How to Make a Friendship Bracelet (with minimal videos)

I came down with COVID last week with mild but still decently strong symptoms. In addition to an incredibly sore throat, various nose problems and a scary cough, I had a strong brain fog which made it extremely hard to focus on more than one thing at a time. This meant that there was a lot of time that I needed to fill, but my usual go-to of cross-stitching felt too difficult for me in this state.

While I was working on drafting up some cross stitch patterns, I remembered the existence of BraceletBook, a neat site to find small simple pixel art patterns. “What if I actually used the site for its intended purpose?”, I thought. And, hey, what do you know, it actually was a really good hobby fit for my mental state at the time! I made Pattern #97960 from BraceletBook using the two big cones of DMC 310 and DMC B5200 I got for cross-stitching so I wouldn’t dip too much into my regular supplies.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with it, especially for my first attempt and my disease-addled state! I think it’s unlikely that I pursue this hobby further, as it is “the most inefficient form of weaving” according to my housemate. Still, I wanted to do this writeup because there is a surprising dearth of non-video based tutorials, especially for more complex 10+ string patterns. Hopefully this will be useful for the other old fogeys out there who also don’t like watching video tutorials!

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A Systems Engineer’s Diffraction Grating

We treat these systems as powerful as the forces of nature. As immutable as the laws of physics. That these algorithms sprung up out of nowhere. That trying to make gig labor suck less will put people out of jobs. That recycling doesn’t do much, but it’s better than nothing and that’s worth the greenwashing smug feeling as the smiling coffee cup gets tossed in the blue bin. That it’s impossible to untangle the web of supply chains and find out exactly which subsubsubsubcontractor is using the child labor.

But all of these systems started from somewhere. A hot or not website. A “just war”. A belief that demand will always meet supply. The concept of deserving.

With dedicated nurturing (though they’d never admit it), the ivy grew and grew until it gnarled around the tree, thick and inextricable from the tall branches. We cited tree law and argued about “fault”, letting the vine intertwine further, sucking ever more nutrients out of the tree, which was really only standing because it was so strong to begin with.

Yet, you can still cut the ivy at the root.

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Jeopardy Paper’s Out! (aka. why I’m not on Academic Twitter)

After 4 years of off-again, on-again writing, my paper about my Jeopardy experiences is finally out! Check out “How to survive a public faming: Understanding “The Spiciest Memelord” via the temporal dynamics of involuntary celebrification” here on First Monday.

I also highly recommend checking out the other articles in this Special Issue of Shame, Shaming and Online Image Sharing. In particular, I really recommend Signe Uldbjerg’s piece on “The rhythms of shame in digital sexual assault: Rythmic resistance and the repeated assault“. Although my Jeopardy experience is not even comparable to the trauma faced by the survivors in her piece, the descriptions of facing harassment that decreases in intensity but does not stop and the struggle to find agency against the shamers really resonates with me.

My paper is fairly technical so if you’re looking for just the tl;dr summary:

  • We think of public shaming as purely punishment of social transgressions, but there’s no reason that the dynamics of this shaming should only be relegated to negative transgressions. What about celebrations of social transgressions — a “public faming”?
  • Case in point: There’s a weird class of internet celebrities that are famous for a very brief amount of time through non-consensual sharing of their image. Think Star Wars Kid, Antoine Dodson / Bed Intruder, Alex From Target, or Ken Bone. Depending on how online you are, you’ve probably never heard of any of these people, but for very brief moments, they were catapulted to a very intense fame and public scrutiny before going back to obscurity. Traditional celebrity studies has ignored these cases as “not real celebrity” but what is the actual effect of this faming on the people themselves?
  • This is where I come in with my self-examination (auto-ethnography) of my own experiences as the Spiciest Memelord. I lean heavily on Anne Jerslev’s theory of “celebrity temporalities” to describe how I get caught in the middle between slow yet powerful traditional institutions vs. the fast distributed interactions of strangers on social media. Think broadcast television and press releases vs. tweets and Facebook posts. The crash of these two forms squeezes me in the middle and I suffer a lot of internet harassment while large corporations take control of my image to serve their own narratives
  • I describe how it feels to be caught in this situation and how I try to take back agency by reversing the spotlight onto my harassers. (I call this “radical reciprocity”, but Uldbjerg’s work has introduced me to the term “counter-shaming”). I do this by using my (tiny) fame platform as the Spiciest Memelord to call out MIT on its inequities or by using social media search against a sexual harasser to contact his friends and family.

You might be saying to yourself “wow, that tl;dr really felt like it should be a Twitter thread capping off the research”. And honestly, it probably should! But after a lot of angsting back and forth, I think I’ve finally settled that I’m not going to get onto Academic Twitter — for actually a lot of reasons related to my experiences on Jeopardy.

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Wikibooks’ Guide to “Getting A Girl”

No shit, so there I was listening to some meme music about various junk foods, like “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” and “$2 Hot Dog, $1 Water“. Being a proper scholar, I was looking up the songs on Wikipedia to try to find out more about how these songs got made, when I noticed something weird on the sidebar: “Guide to Social Activity/Dating Ideas“. Hoping that it would be like this weird 1940s dating PSA my dad sent me once, I clicked through.

It turns out to have been a weird time capsule, alright, just not the random mildly wholesome one that I was hoping for. Read More »

Aftermath

There have been very few times that I can name that have dramatically affected the trajectory of my life. Events that I turn over and over again in my head to try to make sense of. Events that I can knowingly point to and say “this is where a new Lilly began”

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WHEEK WHEEK READ MEEEEE

“4000+ words about guinea pigs is your gender now. I’m sorry I don’t make the rules” — Petey

For Petey and Mehitabel’s class on networked / internet cultures, we had to write a bot and then write a short paper about it as a social actor. I decided to take the time to write up about Espen and Aarseth, the digital guinea pig bots (partially because Mehitabel encouraged me to talk about phenomenologybot during class instead). The paper ended up going long (2-3x more than what Petey wanted) because it ended up being a reflection of my digital life for the last 6 years.

Paper can be found here. If you like presentations more, that can be found here.

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