138 list of recurring numbers
Age of the universe
Age of Universe (Big Bang/Urknall). Perhaps the most important discovery of the Planck observatory was the reception of microwave radiation. The device received light from only 380,000 years after the Big Bang. Using this data we now know that the universe itself is 13.8 billion years old, plus or minus 0.05 billion years – that is more than 100 million years older than was always assumed.
Microwave radiation relates back to:
When life happened on earth:
Uranus cycle around the sun
84.33 years = 30,801 days = 1,848,060 hours = 110,883,600 seconds
38 years = 13,880 days = 832,800 hours = 49,968,000 seconds
Years left after 2x38 years
8.3 years = 3.031 days
0.38 years = 138.8 days = 8,328 hours = 499,680 seconds
3.8 years = 1,388 days = 83,280 hours = 4,996,800 seconds
83.008 years = 30,318 days = 1,819,080 hours = 109,144,800 seconds
⅜ = 38 %
1 liter = 33.8 oz. (USA)
1 gallon = 3.8 liter
83.138 miles/hour = 133.8 kilometer/hour
Lightspeed = 3 x 108 m/s
0.318 calories (food) = 1,330 Joule
103.138 kilowatt = 138.310 horsepower (USA)
Surface (biggest house ever lived in)
8.183 square meter = 88.081 square feet
1 Euro = 1.38 US Dollar (in 2009 when I first came to US)
-18.33 degrees Celsius = -1 degrees Fahrenheit
1 degrees Celsius = 33.8 degrees Fahrenheit
1 degrees Celsius = 33.8 degrees Fahrenheit
3.33 degrees Celsius = 38 degrees Fahrenheit
3.38 degrees Celsius = 38.08 degrees Fahrenheit
3.8 degrees Celsius = 38.80 degrees Fahrenheit
38 degrees Celsius = 100 degrees Fahrenheit
38.33 degrees Celsius = 101 degrees Fahrenheit
38.89 degrees Celsius = 102 degrees Fahrenheit
321 degrees Kelvin = 118.13 degrees Fahrenheit
118 oz. (GB) = 113 oz. (USA)
108 gram = 3.8 oz. (GB)
1 liter = 33.8 oz. (USA)
1,13 liter = 38 oz. (USA)
1.083 liter = 38.1 oz. (GB)
3.8 liter = 1.00 gallon
30.30 liter = 8.00 gallon
1.38 kilogram = 3.038 pound
8.31 kilogram = 18.3 pound
38 kilogram = 83.8 pound
33 miles/gallon = 13.89 kilometer/liter
78.38 miles/gallon = 33 kilometer/liter
2 Amsterdam EL = 138 cm
1 meter = 3.3 feet
33.833 meter = 111 feet
118.3 meter = 388.1 feet
3 centimeter (1 centimeter =1/100 meter) = 1.18 inches
3.81 centimeter = 1.5 inches
83.8 centimeter = 33 inches
8.081818... centimeter = 3.181818... inches
You in Media:
A Performance of The Real Self?
A roleplay experiment about internal identity in externalized society
The construction of a personal home page or blog, the introduction one is expected to make when entering an online forum, the short descriptions many provide as a rite of inclusion into various social software arenas, and the profiles one accumulates for oneself willingly or not on a variety of online systems, all influence presentation of self. This presentation is then what we increasingly refer back to whenever one is asked or asks himself who one is. So who am I? Or what is it that asks this question in the first place?
aims to describe, after introducing the topic and relevance of media identity, what it means to use the research method of autoethnography, and suggest how this method and the study of media identity may be synthesized. The thesis work specifically focuses on auto-ethnographic approach to internal self-identification in media. This means that I try to find what self-performances in digital media (through online social network profiles, user identities, avatars, customer profiles, and so on) reveal about self-identity.
Kenneth Gergen (1991) specifically attributes what he calls a crisis in contemporary culture to “advances in radio, telephone, transportation, television, satellite, transmission, computers, and more”. Gergen warns that this leads to the inevitable replacement of "small and enduring communities" by "a vast and ever‐expanding array of relationships" (1992: ix). According to Gergen, our 'saturated self' cannot cope with all this stimulation, making it impossible to find meaningful generalizations, reason, and truth (in Deuze, in press: 237).
As media cannot be witnessed and dodge any attention that is specifically aimed at them, I'm interested in the possibility of studying media while focusing on something other than media. Regardless of how media may mirror our everyday lives, it is important to see whether and how the potential shifts in the meaning of distinctions such as internal-external, private-public, introvert-extrovert or self-other may have reified a different use of such terms. An autoethnographic approach that lays bare personal, cultural and historical discourse about such terms could reveal ways to track self-in-media according to the meaning of such distinctions. To recognize an introvert in digital environments does one still look for withdrawn, reclusive or reserved behavior, and what does it mean to act like that online?
Communicative technologies make it possible, through the illusion of being together, to go through such a process unnoticed by others, and possibly by self. While in the presence of others, persons who introspectively live their media life are ‘expressed’ through newly formed social identities, due to forms of externalization that ‘do not feel as such’. The aim is to get a firmer grip on what happens with the process of self-identification. With the societal norm being in favor of performing a self in such environments, it is unclear whether internally identifying individuals can still experience themselves as such.
