Technology is constantly changing around us. With the advent of the telegraph, to the telephone and even the first camera, there has always been, and will continue to be, a constant progression in technological developments. A specific example is the way art is captured. Man’s depiction of creativity and/or the creative process has, over time, been captured on the interior of caves, natural layers of papyrus, to canvases and now to digital frames. The digital photo frame sparked frenzy during the holiday season, with major companies forecasting the sale of 3 million units for 2008. Sam’s Club and Best Buy shoppers, looking to score deep savings on this hot trendy item, received a special bonus feature with their purchase: Mocmex.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, this “insidious computer virus [was] discovered on digital photo frames” sold at Sam’s Club facilities. The goal of this virus was to “recognize and block antivirus protection from more than 100 security vendors, as well as the security and firewall built into Microsoft Windows.”
This is a testament to the rapid growth and ill intent of hackers as detailed by Jussi Parikka in Digital Contagions. Within chapter 1, Parikka discusses the fear and security associated with viruses as well as the origins of computer viruses and accompanied risks. Jussi hints towards the idea that the post-industrial society is a risk society, primarily due to its dependence on massive computer networks that “opened information channels between various parts of the world” and “enabled the flow of contagious information and malicious software” (68-69).
Within the chapter, Parikka cites Ulrich Beck, a German sociologist who currently works as a professor at the University of Munich. He wrote Risikogesellschaft (Risk Society), a work that confirmed society’s evolution from “industrial production to risk production”(70). Within Beck’s dissection of risk societies in relation to cultural perception, Parikka references an interesting concept noted by Joost Van Loon:
“…risks are always constructed via visualization, signification, and valorization, all of which refer to processes of assigning risks a certain cultural place and meaning.”
Ironically, the digital frame itself embodies “visualization, signification (in relation to the evolution of photo capture) as well as valorization in the form of commerce. Even more interesting is the parallelism found within viral media.
In today’s society, viral media is synonymous with visualization, specifically in relation to memes, whether it be a video, image, website or even a word. The message behind the viral media can have significance, whether or not it is the creator’s intent; its ability to resonate with the audience is a key factor. Lastly, is the valorization of the meme; the value add varies by genre. For example, the Obama campaign slogan, “Yes We Can” not only had a strong political impact for the Democratic Party, but it also had a social impact with regard to gender and race.
Whether or not it was his intent, Parikka has provided us with yet another way of analyzing viral media, allowing for the detection of resemblances within the realm of malware.