Currently, billions are being invested in the development of ‘the metaverse’ by companies that benefit from a fully digital future. But while the metaverse seems to be on everyone’s lips, it’s not here yet. Is a single unified place called ‘the metaverse’ even possible? And what will be the ecological and material impact of using so much raw computing power to keep a parallel digital world endlessly online? In this dossier, unfolding over the two months, we’ll be sharing our foray into the metaverse and its many facets and tangents. We started with Margarita Osipian’s interview with Marina Otero Verzier about the metaverse’s potential to radically change our data storage infrastructures, followed by an interview with Babusi Nyoni about building a decentralised African metaverse. In the next weeks we’ll be sharing an essay questioning who asked for the metaverse, a glossary unpacking all the metaverse-esque terminology in our digital vocabulary, and much more.
Over the past years the ways you can make money as a creator on social media have grown and broadened considerably. Not only the creators themselves, but plenty of other parties are involved in these financial systems that have emerged around online content. In this dossier we explore the creator economy by looking at different actors in it. Eva van Boxtel looks back at her short film documenting one of Europe’s fist selfie museums. Sjef van Beers interviews the Dutch Media Authority about the recently updated Media Act, and goes behind the scenes of the Dutch influencer world with Cesar Majorana. Jak Ritger constructed a series of different models that define the economy of digital culture. And Guus Hoeberechts describes the preparation and outcome of an online workshop on the branded Instagram posts of Kim Kardashian.
As privileged heavy internet users in the Global North we Zoom through the day and Netflix and chill at night. We always want more pixels and a higher resolution, while a lighter internet—by that we mean less data, low resolution or low tech —is not only better for the environment, it also reduces the digital divide. In this dossier we discover the possibilities and importance of a lighter internet. Saratu Abiola researches if the blockchain can make the internet more inclusive. Guus Hoeberechts speaks with Innocent Ekejiuba and Ingrid Kopp about how to design for a lighter internet. Lilian Stolk interviews Andres Colmenares about the interconnection between the environmental emergency and social injustice. And Margarita Osipian interviewed eight contributors to the Small File Media Festival who show the beauty and potential in low resolutions and tiny media.
The pandemic opened up opportunities for Big Tech to further infiltrate into all spheres of life—education, transportation, socialising, health. Early on in the pandemic, Naomi Klein introduced the concept of the ‘Screen New Deal’ (a pandemic shock doctrine), arguing that these companies were trying to sell us a no-touch, pandemic-proof, technologically integrated future. In this online dossier we look back and reflect on the pandemic and how it accelerated our entanglement with, and deep reliance on, Big Tech. Guus Hoeberechts examines our online behaviours and asks us to rethink the ways in which we interact on social media. For our image contribution, researchers Giselinde Kuipers and Mark Boukes trace the global humour cycle of the pandemic through memes. And Guus Hoeberechts interviews researcher Marjolein Lanzing about her thoughts on contact tracing technologies, privacy, and the domination of Big Tech.
Fan communities are getting more and more powerful both on- and offline. Fans, or stans, are raising money for good causes like Black Lives Matter, and sabotaged Trump’s Tulsa rally during the 2020 presidential campaign. Such bottom-up actions can be refreshing on an internet dominated by a number of Big Tech companies. But stans also have a frightening side. In this online dossier we look at how fans organise online. Artist and guest programmer Sjef van Beers introduces stan culture. We did video interviews with a Rihanna, BTS and ex-Miley Cyrus stan. Christina Eugenia Puentes illustrates the workings of a fan. Guus Hoeberechts talks to Oumaima about her life in the BTS community. And Lilian Stolk interviews David Turner on how stans influence the music industry.
How do you create an interesting experience for both physical and virtual visitors? This is a very complicated question that many event organisers struggle with, but that also opens up many possibilities. With The Hmm we’ve been exploring the best approach for online events during the pandemic, and we will continue to actively experiment during our upcoming hybrid events. In this growing online dossier, we’ll take you along our research paths. You can learn together with us by reading about our experiments with and research on online events, as well as keep track of the hybrid events we have done so far. We’re organising sessions with other cultural organisations to share experiences in organising online and hybrid events. Read the report of the first session and the second session. Lilian Stolk interviewed researcher Esther Hammelburg about the core is of a live experience. And in the coming months, we will continue to expand this online dossier with the results of our experiments.
