There is a growing interest in Academia in the impact of photosharing and photoblogging via popular services such as Flickr or Tumblr. Not only the very notion of publicly sharing personal pictures challenges common sense in regard to privacy and intellectual property, it also provides rich tools for ethnographic exploration and “witnessing” of everyday life – as recently highlighted by visual historian André Gunthert.
Soren Mork Petersen’ PhD thesis comes as a timely contribution to this research thread: Common Banality: The Affective Character of Photo Sharing, Everyday Life and Produsage Cultures was defended on January 2009 at the ITU Copenhagen – and supervised by an old acquaintance and former colleague of mine, Adrian Mackenzie.
The dissertation focuses on moblogging (short for “mobile blogging”) and photo sharing online. The author carried out a 3-year long ethnographic fieldwork among Flickr users in Copenhagen to show how individuals and collectives integrate technology into their everyday lives. Why do mobloggers feel the urge to document all the mundane and banal situations and contexts of their daily activities? Everyday photography seems strictly linked to the affective side of everyday experience of the urban environment. In a sense, according to the author, photosharing revitalizes the traditional Situationist “psychogeographical drift”
The affective character of everydayness puts into place a new form of aesthetic living. Furthermore, new daily rhythms emerge, created by specific relations between time, space and agency – and resulting in a reconfiguration of the concepts of presence and present. The relations between the city, moblogging and photo sharing, are particularly significant as far as they mimick capitalistic practice and relations that, Petersen explains, “resemble work”. In mapping how this happens, and in stressing collaborative aspects of community-building practices, new means of production of social wealth are identified.
You can download Soren Mork Petersen’ PhD thesis by clicking here. And, for those who are too busy/lazy to read the 270-odd-page volume, here is the defence powerpoint presentation.