Week 9 Reading Log

Culture of Connectivity – Jose Van Dijck

From reading the introduction to this piece it is a few years out of date (2010), so I shall update the information where I can.

Jose Van Dijck is talking about the rise of images on social media as a method of expressing one’s self and sharing photos that you have taken. I remember reading an article about a man who was required by the FBI to take photos everywhere he went and to document his everyday life. He said it was irritating, stressful and exhausting to dedicate his time to such a trivial task. This was a number of years ago, and now people do this for fun. The rise social media sites such as; Facebook, Twitter, Flikr, Tumblr, Instagram etc. has allowed people to easily document everything that they do.

“Individuals articulate their identities as social beings by uploading photographs to document their lives” p. 2. These sites don’t just collate your information but archive it, and from that, can build an incredibly accurate profile of any person using them. As Dijck states, “Flickr does not simply enable but actively constructs connections between perspectives, experiences and memories” p. 2. Dijck mentions, “Hoskins’ theory on connective memory as part of a more general culture of connectivity – a culture where perspectives, expressions, experiences and productions are increasingly mediated by social media sites” p. 2.

His main argument of this piece is talking about his concept of the culture of connectivity. This is one application of uploading images instantly online to share, but there a number of other applications to instantaneous access to an audience or access to millions of images.

Culture of Connectivity 

He opens this subject by asking, “how ‘collective’ views, experiences and memory can be accounted for in terms of connectivity” p. 4.

And then comes on to something I mentioned earlier, “Flickr’s metadata and statistical analyses are not simply meant to track users’ preferences, but this information may be used in turn to stimulate users into engaging in particular group behaviour or group formation” p. 4. Social media sites are amazing and building a profile of a person or group based on, what they look at, for how long, if they share it with people and if so who etc. This data is powerful and is a double-edged sword. For one it is good! As a user, works and photographs you are likely to enjoy are promoted to you. You get more of the content that you want to consume based on what you have liked previously and your trends, eg. instagram’s discover page. However, this means you’re information is spread, making you an easier target for advertisers for example.

Collective Memory

This is an aspect of the proliferation of social media that I had not considered in depth. Everything on the internet is logged away and saved forever, archived. This is a fascinating concept to think about. Where archaeologists have been digging in remote parts of the world for knowledge of what the past was like, archaeologists of the future will be able to ‘cmd+F’ any information they need about the past.

It is also the best method of spreading information, for example, I’ve never been to America but,

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 16.38.29.png

that’s what it looks like.

In an odd way however, sites such as Flickr become almost mediators of content. Those that run the site, such as moderators and administrators, have the power to remove images as they please. This leads to the policing of images at the will of others and could force those uploading photos to control their creativity. For example, a lot of these picture sharing sites are not comfortable with sharing images of people naked. This could be positive for people sharing naked images of other maliciously, but for photographers appreciating the naked human form, their type of art may be rejected.

In Conclusion

Social media sites are perfect for sharing your own images with an audience and finding artwork that you enjoy as a consumer. They are also dangerous in that as a user of these sites, you are giving others your own information, even just viewing images can build a profile of yourself which people such as advertisers may be able to exploit for profit. However, overall the continued proliferation of social media sites are positive in photography for interacting with an audience, interacting with friends, for collating images, being inspired and having the ability to share with the world, creating a culture of connectivity.

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