The thesis consists in a performance of self-identity itself in the form of Arendt’s (1958: 179) ‘acting and speaking’, in which “men show who they are, reveal actively their unique personal identities and thus make their appearance in the human world, while their physical identities appear without any activity of their own in the unique shape of the body and sound of the voice”. As the who of one’s physical identity is largely disappeared in digital media performance, the only possible identity experience left of one’s own and others’ physical self is that of a void. The absence of body and voice is replaced by the double presence of researcher and object in auto-ethnographic performance. It therefore reflects the ‘who’ in such replacement. The who that in physical life appears clear and unmistakable only to others and remained hidden to self - the daimon in Greek religion that accompanies each man throughout life - in media performance appears clear and unmistakable to nobody. Which is why in media one can perform at will: the human becomes conscious of the external as merely a symbol - that of the void.
Assuming the social complexity of coping with and managing multiple selves, the concept of identity can become more 'external' or involving less internal reflection. Which is why how I identify with myself can now happen more or less automatically: complexity forces me to be more efficient. On the other hand, complexity may have made me more uncertain about myself because I feel that some selves do not or to a lesser degree represent my 'real' self. The latter is identification on a more 'internal' level, whereas the former case of becoming more efficient (and less reflective) takes places more 'externally'.
As non-performance of identity - displaying a withdrawn, reclusive or reserved behavior - becomes increasingly less acceptable, introvert behavior becomes like the rattle snake that won’t rattle. In media life everything is an expression of identity, a performance, first. Extrovert and introvert both become elements of ‘normal’ expressive behavior, making introvert behavior anti-social. For the individual, the process of identification either is either ended - in case of external - or open ended - in case of internal identification.
Online social media are likely to make it easier to identify externally. A conceptualization of internal identification as a quest for the magic of being, living, may be helpful. To externally self-oriented persons, the self does take on certain forms or shapes, while to internally self-oriented persons, the self remains a void that cannot be determined. It is plunging into this void that causes the person to wonder about self and being. A passage from Hauptmann's (1966: 120) autobiographical Adventures from my youth clarifies this:
“Day after day I met my image in an oval wall mirror with broad mahogany frame. It was hanging relatively high, but tilted forward, so that I could see myself in it. When I came back from one of my wanderings through all corners of town, I positioned myself most of the time under it, and every time the question came to me whether I had done the same thing the day before, and how I could prove that. In such moments it always occurred to me that I could not prove it. But if that were really the case then it was not certain that I had lived the day before. Today, though, I concluded, I lived very consciously. In any case, it was then that the magic of being entered my conscious.“
A further distinction can be made between shaping one’s digital alter-ego and being conscious of doing so. The first is an act of self-management or self-branding, the second a reflection on this act. I assume that most people in my direct native environment choose to largely unreflective about any self-branding activities. On the other hand, what does it even mean to be reflective about a reflective act in the first place? The media landscape may have evolved such that everyone has gained self-knowledge, or started to internally identify, and that asking whether this occurs consciously or unconsciously is meaningless: it occurs in both ways, or better yet, in neither. Put differently, anyone can answer this for herself.
In the proposed thesis, I will outline the reason for conducting auto-ethnographic research, particularly when it comes to self-identity issues, perform an autoethnography on my own media identity, and analyze this performance subsequently. The question I wish to see answered is what a non-expression of self in performance-driven media looks like. The autoethnographic (hidden) social media performance will contrast expressive American performance. I feel that Americanized, expressive social media demand a more outgoing performance than I'm used to. Instead of performing the externalized self that the cultural norm expects of me, I seem to continually perform a self that is expressively introvert. Because of the complexity of bringing this very issue to the table due to its paradox character, the thesis can set the example for people who, like me, wish to see some acceptance of such a performance within cultural norms. Because my self-redaction or -censorship has taken an 'uncanny’ turn due to an introvert nature with a seemingly expressive personality (through acting in film, advertisement, theatre and through fashion modeling), I am experienced enough to give insight in this matter - through an autoethnographic performance.
In Chapter I, I explain what I mean by self and discuss aspects of self mainly in terms of identity theory. Chapter II describes the method (autoethnography) and operationalization.
Chapter I: Self-Performance
People in the Western world (comprising both the US and Western Europe) may have become enmeshed in vast bureaucratic organizations and the dream of escaping bureaucracy, enacting justice as an individual against all the array of bad guys in the world, may be held by many who idolize American film and television culture. The media landscape of both the US and The Netherlands has developed such that everyone adapts individually to the norms of human-computer interaction. As such, everyone becomes a media professional, working to depict selves that are recognizable to their audiences as selves.
Such self-redaction often means that someone else than the authorities (government, industry) or the features and physicality of the medium itself regulates content. It only sometimes means how we must perform our selves so that our productions make sense to our audiences; in other words, how we function so that other people perceive us as sane. Yet, such norms, because they often are taken for granted, may reveal most about our lives in media. The taken for granted remains typically unknown, however, which is why this study takes internal (systemic) functioning, with the mind as all-inclusive medium, to be unknown. To observe internal processing knowingly is to observe that which one cannot know and therefore cannot believe in. This processing must therefore take place on an unconscious level.
What is self?
According to Matthews (1995:104), the self is shaped on three levels:
(1) deep shaping beyond the self's control and comprehension; this involves a shaping by a particular language and set of social practices that condition us as to how we comprehend ourselves and our environment. This level is largely below the level of consciousness.
