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Are.na Blog / Workshop Debrief: How to Use the Internet Mindfully
"Last weekend I got to collaborate with Willa Köerner of The Creative Independent (TCI) to facilitate a workshop at IAM Weekend, called “How to Use the Internet Mindfully.” The workshop built on an essay series TCI and Are.na published together last year, which asked a group of artists to reflect on the habits and philosophies that help them contend with the online attention economy. This time we wanted to do something similar in person, in a space where creative internet people could talk about our feelings together.

We asked participants to complete a worksheet designed to help them get a better handle on their internet and technology habits. (You can download the worksheet if you’d like to try this—it takes about 35 minutes to complete). The first step was making a mind map of one’s various screen-based activities. Using different colors, everyone then labeled those activities as either harmful or helpful on a personal level. Finally, people jotted down a few “relationship goals” between them and the Internet and brainstormed practical steps for building up their personal agency.

We spent the last part of the workshop sharing results with one another and thinking about reclaiming the web as an intimate, creative social space. Lots of interesting ideas emerged in our conversation, so I want to highlight a few things here that stood out in particular:

1. We often have mixed feelings about certain tools (and specific ways of using those tools). For example, posting to Instagram can be an exploratory and rewarding creative process. But the anxiety about “likes” that comes afterward usually feels empty and harmful. It’s hard to reconcile these opposing feelings within the realm of personal behavior. While we know that we’re ultimately in control of our own behavior, we also know that apps like Instagram are designed to promote certain patterns of use. We don’t want to quit altogether, but we’re struggling to swim against the current of “persuasive” tech.

2. We don’t have enough spaces for talking about the emotional side effects of living with the web. Before we really dug into strategies for using the Internet more mindfully, participants really wanted to share their feelings about social media, Internet burnout, and how the two are connected. We talked about mental health and how hard it is to feel in control of apps that are essentially designed for dependency. We discussed how few of us feel happy with our habits, even though everyone’s experience is different. We wondered about the stigma that surrounds any form of “addiction,” and whether it’s ok to talk about widespread Internet use in those terms. I’m really glad these questions bubbled up, since they helped build enough trust in the room to share the more personal elements of each person’s mind map.

3. We all want to feel personal autonomy, which takes many different forms. We had a lively exchange about different ways to limit the amount of digital junk food we allow ourselves to consume. Apple’s new screen-time tracker was one example that drew mixed responses. Some people felt that a subtle reminder helped, while others felt it was totally ineffective. Some preferred to impose a hard limit on themselves through a tool like Self Control, while others rejected the premise of measuring screen time in the first place. A lot of participants focused on wanting to control their own experience, whether by owning one’s own content or simply feeling enough agency to decide how to navigate the web. We talked a bit about the dilemma of feeling like our decision-making psychology has been “hacked” by addictive design, and how crappy it feels to replace our own intuition with another technical solution. We also acknowledged that setting our own boundaries means spending even more time and emotional capital than our apps have already taken from us. That additional effort is labor we consumers complete for free, even if we don’t usually see it that way.

4. The web feels too big for healthy interaction. We also talked about how using mainstream social media platforms these days can feel like shouting into a giant room with everyone else on Earth. Many of the healthy spaces where participants felt they could genuinely share ideas were ones where they put considerable time and emotional labor into building an intimate social context. People had a lot to say about the fact that users are locked in to their online personas with all kinds of personal and professional incentives. You simply can’t stop looking, or downsize your social circles, or abandon your long-term presence, without breaking an informal social contract you never realized you signed.

The context of the conference also made me think about how we frame the work we put into our relationship with technology. When we get in front of a group, what kind of “solutions” should we be advocating? At what point to individual strategies lead to politics and advocacy?

When you focus on personal habits for long enough, it’s easy to process societal issues as problems originating in your own behavior. But as with other kinds of “self-help,” this is a framing that ignores a grotesque power dynamic. Addiction and burnout are not only matters of consumer choice, but the costs of business decisions made by enormous technology companies. The tech industry – like big tobacco and big oil – has knowingly caused a set of serious social problems and then pushed the work of remediating them onto individual consumers. Now it’s up to users to defend themselves with tools like browser plug-ins and VPNs and finstas and time trackers. As we keep talking about using the internet mindfully, I hope we can connect the dots between this kind of individual action and the larger project of securing universal rights to privacy, anonymity, and personal autonomy. By asking ourselves which tools we want to use, and how we want to use them, hopefully we can open up a broader conversation about how we move beyond surveillance capitalism itself.

