is that of the user the best paradigm to understand online activity at large?

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what other paradigms of online activity are there? do human agents behave more as admins or moderators than users?

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to be clear: the admin is technically another type of user, but you get what i mean

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wikipedia: "Users of computer systems and software products generally lack the technical expertise required to fully understand how they work."

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Let's put it like this, using a thought experiment. The offline world suddenly disappears: no cities, no buildings, no bodies, no objects. Human agents are only able to interact through and within current digital interfaces. How human activity would differ? How our understanding of current online activities would differ?

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is world-building, understood as building a durable interface with the totality of the real, still possible online?

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again, following Arendt, one could say that a website is a work/object, while a platform is a machine

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While acting for her means breaking the "fateful automation of sheer happening". Sounds familiar?

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Reminded now that in his reflections on the "automatic society" Stiegler describes a shift from the everyday life to the administered life. Might be the 'Vita Administrativa' (both administering and being administering) the crucial sphere of activity missing in Arendt's model of human practical capacities?

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the user uses, the agent acts

· · Web · 3 · 2 · 2

if I were to point out a fundamental paradigm shift of user behavior in terms of interaction with an interface, due to the advent of the corporate web, I'd say that the user was reconfigured as a scroller, and therefore as passive consumer because the interaction is purely mechanical and only accidentally performed manually.

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the paradox seems to be that web 2.0 which was supposed to bring MORE interactivity, eventually reduced it

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ok, I put some of these notes quickly together on the blog. Main idea: proletarisation of user interaction. Comments welcome!

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apropos, Simondon argues that the machine replaces the tool-equipped individual (the worker)

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i guess the fundamental question is: can we really consider the web a metamedium?

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forgot about Striphas notion of "controlled consumption", which is quite related to the user condition I'd say (source is my thesis)

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and now I'm in the rabbit hole of understanding the evolution of AJAX and XMLHttpRequest. Is it true that the "killer app" for the technology was Gmail?

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ok, so here's my tentative chronology of XMLHttpRequest/ AJAX:

2000: Microsoft comes up with XMLHttpRequest (the cornerstone of AJAX) and implements it in Outlook Mail:

2002: uses JavaScript to mimic a desktop mail application, using AJAX methodologies:

2004: Google borrows several ideas from Oddpost to create Gmail:

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Apparently at the time there was some discomfort with the idea of turning webpages into apps. Where can I find more about this?

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this might have been the historical bifurcation moment: "There were two implementations [of Outlook Web Access] that got started, one based on serving up straight web pages as efficiently as possible with straight HTML, and another one that started playing with the cool user interface you could build with DHTML."

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Paul Graham in 2005: "Near my house there is a car with a bumper sticker that reads "death before inconvenience." Most people, most of the time, will take whatever choice requires least work. If Web-based software wins, it will be because it's more convenient. And it looks as if it will be, for users and developers both."

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atm "The User Condition" magnum opus (which obviously will never see the light) has the following chapters:

- User/Agent
- Multidimensional Agencies
- Hyperlinearity
- Interface Proletarization
- Vita Administrativa

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subchapter title: Infinite Scroll and the Paginated Mind

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ok, I tried to put together a tentative chronology of this idea of Interface Industrialization, connecting the emergence of web apps, the invention of the infinite scroll, the appearance of syndication and aggregation, the introduction of smartphones and thus the swipe gesture. Spoiler: it ends with a US Senator wanting to ban infinite scroll

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@entreprecariat There is a paragraph in “The Human Condition“ in which Arendt writes that familiarity with the world arises from the use of things. As we use them, we become used and accustomed. It’s the chapter on labor, I think. Might be an approach to think about the term “user“.

@jine Yes, indeed! I think it's in the chapter devoted to "work". Actually that book is the main inspiration for this thread, which is also a small research project entitled "The User Condition". Some messy notes about it here:

@entreprecariat Oh, great! And thanks for the thread. I find it very interesting to see how users of the Internet have understood themselves over the last twenty years or so and how they were and are addressed. The ‘netizens’ would be just one example. Do I consider myself as a user while writing a toot over here?

@jine Thank you for contributing to it! Another example is Don Norman crusade against the word 'user'

@entreprecariat @jine Norman is a good reference. I always found this line of argument (and frankly most of his rhetoric) silly and conformist. If facebook "users" are "people" does that mean that non-users are not people? If I'm asleep and not actively "using" facebook am I still a person? Are designers so stupid or cynical that they forget that the end-users are human? Do carpenters feel unfairly stereotyped as drug addicts when someone points out that they "use" hammers, saws and drills?

