Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

Firenze

For March, I’m very happy to be visiting prof at University of Florence, Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche e Sociali. Should you be around, we have a NSFW workshop planned for the 20th, which can only be grand. Bienvenuti!

edit: Yes, I was very happy, but for obvious reasons things got cut short. We’re still hoping to arrange a workshop at another point.

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Erkki Kurenniemi in 2048, or March 4, 2016

Writi9780262029582ng and Unwriting (Media) Art History: Erkki Kurenniemi in 2048, edited by Joasia Krysia and Jussi Parikka, came out from MIT Press’ Leonardo series late last year. The book explores the work (and some of the life) of Erkki Kurenniemi, composer of electronic music, experimental filmmaker, computer animator, roboticist, inventor, futurologist and porn aficionado. There have been book launches in Montreal and London and, on March 4, it’ll be Helsinki and Kiasma. Wish I could make it myself.

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Examining a PhD dissertation in Finland: observations and tips

As my PhD examination spree for the spring is coming to a close, here are some observations and tips for those acting as opponents in Finnish doctoral defences in the humanities and social sciences.

1. When explaining the local specificities to opponents from other countries, I have compared the role of the opponent to the role of professional dancers in Dancing with the Stars: the opponent is the professional researcher who needs to come up with a choreography that makes it possible for the candidate – who is not yet quite professional – to show off her skills. This fails if the choreography is too easy but also if it’s too difficult. However, it’s crucial for there to be an element of challenge. It’s up to the opponent to ensure that this will be a good show. Choreography needs to match the skills of the candidate, as presented in the dissertation, and it’s performed together.

2. The examination is a public event with an audience, dress code and ceremonial lines to be delivered. It’s more formal than in most places. Not all members of the audience have read the work and not all of them work within the academia. Take the audience into consideration when formulating the opening statement (that can be descriptive) as well as when formulating your questions and discussing the work. Especially with questions of the more conceptual and theoretical nature, it’s good to explain where they’re coming from and why they’re being addressed. This helps the audience as well as the candidate.

3. Try to make the candidate speak more than you. Do not answer the questions for the candidate if she hesitates, and give her time to think before answering. You can always rephrase the question or present a follow-up question if the candidate finds your points hard to address.

4. The point of the examination is not to butcher the candidate – she is after all the star of the dance –  but to discuss the work in order to evaluate how successful it is and what its merits are. Since candidates by default find the situation stressful, and since the opponent is called an opponent, questions may be interpreted as attacks even if their point is to discuss the decisions made.  If possible, help the candidate relax and adjust your questions according to situation. Ideally, the defence provides a good debate.

Finally, select tips for the candidate:

  • Read the evaluation criteria beforehand. This will give you a good idea as to what themes may be addressed. Be prepared to start with the title of the thesis and the central concepts it entails.
  • If feeling nervous, write down the key points of your dissertation in order to recap them at some point during the examination.
  • Avoid overt defensiveness. Do not dismiss any of the examiner’s questions. This easily comes across as arrogance, and is not desirable. Be open to discussion and debate.
  • The examiner is an expert in the field but you know more about the research project discussed. Consider the defence as a possibility to discuss your work with a senior academic who has thoughtfully read it. For better or for worse, it’s unlikely that such an opportunity will repeat itself in the near future so take advantage. It’s your moment to shine.

And this is how formal it gets: http://www.utu.fi/en/research/dissertations/guidelines-for-the-doctoral-candidate/Pages/procedure-and-dress-code.aspx.

 

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Erkki Kurenniemi – A man from the future

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The anthology Erkki Kurenniemi: A man from the future, edited by Maritta Mellais is available online, with articles by Kai Lassfolk, Mikko Ojanen, Jussi Parikka, Jyrki Siukonen, Jari Suominen and yours truly: click here for my “Slimy Traces: Memory, Technology and the Archive.”

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April 8, 2014 · 11:15 am