives. But today, I've got many other forms of writing to take on. My book *does* deal in affect, and so maybs this detour into a state of solemn and potentially embarrassing affect will be inspiring. Either way, I am motivated to find that old article that nearly-made-it-but-didn't-quite publication. It may be time to reanimate and try again, as with all things

Friday, January 16, 2015

puppets! performance! projectors!!

After last night's opening performance at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, a member of the core ensemble said, "The show is very seamful." True. Also, brilliant. The use of old OVERHEAD PROJECTORS (!), puppets, digital tech, and live performers projected onto 2 screens, digitally captured and reprojected onto a center screen, created an enchanting, visceral film noir experience.
MEMENTOS MORI offers a thrilling reminder of the networks of agents, technologies, materials, and labor that produces critical storytelling objects such as a film. Their unique methods --  sharing the visual presence of the whole production team onstage and at work while synchronously projecting film itself --created breathtaking effects.
Form and content, the story pitts digital against analog via the character "DEATH" who works an app called "Reapr." The app features the silhouetted head of a certain character we are also discovering in other scenes. Beneath the image is a timeline note: "OVERDUE" (with a "swipe right" icon, urging DEATH to click, her dutiful move), or "NOT YET READY" with a note, "22 years to go," and so on. Eventually, [SPOILER!!] DEATH grows something of a conscience and gives up her device, passing it on to the ghost of a character she'd earlier clicked off. There is a suggestion regarding the phasic nature of our engagements with various technologies.
What was most exciting, intellectually and viscerally (so many things to watch!!) was the persistent sense of physicality. We got a palpable sense of the materiality of performance and performance-based objects. I see room to read with the performance through Alexander Galloway's concern for potential slippages of interface effects. I see that the performance sort of enacted the possibility that threshold experiences are perceivable; the performance wants us to attend to these experiences rather than to unwittingly perform (within) them, absent our attentiveness. That "the truth of social life is incompatible with its own expression" (viii) was at the heart of the matter, but there was a kind of transcendent sensibility driving the scene, just so. I am still thinking about (and loving) it. Brilliant!! Catch this performance from this thrilling ensemble!!