@entreprecariat @jine I still sometimes come back to this really nice paper¹ from Christine Satchell and Paul Dourish where they argue that the reasons and practices of not using technology can be at least as interesting and revealing as studying use.


@KnowPresent @jine fully agree. I posted the Norman "hot take" for context. I appreciate the effort to go beyond use, but this idea of people, is a useless dilution and generalization. In other words, it feels like marketing :)

OCR Output (chars: 1169) 

say that the processes of digitalization (the secondary, non-intrinsic effects of digitization) are
crucial. In order to describe the current state of publishing ecosystems, Andersen and Pold
refer to Ted Striphas’ (2011, 180-182) notion of “controlled consumption,” which is in turn
borrowed by Henry Lefebvre. In a society of controlled consumption, control is characterized
by four aspects:

1. A big industrial infrastructure equipped with cybernetic systems — “directive and regulatory ap-
paratuses” (Striphas 2011, 181) — able to manage production, distribution, exchange, and con-

2. Programming logics that, contrary to advertising, closely monitor the behaviors of consumers in
order to minimize — or even eliminate — freedom of choice. Programming is actuated both in the
digital context and in the physical one through, for instance, DRM or GPS tracking;

3. Controlled obsolescence that, unlike planned obsolescence, guarantees obsolescence by program-
ming it into the product and making it therefore limited in functionality and durability;

4. A reorganization and troubling of specific practices of everyday life.

@entreprecariat Back in 2007/8 I read it was Google Maps, but I can't be sure about this.

@air_pump thanks for the encouragement! at best, it will consists of some textual debris scattered around the web, like the notes I have on the blog; or i will just go with this giant thread :-)

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@entreprecariat I now remember it. This book was very influential especially for the not-yet-existing "front-end" developer.

@entreprecariat That sounds right. I think some of this is also probably influenced by Jef Raskin's "Humane Interface" and the obsession with interfaces being "modeless". Which kind of makes sense as his son, Aza, claims to have invented the infinite scroll (which he now (proudly) regrets).

@entreprecariat There was some discussion about "browser can not/should not become the universal user interface for everything, it wasn't meant for that". Also do not forget #Flash

@saper Right, Flash! I haven't thought about that…

@entreprecariat But the discussion was well before Flash. Macromedia opened casual user's eyes to what could possibly be done with vector stuff. 1996 is too early, the year I got my Internet Explorer 1.0 T-Shirt; but Berners-Lee compared the development of the Web to the radio and TV and said "you haven't seen anything yet"

@entreprecariat The first place I ever saw it was on Orkut. You could fave a post and it didn't reload the whole page. mindblown.gif

@entreprecariat I’d like to comment on two sentences here:
the user was reconfigured as a “hand” — This is exactly the way users are often presented in manuals. Just an illustration of a hand. There’s a longer tradition of user=hand. Well, users ‘handle‘ things. Scrolling is perhaps a grotesque form of it.

The corporate web […] reinstated hyperlinearity analogous to that of an assembly line. — Love that point! Poor McLuhan, who had so much hopes that electronic media would eliminate the strict linearity and uniformity of the Gutenberg Galaxis.

Hey @jine thanks for the image. Yes, I had in mind an illustration of the user being just an eye with hands, but in fact was just one finger!

Re. hyperlinearity, it's interesting that you mention McLuhan, because I think of how still useful is to compare the corporate web and TV, sometimes even literally (Netflix)!

@entreprecariat @jine and now, for a less conventional but worth discussing user representation:

@entreprecariat How would you relate clicking and scrolling? Eventually, clicking has also often been portrayed as a “poor” gesture of interaction.

@jine do you have any reference about clicking being considered "poor"? I would see it like this: there is click, scroll and infinite scroll. It is true that scroll is more efficient and less consuming than clicking, but it's always aligned with the user's intention. Click is an action, an expression of will, so to speak, while scroll in an infinite scroll setting can become just automatic behavior.

@entreprecariat Thanks for the answer! In the book “Interface Culture” Steven Johnson mentions at one point (Chapter 4) thinkers who argue that clicking on links is missing something (but as part of a general culturally pessimistic view).
I read it in more detail somewhere, as a continuation of an argument of the German philosopher Hans Blumenberg, who wrote something about electricity and pushing buttons, but unfortunately I can’t find it right now.

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