(2) mid-level shaping beyond the self's control but within its comprehension; the self's cultural shaping is what Matthews (105) calls the shikata ga nai level. Shikata ga nai is a Japanese phrase meaning "it can't be helped", "there's nothing I can do about it." “This level is that at which we do what we must do as members of our societies whether we like it or not : we get up and go to work, pay our taxes, act like "men" and "women," and retire at retirement age because these are what we are required to do as members of our societies.” It is also the level which is shaped in a way that it makes the “less than fulfilling reality bearable.”
(3) shallow shaping with the self's full control and comprehension self's cultural shaping; the "cultural supermarket”. Members of the same society - Japan, the United States, Hong Kong - may have fundamentally different interests, attitudes, and beliefs.
What do we do with self?
Just as life in general, media representations of self in literature and cinema, on TV and in comic books, and social networks - work on all three levels of shaping. Each of the levels shape the levels above it. Level 1 shapes levels 2 and 3, level 2 shapes level 3. Matthews argues that in modern culture level 3 is becoming bigger while shaping on levels 1 and 2 smaller because people are increasingly questioning all cultural traditions - habit, hierarchy and gender roles -because “of cultural self-construction needs” (105). This could mean that our previously taken-for-granted locality, historicity and/or specific cultural situatedness become part of self-reflective social performance and more readily available to ethnographic researchers.
Level 3 can be regarded in terms of Donald Norman’s (2004) description of reflective design as stimulating the user's consciousness of their self-image in relation to the object in media. Reflective design is about the meaning, the message, and the culture of a product or its use; the user asks himself “How will this product make me look?” On the same note, the three levels are comparable to Deuze’s (2011, in press) definition of media as arrangements (1), activities (2) and devices (3). On the level of activities this would reveal our involuntary dealings with media as they become more and more remixed, pervasive and ubiquitous.
I argue that auto-ethnography provides a place for seeing how our media ideology, or how we embed the structure and meaning of communicative technologies in our belief system, shapes who we are in media. As individuals reside within the social norm of performing a self, they conform to something ephemeral, as the norm itself is largely absent within the conscious performance; they merely perform because it is the rule. They become part of the group that performs one or more selves online, and form a group that bonds through such identity formations, each in different ways. Idioms of practice, following Gershon (2010: 6), means how a group of people has established that media can or should be used a certain way and that they have particular purposes, through asking each other advice and telling each other stories. These accounts come about as people have “implicit and explicit intuitions about using different technologies that they have developed with their friends, family members, and coworkers". Auto-ethnography can trace cultural situatedness in ways that the self is both object and subject. It offers an approach that builds the paradoxical self in the form of a theory that sets the limit of its scope to include the Other.
In a society that demands one to create, manage and keep track of one or more online personae, it becomes increasingly uncommon to question ones identity. Giving up information about this identity is easily done since there is nothing to lose and non-performance of identity becomes increasingly unacceptable. As such it can deliver individuals and policy makers an insightful perspective on the privacy-needs of the modern-day individual through a confrontation with the presence and functioning of media. Another advantage is that it can build an both a self-reflexive, introspective account of media using esoteric postmodern prose, while aspiring, with Winthrop-Young on Kittler (2011: 63), to “subserviently mimic the new technologies”. The focus on autoethnographic study is thus tantamount to it being a performance in media itself.
A salient conception is that society demands a certain exteriority, feeding a preconceived notion that something is unwanted about low sociability. In other words, it simultaneously becomes easier and is expected more that introverts adapt to extrovert culture. Communicative technologies make it possible, through the illusion of being together, to go through such a process unnoticed by others, and possibly by self. While in the presence of others, persons seeking their selves internally may become more or less introspective due to forms of externalization that ‘do not feel as such’. In a life increasingly lived ‘in media’, internal identification is possibly expressed through newly formed social identities. The aim is to get a firmer grip on what happens with the process of self-identification, or how people make sense of self, in such cases. With the societal norm being in favor of performing a self in such environments, it is unclear whether internally identifying individuals can still experience themselves as such.
Another way of looking at the exterior self, following Kittler (1989:14), as shaped by our engulfment into paper-based education, is to say that it uses the universally pragmatic mode of being that has the internalized world in the external. The external therefore has to carry in it the key to understanding the internal, or our ‘inner thought world’. Similarly, what tells a person that someone else than her is able to understand things the way she does, must lie in the fact that this other is included in her circle of ‘friends’. In online social networking - with its absence of the others’ bodies - it seems the self and other are shifted into the physical materiality of the own body and become not so much part of the external, but an adaptation to an already existing external.
This already existing external is media shaping one’s self-identity on a less conscious level (2 or 3). To look at our scaffolded media identity is in some ways to look at the redactionary product of an extreme introspective process. The process of questioning our identities in various ways, as mentioned earlier, may increasingly surface, but this is something else than saying that we become more conscious of this process. It could nevertheless be termed introspective, since it involves the self.
The question of what do I interpret – or experience – myself to be doing in shaping my media identity, however, is always a function of culture. With Weber and Sherry (2008: 4) it can be said that this culture enhances endogenous viewpoints and experience, similar to focusing on what makes a car move instead of deciding whether it should stay on the paved road or drive across a field. Autoethnographic study aims to see the formation of media identity from the ‘engine perspective’. Because it builds the paradoxical self in the form of a theory that sets the limit of its scope to include the other (or: the culture), the participant observer self that is presented through writing, as well as the observing participant who is present in the form of a ‘mediated extra’, can reveal both the process of writing (the medium) as well as the content.
