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What I Read This Week – 19th February

The cyberflânerie edition!

The Death of the Cyberflâneur (Evgeny Morozov at the New York Times)

But the slowly loading pages of old, accompanied by the funky buzz of the modem, had their own weird poetics, opening new spaces for play and interpretation. Occasionally, this slowness may have even alerted us to the fact that we were sitting in front of a computer. Well, that turtle is no more.

I think there are some really excellent points in this, but I also mostly disagree. Morozov’s arguments sound logical, but depend, I think, on a certain way of seeing/understanding the web.

The Life of the Cyberflâneur (John Hendel at The Atlantic)

Is the creation of an offbeat GIF really so different than way 19th-century flâneurs walked turtles down the street? Both acts heighten observation of individual moments.

A response to Morozov’s piece. It may not surprise you to learn I’m more sympathetic to the arguments presented here.

Cyberdérive (Simen at Enthusiasms.org)

The real web in which each individual “lives” is becoming increasingly narrow. Perhaps what we need is a ressurection of the dérive: occasionally setting aside time to drift aimlessly along the psychogeographical contours of the landscape in order to more fully experience everything it has to offer.

Is the Social Web Less Surprising? The Internet of People and Social Flâneurism (Zeynep Tufekci)

However, in my personal experience, platforms like Facebook and Twitter have greatly increased the amount of unplanned and interesting information I encounter exactly because they are person-to-person spaces rather than information-spaces.

Arcades, Mall Rats, and Tumblr Thugs (Jesse Darling at The New Inquiry)

If space is a practiced place, then collective navigation produces the commons. Like mall rats flipping tricks in a parking lot, users exhibit a feral fluency in the use (and transgression, as it is reimagined daily) of this common timespace: we tune out the ads and get on with the serious business of flirting, hustling, hanging out and talking shit.

The Information Flaneur: A Fresh Look at Information Seeking (Marian Dörk, Sheelagh Carpendale, Carey Williamson, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

As cities have become the cultural backdrops of daily activities for the majority of people in the world, digital information spaces increasingly assume a similar role.

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California-born, UK-based author and PhD student. Read more...
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