Virtual Citizenship, Part VI: Wendy Chun, Discussion

Vernor Vinge: Was this regarded as acceptable?
Wendy Chun: There was a response both of horror and relief. Some of these relationships became engaged productively as a way of negotiating tension.

Bill Warters: How should we understand paranoia. I’ve always thought it odd that people think that they’re always being watched but that you may be being watched when you least want to.
Wendy Chun: I meant it in terms of the kinds of relationship necessary for dealing with technology (discussed by David Dill). What is intriguing about the internet or the notion of memory as storage is the notion that any time you can be caught for activities committed in the past. But it also produces this incredible mass of information that you would have to look through to catch somebody.

Richard Grusin, Wayne State University: Your presentation has one main actor which is technology. What would it be like with other actors, other spaces, such as shopping malls, which are not truly public but also not truly private. How do you see the technological narrative related to other narratives.
Wendy Chun: One of the early Supreme Court decisions likened it to a combination between a library and a shopping mall. If you take seriously the idea of the internet as the enduring ephemeral, it endures because somebody makes a decision to make it endure.

Sid Smith, University of Michigan: One way of viewing surveillance is to perform for it. Is that part of the dynamic of paranoia and exposure? How is that related to celebrity culture and the “democratization of celebrity.”
Wendy Chun: Talking to web-cam-girls there was a notion that we are always under surveillance but at least this way we have control. There was also a notion of “who cares.”

Audience member: You said that newspapers help to create an imaginary archive, which is also related to stablilization of language. Doesn’t the reactivization of memory create a space for us to renarrate. As regular citizens go, isn’t it useful for us to be able to renarrate and reactivation.
Wendy Chun: This does allow us to rethink in interesting ways what we think. I have found it odd that librarians have embraced digitization as a way of storing, not thinking about obsolete technology problems, compatibility. Furthermore it is not that we do not have access to text but that there is no single text but multiple texts, none of which is definitive.

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