What precisely is a selfie? First and foremost, a selfie is a photographic object that initiates the transmission of human feeling in the form of a relationship (between photographer and photographed, between image and filtering software, between viewer and viewed, between individuals circulating images, between users and social software architectures, etc.). A selfie is also a practice – a gesture that can send (and is often intended to send) different messages to different individuals, communities, and audiences. This gesture may be dampened, amplified, or modified by social media censorship, social censure, misreading of the sender’s original intent, or adding additional gestures to the mix, such as likes, comments, and remixes.

Although the selfie signifies a sense of human agency (i.e., it is a photograph one knowingly takes of oneself, often shown to other humans), selfies are created, displayed, distributed, tracked, and monetized through an assemblage of nonhuman agents. The politics of this assemblage renders the selfie – generally considered merely a quotidian gesture of immediacy and co-presence – into a constant reminder that once anything enters digital space, it instantly becomes part of the infrastructure of the digital superpublic, outliving the time and place in which it was original produced, viewed, or circulated. It is perhaps for this reason that selfies function both as a practice of everyday life and as the object of politicizing discourses about how people ought to represent, document, and share their behaviors.

senft und baym via nathanjurgenson viavia michischmid

(ich glaube das absolut unnötigste, über das ich in letzter zeit gestolpert bin, aber ein schönes beispiel für die konzeptionelle irrelevanz von cultural studies; nichts davon ist falsch, aber nichts davon trifft nicht auch auf alles andere zu und dieses im grunde seit 40 jahren fast wortgleiche bedeutungsschwangere konstatieren, dass es praxis und semiotische und technokulturelle verhältnisse gibt, erzeugt echt gänsehaut)