To generate an opportunity to voice the a-political self must speak first, with full self-reflective focus. In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt (1955) suggests that we have become excellent in the laboring we perform in public, but simultaneously “our capacity for action and speech has lost much of its former quality since the rise of the social realm banished these into the sphere of the intimate and the private”. Furthermore, as Arendt argues,
“This criticism concerns only a possible change in the psychology of human beings - their so-called behavior patterns - not a change of the world they move in. And this psychological interpretation, for which the absence or presence of a public realm is as irrelevant as any tangible, worldly reality, seems rather doubtful in view of the fact that no activity can become excellent if the world does not provide a proper space for its exercise. Neither education nor ingenuity nor talent can replace the constituent elements of the public realm, which make it the proper place for human excellence”.
In the course of history, there has been a increasing focus on achievements of men rather than of mankind, the connection between public performance and excellence in the public realm has been annihilated completely (48). As a consequence, our feeling of reality, which depends on appearance and therefore upon “the existence of a public realm into which things can appear out of the darkness of sheltered existence” (51), is increasingly dependent on what is considered ‘relevant’ in the public realm. However, what is relevant in the public sphere says nothing about what private matters are relevant, let alone that all private matters are irrelevant. Arendt gives the example of love that is better be kept hidden from the public realm because “it can only become false and perverted when it is used for political purposes such as the change or salvation of the world” (52). In fact, one can conclude from this that man is necessarily entirely private, “deprived of seeing and hearing others, of being seen and being heard by them”. Man is “imprisoned in the subjectivity of his own singular experience, which does not cease to be singular if the same experience is multiplied innumerable times” (54).
As the individual resides within the social norm of performing a self, she conforms to something ephemeral, as the norm itself is largely absent within the conscious performance; we merely perform because it is the rule. We become part of the group that performs one or more selves online, and form a group that bonds through such identity formations, each in different ways. Reicher (1987) has emphasized that the unity of participants (in media identity formation), if they rally behind their cause, makes them oblivious to the differences that may exist between them that lie outside of the realm of identification. Analogously, to perform oneself online may become so common because the group that normally is unable to participate as they don’t ‘identify’ with performing a self now is able to participate, but differently. Following Reicher, the common group membership may become accentuated if an opposing group acts upon the crowd as if it were one, for example by blocking its way or attempting to contain it. The strong adherence to common group membership, which emerges over the course of events, explains why normative regulation may occur. In terms of deindividuation or the formation of a social rather than an individual identity, conscious identification with social groups depends on how strong the aggressor is in the perception of group members. Without this aggressor, there cannot be a meaningful self-reflective group identity. It is this ephemeral character of the aggressor against online self-performance that makes empirical measurement of such group behavior difficult.
To the extent that internally identifying person(s) are given a place to voice themselves, the form of autoethnography that is at issue here can create an emancipatory discourse, though tracing the vicissitudes of one life, concerning itself with the place of this life in a media environment and the impact of each on the other. As Rose Richards (2008: 1722) explains, “[e]mancipatory discourse gives a voice to the voiceless and can allow people to say the unsayable”. Some criticize the autoethnographic form of writing as sentimental, unscientific, and the product of the excesses of postmodernism. However, following Noah Porter (2004), because of the epistemological difficulties involved with knowing how humans interact with their computers, this genre of writing may have much to contribute to discussions on identification in cyberspace studies.
The experience of the self as other in media can be read as an uncanny experience, following Matthew Causey (1999: 385), “a making material of split subjectivity”. One perceives his or her identity as one would expect to perceive it, yet the awareness that this identity is only one out of many potential identity makes the identification odd, even eerie. The German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann, whom Freud in his 1919 essay The Uncanny calls the "unrivaled master of the uncanny in literature" (XVII, 230), in his novel Der Sandmann created such uncanny effects through a life-like doll, Olympia. To Freud, the uncanny came closest to "the idea of being robbed of one's eyes."
Casey argues that inclusion of the screen in performance, and the practice of performance in the screened world of virtual environments, constitutes the staging of “the privileged object of the split subject”. This staging forms the distinction object-subject, which captures the gaze but also means the subject's annihilation, its nothingness. This unpresentable subject is presented in approaching the real through the screen. The presented object “wherein and upon which these performance phenomena take place are “both in the nowhere of the psyche and the lived space of the body: the screens”. Because media are a difference in themselves, guiding one’s experience a certain way, or in Paul de Man’s (1986: xvii) terms, resisting language itself while creating reality perceptions, one’s attitude is always guided. In an autoethnography of media, a second-order approach to language in and of the environment can integrate and work with the paradox that the self is both guided and free. It can provide a place that enables the researcher to both participate and observe. Such a place is necessary for seeing how our media ideology, or how we embed the structure and meaning of communicative technologies in our belief system (Gershon, 2010: 3), shapes who we are in media. Chris Marker speaks of such a place at the end of the film essay Sans Soleil:
“Lost at the end of the world on my island, Sal, in the company of my dogs strutting around, I remember that January in Tokyo, or rather I remember the images I filmed In Tokyo in January. They have now put themselves in place of my memory, they are my memory. I wonder how people who do not film, take photos, or record tapes remember, how humankind used to go about remembering” (in: Kittler 1999: 10).
