Annewil Neervens

New Media Blog

Hi there! March 16, 2013

Filed under: Blog,New Media — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p03

This is an old blog, on which you can find new media theory posts and other musings.

Please visit my other profiles for more updated stuff: LinkedIn and Twitter. Or email me: annewilneervens [at]


(Re-)constructing Social Networking Sites: Examining Software Relations and its Influence on Users October 17, 2009

Filed under: New Media,Online Social Networking,Personal,Thesis,Work — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p10

It’s a little overdue, but I hereby officially want to post my MA thesis for everyone to read (and/or use under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Netherlands license). This thesis was written in a total period of about five months under the supervision of Prof. dr. Richard Rogers, with Dr. Geert Lovink as the second reader. As I already mentioned in previous posts, this thesis deals with the relation between social networking sites (SNSs) and its underlying software, as well as the influence this might have on the user.

The ‘outcome’ of SNSs has been widely researched over the past few years. By outcome I mean user-generated information, such as user demographics and statistics. All of these topics have been researched by using – what I call – ‘interface information’: the information you’ll find by examining a user’s profile. In (Re-)constructing Social Networking Sites: Examining Software Relations and its Influence on Users, I employ the idea that the ‘input’ of SNSs – the very construct: the software – plays an equally important role and must therefore be thoroughly examined.

The influence of software on the user is also addressed in this writing. By using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine I make use of a new reconstructive approach to reveal Facebook’s power (over users) by looking at their history of software changes and subsequent consequences for the user.

Here’s the abstract of my MA thesis:

This thesis examines the relationship between social networking sites (SNSs), software and its
influence on the user. Two frames of thought are employed here: (1) there is a void in software research. Especially when it comes to social networking sites, not much research has been conducted as to how profiles are constructed by software and what consequences these constructions may have. This seems paradoxical, since this input might be of great influence on a user’s output (by which is meant both user-generated information found on profiles and
the questions as to why and how these sites are used). It is argued here that thorough academic research on SNSs should look at both the input and output. (2) A user is able to shape himself within a profile, but he is also shaped by the software. Software relations and the influence on users are therefore also discussed. Additionally, this thesis makes a new attempt in conducting practical software research by using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to reconstruct the history of Facebook’s software changes. It is thus, that the influence and symbioses of software and the user becomes clear.

You are very welcome to read the rest here: (Re-)constructing Social Networking Sites: Examining Software Relations and its Influence on Users


MA thesis on Social Networking Sites and Software September 10, 2009

Filed under: Blog,New Media,Online Social Networking,Personal,Thesis — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p09

It was a long, fun and interesting journey (and yes, I must admit, it was also tiring at times), but I’m happy to announce that my MA thesis on the software behind social networking sites (SNSs) is finally finished and submitted. Right now I’m waiting for the ‘official’ grading to be processed, but once that’s in I will post my thesis entitled ‘(Re-)constructing Social Networking Sites: Examining Software Relations and its Influence on Users’ on here ASAP.

As you can tell by the title, it treats both the software (the very construct) of SNSs and the influence this has on the user. One of the main claims in this writing is that software research – especially when it comes to SNSs – is still underdeveloped and more attention should be paid to the input just as well as the outcomes, which are now usually the subject of SNS studies.

Stay tuned!


New Media Final Papers March 12, 2009

Filed under: New Media,Personal,Work — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p03

The last few months I’ve been particularly preoccupied with (school) work and the research for my MA thesis (on the software behind social networking sites – more about this later). I did however, finish a couple of classes for which I wrote two final papers that I’d like to share.

First off, the class New Media Research Seminar required for us to read ‘Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization’ by Alexander R. Galloway and ‘Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiberoptics’ by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun. Both books were a very interesting read, although I must admit that ‘Protocol’ is more up my alley. For the final paper I’ve compared and contrasted these books, adding my own commentary and questions. I start off by summarizing and critiquing both books and finally take out a few of their main points for contrast and comparison.

Here’s the abstract:

This paper attempts to compare and contrast the main points of the books ‘Protocol:
How Control Exists After Decentralization’ by Alexander R. Galloway and ‘Control
and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics’ by Wendy Hui Kyong
Chun. By briefly discussing both ‘Protocol’ and ‘Control and Freedom’, I will map the
discourse in both books, thereby revealing the larger arguments of the authors.
I will then be able to compare and contrast them and finally come to a concluding
statement. The reviews of both books are not merely summaries: I will also address
unclear paragraphs and theories I came across and add to them with thoughts and
questions that came up while reading both texts.

