When computers and culture intersect

January 08, 2004, vol. 29, no. 1
By Terry Lavender



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Laura Trippi looks at life at the intersection of culture and computers.

Trippi, an assistant professor of interactive arts and technology at SFU Surrey, examines networked narratives and network dynamic in culture, finding shifts in basic patterns of communication and in how people engage with culture more generally.

People are connecting, or networking, online through weblogs, conversations, debates and friendships, she says. By taking part in these social activities online, they are creating electronic communities and cultures.

Not only does she research networked narratives and cultures, Trippi is an active participant through her own weblog and research platform, net.narrative environments http://www.netvironments.org
Weblogs, or blogs, are web pages made up of short, frequently updated posts that appear in reverse-chronological order (the most recent entry listed first). Their content varies from online diaries to social commentaries to political forums to updates on technology. Often, bloggers grab links from other sites and comment on them, creating text that's heavily hyperlinked.

The attacks on the World Trade centre and the Pentagon in September 2001 had an impact on blogging in general and on Trippi's weblog in particular. For Trippi, who had lived in New York for 25 years, weblogging became a way to connect with people and events from her former home. Sept. 11 also helped to politicize her blog, which often focuses on George Bush, globalization and the situation in Iraq.

“We're at war, and it's a netwar. I don't just mean Iraq: the war on terror is just one facet of a larger war being waged about globalization,” she says.

Trippi came to SFU's Surrey campus (then the Technical University of British Columbia) in 1999 after serving as web manager for Carnegie Hall and as curator at the New Museum. She also ran a small art/theory web site called Drawing oN Air (DNA).

A lot of Trippi's web space is devoted to the research she's done on online authoring tools and how they work.

“I'm constantly gathering tools that allow me to author online more easily,” she says. “I want to publish my experiences with these tools to help other people develop their own weblogs.”

Trippi has amalgamated her work on networked narratives and cultures with her course development and teaching at SFU. Most recently, she developed a course called Electronic Culture, which is taught via weblogs and explores how the internet shapes and informs our culture.
To learn more about Trippi's research visit http://www.netvironments.org.

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