Following Kittler (1989: 18), the alleged “sphere of physical perception” in the cerebral cortex neurologically reproduces all the parts of body, distorted according to their importance. The German poet Rilke has thought of such an “inner world space” as one to which all external data could be transferred through poetry (Kittler, 1989: 42-43). Rilke, as Kittler notes, has used the physiological insight that to the central nervous system the own body is the outside world. Rilke was fascinated by the achievement of the skeleton of the human body, and in particular of the skull: due to the limiting skull, the mind-body structure has a “boundless field of activity”; if the own body is external there can be no border to yet another external. This is where self and other are shifted into the physical materiality of the body and media become not so much the external, but an adaptation to an already existing external.
Luhmann’s (2008: 79) system theoretical approach is capable of tackling this epistemic difficulty. His approach enables the 'interpenetration' of the subject as “contributing environment in social systems”; “the inner selectivity of the subject, that which constitutes it as organic-psychical unity, is not identical with, and proceeds entirely different compared to social selectivity of communication systems” (83). Therefore, the system/environment difference does not simply distinguish facts but instead distinguishes and recombines selectivities. Historically, this has lead communication systems to distinguish in their environment both the psychical-organic and the subjective-personal dimension. This obsoletes the traditional unity of function and moral, since the organic-psychical unity of the subject is now within the environment of the societal system, whereas all morality is constituted from within society. Since all morality is determined within the social, my own moral rules can’t possibly differ very much from the ones I find in the social that I most identify with.
Kittler (1996) suggests a similar separation from the physical when he explains how Nyquist and Shannon’s (1949) decoupled information from communication: “[t]he quantisation noise which necessarily arises in the process can also, in contrast to the physically-determined noise of analog systems, be minimized to any degree simply because it obeys the laws of a digital system.” The liberation of Information has meant the ultimate step towards Luhmann’s functionally differentiated society in which communication happens independently of conscious input by humans. From that point on, moral life was led by the machine while functional life replaced the human rationality principle. One’s identity could now be questioned: it could and thus should be shaped in ways that made one feel good about self.
The interaction between words and physical artifacts - particularly “inscription artifacts”, according to Hayles (2002: 24), we can conceptualize as “material metaphors". These artifacts (e.g. books, computer screens, videos) Hayles sees as initiating “material changes that can be read as marks". As such, these artifacts not only influence on some explorable external world but also the researcher’s conceptualizations and communication. As Denzin (2002: 483) argues, “[w]e change the world by changing the way we make it visible”. Walter Ong (2002) has concerning this matter indicated the move from oral to print culture through writing-restructured consciousness. Orality, or speaking, is thought of differently by people who live in print cultures or in oral cultures. Our outreach into the world is never throught in terms of orally socializing but focuses instead on the non-transcendental and visible. However, as Ong (2002:77) points out, “[w]ithout writing, the literate mind would not and could not think as it does, not only when engaged in writing but normally even when it is composing its thoughts in oral form”. Relatedly, Tarde (1969:317) points out how books are based in religion and poetry, taking the form of monologues and speeches, while newspapers take the form of conversations and are basically multiplied private letters.
Chapter 2: Method & Operationalization
I look at performative acts as expression of self and culture: communication as containing an autoethnographic dimension. Warren et al. (2000: 183) call this process “the dialectic of revelation”, in which the writer and reader co-create or (re)negotiate an understanding of a shared situation.
Matt Hills (2002: 81) in Fan cultures mentions as a key principle of autoethnography that the researcher continually looks to discover ‘imagined subjectivities’: identities researchers take on based on their institutional contexts which disqualify certain ways of speaking and of presenting the self. According to Hills, moral dualisms that make up the ‘good’ self and ‘bad’ others are always socially and culturally located: “they depend on cultural concepts of the ‘good’ (the ‘duly trained’ good subject) rather than on lived experiences of ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’” (154). For this reason, moral dualisms and imagined subjectivities are related. These subjectivities are often retained because of the cultural value we can claim as a result, even though we realize that they are not congruent with our lived selves. A student researcher, for instance, may mirror the work ethic of a leading researcher, thereby neglecting the importance of having an 'own’, independent view on the research topic.
One may therefore be better off treating self and other as identical categories, using the same terms and attributes of agency to describe them both. A constant use of self-reflexive questioning regarding moral dualism should, furthermore, be accompanied by a critique on the self-reflexive attitude itself. Hills points out how this move unmasks the fantasy of academic power and of the idealist transformation of society: self-reflexivity becomes academia’s ‘critical industry’. Here, autoethnography can be embedded in a broader scope on cultural theory, claiming that it “lacks the systemics of academic theory: it occurs in flashes, in local circumstances, rather than in sustained analysis” (McLaughlin, 1996: 59).
Because I consciously play the roles I believe are expected, act ‘normal’ or ‘natural’, the perception of myself by others can answer the question of whether I can convincingly perform any role while remaining in self-reflective ethnographic mode. Through an analysis of my performance in terms of the role I play both as observer of self and as being observed by others, the auto-ethnographic approach reveals the process of role-identification in one’s local-historical position. A thick and textured description of this process using field notes, video- and audio recordings of the research period, as well as a frequent referencing the theoretical background in the first chapter and general personal memories of my identity formation over the last 10 years eventually make up the end result: the internal gaze at my own identity in media. Paraphrasing Clifford (2001), ethnicity is connected to and made up of the memory function of the brain. It is assumed that the particular environment in which one’s youth has happened must be assessed together with the content of study. This leads me to recognize auto-ethnography as having a unique emancipatory potential for the voiceless internal identity in performance-driven media.
