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The User as a Character: Narratives of Datafied Platforms

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The article presents the metainterface as the foundation of a culture industry where participation and sharing have become a business model of centralized platforms. In short, measuring and modeling affective relations becomes a central business model. But how can users develop a better understanding of their own role as users in the metainterface industry? How can they perceive and critically understand the way content and interfaces are generated from captured data, and how this produces them as users and consumers of culture? Firstly, this article suggests that the problem can be addressed as a literary problem. The platform interface complicates the enunciative relation between emitter and receiver, interface and user. Secondly, it suggests that such understandings, or literacies, can be supported by readings of ‘literary interfaces’ such as contemporary electronic literature, software- and net-based art works that seek to address who is writing and who is reading; who is being written, and who is being read. Thirdly, it will delve into how these works, in critical ways, suggest that the metainterface is the outset for a particular ‘zombification’ of the user.

Through the discussion of works of art and electronic literature by Ben Grosser, Daniel Howe, Winnie Soon, Mushon Zer-Aviv, Helen Nissenbaum and Talan Memmott, the article argues, how reading the metainterface through narratological means contributes with important dimensions for critical analysis and design in metainterfaces, and that the metainterface as an industry produces zombies, converting living flesh into dead product. In this way, they point towards a new understanding or a rewriting of the metainterface character.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComputational Culture
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

    Research areas

  • interface criticism, big data, metainterface, narrative analysis

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