Digital Death Audit: Looking Back and Forwards

Judging by our blog posts, our class started this course off unsure of whether or not the digital world could have a large impact on the real world. Most of the class posts on the Galindo exhibit pointed out that Galindo’s work had much more effect in person than simply viewing the performances online would have had. Leigh in particular notes that Galindo’s work would have been less powerful as a collection of youtube tabs, partly because we can’t force others to watch a video until the end and partly because the Internet offers many distractions. Leigh states that writing her blog post allowed her to easily take facebook breaks when things got too heavy. Leigh’s ability to escape easily diminishes the impact of a performance that Hannah claims makes us feel disconnected even in the VAC.

Our worries about the ability of the Internet to effect peoples’ lives in a profound manner continued into the more recent sections on digital memorials and mourning. Kim in particular was concerned with whether the Internet could provide any sort of relief for those who’ve lost loved ones. In her post “Proper Mourning”, she points out that the body is the traditional site of mourning and suffering, and that displacing mourning onto the Internet is in fact a retreat from the action. My post on D.N.R., though mostly unrelated, backs her up by accepting her definition of mourning.

As we moved into the units about Gamergate and virtual retribution, the nature of our posts began to change. More and more, we stopped talking about whether or not the Internet could have as much of an effect on people as something similar in the real world and started talking about the effects Internet actions did have. Leslie’s post “Humor and the Internet” notes that Justine Sacco got sacked for making a stupid joke online even though most of us have made worse jokes person to person. My own most recent post detailed the effects the death of an online identity has on those who claim it. I think this shift is due to a shift in the texts we read, which had before these units mostly dealt with events that seemed fairly impersonal, e.g. memorials. After the shift, however, our texts increasingly focused on “normal people” and how various aspects of Digital Death had an effect on our lives.

I’m glad that the course is going in this direction, as I believe it’s the most important thing we can learn from the course. So going forward, I hope that the class continues to focus on the way digital death affects the real world. And I’m really looking forward to seeing my classmates’ interpretations of their digital artifacts.

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