Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Internet Illusion

“Reload: Liveness, Mobility, and the Web” by Tara McPherson really expanded my thoughts about the Internet and how it interacts with the user/uses the user. I started thinking about personalization and customization of the Internet during Monday’s class when Professor Chun showed us her Amazon page. It said things like “New For You” and “Coming Soon For You.” I thought that this way of showing products sounded way too personal and it made it seem as if Amazon was making these products specifically for the user and adding the user into the Amazon family. By integrating the user into the website/business, a company gives the impression that they care for their users when, in reality, we are just numbers in a database with our credit card numbers and other information attached.

McPherson goes on to elaborate about the illusion of the Internet when talking about web surfing. She gets “immediate gratification” (p. 3) when she participates in an MSNBC live-vote with the “promise that…[she] can impact the news in an instant” (p. 3.) This tricks the user into interacting more with the site, giving the user what he/she wants, but also the company. People often forget that the Internet is just an illusion. You have the illusion of shopping when you are on Amazon, the illusion of being, say, a robot unicorn, when playing Robot Unicorn Attack on (I recommend it, it’s a fun game, here) and McPherson reminds us that the Internet’s “‘breaking news’…is no more instant than the news…watch[ed] at 6:00 p.m.” (p. 4;) however, it is the illusion that we are dealing with something that we have power over that makes the Internet so appealing. To back up this point, McPherson also reminds us that when we use Google, or any other search engine, we have the illusion that we are surfing the entire Internet, and that there are limitless opportunities to find what we are searching for; however, this is not the case, as we’re really just moving “through fairly limited databases” (p. 8.)

These are just a few of the things that McPherson talks about in which I am interested. Aside from more examples of the personalization/customization of things on the internet, she also talks about many other things which illustrate the illusion of the internet and how it’s changed media, so I hope we can talk about this article more in section tomorrow.

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