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Thursday, October 11 • 9:00am - 10:30am
Affect, Community and the (dis)Connectivities of Queer Digital Media Practices

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Jenny Sundén
In this paper, my intent is to explore the intricate relation between technological materiality and affect by considering questions of digital vulnerability – of disconnections, breaks, and delays – as a way of rethinking our intimate attachments to digital devices. By extension, I also wish to connect this argument with a framework of queer theory, as an opportunity to think differently about intimate relations through questions of technological ruptures and deferrals. My baseline for this endeavor is the idea of the break as formative for how we can both sense and make sense of digital connectivity, in so far as the break has the potential to bring forth what constant connectivity means, and how it feels. Similarly, the break can potentially make tangible relational norms around continuous, coherent, and linear ways of relating and connecting, and thus provide alternative models for ways of being with digital devices, networks, and each other. Based on a Spinozian understanding of ‘sad’ and ‘joyful’ affects and encounters, I focus on the intense layering of anxiety and anticipation within networked connectivity, and how a break feels different from a delay, or a postponement. The kind of disconnect that keeps someone hanging in midair could be a place or a moment for breathing more easily, by consisting of a temporary slowing down of the pace with which affective connections and relations are made. But it could as easily be a place for holding one’s breath, a heightened kind of tension as technologies and relations momentarily get stuck.

Paul Byron, Brady Robards, Son Vivienne, Benjamin Hanckel, Brendan Churchill
Tumblr is an important source of information and support for queer and gender diverse young people. Data from a study of Australian LGBTIQ+ young people’s social media practices will be used to consider the role of Tumblr in young people’s negotiations of gender and sexual diversities. Participants often described Tumblr as a crucial site for learning about gender and sexuality, where anonymity afforded a feeling of safety in negotiating one’s identity/ies. In comparison to other social media platforms, participants described Tumblr as offering more intense experiences of peer interaction and self-discovery, and as being pivotal in learning to embrace their queerness and/or gender identities. For many, Tumblr offered a space to work through feelings and experiences, and to build and maintain an affective space of support. Participants also used Tumblr for self-reflection, with several using the platform to record and track their feelings and experiences, affording a sense of movement and self-development. This paper considers how these accounts of Tumblr question a common discussion of the platform as transnational ‘community space’. We argue that a ‘queer communities’ focus within Tumblr research may misrepresent the interpersonal and affective aspects of Tumblr use among many LGBTIQ+ young people.

Colten Meisner
Drawing on an analysis of 91 YouTube videos, this study calls into question the role of "live reaction" coming out videos in commodifying queer identity. Understanding coming out videos as materialized expressions of identity, this study advances the notion that self-branding practices have encroached on even the most sacred of subjects: the queer master narrative. Upon examining how authenticity, voyeurism, and virality impact content creation in this study, practical implications for queer digital laborers are considered.

Avery Phelan Dame-Griff
This paper considers the pragmatic process and methodological challenges of archiving and researching the early LGBTQ Net. Drawing on my experiences building an archive of early LGBTQ-specific groups and forums online, I analyse 3 barriers to researching computer networks before the rise of the commercial internet: identifying forums, limited digital traces, and the ethics of sharing archival information. For each barrier, I discuss methodological challenges and identify possible solutions. Traces of the LGBTQ “Net,” I argue, can be found throughout the robust LGBTQ print culture of the time, from newspaper clippings, advertisements, classified listings, reprints of digital materials in group newsletters, and contemporaneous (and rapidly outdated) “web guides” like Jeff Dawson’s Gay & Lesbian Online.

However, this collection and identification raises important ethical questions about users’ right to privacy. In building an archive, users’ assumptions of “security through obscurity” on a pre-indexed web do not always hold, since deeply personal information can appear in archival content. Given these concerns, I argue for adopting an ethic of care, which focuses attention on the context of the content and its impact in the wider world. As an example, I look to the Zine Librarians’ Code of Ethics as a practical implementation of this ethic. Based on this discussion, I conclude with a preliminary LGBTQ “net history” derived from my current work. As I find, the early LGBTQ maintained deep connections to existing community infrastructure. These users built a Net that understood their needs, interests, and desires as not only unremarkable but worth celebrating.

Thursday October 11, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 5