La Presse (Montreal) wrote a feature about my work in a piece titled Ben Grosser, l’antinumérique, and also quoted me in another, titled À la recherche du réseau social idéal (In search of the ideal social network). (Note: both are in French)
My social network Minus was featured in yesterday’s New York Times. In an article titled The Future of Social Media Is a Lot Less Social, journalist Brian X. Chen writes about the increasingly impersonal nature of big social platforms, and the space that shift is creating for smaller online spaces. He quotes Jonathan Zittrain talking about Minus as an experimental alternative that treats our time and attention as the finite resources they are:
One app that emerged from the program, Minus, lets users publish only 100 posts on their timeline for life. The idea is to make people feel connected in an environment where their time together is treated as a precious and finite resource, unlike traditional social networks such as Facebook and Twitter that use infinite scrolling interfaces to keep users engaged for as long as possible. “It’s a performance art experiment,” said Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of law and computer science at Harvard who started the research initiative. “It’s the kind of thing that as soon as you see it, it doesn’t have to be this way.”
If you haven’t tried out Minus yourself, give it a try.
On 15 March I’ll be on a panel at the Data and (Dis)Obedience Conference at Northeastern University, talking about artistic approaches to data surveillance. Keynote is by Marek Tuszynski from Tactical Tech. Conference is organized by Jen Gradecki, and is being streamed online if you’re not in Boston. Register here.
I’m running this hybrid workshop at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard on March 23, framing and guiding some collective thinking on social media alternatives to the status quo. If you’re interested, please join! You can get all the details here.
Recent books discussing my projects include:
- Mulgan, Geoff. Prophets at a Tangent: How Art Shapes Social Imagination. Cambridge [UK]: Cambridge University Press
- Ganyet Josep M. La democràcia mor al núvol. Barcelona: La Magrana (Penguin)
- Sicart, Miguel. Playing Software: Homo Ludens in Computational Culture. Cambridge: MIT Press
Thanks to Miguel for sending a copy of his book, as I can’t wait to read it! I’ve got the Mulgan on order. Sadly I can’t read the Ganyet as I can’t read Spanish, but hopefully an English translation is in the works.
CBC Radio (Canada) featured me in the opening segment of its recent 16-year retrospective of the tech/culture show Spark, looking back at interviewees who had been “eerily predictive” about the future of social media, algorithms, etc. The segment starts after the intro:
Other replayed guests included Zeynep Tufecki and Evegeny Morozov. Turns out this aired on Jan 1, 2023, but I just learned of it recently.
Geert Lovink will be performing his work We Are Not Sick at REDCAT in Los Angeles. I’m excited to be a part of the event, giving a short presentation on my own platform resistance projects and then moderating a dialogue with Geert after. We Are Not Sick is a real-time multimedia lecture/performance version of Geert’s book Sad by Design, bringing spoken word, music, and image together in a reflection on the sadness-inducing states of today’s big social platforms.
This event is the closing event of a day-long symposium called Staying on the Grid: Platforms, Psyches, and Paths, whose panels include scholar Dr Sarah T Roberts and artist Lauren McCarthy, both UCLA profs.
My work Platform Sweet Talk is currently installed at Near Now in Nottingham, England. The show is part of a series of exhibitions that make up Privacy Techtonics, a exhibition that features myself, Tara Kelton, Forensic Architecture, Yuri Pattison, Libby Heaney, Joey Holder, and James Bridle.
I also sat down with Lipika Kamra and Philippa Williams of Otoka to talk about the exhibition and social media and privacy more widely.
I’m happy to share a new batch of recent books that discuss my projects:
- Lovink, Geert. Stuck on the Platform. Amsterdam: Valiz
- Terranova, Tiziana. After the Internet: Digital Networks between Capital and the Common. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)
- Brubaker, Rogers. Hyperconnectivity and its Discontents. Cambridge: Polity
Geert Lovink’s book is only recently out in the US, though it’s been available in Europe for a while. Brubaker just came out and the Terranova volume is due out shortly (at least in the US). I’ve already read Geert’s book and it’s fabulous—highly recommended. I’ve been reading and citing Terranova since I started reading in media studies so am excited to read this collection. I don’t know Brubaker’s work but the book sounds fabulous.
This year I’ll be a fellow at Harvard University with the Institute for Rebooting Social Media at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. I’m looking forward to expanding my artistic efforts to decouple online sociality from big social media’s drive for endless growth, using my finite social network Minus as a subject for study and vehicle for future experiments.
The fellowship is hybrid (some on-site, some remote), so I’ll be back and forth between Urbana and Cambridge during the year.
Here’s the announcement.