[Air-l] Online graffiti

M.B.Gaved M.B.Gaved at open.ac.uk
Sun Apr 23 02:16:18 PDT 2006

I think you make some good points Jean

I'd agree there feels to be a difference between a response to an existing text, and a declaration on a 'blank canvas' (reactive vs proactive?). 

The latter could describe scribbles on a designed graffitti space (sounds like we have examples of these existing online), or the appropriation of a currently empty space (including, I suppose, the creation of a new wiki article). 

The former might take the form of complete deletion of the original web text and replacement of ones own - like hacked websites of government bodies taken over to make a political message (maybe replacing a US military homepage with a text against the war in Iraq), or complete deletion of a wiki article and replacement with one's one text on the subject. However these leave no reference to the original text.

Maybe to continue the metaphor of graffitti rather than complete appropriation, 'graffitti' requires that the original text or images are still visible and the additional contributions interact with the existing content? Perhaps the addition of further text in a different font and colour, or the editing of images in photoshop to provide an extra layer.


Mark Gaved
Knowledge Media Institute
The Open University

-----Original Message-----
From: air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org on behalf of Jean Burgess
Sent: Sun 4/23/2006 12:56 AM
To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org
Subject: Re: [Air-l] Online graffiti
I think the case for the abuse of wikipedia working like graffiti  
only works if the metaphor is refined a bit - it's more like someone  
coming along to a community street mural and deliberately painting  
something out of step with the aesthetic and political values that  
have been implicitly or explicitly agreed on by the 'community' that  
is working on the mural.

A bit different from walking up to the blank rendered wall of, say,   
a McDonald's and writing "ronald sucks" on it.  In one case (the  
mural), the wall is constructed as open and 'writable' and in the  
second case (mcdonald's) it isn't, because of very clear binary  
distinctions between who owns the wall and therefore gets to paint  
it, and who doesn't.

All of which makes wikipedia a far more interesting case, IMHO.


Jean Burgess

Reviews editor, International Journal of Cultural Studies
ISSN: 1367-8779

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