This blog post is somewhat a continuation of the previous entry, since I would like to discuss in greater detail the idea behind giving the majority the ability to curate images through various social media platforms. Leaving the discussion of ‘high culture’ and pop culture, I’d like to turn towards expressions of everyday life, how we construct them and what are their meanings in terms of creating the ever-growing database linked to our digital heritage.
Why does preservation of everyday life’s trivialities matter? From anthropological perspective we know that this is where lies the key to understanding given society and its culture. Millions of images showing our lives and ourselves can help in possibly avoiding the struggle which are being tackled for example by creators of visual 3D representations of our heritage which in ghastly way lack humans themselves due to lack of evidence for how people have looked and moved like (Woolford, Dunn 1). Social media, as a side effect of growing tendency to overshare, act like large catalogues gathering the data related to how we look like, our routine activities such as social interactions, eating habits, linguistic practices or interests. Unfortunately, it is impossible to use this data without critical analysis. We produce shared images according to the same rules, picked up through a narrow stream of personalized news feed and our activity on social media is shaped by how oneself wants to be viewed by the world – and others’ feed (Hochman 1). It’s a spiral of sort, which not only impacts the design of the online persona, but also our perception of everyday life which is filtered by observing live-stream of selected “worldviews” produced by other individuals (Hochman 6). Although all of the above is artificially constructed and the images produced are – in a sense – staged, they still remain precious source of information. Even if that’s an information about how we would like to perceive the world around us.
It is often criticized that the images on social media do not represent reality – which opposes one of the two main features of photography. Yet, those so called “social photographs” capture what one thing is important in one way or another – even if it’s an image of a cup of coffee and a muffin. There is a context to every story, reason behind each shot – the triviality of it is what’s precious, especially that it nearly instantly gets flooded with new wave of images. Taking this rhetoric to the next level, I would argue that our daily flicking through social media could be viewed as a trip to a virtual, personalized museum of sort, in which the “social photographs” act as an extensive everyday art form created by ordinary people and as such deserve to be curated and preserved (Zappavigna 275).
Hochman, N. “The Social Media Image.” Big Data & Society, vol. 1, no. 2, 2014. Web.
Woolford, K., Dunn, S. “Experimental Archaeology and Games: Challenges of Inhabiting Virtual Heritage”. ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage, Vol. 6, No. 4, Article 16, November 2013. Web.
Zappavigna, M. “Social Media Photography: Construing Subjectivity in Instagram Images.” VISUAL COMMUNICATION, vol. 15, no. 3, 2016., pp. 271-292. Web.