This past March I travelled to Amsterdam to give an invited presentation on my work, Facebook Demetricator, at the Institute of Network Cultures’ annual Unlike Us #3 conference.
Presentation at Unlike Us #3, Amsterdam
The title of my presentation was “Facebook Demetricator and the Easing of Prescribed Sociality,” and it was part of the Political Economy of Social Networks: Art & Practice panel. It was great to get to present to such a fantastic audience at a conference that equally embraced both theory and practice. I felt like I fit right in.
I highly recommend you explore other talks from the conference: they’re all up online.
The Public Private at Parsons, curated by Christiane Paul
I’m very happy to share that Facebook Demetricator will be part of a show titled The Public Private at The New School in NYC this spring. The show is curated by Christiane Paul, and will be held in the Kellen Gallery at Parsons. From the release:
The Public Private will be the first New York exhibition of contemporary art to explore the impact of social media and new technologies on the relationship between the public and private realm. The artworks brought together in The Public Private—several presented for the first time in the United States—address these issues from psychological, legal, and economic perspectives and use strategies ranging from hacking to self-surveillance to reflect upon the profound changes in our understanding of identity, personal boundaries, and self-representation.
Other artists in the show include Paolo Cirio, Alessandro Ludovico, Eva and Franco Mattes, Jill Magid, Luke Dubois, Wafaa Bilal, Carlo Zanni, James Coupe, and Nicholas Felton.
I’ll be at the opening on February 6th at 6pm, and the show will be up through April 17th. If you’re in town I’d love to see you there!
This past spring I found out I won a Terminal Award for 2012-2013. This award and stipend, which was juried by Stephanie Rothenberg and xtine burrough, supports the completion of internet-based artworks. Terminal is run out of Austin Peay State University by Barry Jones.
Facebook Demetricator Prototype Removing Metrics on the Friends Page
The work I proposed to build is called the Facebook Demetricator. Facebook Demetricator is a browser add-on that removes all quantifying counts from the Facebook interface. Users are able to see who their friends are, but would have to count them by hand to know how many they have. They can see who comments on their status, but will only see their names instead of their aggregate value.
I am hard at work finishing this project at the moment and plan to launch it in a couple days. It has also been accepted to Prospectives ’12 which opens on October 18th, so that will be its initial exhibition debut. Stay tuned…
Many thanks to Terminal for the support!
I’ll be delivering a paper presentation at User-Public-Audience 2012, a joint conference between the University of Illinois and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology on interdisciplinary and transnational approaches to research in media and digital cultures. My talk is part of the first paper session, between 10:45am and 12 noon at the Levis Faculty Center.
How Revealed Metrics Guide User Behavior in the Facebook Interface
Within software studies and computational aesthetics, scholars such as Matthew Fuller (2003, 2008) and Vito Campanelli (2010) have explored how the designs of software lead to certain types of behaviors in its users. However, a new trend within these designs—namely the relentless foregrounding of database counts as fundamental interface elements—has received little attention in the literature. This paper explores the role of these revealed metrics with the interface of Facebook, examining how such quantifications lead Facebook’s users to increase their engagement with the site. For example, would those users add as many new friends to their network if they weren’t constantly confronted with how many friends they have? Would they write as many new status messages if Facebook didn’t reduce the responses they generate (and their authors) to an aggregate value? What happens when this focus on quantity leads users to measure their social value within metric terms? To explore these questions I have built a software-based artwork called Facebook Demetricator that removes these metrics from the interface. The work invites the site’s users to try the system without these things, to see how their experience is changed by their absence, to enable a network society that isn’t dependent on quantification. I argue that these enumerations of social connection play right into our capitalism-inspired innate desire for more, encouraging increased user contribution to the site’s databases, and creating a near-addictive pattern of engagement with the system.
Campanelli, Vito. (2010). Web Aesthetics: How Digital Media Affect Culture and Society. Rotterdam: NAi Publishers.
Fuller, Matthew. (2003). Behind the Blip: Essays on the Culture of Software. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Autonomedia.
Fuller, Matthew. (2008). Software Studies \ A Lexicon. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.