The rest of the paper can be found here: Comparing and Contrasting ‘Protocol’ with ‘Control and Freedom’

The second paper was written for New Media Theories, a class that covered a lot of classical media texts and subjects such as Vannevar Bush’s ‘As We May Think’, Ivan Sutherland’s ‘Sketchpad’, Theodor Nelson’s ‘Xanadu’, Donna Haraway’s ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’ and so on. I chose to write about digital obsolescence and made a link with both Walter Benjamin’s historical ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ and Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s ‘Constituents of a Theory of the Media’.

Here’s the abstract:

With this paper I attempt to answer the question why digital preservation in new
media and new media art is as important as it is difficult. It considers the relation
between digital obsolescence and digital preservation, and looks into several
strategies to preserve digital information; with a particular focus on emulation. This
contemporary issue is first linked back to the historical works of Walter Benjamin’s
and Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s and their ideas on reproduction, thus providing an
overview of the importance of (mechanical and technological) reproducibility since its

And the rest can be found here: The Battle Against Digital Obsolescence:
Exploring Strategies of Digital Preservation in New Media and New Media Art


Twitter’s Implications: Is Less Really More? October 12, 2008

Filed under: Communication,Microblog,New Media,Opinion,Web 2.0 — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p10

It’s around us everywhere. Increasingly, the trend of creating single-phrase sentences – or aphorisms – is taking over the way we write and read, online and offline. It almost seems as though there is no more room for elaborate writings and conversations. It has to be short, fast and informative. But, is less really more?

The microblog Twitter is a good example of what we all put on line in short sentences, with a maximum of 140 characters. Letting others know what we are doing and when we’re doing it. What have these aphorisms to contribute to society, and why are we all so eager to take part in it? Why do we use Twitter and what are the implications?



Workshop (De-)Constructing Information Visualization October 3, 2008

Filed under: Blog,Information,New Media,Personal,Visualization — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p10

I attended a workshop on (De-)Constructing Information Visualization yesterday evening, led by Yuri Engelhardt and Christian Behrens, who are both specialized in information visualization and data visualization and information design. It was all about ‘exploring the notion of a ‘building block systems’ of visual language: Which basic visual coding principles can be identified as the building blocks of visualization? Which of these building blocks are appropriate for representing which kind of information? What are the ‘rules of the game’ for combining two, three, or many of these basic visual coding principles into meaningful and interesting visual representations?’, as they explain it themselves.

We got a brief introduction to the history of data and information visualization, and then started cutting and pasting and created our own data visualization graphics. We used different cards and figures to represent the data or ‘building blocks’ and tried to recreate existing data visualizations (charts, maps and graphs). This turned out to be a pretty hard concept to grasp, because it’s so abstract. We finally got the hang of it though, when we came up with our own data concept and a visualization to match.



PICNIC 08 – All Media September 25, 2008

Filed under: Blog,New Media,Opinion — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p09

I went to PICNIC 08 today, a three day conference on media technology, entertainment, art and science at the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, where I attended the presentation All Media on which I wrote the following review.

Today’s themes in the E-Art Dome – presented by Virtueel Platform – are ecology, online life/social networking and mobility. The second presentation of the day is All Media, by Mieke Gerritzen and Koert van Mensvoort, which definitely fits those descriptions. Koert van Mensvoort starts off his presentation with a video of a bird making incredible sounds, some sounding not unlike a car alarm. He stresses that this video ‘is not media art, it’s an actual bird’. Next, is ‘the biggest visual power show’, an intellectual show that’s posed as a visionary statement, where the next nature is presented. Meaning that nature is increasingly controlled by man. Van Mensvoort calls this ‘a culturally emerged nature.’

Van Mensvoort says that our relation with nature is changing. Nature and culture are increasingly blending. He illustrates this with a few examples, like a picture he took on a nature walk of an odd looking tree, that actually turned out to be a cell phone antenne disguised as a pine tree. Or the fact that some people buy land from farmers and make this land look like it would have looked two thousand years ago. Nature becomes culture, and it’s also becoming progressively more of a product.

Later on in the presentation Van Mensvoort brings up several concepts like biomimic marketing and visualization. He claims that scientists these days are doing a lot of interesting things, like creating non-allergic cats or ‘victimless meat’ (meat grown in lab dishes). We are reshaping nature for commercial objectives. We are creating our own mix between nature and culture.

Van Mensvoort: ‘The born and the made are fusing. The born were already there, the made is what we are creating. We’re all messed up on our concepts nowadays.’