Response to “Does the Whatever Speak?” by Alexander R. Galloway
Galloway’s take on “whatever” was a pretty interesting read. It definitely brought up complex arguments that really challenges you to think. The chapter itself covered a lot of grounds, but basically Galloway digs into the concept that there is a virtual presence as a body within digital identity. There was a part in the chapter where he says “a body is always “cybertyped” — that is to say, it is always tagged with a certain set of affective identity markers.” (pg. 121) So for example when someone logs into Facebook, Instagram or onto their game account, they become a digital Identity. I agree with Galloway on this. I feel that a lot of my social media accounts are identity markers and embody certain characteristics that are of value to me. It started off as a platform to present projects I’ve done, but it became much more than that. It showed pieces of me-illustrating my success and progressions I’ve made in life. It also embodies characteristics that have meaning to my culture and the society in which we exist in. This identity marker can also be a problem. Galloway advocates that “A body speaks whether it wants to or not. ” The virtual aspect is free from physical form, yet we as people tend to create metaphorical concepts in order to define virtual spaces.
Although virtual space lacks physical presence, it is still coated with injustice. Going further into the reading, Galloway mentions various online games. He examines games such as World of War Craft and how it often racially types their avatars with stereotypes that can be quite offensive to certain people. This ultimately contributes a “system of predication.” Where digital identities are defined and put into categories based on race, gender, etc.
I feel that Galloway provided a very interesting take on cybertyping as well as a solid argument on “does the whatever speak?” I like the example he gives in data mining, where blogging, shopping and emailing were brought up. Every click that is made can be data mined and the information users give can be used or sold which is essentially our unpaid micro labor. We are all “cybertyped.” Through data mining, any company out there can place all user into categories and shape our online experience with their website. Take our teacher for example. She googled image “snow boots” but was given various images of cats. Now, that could’ve very well been a typo error as she did leave out the letter “s” in snow boots, however cyber typing is still prevalent. I do a lot of research on UI/UX and graphic deigning online. I have even “liked” certain graphic designers Facebook page. Data miners collected this information about me and now I get a lot of ads about designing. This is great for me, but I can still see the problem in this as well. My co-worker is 50 and asked to use my laptop. She put her age on a website and now I am receiving vast emails on wrinkle vanishing creams and “how to hide your wrinkles” tutorials on YouTube. I feel this would be very offensive to her as she is now placed into a category that needs to feel young thanks to data mining.