Get Your Five a Day

måndag 11 oktober 2010


My brother on Wikipedia is RELEVANT!

The policies and text regulations that are presented by Wikipedia, display a very different form of politics, the debate falls on the aspect of RELEVANCE. It is all very complicated, yet also very simple. Their requirements are seemingly reasonable; no entries about one self, your friends, your relatives, your own establishments, or the company you work for. Or is it? What if the company you work for happens to be well recognised, whilst you also happen to be the senior VP, and your cousin shares another executive position, then you automatically become unsuitable for entering an entry. They fear the risk of the material appearing subjective and biased, which defeats Wikipedia s approach of presenting content objectively. This leaves the argument of relevance utterly diffuse, as you might assume it is more sensible having someone knowledgeable entering the information. The ultimate should be that the readers are receiving as accurate and detailed information as possible, although it is understandable that Wikipedia appreciates the fine line between providing facts and allowing free advertisement on their site.

As a person looking to produce an entry, one is left with the fear of seeming subjective and as a result, possibly refrains from including certain types of information. In the case of my own entry, I experienced a similar struggle with providing facts that did not make seem like a personal statement. This made it a challenging task, as well as contemplating whether the actual topic chosen could be considered relevant in the very first place. My entry was on a young Swedish stand up comedian and TV host. As he is Swedish, I naturally assumed that he would be of more relevance entering the Swedish Wikipedia site. I assumed this task because I know the person in question and thought it would a fair trial at giving someone a decent Wikipedia presentation. His name is Ahmed Berhan Omer and also happens to be my brother. Yes we are related and as mentioned that is a NO! following the wiki principles. The task of speaking about my brother and his career, providing merely objective information was a lot more difficult than I had expected.

I decided to look at other celebrity entries, then I narrowed it down to merely stand up comedians, then finally I focused only on other Swedish comedians. Doing this, allowed me to depict a kind of format or structure that had been deemed appropriate by Wikipedia, seeing as those sites were still up. I first began by writing the text freely , adding some slight details that I normally appreciate reading myself, such as an artist’s ethnical background and perhaps family members. Although I attempted to keep it simple, Wikipedia issued me a warning stating that I should avoid writing an article by anyone close to me.

Having read the warning, I began collecting articles and event promotions that mentioned him. This way I could be confident in that what I was to enter, would match information that had already been published online. In the end the entry featured information, such as; tour dates, TV appearances, university degree status and some basic comments on his style of comedy. This made the entry relatively plain, but in the end I guess considered RELEVANT. The text looked similar to the other ones existing on Swedish comedians, so it eventually fitted a Wikipedia appropriated format. Other minor changes were made to my text by the administrators, making me feel monitored. A sentence and the original heading was rephrased by the administrators, which were also very rapid when making the changes. The article eventually got published, now let us hope that my brother stays on!


NEXT! Chatroulette: a shuffle through genital exposure and musicality

Presenting! an online webcam chat room with functions similar to that of Skype or any other audio-video-chat spaces, yet the difference here lays in the simplicity ofChatroulette. The creator; a seventeen year old Russian teenager named; Andrey Ternovskiy briefly explained in an interview with the NY Times that his ambitions were simply to establish another social space for him and his friends, stating;

“I created this project for fun. Initially, I had no business goals with it. I created this project recently. I was and still am a teenager myself, that is why I had a certain feeling of what other teenagers would want to see on the Internet. I myself enjoyed talking to friends with Skype using a microphone and webcam. But we got tired of talking to each other eventually. So I decided to create a little site for me and my friends where we could connect randomly with other people.”

Chatroulette sets out to bring together people through a random selection of users around the world. As a user you are constantly being faced with strangers, equipped with a “next” button, one is able to click away people and immediately be faced with another player. Joining Chatroulette is as simple as the features it offers, there is no need to register or give away any form of personal information. The only requirement is that you have a functioning webcam.

Andrey seemingly innocent aspirations for Chatroulette might suggestively no longer be reflexive of that, looking at the content that is exposed on the site. The sites visitors are varied in age group, as there are no age limits. Chatroulette has become an expanding forum for sexual social networking. The anonymity of the space has encouraged a great deal of personal exposure amongst the visitors. Sexual exposure or perhaps even exhibitionism is very commonly seen on this site. Users are regularly encountering people masturbating, having sex or displaying other sexual behaviour, as well as other forms of actions deemed socially inappropriate. Sex and the internet has since its beginning been intensively associated, sexually related content online could even be suggested as a factor that pushed the internet usage even further, that together with the increase in online pornographic sites. In her book Control and freedom: power and paranoia in the age of fibre optics (2006) Wendy Chun goes as far as stipulating “Cyber porn fuelled the dot-com craze “. Chun highlights the relationship between our sexual desires and our online presence; we seek contact online looking to satisfy needs.

