I’m happy to be taking the reins from Nick Mirzoeff as Coordinating Editor of The New Everyday, MediaCommons’ “middle-state” publication for the exploration of our mediated everyday existence (about which more below). Nick launched TNE three years ago, and since then we’ve enjoyed clusters of insightful and timely posts on new political forms and modes of civic engagement, new practices of looking, new instantiations of the timeless “banality of evil,” new challenges facing our educational institutions, and new practices of collecting, organizing, and making media.
I’ve shared the text from our refreshed “About” page below. For more information, see “How It Works.”
How the times have changed! A little, a lot, vastly, not at all? We shall see.
– Henri Lefebvre, Everyday Life in the Modern World, p. 7
The New Everyday investigates the mundane, the quotidian, the habitual, and the routine, focusing in particular on the roles that media and technology play in their construction. Building upon the work of pioneers in the field – Lefebvre and Michel de Certeau among them – we wonder about new formulations of the everyday in this age of seemingly universal digitization and mobilization. How have the times changed? As “new media” grow old and are upgraded with ever increasing rapidity, as our visions of the world and the stars are shaped via the “machine-visions” of a New Aesthetic, as our everyday temporalities are informed both by the predictive capabilities of “big data” and a growing consciousness of the “deep time” of humans’ impact on the planet, what distinguishes the everyday today? We must wonder, as Lefebvre does, if “what has changed” is “everyday life” itself, or “the art of representing it through metamorphosis, or both, and what the consequences are” (7).
The solution, he advocates,
[is] to attempt a philosophical inventory and analysis of everyday life that will expose its ambiguities – its baseness and exuberance, its poverty and fruitfulness – and by these unorthodox means release the creative energies that are an integral part of it (13).
The New Everyday aims to be a forum for these inventories and analyses. And it aims to infuse this investigation with “creative energies” by experimenting with the means and modalities of critical investigation. As we examine the mediated everyday, we’ll involve those same everyday media as tools in our examination. Do particular formats or genres of expression uniquely capture various dimensions of everyday experience, or do certain aspects of the everyday elude mediation? And as we think through the everyday, what modalities best support our own rhetorical and expressive goals?
The New Everyday is a platform for what is called “middle-state” publishing, and it’s in-the-middle, or in-between, in more ways than one:
- Contributions are longer than a blog post, but shorter than a journal article; they’re typically between 900 and 1500 words.
- Contributions represent ideas that are in-formulation, taking shape but not yet fully formed; TNE offers an opportunity for you to think through a project in public, and to solicit feedback from the MediaCommons community as part of the process of developing your ideas.
- The public invested in these collaborative investigations ideally extends beyond the academy to include other professionals with their own means of engaging with the quotidian and “making the familiar strange”; thus, TNE welcomes collections that mix scholars of media with scholars from other fields of study, artists, technologists, legal and finance professionals, etc.
- As McKenzie Wark notes, “The time of everyday life not only differs from the time of news media and the time of scholarship, it differs from the time of capital flows an global power” (266). The spaces and forms of everyday life likewise differ from the traditional formsof scholarship. Thus we seek contributions that rethink the way we conceptualize and develop a critical discourse around the everyday. We welcome observations, reportage, media “stylos,” and other forms of what Geert Lovink calls “theory on the run” – theory as a “living-entity, a set of proposals, preliminary propositions and applied knowledge,” which “expresses itself in a range of ways” (15).
- Much like our everyday milieu, with its myriad modes of experience and forms of discourse, TNE is multimodal; it supports work that calls for hybrid forms of expression, encompassing sound, (zoom-able) still images, video, etc. (other formats can be explored with our tech team).
Previous “clusters” (i.e., special thematic issues, or edited collections) can be perused here. Other topics might include, but are certainly not limited to:
- The transformation of everyday life into computational lists, aggregated data, feeds and flows, and the aspects of the everyday that resist this transformation
- Technologies of productivity and digital labor – or leisure
- The politics of “small things”
- The affective and cognitive dimensions of the mediated everyday – boredom, amusement, attention, distraction, etc.
- Gadgets, gizmos, and appliances
- Mediated environments
- Technology and temporality
- Infrastructures and institutions invisibly shaping our everyday experience
- Buzzfeed, Pinterest, and other digital and analog platforms for the “everyday archiving” of what Sianne Ngai calls the “zany, cute and interesting”
- Technologies of self-regulation and habituation
- Mass observation, participant observation, eavesdropping, and other formal and informal methodologies for studying the everyday
- Media’s role in revealing the non-universality of “everyday-ness”
Call for Contributions to The New Everyday
Individual contributions are welcome. However, the most effective means of contributing is via a pre-constituted cluster, or special issue. The cluster curator(s) establish(es) the theme or topic for a cluster; solicit(s) contributions (the TNE co-ordinating editor is happy to offer recommendations and assist with recruitment); lightly edits the contributions, if necessary; and oversees individual contributors’ posting of their work. For more information, see “How It Works.”
If you would like to submit an idea for a cluster, or to publish an individual project, please email the TNE Co-ordinating Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Proposals should include a brief abstract, a list of potential contributors (ideally five to nine), and a description of potential post formats and media assets.
Henri Lefebvre, Everyday Life in the Modern World, Trans. Sacha Rabinovitch (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2007).
Geert Lovink, My First Recession: Critical Internet Culture in Transition (Amsterdam: NAi Publishers, 2003).
McKenzie Wark, “The Weird Global Media Event and the Tactical Intellectual [Version 3.0]” In Wendy Chun and Thomas Keenan, Eds., New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader (New York: Routledge, 2006): 265-76.