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Virality and Morphogenesis of Right Wing Internet Populism

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Eva Kimminich and Julius Erdmann

Information and its individual interpretations are highly discussed in social media. Their use and misuse is an important subject for cultural and media studies. The theoretical framework of this volume is based on a synopsis of socio-constructivist and semiotic paradigms, which permit insight into ongoing adjustments of the social perception of reality and the thereby changing benchmarks. The assembled micro-studies concentrate primarily on right-wing Internet populism in Germany, France and Italy and allow a more precise idea of the effects the disseminated myths, metaphors and memes can have: Becoming viral, they can have an influence on a society’s semiosphere, i.e.on common sense and social life.

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A Picture of the Internet

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Conflict, Power and Politics on Pixelcanvas

Abstract: Pixelcanvas is an online “game” that allows players to color pixels on an infinite canvas in order to draw images or write texts, either collaborating or competing for the control of the shared space. In this paper, I analyze some of the semiotic features of a website that may be seen as a sort of “nethnographic” map of peripheral areas of the Internet. After exploring two important predecessors of Pixelcanvas – the Million Dollar Homepage (2005) and Reddit Place (2017) – the paper offers an overview on the different textualities created and destroyed on the website, as well as on the topics capable of catalyzing the attention and effort of its users.

Keywords: pixelcanvas, web, game, Internet fringe

1Pixels and Meaning

This paper aims at proposing a semiotic approach to Pixelcanvas, an online game that allows players to color pixels on an infinite canvas in order to, collaboratively, draw images or write texts. I will argue that such games are interesting tools that may be seen as a sort of “nethnographic” map of the Internet1 and of the groups that inhabit it.

Before approaching Pixelcanvas, however, we will propose two orders of considerations – one on the technical and semiotic nature of pixels, and one in regards to other examples of shared pixel-based authorship.

Pixels (short for “picture element”) are the smallest components of a digital image. They are usually rendered with...

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