RESEARCH/ BOOK DESIGN


THE VOID SHOUTS BACK




The Void Shouts Back is a distillation, in book form, of 2 months of research into Twitter and the conversations it enables through the lens of America’s first “Extremely Online” president and the army of supporters and dissenters that hang on his every word. Just who are these people that spend their spare minutes shouting into the void, and just what can I learn about the chaos that is modern discourse by listening?























Twitter and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. Arguably more than any other social media platform Twitter has profoundly altered the way we talk to and about each other for two reasons. Firstly the unprecedented level of access (or the appearance of access) it gives us to celebrities, politicians, and other fixtures of public interest. But also its strict character limit which forces us to edit and reshape our messaging for the best impact-to-character ratio. In an attempt to better understand the increasingly hysterical shouting match that is “online," I started my research at the epicenter, the modern day salon, the ever raging battle royale of intellectual titans: President Donald Trump’s Twitter mentions.
What began as an exercise in digital voyeurism and snickering at the misdirected sincerity of political Twitter slowly morphed into an intense fascination and and eventually a data gathering expedition with the intention of figuring out something about the pathology of the “reply guy.”     What kinds of people are these who shout at the digital avatar of a president? Where do they think their complaints and praise are landing? Do they share some commonality with one another? With me?













With these questions and more in mind I set out to record every scrap of data I could from these user’s bio’s: content of profile picture, average bio length, political allegiances expressed through emojis personal shout-outs, hashtags, publicly held grudges, average username length, etc. No data point was too trivial for my rigorous investigative dragnet. 
    So I graphed and plotted the seemingly disconnected tidbits of information, a picture began to take shape. My first foray into snarky, research-based cultural criticism was finally paying off in a big way… or was it? As data points gave way to even more data points and graphs and charts multiplied like rabbits, it was becoming more and more apparent that what I was left with was an impenetrable blue mist, something that couldn’t be contained or understood. And so what started out as an attempt to use empirical research to give structure to some vague ideas about new media became an exercise in cataloguing a fruitless journey to nowhere.
    As the time and pages wore on, my graphs and systems of plotting data became more nonsensical and impenetrable, so tightly packed on the page that one might have trouble even trying to make sense of things. As my priorities shifted, my page folios became engorged with metadata about the book itself, and as the very structure of this book slid further and further into incoherence I began to understand at last that I would never understand.













































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