Category Archives: academic pleasures

dependent, distracted, bored!

screenshot-2020-12-05-at-15.37.49My book very long in the making, Dependent, Distracted, Bored: Affective Formations in Networked Media, is out April 20 with MIT Press. To mark the occasion, I’m doing an IIPC debate talk the day after summing up some of its central themes and points. Join us April 21, 5:15pm EET, at https://utu.zoom.us/j/67932423692. This is the abstract:

According to a dominant narrative repeated in journalistic and academic accounts for more than a decade, we are addicted to the digital devices, apps, and sites designed to distract us, which drive us to boredom and harm our capacities to focus, relate, remember, and be. Focusing on three affective formations — dependence, distraction, and boredom — as key to understanding both the landscape of contemporary networked media and the concerns connected to it, this talk challenges the dominant narrative and argues for the centrality of accounting for complexity and ambiguity instead. Dependence and agency, distraction and attention, boredom and excitement can be seen as dynamics that enmesh, oscillate, enable, and depend on one another — and, in some instances, cannot be told apart.

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technology, knowledge & society

The 17th Technology, Knowledge & Society conference, hosted by University of Melbourne and held entirely online, takes place April 8-9, 2021, with the overall theme “Considering Viral Technologies: Pandemic-Driven Opportunities and Challenges”. Very excited about doing a live plenary & garden conversation (8 April 2021 08:00AM CST Chicago // 8 April 2021 16:00PM Finland // 8 April 2021 11:00PM Melbourne) around my soon out book, Dependent, Distracted, Bored: Affective Formations in Networked Media (MITP).

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absurdity in @menwritewomen

Our article with Jenny Sundén is very freshly out with the Qualitative Research Journal, on open access as part of a forthcoming special issue on Activist methodologies inside and outside of academy, edited by Gabriele Griffin. Titled “We Have Tiny Purses in Our Vaginas!!! #thanksforthat”: Absurdity as a Feminist Method of Intervention, it focuses on the Twitter account, Men Write Women, “Where the women are made up & their anatomy doesn’t matter“. This one virtually wrote itself: hope some of the fun communicates.

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deep mediations

Screenshot 2021-03-08 at 20.52.33Deep Mediations: Thinking Space in Cinema and Digital Cultures, edited by Karen Redrobe and Jeff Scheible for University of Minnesota Press, is just out and includes a discussion we did together with Shaka McGlotten and John Paul Stadler, titled “The Deep Realness of Deepfake Pornography”.
For those interested, there’s a 40% discount in the US til April 15: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book…/collections/mla-2021…
and a 30% discount on pre-orders in the UK with the code CSFS2021: https://www.combinedacademic.co.uk/97815…/deep-mediations/

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dependent, distracted, bored, in Padova

JPoster_A4_stampa_Ultimo_compressed-e1612783225291oin us February 25 for a webinar with the Padova Science, Technology & Innovation Studies (3pm, GMT+1). I’ll be talking on my forthcoming book on affective formations in networked media (out in April with MITP), with an intro from Cosimo Marco Scarcelli (University of Padova) and with Manolo Farci (University of Urbino) and Paolo Magaudda (University of Padova) as discussants.

Register here:  https://unipd.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_dUESW2T5TlqrAKGPmiERUw

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intimacy

Join us February 11, 7pm CET, for a Zoom chat on sex and online platforms, under the title “Infrastructures of Intimacy and the Deplatforming of Sex”. Mine is the first talk in INTIMACY series organized collaboratively by Schwules Museum, Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung (ZfL), and ICI Berlin — with Jean-Luc Nancy and Tim Dean coming up in March and April. For registration go to the ICI Berlin website: https://www.ici-berlin.org/events/susanna-paasonen/

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mediating presents

cover_issue_7_en_USMediating Presents, a special issue I coedited with the fantastic Rebecca Coleman, is just out with Media Theory (on open access). As we suggest in our summary, “it is both productive and necessary to think together ‘the present’ and mediation to understand how various interlocking aspects of socio-cultural life are currently produced, organised and arranged, embodied and affectively experienced. The contributions to the special issue see time not as a neutral backdrop to, but as actively constituted by and constitutive of, (digital) media, and develop broad understandings of both media and the temporality of the present/present temporalities. The special issue develops theoretically informed and engaged understandings of digital media presents, drawing from and expanding a range of theoretical traditions, including feminist, queer and anti-racist theory, science and technology studies, media theory, philosophy and cultural theory. They similarly take seriously an array of objects, practices and processes, extending from public and academic debates and figurations, mundane and routinised activities, the affordances of specific platforms and computational and data-driven software.”

