Chapter Preview

The Ephemeral Artifact: Social Media ‘Algorithms’ Shape a Simulated World

DOI: 10.15340/978-625-00-9894-3_2

Published: 2021 | Pages: 17 - 40

David I. Tafler
Department of Media and Communication, Muhlenberg College, Allentown Pennsylvania, USA

davidtafler@muhlenberg.edu

The excavation insight future archeologists dig up in the residual data from today’s social media may leave only an indexical trace of the broader spectrum of life in contemporary civilization. In the future, the reconstitution and contextual understanding of earlier culture will revolve around digital data, a very different sort of retrieval than found artifacts. This chapter examines the mutability of future meaning in the ephemeral aftermath of contemporary social media. In today’s world culture, marked by (1) the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) multiple events triggering international outrage such as the 8 minutes 46-second police strangulation murder of George Floyd in the United States, social media captures the alienation and anguish, transmits and shares the aggregation of antipathy, anger, and trauma. Looking to the future, however, their electronic traces might reveal a very different residual history and subjectivity. New technology has no neutrality, in particular for those of marginal cultures on the outskirts of global consciousness. Even now, remote communities, such as those in central Australia, illuminate the fragility of social media’s interpretive authenticity. Once orality becomes locked in a digital text, the living story dies as a cultural process; It becomes a dead artifact. The recorded story no longer embodies shifting context. The ambiguity of network embodiment within mobile, flexible, interpretable, variable, digital immateriality forms continuously changing hybrid identity and relations. Here, the interface of code (the work of artist/designers, engineers, government agencies, and corporate entities) reveal contingent factors mediating viewer users (v/users’) interactive agency. On the horizon, other imaginaries may contextualize social media’s epistemological and ontological (re)formation of critical events (discourses, allusions, metaphors, and stark recording). A meaningful portrait of a historic moment with its daily quirks and aberrations cannot overlook the algorithms shaping this evolving virtual world. They embody the paradigms, the sensorial, expressive, and performative capacity of social media system construction, maintenance, and use.
 

Purchasing Options

Please purchase to download content.

The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to the specifics of VAT rules

To access full text, please use your member or institutional sign in.

Article PDFs can be downloaded & printed


EUR 4.00

Purchasing Options

Please purchase to download content.

The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to the specifics of VAT rules

To access full text, please use your member or institutional sign in.

Article PDFs can be downloaded & printed


EUR 4.00

Ascott, R. (2007). Telematic Embrace (E. A. Shanken, Ed.). University of California Press. http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520222946

Bernstein, P. L. (1996). What Prompts Paradigm Shifts? Financial Analysts Journal, 52(6), 7–13.

Bollmer, G. (2016). Inhuman networks: Social media and the archaeology of connection (p. 1 online resource (xiii, 275 pages)). Bloomsbury Academic, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Inc.

Bruno, G. (2020). Surface Tension, Screen Space. In S. Ø. Sæther & S. T. Bull (Eds.), Screen Space Reconfigured (pp. 35–54). Amsterdam University Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv12pnt9c.5

Byrne, D. (2003). The Ethos of Return: Erasure and Reinstatement of Aboriginal Visibility in the Australian Historical Landscape. Historical Archaeology, 37(1), 73–86.

Chanan, M. (2010). Going South: On Documentary as a Form of Cognitive Geography. Cinema Journal, 50(1), 147–154.

Crary, J. (1984). Eclipse of the Spectacle. In B. Wallis (Ed.), Art after Modernism. D.R. Godine.

de Chardin, T. (1955). The Phenomenon of Man. Harper & Brothers.

de Sousa, E. S. (2013). Encoded Thoughts: Writing Code as an Art Practice. In G. De Michelis, F. Tisato, A. Bene, & D. Bernini (Eds.), Arts and Technology (pp. 89–96). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-37982-6_12

Donovan, J. (2020, April 30). VISION Episode 2: Joan Donavan (S. Gill, Interviewer) [Internet]. https://knightfoundation.org/vision-episode-2-joan-donovan/

Feenberg, A. (2016). A Critical Theory of Technology. In U. Felt, S. Beck, R. Fouché, C. A. Miller, L. Smith-Doerr, M. Alac, S. Amir, M. Arribas-Ayllon, B. Balmer, & J. Barandiarán (Eds.), The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. MIT Press. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/muhlenberg/detail.action?docID=5052910

Feyerabend, P. (n.d.). Theoreticians, Artists, and Artisans. Leonardo, 29(1).