Most of the digital infrastructures around the world are still controlled and governed by Western companies. What are the causes and consequences of that? In this dossier we explore how algorithmic colonialism operates today and what strategies we can use to resist its extractive tendencies. Lilian Stolk asks people from different places around the world, from Russia to Zimbabwe to China, to give us insights into the internet from their perspective. Margarita Osipian interviews Neema Iyer, founder of technology consulting and development firm Pollicy about how to improve data governance across African countries. Multimedia artist Ibiye Camp takes us into the glitches of her imperfect digital world. We gather initiatives in African countries that are pushing back against algorithmic colonialism. And we share ‘must listen’ podcasts that we discovered while researching this dossier.
Our internet is broken. Our digital public squares are now organised and determined by a handful of Big Tech companies. As a response, more and more initiatives towards an open and decentralised internet are emerging. In this dossier we explore whether alternative platforms can fix the internet. Lilian Stolk visits the virtual office of Andrew Lin, one of the founders of the community based platform ohyay. Margarita Osipian interviews Soyun Park, who often hacks Big Tech tools and platforms for her creative projects, and also made our image contribution. Florian van Zandwijk showed us around in Enter. Jan Hein Hoogstad shares 10 thoughts about the future of the internet. How does the decentralised social network Mastodon work? And check out these users who are already reclaiming their power.
TikTok is the fastest growing social media network ever. TikTok is the app for making and sharing short videos. Only three years after its launch outside China, the platform has become a serious competitor of American Big Tech companies such as Facebook and YouTube. In this dossier we’re finding out how TikTok is re-writing the world. Josephine Oettle shares her research on the role of TikTok during the 2020 U.S. elections. Lilian Stolk takes a long gaze into TikTok’s magical algorithm. Sjef van Beers maps the interconnected world of TikTok through video collages. And Hamster-TikToker Marieke Kuypers shares her 10 favourite TikTok-niches, next to hamsters, of course.
With almost 1.82 billion daily active users and increasing critique from users and governments around the world, Facebook is the platform we love to hate. In this dossier we’ll start to untangle the inner workings of Facebook to get a better grasp on its power. Lilian Stolk interviews internet policy consultant Joe McNamee on Facebook’s motives for their content moderation. Margarita Osipian interviews Joel Galvez who is creating distributed event calendars. We’ve invited Kate Imbach to do a visual analysis of Mark Zuckerberg’s instagram account. Take a look on the bright side—Lilian and Margarita report on the potential of Facebook’s platforms.
The days of walking the streets anonymously are over. Chances are that our faces are being tracked while doing groceries, often without us knowing. In this dossier, we explore what the increase in the use of facial recognition systems means for our society. Lilian Stolk wonders to what extent AR filters will protect our face against facial recognition technology. Margarita Osipian asks Controle Alt Delete about the role this technology plays in the hands of the Dutch police. Designer Noam Youngrak Son reflects on how AR filters can be used to create a multiplicious identity. Multidisciplinary researcher Emily West highlights the potential of facial recognition technology in patients with dementia. Still want to protect your face? We conclude with an overview of creative ways to block the technology.
While deepfakes are often seen as a threat to our political systems, 96% of all existing deepfakes online are actually porn. In this online dossier, we’ll dive into the world of deepfakes with a feminist perspective on deepfake porn; a tracing of the historical entanglements between porn and technology; a speculative visual exploration on deepfakes in our near-future; our favourite deepfake videos, must-read articles and podcasts; and all the tools you need to detect the latest deepfake. Also, what did we learn during our event The Hmm ON deepfakes?
In this dossier we’re exploring how the role of the internet has changed in this time of self-isolation. It includes a privacy expert’s view on how the coronavirus could raise surveillance, a reflection of the changed working life for artists and cultural workers, our research to platforms for online cultural events, a collection of quarantine must-haves from AliExpress, memes sent by parents, must see TikToks and a Corona Cribs quiz!
Until 2020, we organized 5-minute events to signal new developments in the internet culture field, and we used online editorial content to dive deeper into important developments. We daily scroll through a lot of images. Monthly image editors have selected a number of must see images from this visual overload throughout 2018 and 2019. In 2019, we’ve invited 7 writers to elaborate on urgent topics via commissioned essays. The topics range from the impact of the new copyright law for artists to the explosive growth of TikTok. All the editorial content that we published before 2020 is collected in this archive dossier.