“Over the past twenty years, an abundance of art forms have emerged that use aesthetics to affect social dynamics. These works are often produced by collectives or come out of a community context; they emphasize participation, dialogue, and action, and appear in situations ranging from theater to activism to urban planning to visual art to health care. Engaged with the texture of living, these art works often blur the line between art and life. This book offers the first global portrait of a complex and exciting mode of cultural production—one that has virtually redefined contemporary art practice.”


This is a book I’m currently interested in that focuses on the impact of one artistic individual on our social fabric. As I began reading one of the first projects that caught my attention was ‘Women on Waves”. Essentially an artist has commandeered a dutch boat and is transporting women seeking abortions into international waters where the procedure can be performed safely and legally. Upon returning, the ship is met with an angry mob, as crowds of people express their disagreement. I guess what is particularly interesting to me the way in which legal laws have not been touched, yet some social laws have clearly been tampered with. It reveals what lies behind laws, emotion or organisation. It is also interesting how a culture has a way of keeping itself in line. I’m not saying there is a right or wrong just that it regulates itself regardless of the law. It’s an autonomous organism, constantly changing but also constantly redefining what it is. Laws simply re enforce the social fabric and enable order. 

In contrast I was looking at the phenomenon of Guerilla gardening. This involves citizens taking it upon themselves to beautify their surrounding urban are by way of gardening. The act is actually illegal but few police cars pull over should they notice a rogue green fingered criminal. I thought this was fascinating how in complete contrast to ‘Women on Waves’ legal laws had been broken, but people are willing to ignore the law as beautifying the urban landscape is a wholly acceptable and very sociable thing to do. 



that you’re a social media addict, so to help you out I found this handy little quiz in the Metro that should put you at ease. Or not as the case may be.

It’s called “Do you need a digital detox?”

Six ways to tell if you’re hooked on social media ….

1) Looking at Facebook or Twitter more than 10 times a day or for more than half an hour (unless it’s your job)

2) Checking social media on a smart phone while driving

3) “Cyber-stalking” friends to see you haven’t been left out

4) Feeling down if no one comments, “likes” or retweets when you post.

5) Getting upset, angry or bewildered if Twitter or Facebook isn’t working.

6) Ending a foreign trip with a sizeable bill for data roaming. When you’re away why not take a holiday from social media?

So we should probably all be checking into a clinic then? Details of your nearest establishment can be found in the Metro.

A new threat is sweeping through the masses, undefined and boundless, how do you know when your social media usage strays into the dangerous territories of addiction?

Quite dramatic and hysterical I know, but perhaps there lies some truth in this. After having read an article in the Metro on Wednesday 9th of January 2013, entitled “Help, I’m a tech addict” by Benjamin Cohen, I had a similar reaction.

It is a fascinating article; reporting on the new clinics popping up all over London who deal with “people that can’t tear themselves away”. Only recently in the news, a Bolton Wanderers player will receive counselling for an alleged “obsession” with Twitter and Facebook. Interestingly, researchers from the University of Carolina found that “we get a jolt of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with addiction, whenever someone likes a post or retweets us”. I wonder though, would you not get a similar jolt of dopamine if someone laughed at your jokes, and not LOL but a real laugh, or if you plucked up the courage to talk to someone you admire would you not get a shot of adrenaline? So what is so compelling about social digital media that has us glued to our communication devices 4 to 5 hours a day?

I guess this is the question this little blog has been trying to get to grips with, and honestly I’m not sure I’m quite there yet. It’s certainly transformed the way we live and communicate with each other. From talking or typing for audiences aware of the millions of eyes that could potentially “hear you” to the immediacy of the instant message, that some could say, cheapens a conversation. According to modern relationship etiquette, it’s effortless and has little social value. Everything, in excess is detrimental to our mental or physical health, and this seems to ring true with social digital media. It’s all about balance. I couldn’t imagine a world without it, I coexist with it quite happily and enjoy the feeling of shutting my computer down for the night or driving into the unknown and not caring that I have no phone signal. At the same time, I make full use of Facebooks, great potential to organise groups of people and of blogs such as WordPress that allow me to express myself and (hopefully) pass my elective. Language will continue to evolve, and it’s vast and ever changing nature will allow us only to speculate as to why or how.

