Ben Abraham's Actor-Network Theory Notebook


Universities occasionally link to CD for course discussion material

A blog post on Jonathan Zittrain’s ‘Future of the Internet’ blog (Harvard blog) that links to Crit-Dist for course discussion materials (specifically the Jesse Schell reaction roundup) as some of the resources in the blogosphere that we link out to. This is more useful anecdotal evidence of the blogopshere being influential, repeatable, blah blah snore.


Funny little bit of research on Facebook statuses and self-esteem


Weird thing they found – friends don’t often like (not the click like, but actually ‘like’) negative, low-self esteem type posts which rings true to my observations and experience. It’s like, people perceive that as a public gripe – as an imposition on readers – and do their best to ignore it… I can just imagine someone saying “I’d much rather than actually asked me for help directly or something” rather than passive-agressively leaving statuses about situations and things.


hoo-haa brewing over another blogger “quitting” games journalism


Chris “Artful Gamer” Lepine on 5 years

A nice summary of the 5 years (2007-12) that The Artful Gamer has been a part of the videogame criticism blogsphere, here.

Another reference to the “Golden Years” of 2008…

The Golden Years of Game Blogging

In those years – say, from 2008-2010, the game blogging community was a hotbed of discussion: for the first time ever, you could google for “Mass effect review” and come up with thoughtful commentary and criticism on video games that wasn’t written by a major gaming magazine or online publisher. For better or for worse, game bloggers filled in the gigantic linguistic gap that was left from the disappearance of print magazines.


Three sources to help inspire certain section of PhD chapters

Number 1: This is one about the difference between “curation” and simply “sharing”:

But we should not delude ourselves for a moment into bestowing any special significance on this, because when we do this thing that so many of us like to call “curation” we’re not providing any sort of ontology or semantic continuity beyond that of our own whimsy or taste or desire. “Interesting things” or “smart things” are not rubrics that make the collection and dissemination of data that happens on the internet anything closer to a curatorial act; these categories are ultimately still reducible to “things I find appealing,” and regardless of how special one might feel about the highly cultivated state of his or her tastes there is no threshold of how many other people are eager to be on the receiving end of whatever it is we’re sharing that somehow magically transforms this act into curation—that is, at least, unless we’re also comfortable with arguing that “curation” is the act in which Buzzfeed is engaged. Or The Huffington Post. Or the top contributor on those weightlifting comment boards.

Ah, the perils of democracy – and an argument I’ve made myself! But I’m hardly a disinterested outsider on the issue of online curation and I feel like there is something defensible about the kind of ‘online curator’ that does select stuff according to their own threshold of appealing. Taste is not arbitrary, I mean.

It goes on to talk about the ‘via’ and ‘hat-tip’ squiggles, and the discussion of the ‘via’ is pretty interesting:

…as far as value-adds go the “via” generally offers little more than a cookie crumb trail of others who have also read the material in question—the digital equivalent of finding the previous borrower’s name scribbled on the card in the back of a library book. Which is neat, I guess? But come on now, none of us here is Averroes rediscovering Aristotle or Poggio Bracciolini serendipitously plucking Lucretius off a dusty shelf—this is people posting pictures of yawning kittens on Tumblr blogs we’re talking about here.

Didn’t they just dig their own hole? It only has to happen once to be plausible. It already happened with library book cards, it can happen again with the internet. The argument against it is largely a social one – “too much mess! too much noise! it’s not worth it” but maybe one day it will be worth it… we can’t really judge now.

But as an ANT-esque scholar I am glad for the via.

(And here’s a pithy satire of the symbols – this seems about right to me. They’re dumb symbols, but the via/hattip is often worth doing)

Number 2: Nick Denton as the head of Gawker blogs probably has more insight than most into whatever could most plausibly be called ‘the nature’ of blog comments (though putting it like that makes me go “eww” and want to start talking about Latour’s collectives, which Denton even almost gestures towards in the final statements he makes about alternatives).

Number 3: Luke Simcoe on the FULL COMMUNISM meme, and some neat stuff about memes is contained within.


Dec 23rd – the Kotaku Kristmas Project


Dec 8 Progress Update

So it’s been a while since I updated my ANT progress notebook, but there’s reasons for that. My laptop died a few weeks (months?) back and it’s basically all that I can work/write on, I have come to realise. Plus after the Nov conference I needed some time off from the pace of working on the paper and generally take a bit of a break. I’ve now done that. I’ve also kind of fixed my laptop which is a big relief (I’m typing on it now, huzzah!).

But a practical update:

– I’ve now interviewed 3 participants for my study (in order: Maggie Greene, Kirk Hamilton, and Chris Dahlen) and produced about 7.5 hours worth of material so far. Still in the process of copying the notes I took of the interview with Dahlen and transcribing the relevant bits of  Maggie’s interview, as I neglected to take down notes as I went along. Rookie error)

– The paper I wrote for the conference in Oxford in July is accepted for further development and expansion into an edited volume, called Videogame Identities: The Effect of Videogames on Culture, Narrative, Gameplay and Technology. It should be a good one.

– I’ve spent the better part of the past week reading through cover-to-cover for the first time Latour’s We Have Never Been Modern after Graham Harman mentioned on his blog (or was it on his twitter account?) that it was 20 years old this year (month?) and it’s stunning. After I finish this post I plan to head right off and start writing some thoughts/summaries of it including a bunch of my favourite big quoteable sections for the other blog. I think this is the main philosophical text of Latour’s. I mean, it’s always philosophical because he’s always got his ideas and pursues them, but this is the one I’ve read most explicitly spelt out in philosophical terms. It’s also about the only real sustained attack/analysis/alternative to modernism/post-modernism that I’ve read. It helps that it’s a relatively easy read, too, keeping the jargon to a minimum.


Relevant to PixelVixen case study: Chris Dahlen’s KillScreen post

My Purple-Haired Made-Up Best Friend, and Why She Had to Die” by Chris Dahlen – in which he finally fully outs himself as the writer behind PixelVixen. Spotted at least one negative reaction (tweet) to the news, but most seemed relatively positive and understanding. Here’s Chris’ original tweet about it,  and some reactions from Dan Bruno, David Carlton, Rowan Kaiser, Brendan Keogh, Robin Vilain (1, 2, 3), Michael Abbott (12), Will Tuttle, and there’s probably more I missed.

Two pics of short convos on twitter.

A great Facebook convo happened with Kirk, Leigh and people. Leigh reacted to how she felt about PixelVixen707.

Should be lining up an interview with Chris later this week sometime.


October 26th

Last night I recorded my interview with Maggie Greene. Lots of solid gold ANT stuff in there. Three hour interview, will take a bit to transcribe, but there’s a lot of really interesting discussion in there about influence, power and Nick Denton (!) as well as some stuff about a chat-business-msn-type thing called Campfire that I totally wouldn’t have known about if Maggie hadn’t mentioned it.

Really great stuff, all through it. I’m actually really looking forward to going through and transcribing the important bits.


September 29th