Fickers, A., & van den Oever, A. (2019). Doing Experimental Media Archaeology: Epistemological and Methodological Reflections on Experiments with Historical Objects of Media Technologies. In B. Roberts & M. Goodall (Eds.), New Media Archaeologies (pp. 45–68). Amsterdam University Press; https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvcj303s.6

Foucault, M. (1986). The Use of Pleasure. In History of Sexuality, vol. 2. Vintage Books.

Gruber, T. (2008). Collective knowledge systems: Where the Social Web meets the Semantic Web. Journal of Web Semantics, 6(1), 4–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.websem.2007.11.011

Haraway, D. J. (1991). Simians, cyborgs, and women: The reinvention of nature. Routledge.

Hardesty, D. L. (2000). Speaking in Tongues: The Multiple Voices of Fieldwork in Industrial Archeology. IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology, 26(2), 43–47.

Hoffecker, J. F. (2007). Representation and Recursion in the Archaeological Record. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 14(4), 359–387.

Hokowhitu, B. (2013). Theorizing Indigenous Media. In B. Hokowhitu & V. Devadas (Eds.), The Fourth Eye (pp. 101–123). University of Minnesota Press.

Ingold, T. (1993). Tool-use, sociality and intelligence. In K. R. Gibson & T. Ingold (Eds.), Tools, Language and Cognition in Human Evolution (pp. 249–446). Cambridge University Press.

Krapp, P. (2011). Hypertext and its Anachronisms. In Noise Channels (NED-New edition, Vol. 37, pp. 1–26). University of Minnesota Press; https://www.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsn17.5

Krumsvik, A. H., Milan, S., Bhroin, N. N., & Storsul, T. (2019). Making (Sense of) Media Innovations. In M. Deuze & M. Prenger (Eds.), Making Media (pp. 193–206). Amsterdam University Press; https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvcj305r.16

Kurzweil, R. (2005). The Singularity is Near. New York: Viking Books.

Lazzarato, M. (1996). Immaterial Labour. In M. Hardt & P. Virno (Eds.), Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics (pp. 133–147). University of Minnesota Press.

Matthewman, S. (2013). Michel Foucault, Technology, and Actor-Network Theory. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology, 17(2), 274–292. doi:10.5840/techne201317210

McLuhan, M. (1994). Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Routledge.

Munster, Anna. (2013). An aesthesia of networks: Conjunctive experience in art and technology (Vol. 1–1 online resource). MIT Press. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10713313

Newman, A. (2012). AFTERWORD: A Chain of Memory. In On Records (pp. 185–196). University of Nebraska Press; https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1d9nq9v.10

Noble, S. U. (2020, May 7). VISION Episode 3: Safiya Umoja Noble (S. Gill, Interviewer) [Internet]. https://knightfoundation.org/vision-episode-3-safiya-umoja-noble/

Parikka, J. (2018). Planetary Memories: After Extinction, the Imagined Future. In R. Grusin (Ed.), After Extinction (pp. 27–49). University of Minnesota Press; https://doi.org/10.5749/j.ctt22nmbq0.5

Paul, C. (2011). Contextual Networks: Data, Identity, and Collective Production. In M. Lovejoy, V. Vesna, & C. Paul (Eds.), Context Providers: Conditions of Meaning in Media Arts. Intellect Books Ltd. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/muhlenberg/detail.action?docID=718851

Porush, D. (2007). “Post Media Human Modern:” How Nature Was Finished When It Invented the Human Brain. The Yearbook of English Studies, 37(2), 146–163. https://doi.org/10.2307/20479307

Postigo, H. (2015). Social Media: The Unbearable Lightness of Meaning. Social Media+ Society, 1–2.

Redhead, S. (2011). Post-Future. In We Have Never Been Postmodern (pp. 145–158). Edinburgh University Press; https://www.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt1r227q.13

Rescher, N. (1998). Complexity: A Philosophical Overview. Transaction.

Reynolds. (1993). The complementation theory of language and tool use. In K. R. Gibson & T. Ingold (Eds.), Tools, Language and Cognition in Human Evolution (pp. 407–428). Cambridge University Press.

