Silvia Dal Dosso is a researcher in Machine Learning and Internet Subcultures and a co-founder of Clusterduck collective. She wrote and directed “The 1 Up Fever” (2013), a mockumentary and transmedia operation about the use of Bitcoin in a phantomatic AR smartphone-based video-game inspired by Super Mario Bros. With Clusterduck she created #MEMEPROPAGANDA, an interactive exhibition build to create active engagement and awareness about the process of memetic propaganda. Her work has been screened as part of public lectures at Cineglobe Film Festival du CERN, Currents New Media Festival, S.a.L.E Dock for Venice Biennale and featured on Canal+, Motherboard, Rhizome and others.
The talk will showcase recent efforts by hacktivists, independent researchers and academic scholars to investigate the proliferation of Meme-related subcultures in the social web, demonstrating how current legal and technical restrictions imposed by Social Media Companies are hindering data collection and analysis for non-commercial purposes, and suggesting ways how these limitations could be overcome. Prominent recent examples of meme-related research will be presented, including the study "From Vaporwave to Penisbearcats: Facebook’s vernacular meme neighbourhoods" by Sal Hagen and Marc Tuters of OILab, realized in collaboration with Carlo de Geatano using the data-extraction tool Netvizz; the widely discussed research by UCL-scholars "On the Origins of Memes by Means of Fringe Web Communities", which involved the use of Neural Network processing algorithms and the creation of datasets of images collected from Twitter, Reddit, 4chan and Gab; as well as the upcoming work by the nonprofit organisation Metamer Lab, affiliated with the independent meme research group “The Philosopher's Meme”, scheduled for publication in August, which will feature an in-depth mapping of groups, chats, Meme research forums and Internet subcultures, performed by means of extensive horizontal online networks.
It must be stressed that all these activities are currently conducted at the limits of legality, due to the restrictions implemented by Facebook and other platforms on tools such as Netvizz, following privacy regulations implemented by these companies. While we think that user privacy is crucial and should be protected, we believe that the data held by Facebook and other companies should be rendered accessible in anonymized form for research purposes. The talk will argue that these data represent an enormous cultural as well as economic value, which should be collectivized and not extracted for commercial purposes.
The talk will be presented by Clusterduck, a research and art collective studying the formation and development of online subcultural clusters. Digital subcultures are being generated on the social web with extreme speed and in increasing numbers. Over the course of a year, Clusterduck has come to build a large network of digital creators, engaging on research chats, groups and initiatives launched by the collective. Among the latest projects is the online exhibition #MEMEPROPAGANDA, hosted by greencube.gallery. The group has also participated in last edition of The Wrong Digital Biennale, curating the Internet Fame pavilion, and will be a board member of the next edition. It’s upcoming projects include a cooperation with the nonprofit organisation Metamer Lab, affiliated with the independent meme research group “The Philosopher's Meme”, which will be featured in the talk.