Following Ellis and Bochner (2000) and Muncey (2005), the genre of autoethnographic writing focuses on the state of being regarding performance, combined with an interrogation of assumptions about that state of being. In the process of doing research and writing, I maintain focus on Leon Anderson’s (2006: 378) five key features of analytic autoethnography, which include (1) complete member researcher (CMR) status, (2) analytic reflexivity, (3) narrative visibility of the researcher’s self, (4) dialogue with informants beyond the self, and (5) commitment to theoretical analysis. Heewon Chang (2008) cautions against what she views as common pitfalls in doing autoethnography: (a) excessive focus on self in isolation from others and (b) overemphasis on narration rather than analysis and cultural interpretation.
Finally, I will evaluate extensively the appearance of self (what it is) in autoethnography media performance in the conclusions of the project. This still remains part of the writing, however, in an attempt to integrate all self-reflection in the process of performing an autoethnography. Internal identification in media is regarded as failing to identify with external objects and personae, and instead attempting to look for an essence of being that one 'is'. This particular internal identification process I understand along the lines of the introversion/extroversion distinction: while internal identity is withdrawn, a-social and reclusive, external identity is outgoing, social and present.
Being an introverted person, I assume to have an inclination to search for a self internally more often than extroverts; Also, introverts and extraverts are assumed to initiate identification differently. One could say that different types of agents take care of this natural process. Conceptualizing ‘agency’ in terms of introversion and extraversion, however, remains troublesome. One could impossibly state that introverts are more often in doubt over who they are and therefore have higher agency. Following Kittler (1999), agency can only be the systemic functioning of a hardware imprint in the mind, or perhaps a mindful print of this hardware structure. Autoethnography has been heralded, however, as the potential begin of a “robust dance of agency in one’s personal/political/professional life” (Spry, 2001:706). Spry thinks of the autoethnographic performance as making us acutely conscious of how we ‘I-witness’ our own reality constructions. Performing autoethnography encourages one to “dialogically look back upon my self as other, generating critical agency in the stories of my life, as the polyglot facets of self and other engage, interrogate, and embrace” (708). The “emotional texturing of theory and its reliance upon poetic structure” suggests a live participative embodied researcher (709).
An important aspect of autoethnography is that one releases hold of, as Richardson (2000: 937) puts it, “‘science writing’ that not only grips our consciousness but also sustains a particular vision of what constitutes knowledge”. Following Leigh Berger (2001:514) readers must feel that they have choices about what positions to take in a story. Specifically, this means that what they are reading rings true to their experiences in the world (or, if not, that there are reasonable explanations why not). I believe that using a 'scientific', all-knowing voice – even if this voice is present in this proposal – does not prove that I am being truthful (Goulet and Young, 1994).
The word objective has come to mean “descriptions and analyses in which reference to the subject, the describer and analyst, is omitted. This makes objectivity merely the name of a rhetorical style" (Hufford, 1995b: 58). Usually written in first-person voice, autoethnographic texts appear in a variety of forms short stories, poetry, fiction, novels, photographic essays, personal essays, journals, fragmented and layered writing, and social science prose. In these texts, concrete action, dialog, emotion, embodiment, spirituality, and self-consciousness are featured, appearing as relational and institutional stories impacted by history and social structure, which themselves are dialectically revealed through actions, feelings, thoughts, and language (Ellis, 1999: 673).
Michael Herzfeld (1997: 189) defines autoethnography as “a coherent vision of the paradox-plagued self, described by (...) theorists - practical theorists, to be sure, but articulate exegetes of the politics of selfhood for all that. Their descriptions situate the self in a nexus of kin relations that define notions of obligation to both kin and to politicians in the larger sphere.” To Ellis and Bochner (2000: 733), autoethnography is a form of writing that "make[s] the researcher's own experience a topic of investigation in its own right". This method forms "an autobiographical genre of writing that displays multiple layers of consciousness, connecting the personal to the cultural" (739). Reed-Danahay (1999: 6) writes that "autoethnography combines autobiography, the story of one's own life, with ethnography, the study of a particular social group". Autoethnography problematizes the role of the researcher’s state of being: she is explicitly located in a narrative and therefore cannot be understood as absent or neutral (Hertz, 2006). Autoethnography, according to Reed-Danahay (1997:2), is both a method and a text of diverse interdisciplinary practices. It furthermore combines postmodern ethnography with postmodern autobiography, which have respectively called both the objective observer position and the notion of coherent and individual self into question.
In the sense of focusing on self, autoethnographic writing resists Grand Theorizing and the facade of objective research that decontextualizes subjects and searches for singular truth (Ellis & Bochner, 1996; Reed-Danahay, 1997). Furthermore, autoethnography shares with other forms of ethnography, and in general with critical theory, that a constant focus is given to the “material and cultural practices that create structures of oppression” (Denzin, 1997; 62). The issue turns on the status of lived experience and the unconscious, and their place in the epistemological perspective on discourse. Autoethnography is a genre of writing and research that displays multiple layers of consciousness. Fay Akindes (2003) refers to autoethnographic study as involving a hybridized position of a “double consciousness”, the difficult position of the reflexive ethnographic researcher that requires a transversing of borders. In Akindes’ studies, she focuses on her liiminal identity within both academic and working-class culture.
