Much of the content of the World Wide Web, from approximately 1990 to the early 2000s, was communications in and among small groups of people. It was discussion boards and blog communities: stuff that may have been findable, sure, with a targeted Google search, but that was created with the assumption of being seen only by a small number of people. As Clay Shirky summed it up in his 2009 book Here Comes Everybody: “Since we’re so unused to communications media and broadcast media being mixed together, we think that everyone is now broadcasting. This is a mistake.”
The rise of social networks, however, has made that assumption much less mistaken: For business reasons that are both obvious and less so, they have tended to treat publicness as implicit in our communications. Facebook began as a limited network but expanded into a much more public one, tweaking its privacy features along the way. Twitter tries to merge default (Library of Congress!) and more streamlined access to users’ tweets by its “follow” architecture and DM capabilities. Google+ has tried to expand that streamlining idea further with its “Circles” framework—to, of course, limited success. As a result, the communicative default is much more public than it used to be. Tweets, blog posts, Instagrams: these are easily accessible to a global audience. The World Wide Web, and all that.
I like to think it started like this. “You know what’s wrong with your Instagrams?” said the one. “Um, what?” said the other, her mind scanning the possibilities: poor filter choice, skewed shot-framings, overuse of the #nofilter tag. She was, honestly, a little bit offended.
She was also unprepared for the answer she got. “You can’t eat them!” he replied.
Which is … true. Instagrams, for all the things they are, are decidedly not one other thing: edible. And that’s largely because Instagrams are not, strictly speaking, things.
But you know how you could eat your Instagrams? By spray-painting frosting-y versions of them onto the surfaces of marshmallows. Seriously. Think Stickygrams … for your mouth.
Read more. [Image: Boomf]
Imagining eating something provides a sense of satiety.
Read more. [Image courtesy Brigham Young University]
NASA has an Instagram account.
Oh, yes: Now, between pictures of cats, lunches, friends, and your friend’s cat’s lunch, you can view space photography. Today the account has declared a moon theme, and, accordingly, it has posted:
- A picture of the moon from the Earth.
- A picture of the moon, taken from a space station whizzing around the Earth.
- A picture of the Earth from the moon.
Read more. [Image: NASA]
"I belong to the Syrian people," Syrian president Bashar al-Assad told the French journalist George Malbrunot, of the newspaper Le Figaro, earlier this week. “I defend their interests and independence and will not succumb to external pressure.”
Yes. That’s what he said. There are many, many caveats to that little assertion, obviously, but one of the most noteworthy is this: The message wasn’t just sent from President Assad to George Malbrunot. It was also sent from President #Assad to George #Malbrunot. It was a message that originated in person, ostensibly, but that was delivered to the world (or at least to 36,664 members of that world) with the help of a Facebook-owned social network. It was political posturing in the form of an Instagram.
In that capacity, the “Syria, c’est moi” messaging accompanied a picture of Assad doing his thing, or claiming to — one of dozens of such pictures that syrianpresidency, “the official Instagram account for the Presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic,” has posted to its page since July.
The wonders of amateur photography, Telluride Film Festival edition
Catfish yourself! All you’ll need is nail polish, a scrunchie, and a highly developed sense of the absurd.
We can represent the massive scale of the web’s companies, but not their interconnections.
Read more. [Image: Designly.com]
Technology has countervailing effects. We can send a battle by air to a land we have never set foot in, laying previously unimaginable distance between us and our wars. But at the same time we can see on a device in our pocket a satellite picture of these places so remote. Maybe, Bridle writes, the instant connectivity of our world can be a platform not just for faster information, but for deeper empathy for people who live a world away.
See more. [Images: Dronestagram]
Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran since 1989, may or may not have some interest in nuclear technology, but he is not especially known as an early adopter when it comes to social media tech. And yet the unelected septuagenarian, after successfully launching his Twitter account (almost 3,000 tweets, over 4,000 followers, and not following a soul), has taken to Instagram. Instagram!