This is what I’ve been doing today. Grant’s cousin Caroline (who, as you can see, is significantly more bendy and stable than I am) has been staying with us this week, and we’ve been exploring Sydney a little. Today we did the walk from Coogee beach to Bondi, finishing up with an impromptu yoga session on the sand as the sun went down. Yesterday we went to Taronga Zoo, and saw this particularly ridiculous bird:
The one above is embedded with Embed.ly, which generates embed code – it uses img tags rather than an iframe, and therefore has the benefit of letting you muck about a bit with the source, correct typos, and so on. It also has the bonus of being visible in WordPress previews. Right now while typing I have no idea what the top photo’s going to look like, whether it’s sized sensibly for my blog template, etc. I don’t know if it includes comments or like counts or captions. [edit: counts yes; captions no.] It also means the bird photo will be the one pulled in elsewhere on this site attached to this post, unless I upload the others separately; my related post plugin won’t look for images inside frames.
It’s a sensible, if belated, move from Instagram to make their content more easily spreadable, in the way that Vine and Twitter are; it’s hard to see it as anything but a way to encourage people to make more use of its video features, by making those videos are more broadly available. Of course, because some laws of the internet are immutable, there are already people writing SEO-friendly posts of advice for brands about how to leverage it. It makes Instagram a more viable option for live coverage of events, because it’s more easy to pull it all together afterwards into a single page. But right now, for me, it just makes it a little easier to show family back home who don’t know what Instagram is the beauty of Australia in midwinter.
This is brilliant. Identity online is multifaceted, and the explosion in popularity of Instagram and Pinterest is in part about performing single facets of identity, mythologising ourselves through imagery.
Instead of thinking of social media as a clear window into the selves and lives of its users, perhaps we should view the Web as being more like a painting.
This is why Facebook’s desire to own our identities online is fundamentally flawed; our Facebook identities are not who we are, and they are too large and cumbersome and singular to represent us all the time. Google+ has the same problem, of course. Frictionless sharing introduces an uncomfortable authenticity – Facebook identities thus far have been carefully and deliberately constructed, and allowing automatically shared content to accrete into an identity is a different process, a more honest and haphazard one, that for many may spoil their work.
As we do offline, our self-presentations online are always creative, playful, and thoroughly mediated by the logic of social-media documentation.
Pinterest and Instagram are built around these playful, creative impulses to invent ourselves. Twitter remains abstract enough to encourage it too, though in textual rather than visual form. Facebook and Google identities are such large constructions that they become restrictive – you can’t experiment in the way you can with other platforms because of the weight of associations and of history – and they’re not constructed in a vacuum. They rely on interactions with friends for legitimacy – but you can’t jointly create one the way you can a Tumblr or a Pinterest board. Group identities don’t quite work. Individual identities are too heavy to play with properly. But Pinterest and Instagram and Tumblr are online scrapbooks – visual, associative, picturesque – and are just the right formats for liminal experimentation with self-construction. Creative and lightweight.