“[I]n the best autoethnography,” following Kip Jones (2007), “I am always a minor character and/or a conduit to a time, place and other people. I become fictional through writing. I am the sorcerer who reminds the audience of themselves.” Kip suggests that reflexive writing is like a diary: private thoughts that I may share, or may not, which remind me of myself, like being “Proust in private." Autoethnographers, following Ellis (2004: 37-38), “gaze, first through an ethnographic wide angle lens, focusing outward on social and cultural aspects of their personal experience; then, they look inward, exposing a vulnerable self that is moved by and may move through, refract, and resist cultural interpretations. As they zoom backward and forward, inward and outward, distinctions between the personal and cultural become blurred, sometimes beyond distinct recognition”.
Finally, following Mary Louis Pratt (1991: 2), autoethnography originates as a discourse from the margins of dominant culture. Therefore, they are not what are usually thought of as autochthonous forms of expression or self-representation. As autoethnographic works are often written for both metropolitan audiences - because of its appealing style of writing - and the speakers’ own community their reception is thus highly indeterminate. Such texts therefore constitute a point of entry for “marginalized groups (…) into the dominant circuits of print culture”. They are selective appropriations of idioms of the metropolis and merged or infiltrated to varying degrees with indigenous idioms to create self-representations that intervene in metropolitan modes of understanding.
Autoethnography does not seek to be received by the other as much as it seeks to be with the other, as Ellis and Bochner (2006: 112) explain. This means that it is dyadic, not monadic: it invites the reader to seek him- or herself in the text and thus holds up a mirror, reflecting the image of self - any self whatsoever. Autoethnography is communication because both have a common ground in being an expression of both the personal and the cultural. Ellis and Bochner (114) describe autoethnography as poetic insofar as it represents how we use communication to attach meanings and values to experience, to bring experience to language and to life. Following Denzin (1997: 165), we can regard the autoethnographic researcher as a postmodern detective, who stands exposed in the stories that are told. “His or her personal life is central to the mystery, which becomes a version of an autoethnography”.
Media are taken in a wider sense, not only as guiding or participating in the study, but also as a particular object of focus; the research focuses on experience in or with media. Through a performance of internal identification with a focus on online social media, a reference to the medium of writing itself is built in. It follows Bolter and Grusin’s (1999: 66) definition of a medium as “that which appropriates the techniques, forms, and social significance of other media and attempts to rival or refashion them in the name of real”. It takes Deuze’s (in press) definition of media as artifacts, activities and arrangements, while focusing specifically on media arrangements: how we live in media structures, whether we like it or not. Communication technologies are regarded as part of “new media”, which permeate society increasingly. Following Voithofer (2005: 4), new media describe a historical period in which an emerging medium is not yet accepted as natural. Manovich (2001) has noted how new media are like “cultural interfaces” because they are able to convey more and more diverse forms of culture. They therefore increasingly shape and delimit the nature and experience of the social world people inhabit.
There are two research periods. The note-taking goes unnoticed by anyone in the first research environment. These data will be gathered in the period that I visit my home village (De Goorn) for Christmas in the Netherlands. A second period of data-gathering takes place in an online setting during two weeks in May. This time I am open about my interests as a researcher to anyone I communicate with and can even signal to them that I am observing them. I think this is necessary as it enables me to experiment with my position as participant-observer and balances out any unanticipated effects that my physical and closed presence during the first period may have caused.
During the research periods I will record (audio) and take notes of conversations and discussions concerning media-related performance. This can range from someone commenting on how stupid someone looks on television to how someone loves to poke someone unknown to him on Facebook. It can also be comments I have myself on media-related performances. I let these remarks partly come from other people than myself to have the input from the local-historical environment. Because I decide whose comments and at what moments to take into account, the input is not structural in any way and also not tied to any individual in particular but just to the local-historical ethnic culture of the village. In that sense, I will not need IRB approval because I am not researching other people, but instead only what they say (speech). All text is immediately interpret as an interaction of me and the environment and thus as (partly) caused by me.
On returning home I become the insider from outside. Either way, my self-reflective research mode vis-à-vis (mediated) self-performance and ‘accepted’ roles I adopt when with family or friends, and how these move away from my default self-identities (online and offline), may or may not be noticed by others depending on the degree to which they relate to such a mode. Their role-play and self-knowledge through internal identification could have them recognize patterns in my behavior that remind them of their own mode of being. They will also be more likely to bring up the topic of self-identity or make certain revealing remarks regarding that topic. Such observations would make my conscious role-playing seem more 'normal’. It is not important whether and why persons in the research environment disagree with a certain role that they perceive me playing. A signal for me to start paying attention and taking notes or record the ongoings is only the act of addressing the topics such as role-play, self-branding issues, self-identity or self-conscious in the first place.
Lastly, I will evaluate extensively the appearance of self (what it is) in autoethnography media performance in the conclusions of the project. This still remains part of the writing, however, in an attempt to integrate all self-reflection in the process of performing an autoethnography. Internal identification in media is regarded as failing to identify with external objects and personae, and instead attempting to look for an essence of being that one 'is'. This particular internal identification process I understand along the lines of the introversion/extroversion distinction: while internal identity is withdrawn, a-social and reclusive, external identity is outgoing, social and present.