Russell, P. (1982). Awakening Earth: Our next Evolutionary Leap. Routledge & Kegan.

Russell, P. (1983). The Global Brain: Speculations on the Evolutionary Leap to Planetary Consciousness. J.P. Tarcher.

Said, E. (1985). Orientalism. Penguin Books.

Salter, C., Burri, R. V., & Dumit, J. (2016). Art, Design, and Performance. In U. Felt, S. Beck, R. Fouché, C. A. Miller, L. Smith-Doerr, M. Alac, S. Amir, M. Arribas-Ayllon, B. Balmer, & J. Barandiarán (Eds.), The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. MIT Press. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/muhlenberg/detail.action?docID=5052910

Strum, S. C., & Forster, D. (2001). Nonmaterial Artifacts: Retelling the Natural History of Artifacts and Mind. In A. Nowell (Ed.), In the Mind’s Eye (1st ed., pp. 63–82). Berghahn Books; https://www.org/stable/j.ctv8bt3dv.11

Thomas, P. (2013). Nanoart: The immateriality of art. (Vol. 1–1 online resource (146 pages)). Intellect. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10667135

Tuters, M. (2004). Locative Media as the Digital Production of Nomadic Space. Geography, 89(1), 78–82.

Ujica, A., & Virilio, P. (2003). Toward the End of Gravity II. Grey Room, 1(10), 58–75.

Vertesi, J., Ribes, D., Forlano, L., Loukissas, Y., & Cohen, M. L. (2016). Engaging, Designing, and Making Digital Systems. In U. Felt, S. Beck, R. Fouché, C. A. Miller, L. Smith-Doerr, M. Alac, S. Amir, M. Arribas-Ayllon, B. Balmer, & J. Barandiarán (Eds.), The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. MIT Press. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/muhlenberg/detail.action?docID=5052910

Virilio, P., & Rose, J. (2011). The Insecurity Of History. Log, 23, 71–77.

Watrall, E. (2016). Archaeology, the Digital Humanities, and the “Big Tent.” In M. K. Gold & L. F. Klein (Eds.), Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016 (pp. 345–358). University of Minnesota Press; https://doi.org/10.5749/j.ctt1cn6thb.31

Wilson, S. (2002). Information arts: Intersections of art, science, and technology (p. 1 online resource (xxiv, 945 pages) :). MIT Press,.

Winner, L. (1980). Do Artifacts Have Politics? Daedalus, 109(1, Modern Technology: Problem or Opportunity?), 121–136.

Wyschogrod, E. (2004). Networking the Unpredictable: The Lure of Complexity. JAC, 24(4), 871–879.

Citation Information


Cited by articles

Cited by Google Scholar

Search GoogleScholar

Altmetric Attention Score


Full Text Views

David Tafler is a Professor in Media and Communication and Film Studies at Muhlenberg College. He received his Ph.D. and M.F.A. from Columbia University, where his doctoral dissertation, The Electronic Megatext: A Theory of Tele-Reception and Re-Formation, examined the historic introduction of interactive video art. His areas of interest include community media, media reception, and alternative media that expands individual experience of time, space, and environment. Dr. Tafler worked with the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, and Ngaanyatjarra people in central Australia a consultant, writer, and web designer/administrator. His scholarship on interactive media, camcorder activism, avant-garde cinema, electronic art, and community media is published in Journal of Film and Video, Media Information Australia, Pacific Journalism Review, Journal of Australian Aboriginal Studies, Quarterly Review of Film Studies, Convergence, Afterimage, Cinematograph, Wide Angle, Continuum, Kunstforum, Millennium Film Journal, Interactivity & Intervention, and International Journal of Art and Technology. His co-authored and co-edited books, with Peter d’Agostino, include World-Wide-Walks: Crossing Natural-Cultural-Virtual Frontiers and Transmission: Toward A Post-Television Culture.

 

Cite this chapter as:

Tafler, D. (2021). The Ephemeral Artifact: Social Media ‘Algorithms’ Shape a Simulated World. In: Bakan U. & Lengel M. L. (eds) Social Media Archaeology from Theory to Practice (pp. 17-40). MacroWorld Pub. https://doi.org/10.15340/978-625-00-9894-3_2


Ethical Obligations Journal Sevices Contact us
Copyright © 2010-2017 MacroWorld Ltd. All Rights Reserved