The great deal of exhibitionism that is carried out through Chatroulette could be suggested as a reflection of peoples suppressed sexual desires. The idea of suppressed desires relates to the Freudian theory of the Id, Ego and Super Ego, from S. Freud’s sexual psychoanalytical works from the nineteen-twenties titled: “Beyond the pleasure principle” followed by the “Id, Ego and Super ego”. The Id is driven by the pleasure principle and our intuitive cravings, whilst the Ego struggles to tame our need for gratification following the reality principle. The Ego which looks to maintain our desires within socially acceptable frames, projects the needs through objects that can substitute the actual idea developed by the Id. At the end of the process there is the Superego which ultimately acknowledges the rules and standards considered acceptable by the individuals’ surroundings. The Superego is also what allows one to recognise the consequences leading to guilt and punishment as well as rewards. As infants we relied on the Id for survival, seeing as we are only able to express our outmost needs, yet as we grow older the struggle of acceptability in society and our cravings intensifies. Chatroulette existing as a platform for sexual social networking would perhaps suggest a space for people to act out their secret desires, following Freud’s pleasure principle and the Id.

The internet and social networking site such as Chatroulette allows people to explore subjects and behaviours that could be considered taboo in other private social situations. Such as that of exhibitionism, this then becomes a very common expression on such sites. In the three volumes of Michel Foucault Histoire de la Sexualite (1976- 1984) he discusses repressed sexuality and sexual discourse. Foucault argues that sex became such a taboo- made topic following the rise of the 18th C bourgeois; expressing sexual desire and other pleasures publicly was made unacceptable. This lead to sexually related matters becoming censored and for the private domain only, which in its turn resulted in a high rise within prostitution and people seeking psychiatric care. People were suppressing their needs and were forced to resort to the situations as mentioned by Foucault. A solution to this he argued, would be encouraging discourse on the matters, freeing people from their frustrations, through communication. He ultimately was suggesting that the taboo placed on sex to be removed, thus permitting people to discuss their pleasures and cravings.

Chatroulette can be argued as an outlet for people’s suppressed desires, perhaps even a solution of discourse mentioned by Foucault. Chatroulette is a space that encourages exhibitionism and behaviour that has been condemned within the “offline” social spaces. Whether its people acting out sexual fantasies or playing an instrument, the forum provides a wide platform for people to enact the roles of exhibitionists or in the case of the observer; as voyeurists. Chatroulette has evolved into such a success, that other sites are adopting its features, such as the new site Wocchat. The main factors that should be highlighted here is that with Chatroulette the visitors are being offered the ideal platform to explore the “Id”, yet there are also other dilemmas that should be considered with sites such as this one, the dangers of paedophilia and other situations that can result as harmful for younger visitors. As there is no age limit and need for registration to the sites, with today s younger generations spending a great deal of time online, and a lot of it being unsupervised. As a child or teenager growing up it, the events occurring on the site can be misleading and cause damage to the child. Chatroulette is a phenomenon that gives the public an experience of always meeting new people, through its simple features it has established a space where the user chooses its own degree of exposure and anonymity, based on this it might even be the ultimate online experience?


Author and publisher: Annet Dekker through Virtueel Platform: May 2010

In a time where contemporary art is struggling to exist as a part of history and its cultural heritage, the transition into a digital era from an analogous epoch is a fact. Archives no longer serve its simple purpose and task of storing specific artefacts and documents. The digitalised upgrade to archiving is greater than one might expect. Greater masses of material see potential of becoming recorded and stored through the worldwide web sphere. We see oral history through audio and visual becoming crucial as well as perhaps the social historical value behind the development of online gaming. Unfortunately the masses of material and information being produced digitally online is facing a decline in preservation, as the material grows, yet the understanding of how to archive such matters is not following the same rapid pace.

Following the report of the archive 2020 conference Virtueel Platform published a compilation featuring a series of group discussions and interviews in which the threatened nature of born-digital culture is debated. Various individuals within specialist fields evolving the born- digital preservation and archiving present their ideas and concerns on the future of our digital cultural heritage. Critical aspects of how the archiving should be pursued as well as its visibility and access to the public population. With the problem of a great deal art work existing online, its suggested that its shared or exhibit not frequently enough to be considered as valuable for archiving. This proves problematic as such art work documentation through means of imagery, text and video is of essential value for this present era.

Deciding what specific material should be documented is not the only concern, another problem that arises is that of using the right software or program in order to access the art work. Artists and other cultural institutions are encouraged to understand the available software’s in order to “extend the shelf life of their own work” (p 28), suggesting the creators to also take matters in their own hands. The book also introduces the usage of other means of documenting digital heritage, such as online gaming, which is argued as the core of the new generations’ subcultures. It is the concept of how online gaming has reshaped us as social beings, which suggest that the historical development of games and gaming should be considered and documented.

Following the development of a digital era, audio recordings and their ability to be rapidly and globally distributed, make oral history appealing and an option. An alternative to the non oral material preserved in today s archives. Using orally recorded history would enable a greater spectrum of ideas regarding media arts and events, from both the artist and perhaps even its audience. The key focus of this book is nonetheless on the restrictions that exist on the documentation of contemporary media art and its heritage, with the discussions leading towards possibilities for improvements within the knowledge of the digital domain amongst the producers of art and their institutions. Virtueel Platform presented a book that brings forth the complexity evolving the preservation and sustainability of the existing media art as well as that of which is to come. The matters discussed could be suggested as carrying crucial significance to most people whom in today’s digital era, probably find themselves also contributing to the media archive with digitally-cultural content.

Title: archive2020/Sustainable archiving of born-digital cultural content

Compiled and edited by: Annet Dekker

Publishers: Virtueel Platform, 2010