There has been one trial conduct of data-gathering without notifying the committee. Even though the research was done following the method described below, I could plan in a second period of research, either to redo the research, or to have the advantage of a different approach to my own presence as researcher during the research period. The field period now has been one of participant observer that did not intentionally reveal himself as the researcher taking notes. The field period lasted 10 days and notes were taken off and on, whenever something interesting regarding the research would occur. For the rest I was just living my daily life as student returned home for Christmas. The note-taking went unnoticed by anyone in the first research environment. If a second period is necessary for the reasons explained above, I would prefer to use the same approach as observer participant researcher as it aligns with ethnographic practice. Although I am not an ethnographer I feel very passionate about this method, particularly when it comes to media research. In a second period it could be interesting to be more open about my interests as a researcher to anyone I communicate with, and can even signal to them that I am observing them. This second period would have to be in the second half of May. The time schedule that I have inserted below will then likely shift, and the defense date would likely be July 1st 2011.
The data from the first period were gathered in my home village (De Goorn) in the Netherlands. During this period I have recorded (audio) and taken notes on conversations and discussions concerning media-related performance. This would range from someone commenting on how stupid someone looks on television to how someone mentioning how he loves to poke someone unknown to him on Facebook. It would also be comments that I had myself on media-related performances. I let these remarks partly come from other people, rather than only from myself to have the input from the local-historical environment. Because I decided whose comments and what moments to take into account, the input is not complete in any way and also not tied to any individual in particular but just to the local-historical ethnic culture of the village. For this reason, I will not need IRB approval because I am not researching other people, but instead only what they say (speech). All text is immediately interpreted as an interaction between me and the environment and thus as (partly) caused by me.
Through studying identity in digital media in Bloomington I have become more conscious of handling my digital selves, but have also - by living abroad - confronted myself with Dutch identity. This puts me in a position in which I find myself highly self-aware of societal roles I take on. I have not just geographically moved away from this environment, but also in terms of self-consciousness gained an increased awareness of media performance. This was translated into awareness of any performance, whether face-to-face, on the phone, in chat rooms, or in digital social networks. My living situation away from the village where I lived the first 18 years of life, in terms of ethnographic method puts me in the position of insider from outside (‘Americanized Dutch’), enabling me to take on the before-mentioned self-reflective mode of observation. The reflexive mode, according to Murphy, is a “privileging of the process of representation, expressed trough poetic exposition, and an open voice that provokes and explores ethnographic boundaries” (2008: 280). Murphy adds that much ethnography in the reflexive mode often has been called autoethnography, or highly self-reflective and dealing with “interpersonal tension, research dilemmas and personal quests” (281).
My self-reflective research mode vis-à-vis (mediated) self-performance and ‘accepted’ roles I adopt when with family or friends, and how these move away from my default (on- and offline) self-identities, may or may not be noticed by others during the research period, depending on the degree to which they relate to such a mode. Their role-play and self-knowledge through internal identification could have them recognize patterns in my behavior that remind them of their own mode of being. They will also be more likely to bring up the topic of self-identity or make certain revealing remarks regarding that topic. Such observations would make my conscious role-playing seem more 'normal’. It is not important whether and why persons in the research environment disagree with a certain role that they perceive me playing. A signal for me to start paying attention and taking notes or record the ongoings is only the act of addressing topics such as role-play, self-branding issues, self-identity or self-conscious in the first place.
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The way to proceed after having written so many books was to research better. Read more and document more. This was his big demise: it never came to anything substantial. Life always went on, aimlessly.
Soccer was different. If any game could be extended to the rest of life it would be soccer for him. Through a counter-intuitive risking of his pride and sensibility the prospect of Simple Soccer Forever appealed so much to him that he
forgot about everything else.
And that was all he had ever wanted anyhow. He had been playing since four. None of his friends had. His dad put the largest-ever picture in the local newspaper of him as a boy inside a ridiculously humongous goal. The goal of the pursuit of happiness. To always be creative with a ball.
Or to have a ball in the first place. Have a ball. Kick it. Or read these lines about how to play the game of
Simple Soccer Forever
as a life-changing game. Defying all doubts regarding moral compass,
ethics and religion. You are done. Healed.
If you play till game over it means you found your game. If you play for fun you have found your game. If you choose to be alive without trying to ball you have not found your game. The free flow of words can only be stopped if you believe either no game or a different game will take over.
It’s a false flag, but oh well. It still beats total ineptitude.
The day before he had injured his knees playing soccer. One knee had an open wound from falling, the other a strong-headed meniscus problem. He had been RICE-ing it to no avail.
He felt like writing about the rain that falls but no one knows or wonders where it is going. Nor if it will ever come back.
Will The Rain Come When I Stand Here Forever?
When the rain falls will it go there forever?
Will we go there together?
When the rain falls will It go there forever?
Will it seep through the soil?
Will it come back in another shape or style?
Will I see that tomorrow?
If the rain falls will it go there forever?
Will it seep through the soil and be one with it all?
When I fall down will I fall down forever?
Will I be there forever?
He had wild dreams in those days. Not just about soccer and scoring goals. He always forgot about writing his dreams down and then forgot about them as soon as he picked up his phone in the morning to check for messages and email. That was usually within 20 seconds after awakening.
He had a morning dream. He was in his soccer friend Dirk’s house near the sea and took a leak but the bathroom moved and he ended up downstream.
Taking Alan Turings legacy to an end we cannot distinguish between device and person. What is being selected as communication is better pierced-through if traveling with analytical tools such as 138, providing overview and some sense by emphasizing our narrative in time (our story) and our social handles as deeply connected emotions (Milarepa).