Dan Deacon’s mobile app creates a concert light show out of smartphone

By Andrew Webster

“While bands like Coldplay have used LED wristbands to turn their audiences into part of a concert’s light show, musician Dan Deacon is going a somewhat different route with a new app. Available for both iPhone and Android, the mobile app is designed not only to help create a crowdsourced lighting spectacle during Deacon’s concerts, but also produce sounds, serving as an extra musical instrument. According to Deacon, the app doesn’t require any Wi-Fi or data connection, but instead is able to sync to the music being played during the concert. “Hopefully the app will turn the experience of having your phone out at a show into something communally immersive,” says Deacon. If you’re interested in being part of the light show yourself, be sure to check out his upcoming tour schedule — and you won’t even have to wear a pair of mouse ears.”

This is an example of the creative ways of using technology. I like the cross over between virtual and reality and like the communal aspect, the idea of bringing everyone together to create something beautiful





In 2010 Popshot, an illustrated poetry magazine, released an issue about modern living.

The first poem I have chosen is regarding the instantaneous nature of electronic communication,

No New Mail – by Darrel Mager


This is what happens in between emails:


I worry that you’ve been hit

by the fuselage from a falling plane


and that I will never see

or hear from you



What I love about this is how quickly we start to panic when communication isn’t returned. You know the person has the means to respond immediately so why haven’t they? It’s funny that the subject of the poem concludes that no short of an aeroplane crash could have caused such a delayed response.

Facebook has recently added a similar dimension to it’s social media site. Now when you send someone a message you can physically see when they have read it. This can be particularly uncomfortable for both parties; the sender knows the receiver has seen the message and has not replied. The silence is a reply in itself. The reader perhaps doesn’t want to answer immediately but now is faced with the fact that the sender knows the receiver has read it and hasn’t replied and is thinking about why they haven’t. Perhaps the sender is jumping to similar conclusions to the subject in the poem, because the reader has seen the message but hasn’t responded so obviously something terrible must have happened before getting a chance to reply.

I dislike this pressure to respond, you’re trapped into talking for fear of offending the other person and you may not be ready to reply. I wonder how this effects language, perhaps we are all the more vague because we don’t know what we want to say. Or we get used to making quick decisions about what we want to say.


Contrastingly, mothers-to-be have started posting images on Facebook of their baby scans. It seems that whether you have ceased to exist or whether you haven’t existed yet is irrelevant, on Facebook you can still exist digitally. What social impacts could this have? For one thing, you could immortalise your self on the internet. It reminds us how permanent a mark you leave when you create a profile. In regards to baby scans, is it weird that hundreds of people could know what you look like before you’re born? I guess there is no difference to hundreds of people looking at you while you’re alive. Interms of language, I wonder if this increase in photo sharing is also influencing the way we communicate. The pictures we choose to show, shape the way we communicate ourselves. I want to tell everyone about my holiday, so to do that I can upload an album on to Facebook. I’m communicating without words. Sometimes a friend will have seen my pictures on Facebook and will then ask me about it when they next see me.

To summarise, Facebook has completed a full circle. This is a new generation that don’t know life without Facebook.

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon occurring through Facebook. One that is not the easiest to talk about yet I feel is significant in a changing of social digital language. If someone dies, their Facebook page lives on. At first it becomes a shrine where people can share their tributes for their friend or family and grieve together. It allows others to grieve in a more public way. I’m not sure whether it feels more real or more normal talking on Facebook or if it is simply a way to express themselves. As time passes it becomes a channel for communication, people post things they want to say to that person but can’t, almost a stream of consciousness. It shows how much your Facebook page represents a part of you, it also shows how a part of you lives on in the digital world even though you have left the real one.

