The supersurfaces of social media

If I understand this notion from Zizi Papacharissi correctly*, it captures something important about social media. These platforms create an experience of expansiveness which doesn’t hook into the social world in a significant way. It’s a free-wheeling expansiveness, to use a term from Roy Bhaskar’s critique of Richard Rorty, a trick of perspective which affects a significance it can’t provide. From pg 137 of Affective Publics:

The term supersurfaces is popular among architects, as a way of describing spatial possibilities enabled by the technique of folding, so as to show how flat surfaces can be transformed into volumes through cutting, weaving, twisting, winding, and further manipulating woven forms (Vyzoviti, 2001, 2003). I use the term to describe how the discursive spaces rendered by net-based platforms relate to the materiality of physical spaces (Papacharissi, 2010). They extend and pluralize spaces for conversation and mobilization organically, in ways that feel empowering and meaningful. At the same time, without direct connections to the systemic core of civic institutions, their ability to effect institutional change is compromised.

*And I’m not sure I do because I don’t think this is a particular clear explanation.

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About Mark