Friday Reads: “Luddite Love” by Claire L. Evans and “On Digital Dualism” by Erin Stark

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Readers and followers of this blog know that I started my first MOOC this week (“E-Learning and Digital Cultures“). This MOOC explores issues related to being human in digital spaces. Because this is on my mind right now, I was happy to find two articles that relate to many of the ideas explored by me and my classmates enrolled in this MOOC. (By the way, follow #edcmooc on twitter to see our conversations.)

First, this excellent article about love and relationships online: “Luddite Love” by Claire L. Evans. The article explores the “Neo-Luddite” movement and how many people want to go offline to escape the pull of the internet. But, Evans points out how interconnected we are today:

Today’s relationships are distributed, not just in the minds of people but across the network. A sufficiently talented hacker could gather fragments of data from all over the internet and reconstitute a relationship from its shrapnel. Every click leaves a trace: our online shopping records, our air travel itineraries, the books and articles we read on recommendation, the frequency with which we visit other people‘s web spaces, the endless ‘likes’, the comments, emails, retweets, the ideas we absorb from those we love and disseminate outwards. Real love is transformative: it changes our social patterns. We might find ourselves delving into subjects we weren’t previously interested in, acknowledging the view from elsewhere, connecting with a new network of people. These are all quantifiable indices, easy to monitor through the public third space of the web.

Erin Stark digs deeper in her article “On Digital Dualism” by shattering the myth of technological dualism, or the idea that your online life is separate from your real life. Stark mentions Nathan Jurgenson and his work trying to dispel what he calls the “IRL Fetish” (that’s also an excellent article, by the way). Stark writes:

For most of us in the field of Internet research, online space stopped being perceived as a virtual Other a long time ago. For me, it began with the move toward an increasingly social web. Once upon a time (in a land far away), people would go online and construct alternate identities for themselves. They weren’t necessarily fake, digital representations of the self, but they weren’t quite the same as the everyday offline self, either. It was not always the norm to use our real names and post photos of ourselves on publicly accessible profile pages, nor was it the norm to connect online (via social network ‘friendships’) with people we knew offline.

With both Evans’s and Stark’s articles in mind, I wonder if it’s time to stop thinking about virtual/digital spaces as separate from analog/physical spaces? Already, our “offline” worlds mix with our “online” worlds through social media and other ways of interacting.

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I also shared several articles on Twitter throughout the week. Here are my top favorites:

The Trouble with Social News by Aldo Cortesi, @cortesi

You Don’t Own Your Books (This Is Already Happening) by Nate Hoffelder, @thdigitalreader

Wilde Ride: Oscar Wilde’s American Tour by Anthony Paletta via @thedailybeast

Admiring (But not idolizing) Lance Armstrong by Nathan Pensky via @bygonebureau

“Things will be different when…” by Kristan Hoffman, @kristanhoffman

I’d love to hear from you about your own Friday Reads. What articles have you filled up you Kindles and tablets with this week? Follow me on Twitter to share your own favorite longform reading for the week.

Kevin Eagan (@KevEagan) is a freelance editor and writer living in Central Florida. He edits book manuscripts and articles for local and national publications. Critical Margins is his place to share his interests. You can also check out his professional website, KevinThomasEagan.com.