Performing the Internet: Post-Internet Folklore

Performing the Internet: Post-Internet Folklore

Nancy Mauro-Flude
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7195-7.ch010
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This chapter imagines alternative possibilities for digital humanities scholarship. Beyond technological pragmatism, the inquiry instead points to a richer engagement with digital infrastructure that can occur through the application of software literacy and expanded cultural practices derived from speculative traditions of thinking and feminist internet criticism. New methodologies are introduced, providing experimental models of engagement that allow for distinctive forms of performative and the development of dynamic and diverse knowledge.
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Over the past decade, miniature computing devices with wireless antennae able to connect seamlessly to user-friendly digital platforms have entered the everyday lives of many Internet users. Once an elite, privileged or expensive form of information access, ubiquitous computing the availability of the Internet almost anywhere and anytime and being online, have both become mundane experiences for an increasingly large percentage of Singapore’s population (and beyond). Similarly, the Internet has arguably become a site for archiving traditional cultural practices as well as the production and emergence of new ones. Likewise, knowledge production around software studies and digital humanities is always already emerging, continuously being formulated and negotiated; depending on the practitioners’ level of engagement the developments in technology. As disciplinary backgrounds affect what scholars bring to, and how they outline the field, these boundaries are fluid. Therefore, this chapter is couched in a methodology that defines how experiential digital literacy endeavors and experimental pedagogy validate radical diversity, and as a result, offers a thoroughly different communication premise. Through highlighting the importance of digital literacy among scholars in the new form of humanities and arts (programming and computing competencies) it argues that we should look beyond an instrumental approach to technological engagement, advocating for a feminist approach that challenges the official mode of knowledge production and dissemination over the Internet sanctioned by state and commercial interests. Addressing the computer as a processual medium where wired terrestrial and wireless extra-terrestrial communication takes place, one can imagine other transnational possibilities for twenty-first-century arts and humanities theories and practices. Willard McCarthy urges us to “turn for help to the arts because like digital humanities they are experimental and materially innovative” (McCarthy, 2014). As long as it does not matter, art is tolerated to be as radical as it wants. There are other performative ways to participate with other modalities of being, more-than-human life forms and systems and networks which allow people to intersect and form tangential assemblages with those of whom are both corporeally distant and local (Mauro-Flude, 2018). Beyond technological pragmatism, the inquiry instead points to a more comprehensive engagement with technology and hence shapes digital humanities that can occur through the application of cultural practices from insightful traditions and subcultures that embrace feminist critical theory, experiential pedagogy in digital literacy and post digital culture.

Figure 1.

Towards a Feminist Internet. (©2013, Nancy Mauro-Flude. Used with permission.)


When applied to the field of digital humanities, feminist critical theory addresses current technopolitics. “Is the 4th Wave of feminism is Digital?” asks Ragna Rök Jóns (2013) who further conjectures, that if it is so, it “would have to be in part discursive and would require a restructuring of legal, institutional, educational, economic, social, religious, geographical, corporeal and cultural barriers…”. Fourth wave feminism has a particular history of chewing on the cables and fibers of control and domination, nodding to Angela Davis (2015) who reminds us that “radical simply means grasping things at the root”. Therefore, it is proposed that one must refer to the (many) beginnings of culture when the notion of matriarchy was prominent and was said to be subsumed by patriarchy by the division of art, crafts, technologies and ritual.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Live Coding: A contemporary computer-based artform that manifests as performances that include “on the fly” programming. Live coding focuses on algorithmic execution while exploring the meaning of interactivity and the relationship between the performer and emerging technologies. It questions the nature of real-time performance and the contexts that surround it.

Server: A computer program that provides services to users and other computer programs in the form of local or remote computers. A computer via which a program runs is also referred to as a server. A server is also a program that processes requests from client programs. A web server is a computer program that serves HTML requests from a web client – for instance, a web browser (Firefox, Chrome) is a client that requests HTML files from web servers.

Code: A code is a set of rules that allow an initiated user to convert one type of information to another. There are many conflations in how the word code is used even though the contexts may be completely different; equivalence is frequently made between heuristics, algorithms, programming, and language. There are various technical terms for code instances that relate to their functionality in a utilitarian sense, for instance, source codes, dictionaries, and grammar. Every computer language has a defined grammar, which is interpreted by a compiler. The compiler digests semantic content and produces byte code, which the computer can execute. Sometimes an artwork carries with it a set of semiotics so obscure and hermetic that unless you actually understand the code involved, the meaning may be hidden from you. All societies are replete with social transactions and codes of conduct; such codes must be learned by the individual wishing to function fully within that society. Often in social or political settings, the elusiveness of “the code” is the intention.

Maker Culture: The growth of the maker movement and do it yourself (DIY) enthusiasm has developed exponentially since the first Maker Faire (2005) AU92: The in-text citation "Maker Faire (2005)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. in San Francisco. Maker culture reflects a popular cultural surge in hack space and hacker orientated activities, extending its reach into the fields of design and fashion.

Modding: Domestic items or computational parts are reimagined as elements of visual richness that convey a symbolism. Hardware elements are aestheticized.

Black Box: An apparatus, device, system, or object which can be viewed or obscured in terms of its function in regard to input, output, and transfer characteristics.

Apparatus: An assemblage of modular equipment needed to work together to function. Although not perceived to be synonymous, the word can imply an understanding of the complexity of the organs of a structure or system, such as the body, or machine.

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