Using social digital media as a marketing tool has some obvious advantages: it’s cheap, accessible, instant and has potential to reach the masses. Sounds pretty perfect. However, social digital media is a platform for free speech which means opening such a transparent channel to public can go wrong. Once one person comments, that comment is visible to everybody else.  Today I saw a campaign by Tesco that I thought could possibly have some negative effects:


Screen shot 2012-12-29 at 11.50.07

Screen shot 2012-12-29 at 11.50.48

Another recent example is by rival supermarket Waitrose, they started a campaign via Twitter saying “I shop at Waitrose because…” leaving customers to fill in the gaps.


In the UK, Waitrose is seen as quite a high end super market with fairly expensive produce, so this campaign provided the public with the perfect opportunity to feed this back to them. I guess one benefit is an honest opinion, without people being able to see your face it’s easier to say what you really think. Some of the funnier answers included:

“I shop at Waitrose because Clarisa’s pony just WILL NOT EAT Asda value straw”

“I shop at Waitrose because Tesco doesn’t stock Unicorn food”

and my favourite…

“I also shop at Waitrose because I was once in the Holloway Road branch and heard a dad say ‘Put the papaya down, Orlando!”

Not only is this my favourite but it also seems to be popular with the public. So much so that people are having t-shirts made with this slogan on.

So it seems actually that even though the results of the campaign may not have been what Waitrose had expected, to have people buying t-shirts with a slogan associated with your company can’t be that bad. As they say “any press is good press”…

An interesting article:


Brooke Fou­cault Welles answers questions on the social impact of social digital media. Overall, a very positive article, looking mainly at the benefits that social networks have on us.

My responses:

Q1. I like what she has to say about people never really changing. It seems like a very down-to-Earth and reasonable answer. We are often whipped up into a frenzy by the media or people around us, but in actual fact reality is a lot more boring and straight forward. Generally, people will laugh at the same things, fall in love in the same ways and have the same number of friends (despite what our Facebook profiles tell us) The internet is the telegraph of 2012!

Q2. I would also agree with this. In fact I would go further and not only say it’s a catalyst to relationships, but it’s almost like hitting fast forward on a television remote. You don’t have to wait until you bump into someone at a party, all you need is there name and you have access to a summary of their lives. As harsh as it sounds, you can judge immediately whether there is potential for a relationship. Then because of instant communication the relationships can play out much more quickly. This is why “curating our lives” could be so important to us, because we’re aware that we are constantly being evaluated interms of social potential.

Q3. Yes, yes, agree again. But I guess this is more about the functionality of society and again, the benefits of free information. Interesting though, about all your social interactions being documented. Just because it has disappeared of your screen does not mean it has ceased to exist. It is slightly scary to think that everything that I have ever said online, can be extracted. I guess it’s like telling people to stop smoking as it causes cancer. The risk doesn’t really seem that high if it’s not going to be important in the near future and it may or may not happen.

antique white frame

Quite recently, I was watching a documentary about a certain hotel in London.  Quite unrelated to Social Digital Media, however one of the characters who worked at the hotel said something quite interesting. He said:

“We are the curators of our lives”

It was such a brilliant thing to say, illustrating one of the gifts social media as bestowed upon us. He was talking about memories. You build up a portfolio of memories and experiences that you now proudly display to the world through the vessel that is Facebook.

Your page or your profile is projection of yourself (as I’ve talked about in earlier posts) You decide what people see, you curate this image of yourself; you are able to select the photographs and the comments that everyone sees and you can decide who is allowed to see them. Often I’ve wanted to say something to a friend and consciously taken a second to decide whether I write it on their wall or whether I send it as a private message. What a bazaar thing to consider. I guess, translated into the analogue world do you whisper it or do you shout it in front of a crowd of people. So maybe not so strange after all.

But what affect does this have on people, if we are constantly tending to our personal virtual galleries? It could impact vanity, we stop looking out at the world and instead are constantly looking internally. It promotes a certain self consciousness, a need to be on top of our “image”