On the making of followthethings.com

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Here’s Ian et al’s first paper about the making of followthethings.com. It was published in French in 2014 and has recently been made available on open access. You can now download the paper as it was originally written in English. If you want the French version, click here.

followthethings.com was not designed and then made, but emerged from an iterative, creative, collaborative, conversation-infused, open-ended, making project. The paper is written to reflect this. Here’s the abstract:

Recent reviews of new media scholarship have criticised it for paying little attention to the social and environmental (in)justices in its technical infrastructure. At the same time, scholars of social and environmental (in)justice are experimenting with web2.0, using wikis, blogs, twitter and other social media to conduct and disseminate their research. These strands have collided in the making of a website called followthethings.com which simultaneously critiques the injustices embedded in everyday things, whilst also being made and maintained using everyday things, most notably a laptop, its software and the technical infrastructure of web2.0. Drawing on an emerging literature on critical making, this paper explains what has been learned about the material geographies of web2.0 and commodity activism through this making process.

We initially wanted to publish and expand followthethings.com as a stand-alone digital publication, without too much explanation or interpretation via more conventional academic outputs.  Why write one publication about another publication?

But we’re getting requests to do this (see also this short paper), and it’s proving to be thought-provoking, helping us to more clearly work out what followthings.com is, how it works, for whom, where, and how it could be developed as a commodity scholar activist platform.

Please get in touch with us at followthethings@yahoo.com if you have any thoughts, or add them in the comments below.



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