Q1 & 2 Internat Literacy Report
Gretchen Andrew Art
Download Q1&2 Internet Literacy Report (with images)
Internet literacy is the ability to access, understand, critique, and create information and communication content online.
I believe the lack of internet literacy is one of the greatest risks of our day, driving skewed democracies, dangerous medical misinformation, and widening polarization in everything from wealth to education.
These risks to society stem from a popular indifference and misunderstanding about how the internet works.
Every year my art practice educates hundreds of thousands of people around the world about how search engines, artificial intelligence, tracking algorithms, synthetic media, and natural language processing work. Through press, social media, exhibitions, lectures, and articles my work converts the indifferent into the educated and the educated into the active. The value is in bringing this knowledge and the important conversations around it to a wide and diverse audience that is rarely seeking it out.
It will come as no surprise to you that such work is not inherently valued or financially rewarded in our society. Until recently this work has been entirely funded by my art practice via the sale of physical artworks.
This is why I am launching this semi-annual Internet Literacy Report coupled with the ability to contribute directly to internet literacy.
Each donation retains a credit in the same amount that can be put towards a purchase of an artwork anytime within 3 years following the donation. Semi-annually you will also receive a report containing examples and data on my work in this area. If this work is something you find valuable and can support here are three ways to do so now:
Internet Literacy Report - Q1&2 2022
Highlight: Major Gulf Region newspaper publishes an article about AI Bias
Geographic Locations: Park City, Los Angeles, Linz, Salzburg, Cologne, London, Dubai, Zurich
Q1-2 celebrated the publication of my museum catalog in Austria, expansion to the middle east, the introductions of NFTs as a vehicle of internet change and education, the launch of Meta/Facebook education as well as many other victories for internet literacy.
Participatory Vision Board & Internet Essays in Austria
Hundreds of people, young and old, contributed to a community vision board while learning about the technical politics of power online.
Publication of Trust Boundary Museum Catalog with three essays on Internet Literacy
Internet Literacy in the Middle East
Gretchen Andrew tackles AI biases in Growth Hacking show
Gulf Today is an English-language daily newspaper based in Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates. It has a print circulation of 36,000 in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates
Other Press from the region
Inclusion in published research, “Algorithmic resistance: media practices and the politics of repair”
The artist noted, ‘Definitions are highly manipulatable if you know how to structure information’ (Andrew, 2018). Rogers (2018) also points to an even greater variety of artistic projects which, in different ways, have engaged with manipulating or expressing criticism of Google’s search engine results, including those of its image search function. What projects such as Burai’s and Andrew’s tell us is that even though power might run through algorithms, resistance to the governing power of algorithms, and in particular to the politics of attention that they conduct, takes place from within the logic of the algorithm. Although starting from the premises of the algorithm, both Burai and Andrew subvert the rationalities embedded within the algorithm and hence constitute ‘technical politics’ in Feenberg’s (2002) sense. Their version of technical politics – namely what we call media practices of repair – should be considered along hacking, technological disruption and obfuscation that have been identified as carrying the potential to redefine the meanings and values of technologies.
Work Included in Contemporary Art Textbook
2020 Search Engine Hack of the presidential election results to appear in the 12th edition of the contemporary art textbook “Prebles' Artforms.”
Facebook’s decision to reject my Affirmation Ads as a “Social Policy Violation” shows the vulnerability of so much control at one company. Meta (Facebook/ Instagram) decides where, how, and especially if social issues can be talked about on social media. Their decision to block my conversation about how social media is bad for is us is glaring.
What is the Metaverse?
As of June, I now have my own regular column in the Art Newspaper where I have the platform to discuss the relationship between art and technology.
“The metaverse is, right now, mostly a promise. But a tenuous one. The question of who will control its narrative involves Big Tech and the crypto community, as well as the arts.”
Thirst Trap Glitch Gifs (NFT)
Thirst Trap Glitch Gifs, presented in Los Angeles and online with SuperRare
Adopting the Thirst Trap form, I use SEO, NLP, Metadata etc to convert attention into algorithmic infiltration. What appears to us as a glitch, Google interprets as complete truth.
Feel Good From Social Media: The Story of Affirmation Ads
I’ve always loved technology, that’s why I studied it and it’s what led me to work in Silicon Valley. I love its promise as something that can help us achieve our goals and make us closer to those we love. But when I was working at Google a decade ago I became really disillusioned with what the technology was being tailored for, to manipulate our attention, to sell us more stuff.
More recently I started noticing in myself how I didn’t feel good after using Facebook or Instagram. And when last year a whistleblower released The Facebook Papers it made me have to confront the complicit nature of my social media use. It’s one thing to knowingly accept the impact of social media on my own life and health and another to confront how, as a user of Instagram, I am perpetuating and enabling a system that is causing serious damage to young people.
The Facebook Papers, internally leaked documents from inside the company, showed irrefutable evidence that not only is social media negatively impacting the health of young people, but that the company has knowns this and has let it continue, expending our well-being for the benefit of its bottom line.
Parallels are being drawn to the Tobacco industry, even as western society is quick to diminish the importance of mental health over physical health.
A lot of my friends are becoming parents and in setting up social media boundaries for their kids are also asking themselves questions about their relationships with things like Instagram and Facebook.
I created Affirmation Ads because I didn't want our two choices to be to get off of social media altogether or to accept its negative impact on ourselves and others.
20% - 25% of your Instagram feed is composed of advertisements that have been inflicted on you based on your demographics or because of what you said, searched, or clicked on. Every action is logged and analyzed in an attempt to turn almost a quarter of your digital space into an opportunity to sell to you. I believe your Instagram feed should be treated like your living room. It is your space. You should get to define what it looks like and how it makes you feel.
I started to notice and understand what the research is showing, that this much volume of ads interlaced with photos of friends and cute dogs is anxiety-inducing. 25% of my feed drawing my attention to my incorrect posture, my outdated closet, and my aging skin.
Worse still, the same advertisement seemingly follows us around the internet like a recurring nightmare. Instagram can measure when something peaked our attention, caused an emotional reaction, and uses this heightened emotional state to prey on us.
We see the same product appear in banner ads, on Facebook, and in our Instagram feeds. Over and over and over again.
This stalking is enabled by The Facebook Pixel, a piece of code that e-commerce companies place on their sites. While it originates within Facebook and Instagram it is designed to track and follow us across the internet.
With Affirmation Ads, I created a new series of artworks that redirect the Facebook Pixel, related code and tracking technology to take this power from advertisers and big tech companies and place it in your hands.
Affirmation Ads allow you to select a positive artwork and “install” it throughout your digital life, treating your Instagram feed like your living room, a space that is yours to control and enjoy based on who you are and who you want to be, not what someone is trying to sell you.
To date, Affirmation Ads have been viewed by 19,920 times with 43,236 instances of Instagram users receiving the positive message “I already have everything I need to be beautiful” instead of an inflicted advertisement.
These artworks are for people who believe how they feel is more important than whatever product Instagram is trying to sell them. I created Affirmation Ads for people who believe technology should work in service of their goals and dreams, not prey on their insecurities. I made Affirmation Ads for people who believe in taking power into their own hands.
The research on the negative impact of social media has been streaming out for a year now and it seems unlikely that the companies that are profiting from it are going to do anything about it. It seems unlikely that governments or regulations are going to do anything about it in time. Instead of relying on someone else to fix it for us, these artworks allow each of us to do something about it right now.
Thank you for being part of it