After much faffing and thinking here is what I’m thinking about for my assignment (the title is especially preliminary) – comments very very welcome!
Possible Title: Post Human or Post Relationship?: Uncanny Machine Interventions in Online Social Spaces
What I want to look at (in my relatively wee word limit):
I want to explore how automatic prompts, scripts and bots intervene in relationships in online social spaces. In doing so I want to touch on the themes of current utopian ideals of web communities (specifically Social Media/Web 2 communities) and the invasive nature of the machine in these spaces. I am not set on that invasion always being dystopian but I think that the uncanny tracking and manipulation in such spaces certainly has to refer to dystopian notions of man and machine.
Although this has been inspired by the types of prompts which Facebook generates (”X has no friends – suggest some!) this work has obvious implications for learning – particularly the creation and curation of peer learning communities – in social spaces and, indeed, for the way in which the academic data services I work on/with might conduct their relationships with user communities. I think that a much longer study could look at how these automatic interventions and the community culture around a site interacted in the context of Human-Computer Interaction but, for the scale of this assignment, I will be looking at the cultural impact and effects of mechanical intervention in a more contained context. In particular I am keen to see how the machine interactions cause a community to behave post humanly and to look at how conciously individuals respond to such prompts and whether they consider such manipulation useful, invasive.
What will be in this?
I am thinking of starting by analysing the types of manipulation I am personally subject to and using this as a jumping off point to find participants from one or several social spaces who are willing to share their own experience. I hope to explore the topic with a very deliberate and invasive presentation structure that will cause the reader to question their experience of the space. I’m still thinking through the details but I hope to include some comments and analysis of ways in which social spaces model their participants’ behaviour and looking at how this impacts on communication/social culture of those participants outside the social spaces. Because of the scale of this assignment I will be talking to a few willing volunteers that might represent the issues of a wider whole rather than trying to take any statistically significant sample of participants.
So… What do you think?