I’d be interested in talking more about these connections between individual and collective actions if we get to repeat the workshop. It would be great to work with a smaller group, simplify the worksheet slightly, and get really specific about what questions we’re trying to answer. I’d like to draw on a few other ways of thinking as well, like the Human Systems framework for example. If you’d be interested in collaborating, or just have thoughts on any of this, please send one of us an email: leo@are.na or willa@kickstarter.com. We’d love to hear your thoughts."
internet  mindfulness  are.na  2019  leoshaw  willaköerner  web  online  autonomy  technology  politics  advocacy  browsers  extensions  plug-ins  vpns  finstas  trackers  surveillancecapitalism  surveillance  self-help  power  socialmedia  presence  socialcontract  attention  psychology  burnout  addiction  instagram  creativity  likes  behavior 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Do Not Track: revolutionary mashup documentary about Web privacy - Boing Boing
"Brett "Remix Manifesto" Gaylor tells the story of his new project: a revolutionary "mashup documentary" about privacy and the Web."

[This article refers to:
https://donottrack-doc.com/en/episode/1
https://donottrack-doc.com/en/episode/2
https://donottrack-doc.com/en/episode/3
https://donottrack-doc.com/en/episode/4 ]

"I make documentaries about the Internet. My last one, Rip! A Remix Manifesto, was made during the copyright wars of the early 2000s. We followed Girl Talk, Larry Lessig, Gilberto Gil, Cory and others as the Free Culture movement was born. I believed then that copyright was the Internet's defining issue. I was wrong.

In the time since I made Rip, we’ve seen surveillance from both corporate and state actors reach deeper into our lives. Advertising, and the tracking that goes with it, have become the dominant business model of the web. With the Snowden revelations, we've seen that this business model has given the NSA and other state agencies access to the intimate details of our online lives, our location, our reading lists, and our friends.

So with my colleagues at Upian in Paris, the National Film Board of Canada, AJ+, Radio-Canada, RTS, Arte and Bayersicher Rundfunk, I decided to make a documentary series about this. The trouble is, privacy is a difficult issue for most people. They either quickly pull out the "nothing to hide" argument, or they give the shruggie ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. We wanted to find a way to make this personal for people, so we decided to use the viewer's own data to create each episode.

When you open Episode One, the narrator you hear will depend on your location. You'll likely see me if you link from Boing Boing -- I'm the English narrator on desktop. But if you connect on mobile, you'll meet Francesca Fiorentini from AJ+. In Quebec, you'll meet Sandra Rodriguez. In France, it'll be journalist Vincent Glad. The tone is conversational. You'll meet someone who speaks your own language discussing their online sharing addiction.

Once you've met us, we'll say different things to you. If it's raining where you are, we'll know it, because we've plugged into a weather API. This API will communicate with Giphy's API and present different GIFs. It's all edited together like a movie, but a movie that is created on the spot, just for you.

To go further, we ask you to tell us a bit more about you. If you tell us where you go for your news, we've partnered with the service disconnect.me to show you the third party trackers that advertisers and analytics folks place on your computer to follow you around the Web.

In Episode Two, we then take this data to create personalized ads within the program - while we talk to Ethan Zuckerman and Julia Angwin about how advertising came to dominate the Web. We'll ask you how much you would be willing to pay for a version of Facebook or Google that didn't have ads, and compare that with how much they make from you.

In Episode Three, we created a a corporation called Illuminus that practices "future present risk detection". If you log in with your Facebook profile, the corporation uses an API developed at the University of Cambridge, "Apply Magic Sauce," to determine which one of the "Big Five Personality Traits" applies to you. We discover how lenders are dipping their toes into making risk assessments based on your social media activity.

We varied our style in Episode Four and made a privacy cartoon. Journalist Zineb Dryef spent months researching what information she discloses on her mobile phone, and then Darren Pasemko animated what she learned. We meet Kate Crawford, Julia Angwin, as well as Harlo Holmes and Nathan Freitas from the Guardian project. It’s an episode told in four parts, and you can watch the first part in the video below.

If you watch the rest of this episode on donottrack-doc.com, it will be geo-located and interactive.

Our next episode, available May 26th, is produced by the National Film Board of Canada's digital studio, who have a well deserved reputation for creating beautiful interfaces for new types of documentaries. In this episode, we'll explore big data - by making correlations as you watch, you'll determine the outcome, while you meet danah boyd, Cory Doctorow, Alicia Garza and Kate Crawford.

We’re still catching our breath while we produce the final two episodes. One thing we know - we want these to be personal. As we learned in our first episodes, people understand the issues around privacy and surveillance when we let them explore their own data. Depending on how you behaved during the series, we want these final episodes to adapt. We’ll be exploring how the filter bubble shapes your view of the world in our 6th episode, and how our actions can shape the future in our 7th. What these episodes look like is up to you."
brettgaylor  film  interactive  interactivefilm  mashups  documentary  towatch  privacy  web  online  internet  2015  nfbc  nfb  katecrawford  corydoctoow  aliciagarza  danahboyd  location  zinebdryef  darrenpasemko  harloholmes  nathanfreitas  juliaangwin  ethanzuckerman  advertising  tracking  francescafiorentini  sandrarodriguez  giphy  api  trackers  cookies 
may 2015 by robertogreco

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