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Transcript of #NatSpeck
My Digital Home?
I believe it's important that Instagram and Twitter have labeled the main bases of their apps their "home(s)." A home is where you should be more comfortable and where your community is most relevant- something these digital spaces aim to create and foster.
When registering to use these social media sites, I undoubtedly agreed to a number of rules: for example, letting Instagram and Twitter use my profile to promote themselves if they see fit. This gives these sites
control over my feed.
However, I don't feel bothered by this because I think it's unlikely my feed contains anything relevant to them and I don't post anything that would be considered inoffensive- probably like a majority of the users.
Locating Myself Digitally Using Instagram and Twitter
I joined Instagram in 2012 after a year of jealousy (of my friends who had and enjoyed the app [#filters]) and anticipation (of getting a real smartphone).
At my time of joining, Instagram already had over 100 million active users.
I knew that the Instagram user name was important; I wanted it to accurately represent me and also let other users know that I was Natalie Speck. To this day, I'm not sure why I decided on adding a "hello" to the front- ironically Instagram users rarely greet each other and the most common form of interaction is giving someone a like.
This is my first Instagram and it's partially a lie- I didn't even take the picture. My sister took this from the plane as we were arriving at NYU and I wanted it to be "meaningful." It's also an awful photo but I probably spent at least five minutes deciding on the filter. Luckily, I think I've gotten better at the art of the Instagram.
I joined Twitter in September 2011; I was extremely bored because I was deferring from college for a year while all my friends started at their schools. I was almost embarrassed of doing this- Twitter users had a stereotype of being whiny, dramatic girls.
I rarely change anything about my Twitter. For example, this picture is from freshman year. Although I do tweet occasionally, it became very obvious that Twitter is a news and information outlet for me- less about telling people about myself and what I'm doing.
My first few tweets were very awkward and doubting- I was not sure if I was going to be good at this method of communicating (I still don't know but I care less).
My latest tweets exhibit why I use Twitter- to follow groups and people that I care about.
To me, Twitter and a user's tweets should showcase who they are. However, these days I feel like I can be less of myself with the constant threat of potential employers finding my Twitter. It is an interesting paradox.
I use Instagram fairly selfishly; I connect with the people I'm already socially connected to in a non-digital space. This makes community difficult to maintain, even if I was more dependent on Instagram for this aspect of social and digital media. However, it is worth noting that I sought to position myself with the 49ers fan community with this post- using this photo and hashtags.
It worked (sort of) as I have no idea who this boy is but he clearly shares a similar interest in Niners football!
I see how Twitter is better suited for community online; it is an ideal place for fandoms and finding people who share your passions using hashtags, retweets, and fan accounts. While I don't expect to find a new community using twitter, I do think that it's more likely for people to tweet something short (less personal than a photo) about a thought, hope, or expression.
Community: The "Directioner" Example
When thinking about "community" on Twitter, I immediately thought of the rabid fans of pop music sensations, such as One Direction. Twitter pitches itself as facilitating online communities, and these fans have definitely utilized the platform- even becoming stereotypes.
1. Taylor Swift releases "Through the Woods," a song that is allegedly about One Direction's Harry Styles.
2. Using #OOTW and a "one direction" search, I was immediately able to find a surplus of concerned One Direction fans' tweets.
Who are these tweets directed at? I'm less inclined to think they are for the user's family or school friends- it's more likely that she/he is hoping to find other people on Twitter who share a common interest and passion in this band. danah boyd describes another fan's experience with social media in her book
"It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.
" She writes how this teen was able to find and grow in a community by first using Twitter, and then spanning out to Tumblr and Instagram by connecting with users who also loved One Direction. This user did not hide her passion or her part in this fandom, but this part of her life became a "separate digital persona" with a different social context to engage with other fans.
danah boyd describes "collapsed contexts" in her book as the breaking down of distinct and separate social contexts- causing a particular audience to be confused and out of place in this newer online sphere.
In my major, your digital presence is accepted and relevant- so I've always been aware of the potential awkward scenarios collapsed contexts might entail. Most of my audience on Twitter and Instagram is people I know or users who I don't mind following my content. However, I know that potential employers can use this to judge me and influence my future, so in 2014 I changed my twitter headline to one that is more common and in no way off-putting or offensive.
Who has the control here? By using Instagram and Twitter, I agree to certain policies and practices as soon as I register, but still feel confident that what appears on my feed is something I decided to post or see.
When checking my Twitter feed, this post was near the top. I don't follow Starbucks, nor do I want to, but Twitter makes these sponsored posts less intrusive by telling me who, of the people I follow, follow them.
I still don't care who follows Starbucks, and would not have had this in my feed if I had the choice.
I am given this option to ignore
post- but clicking this does not guarantee that I won't see another sponsored post by Starbucks
Twitter and Instagram have access to everything I post; they can see it, use it, and learn more about my online habits from it. From this, they are able to determine what sponsored ads and services I would be most susceptible to. There is a creepy "big brother" aspect to this.
Obviously a sports fan, I now get sponsored posts from ticket retail and reselling companies.
I suspect I'm more difficult to track on Instagram because I don't use hashtags as often and rarely geotag. However, this geotag is basically a beacon telling Instagram and sponsors where I am and what events they should make me aware of.
The Bigger Picture
Instagram and Twitter are advanced digital spaces and their reach extends much farther than I originally realized.
This photo I posted approximately 5 months ago is one of billions of pictures on Instagram.
Instagram was purchased by Facebook in 2012, and uses Facebook data centers. This past year, Instagram finally made the switch over to Facebook's data centers after using the Amazon's cloud computing service. I did not notice anything but the transition is huge. Instagram engineers now have access to Facebook's global research and technological tools.
On July 24, this tweet was one of over 500 million that was distributed across the Twitter-sphere using the company's data centers and networks.
Twitter's main data center is housed in San Francisco, serving much of the continent and Asia. As of 2014, they are also planning on adding another data center in Atlanta to keep up with demand from the East Coast and Europe. It could be the size of several football fields.
- Andrew Blum
Facebook Data Center, Sweden
With society's digital presence and desire for interconnectedness, the clamor and demand for more data centers is growing. These facilities use an enormous amount of electricity, so while we gain the ability to quickly connect to a network or reach out to someone anywhere we go, the ramifications on the environment and Earth could be dire.
A very typical shot of my browser history
At the same time, Internet providers are devising ways to limit how I use the Internet and data transmitted from these centers. If the web was not left open, the most obvious effect for me would be the increased prices of internet usage (I use Time Warner and Comcast).
As a Netflix user (Netflix is the largest user of bandwidth in the U.S), I don't want increased fees for my usage or internet service. So I'm all for...
Instagram (as a part of Facebook) and Twitter have both pledged support for net neutrality.
-Letter to the FCC from a coalition of technology companies, including Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Twitter, and Google
This is where I stand.
I am the successful product of a digital generation, one who has adapted to a new social context yet realizes that this adaptation comes at a price of privacy, economy, and environment. I enjoy Instagram and Twitter and feel no desire to stop or limit my usage- however, I do understand the tiny implications behind pressing "tweet."
Blum has a point, we are putting our trust, our data, and a part of ourselves into the "cloud-" something that's only tangible in the form of cables and wires spread throughout the country. Despite this loss of control, we crave these new technologies and innovations.