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Metaphors of Internet

Ways of Being in the Age of Ubiquity

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Edited By Annette N. Markham and Katrin Tiidenberg

What happens when the internet is absorbed into everyday life? How do we make sense of something that is invisible but still so central? A group of digital culture experts address these questions in Metaphors of Internet: Ways of Being in the Age of Ubiquity.

Twenty years ago, the internet was imagined as standing apart from humans. Metaphorically it was a frontier to explore, a virtual world to experiment in, an ultra-high-speed information superhighway. Many popular metaphors have fallen out of use, while new ones arise all the time. Today we speak of data lakes, clouds and AI. The essays and artwork in this book evoke the mundane, the visceral, and the transformative potential of the internet by exploring the currently dominant metaphors. Together they tell a story of kaleidoscopic diversity of how we experience the internet, offering a richly textured glimpse of how the internet has both disappeared and at the same time, has fundamentally transformed everyday social customs, work, and life, death, politics, and embodiment.

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Chapter Twenty-One: Screenshooting Life Online: Two Artworks (Sarah Schorr and Winnie Soon)

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CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

Screenshooting Life Online: Two Artworks

sarah schorr and winnie soon

Capture. Grab. Shoot. The terms associated with making a screenshot offer violent metaphorical associations. Markham’s (1998, 2003) discussion of metaphors remind us how they function evocatively, highlighting certain aspects while limiting or obscuring our view of other aspects. In our own work, these violent terms fail to encapsulate the texture of working with screenshots as a practice in our everyday lives. Screen shooting can be gentler, slower, and a part of stitching together a pattern of parts, gesturing toward an idea. There is an inherent collaborative potential that goes along with the practice of remixing screen elements. There is also deep vulnerability associated with the knowledge that through deliberate or automated practices, one’s life online is capturable. How does screen shooting as a sense making practice reflect life online and what is the distinct materiality of this mode of capture?

The internet could be thought of as a set of tools, but for reflective practitioners, tools are never simply instrumental, rather they are vessels for thought. In our artworks, we explore how a small tool associated with the internet era, the screenshot, becomes a generative sensemaking practice. Through making artworks with screenshots, one is able to follow the materials (Ingold, 2013) and reflect on the textured entanglement of humans and nonhumans. As Markham (2013) notes, certain “persistent characteristics of the internet” require or invite certain actions for doing things in...

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