Monday, January 16, 2006

Fabric of the text


It was very good to read Dr Joolz writing at length about the narrative texture of blogs. I know on Blogtrax there are plenty of references to the distributed patchwork of themes that emerge when people refer to and hyperlink across sites. But there are also, of course, counternarratives about the social affordances of new technology. Resistance to change, coupled with a latent tendency to mistrust technology has, I think, led to the emergence of a particular kind of discourse, inflected by moral panic.

These scare stories tend to focus on the internet, usually constructed by the popular media as a ‘place’ - a place inhabited by weird and scary people, and a place in which weird and scary things take place. Whilst such stories undisputedly have their basis in fact, they work together to construct new media as a threat (even a personal threat). I’ve identified 5 views that underpin these scare stories.

• Your virtual property is never secure - it can easily be stolen or maliciously corrupted by viruses;

• Your personal details are easy to locate – so easy that internet criminals can steal and use your identity (your money);

• You are constantly under surveillance - where you go, what you do and what you say is always tracked;

• Your personal safety is at risk – young people, in particular, are at risk from sexual predators;

• You shouldn’t trust who you meet – people aren’t who (or even where) they say they are.

.....are there any more?


litrate said...

Two more are: You can't trust the content. Anyone can put anything up there and there is no way to evaluate it.
And you get addicted and it messes up the rest of your life.
Er, no that one's true.

Joolz said...
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Joolz said...

Yes this is a good list and I agree with litrate's additions.
I would also add more - that literacy itself is under threat - new spellings, new words, ungrammatical usage and an over-reliance on images/emoticons.

Sarah said...

A colleague of mine has a category on his blog called Haunted Spaces: Cyberspace Gothic. It's more or less a collection of those scary stories that you referenced.

Guy Merchant said...

I got got addicted and it messed up my life, but still I don't believe what you say...and thxn thx spxllxng wxnt bxd xnd x cxxldn't xvxn hxxr whxt yxx wxrx sxyxng. xt's thx cxllxpsx xf cxvxlxzxtxxn xs wx knxw xt! 'n' thanx 4 da link Sarah!

litrate said...

In her book Hello world: Travels in virtuality, Sue Thomas has an interesting four page list, the results of her survey of what worries writers on the internet - p146-150.

Guy Merchant said...

Ah, thanks for the reference litrate - as you could probably tell from the style, I'm writing about this at the moment.