Contributors include Xin Liu, Beckie Coleman, Ella Harris, Chris Ingraham, Nishat Awan, Helen Pritchard, Jara Rocha, Femke Snelting and Tony D. Sampson – plus yours truly with Distracted Present, Golden Past? critically examining zeitgeist diagnoses equating networked media with notions of loss.

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nipples, memes, and algorithmic failure

Our “Nipples, memes, and algorithmic failure: NSFW critique of Tumblr censorship” is just out on open access with New Media & Society. Elena Pilipets is very much the first author with her methods magic.

And here’s the abstract: In November 2018, after being suspended from Apple’s App Store for hosting child pornography, Tumblr announced its decision to ban all NSFW (not safe/suitable for work) content with the aid of machine-learning classification. The decision to opt for strict terms of use governing nudity and sexual depiction was as fast as it was drastic, leading to the quick erasure of subcultural networks developed over a decade. This article maps out platform critiques of and on Tumblr through a combination of visual and digital methods. By analyzing 7306 posts made between November 2018 (when Tumblr announced its new content policy) and August 2019 (when Verizon sold Tumblr to Automattic), we explore the key stakes and forms of user resistance to Tumblr “porn ban” and the affective capacities of user-generated content to mobilize engagement.

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dependent, distracted, bored

screenshot-2020-12-05-at-15.37.49My book a decade in the making is out in April with MIT Press, which makes me very happy. This is a project I started when Carnal Resonance was out in 2011 and I felt I had little more to say about porn or sex. And then I did and wrote other stuff instead. Anyway. Despite the name, Dependent, Distracted, Bored: Affective Formations in Networked Media is about ambiguity and has the best cover. And here’s the publisher’s summary:

In this book, Susanna Paasonen takes on a dominant narrative repeated in journalistic and academic accounts for more than a decade: that we are addicted to devices, apps, and sites designed to distract us, that drive us to boredom, with detrimental effect on our capacities to focus, relate, remember, and be. Paasonen argues instead that network connectivity is a matter of infrastructure and necessary for the operations of the everyday. Dependencies on it do not equal addiction but speak to the networks within which our agency can take shape.

Paasonen explores three affective formations—dependence, distraction, and attention—as key to understanding both the landscape of contemporary networked media and the concerns connected to it. Examining social media platforms, mindfulness apps, clickbaits, self-help resources, research reports, journalistic accounts, academic assessments, and student accounts of momentary mundane technological failure, she finds that the overarching narrative of addicted, distracted, and bored users simply does not account for the multiplicity of things at play. Frustration and pleasure, dependence and sense of possibility, distraction and attention, boredom, interest, and excitement enmesh, oscillate, enable, and depend on one another. Paasonen refutes the idea that authenticity can be associated with lives led “off the grid” and rejects the generational othering and scapegoating of smart devices prescribed by conventional wisdom.

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Filed under academic pleasures, affect theory, feminist media studies, internet research, Uncategorized

who’s laughing now?

My book with Jenny Sundén, Who’s Laughing Now: Feminist Tactics in Social Media, is out in *two days* with MIT Press. This has been a joyous project and I hope some of that is mediated in the text itself. And here’s the publisher’s description:

Feminist social media tactics that use humor as a form of resistance to misogyny, rewiring the dynamics of shame, shaming, and shamelessness.

Online sexism, hate, and harassment aim to silence women through shaming and fear. In Who’s Laughing Now? Jenny Sundén and Susanna Paasonen examine a somewhat counterintuitive form of resistance: humor. Sundén and Paasonen argue that feminist social media tactics that use humor, laughter, and a sense of the absurd to answer name-calling, offensive language, and unsolicited dick pics can rewire the affective circuits of sexual shame and acts of shaming.

Using laughter as both a theme and a methodological tool, Sundén and Paasonen explore examples of the subversive deployment of humor that range from @assholesonline to the Tumblr “Congrats, you have an all-male panel!” They consider the distribution and redistribution of shame, discuss Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, and describe tactical retweeting and commenting (as practiced by Stormy Daniels, among others). They explore the appropriation of terms meant to hurt and insult—for example, self-proclaimed Finnish “tolerance whores”—and what effect this rerouting of labels may have. They are interested not in lulz (amusement at another’s expense)—not in what laughter pins down, limits, or suppresses but rather in what grows with and in it. The contagiousness of laughter drives the emergence of networked forms of feminism, bringing people together (although it may also create rifts). Sundén and Paasonen break new ground in exploring the intersection of networked feminism, humor, and affect, arguing for the political necessity of inappropriate laughter.

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