4 Inches of Embarrassment: Humour, sex and risk on mobile devices

4 Inches of Embarrassment: Humour, sex and risk on mobile devices

Kylie Jarrett
National University of Ireland, Department of Media Studies, Maynooth, Ireland.
Email. kylie.jarrett@um.ie
Twitter. @kylzjarrett

Ben Light*
University of Salford, School of Health and Society, Salford, United Kingdom.
Email. b.light@salford.ac.uk
Twitter. @doggyb

Susanna Paasonen
University of Turku, Department of Media Studies, Turku, Finland.
Email. suspaa@utu.fi
Twitter. @susannapaasonen

Early in the 2000s, a link to a website ending in “nimp.org” was circulated via email. The link opened up to a blinking image alternating between a rainbow flag and gay pornography, accompanied by a three-second clip of a male voice amped up high in volume, shouting, “Hey everybody I’m looking at gay porno!” (For a partial, SFW YouTube excerpt, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BN5k-8njOMM.) In addition to the potential social awkwardness that watching this media product at work might have caused, nimp.org routinely froze and crashed the user’s computer by opening up new pop-up windows with the same content much faster than these could be closed. The computer’s sound card could also keep on playing the file even when all windows had been successfully closed. Allegedly connected to the internet trolling organization “Gay Nigger Association of America”, the site’s routine became known as a “nimp”. The nimp relied on the embarrassment caused by loudly calling attention to pornography – and specifically that of the male homosexual kind –being consumed in spaces of work. In work environments of the early 2000s, these links would be opened on desktop computers and laptops in workspaces that readily shared the sight and sound of nimping with colleagues to achieve maximum embarrassment. Nimps are a good example of content we would describe today as NSFW, not safe for work.

The idea of something being NSFW is rooted in a sense that certain engaging online content is associated with potential loss and risk in an employment context. This has also bled into our personal lives as the idea of something being not safe for life (NSFL). Oftentimes, NSFW content is shared and experienced as humorous, partly because of its status as being out of place. There is thus both the potential of pain and pleasure for both the receiver and recipient: NSFW is a tag and label for content that both averts and engages. As nimping demonstrates, NSFW content has been circulated online for decades. In this short piece, though, we want to explore how the move from desktop computing to mobile devices, and from web cultures of the early 2000s to social media, has re-articulated elements of these practices.
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Publishing Partnership with Internet Policy Review Continues

For #AoIR2018, the Association of Internet Researchers is pleased to again partner with Internet Policy Review on a special issue of the best internet policy-related papers from the conference. Internet Policy Review is an interdisciplinary open access journal focusing on internet norms, standards and regulation, with a specialisation on European discussions.

We first partnered with IPR for a special issue from the #AoIR2017 conference. An issue on Networked Publics that emerges from this partnership will launch in the first quarter of 2018, under the guest editorship of William H. Dutton. More details soon!

Researchers interested in having their #AoIR2018 proposal considered for the Internet Policy Review special issue on Transnational Materialities – to be published in March/April 2019 – are invited to add a note to that effect when submitting their final, accepted contribution. Additionally, the editors of the journal will extend invitations to the authors of a select number of accepted #AoIR2018 proposals on relevant topics around the time of the conference. Invited authors will be asked to submit a full-length journal article, developed from their conference paper to the journal editors.

Engaged Students Learning and Wikipedia – Developing Information Literacy and Finding a Purpose

Engaged Students Learning and Wikipedia – Developing Information Literacy and Finding a Purpose
Zachary J. McDowell, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication
University of Illinois at Chicago

danah boyd (2014) points out in “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens,” students are being told to “avoid Wikipedia” and do their own research. This is particularly troubling when, as a recent study by the Stanford History Education Group stated, “young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.” More recently, boyd wondered whether media literacy might have backfired, and that the critical lens that we tried to instill in them might have helped confuse information value in a post-factual, fast-paced, digital world. boyd is right: if students’ takeaway from the lessons of critical information literacy is that they need to just “do research” but “avoid Wikipedia” then we might need to redefine our approach.
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