Life writing and new media

I’ve just been to this lovely event at Wolfson College – the first in three events on life writing and new media – http://www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/clusters/life-writing/events:

Life-Writing and New Media (incl. Twitter, Facebook and blogging). The Haldane Room, Wolfson College.

Confirmed speakers include Professor Clare Brant (KCL), Dr Claire Lynch(Brunel), Dr Kate O’Riordan (Sussex) and Professor Sue Thomas (De Montfort).

The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing (OCLW) is really interesting and the college buildings are lovely, and particularly outward looking – in terms of the built environment – and in looking to other work.

One thought on “Life writing and new media

  1. My notes of my comments at this panel:
    Life writing and new media or truth and the technological fix

    My work is a communication studies of science and technology and my recent interests have been in looking at the intersections of media technologies and bio technologies and the capacity of this intersection to story life, identity and meaning – to make this a bit more concrete – one example of this is the recent proliferation and circulation of human genomic information as digital media texts – or the recent circulation of personal genomes as digital media – I am interested then in the production, circulation and take up of those forms in which bio and info tech come together in everyday life – and in the ensuing politics of what might be called the bio digital or bio digital life. These interests are reflected in my book The Genome Incorporated and work that I have developed subsequent to this project to look at identity, life story and publics in this area.

    So I am interested in the question of what are the media forms of new media and what is the life of life writing: The forms of new media are characterised by proliferation, fragmentation and connection – the advent of the web created the conditions for an explosion of narrative possibilities – home pages, discussion fora, chat and game narratives – and through this multiple forms of life writing also exploded – branding the self or micro celeb current social media has expanded this further – multimedia possibilities via youtube – narrative fragments via twitter – group editing through wikis – and connectivity through multiple databases and other information architectures contribute to a rich media ecology in this context . Although new media leads back and forth – blogs are often repackaged as books or tv – tweets are offered as pdfs and archived in other media forms.

    The life of life writing is the life story but also the story of life itself – post-genomics or life after the human genome project has created the conditions for and an explosion in biodigital life writing – genomic life stories abound – these seem on the one hand to offer the opportunity to rewrite the meanings of biological information as the meaning of the genome goes up for grabs – however such interpretive freedom is only offered through close allegiance to and engagement with the narrative conventions of genetics and the interpretive horizons of genomics remain highly constrained.

    The life of life writing in this milieu is the biological life of the body where genomics and other biomedical frames determine the use of the body to write the truth about life – and it seems that we trust no other source of truth or authority in these times except the bio medicalised information attached to the body – in the context of an explosion in self expression anxieties about identity become ever more vexed. Are people and their experiences commensurate with how they are expressed? Who gets to make a call on anonymity or authenticity?

    The paradox of biodigital life writing is that it seems to offer to many people access to the practices of writing out the meaning of biology, experience and information – but at the same time the ensuing life stories – whether seen in books about genetic testing, or biographical extracts in blogs and news media, or discussion fora for personal genetics companies – repeat conventional modes of genetic determinism, technological elitism and promise new horizons whilst imposing old constraints.

    My interest then is in the space of possibility between these open horizons and foreclosures.

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