Britney Gil writes about technology, politics, and society for academic and public audiences. You can view some of her selected writings below.
Gif Horse – Real Life Magazine
If every picture tells a story, a gif tells a story as a series, each version a slight variation on the previous one. With every loop, a viewer can take in more information, as inert details come to life and new elements are noticed, while the emotions triggered can be experienced repeatedly. The majesty of a rubber-band ball regaining its dignity after being crushed under a hydraulic press, or the shock of a car crash caught on a dashboard camera, can be felt again and again.
Training Man-uals – Cyborgology
The internet is the biggest training manual in history, and we use it to muddle through everything from broken door knobs to wine-stained pants to tough break ups. We also use it to learn how to be a particular type of person: successful, organized, sexy, friendly, assertive, and the list goes on. But one of the biggest demographics for the online-training manual market is men learning how to be men. A specific kind of man. The kind who can talk to a woman wearing headphones.
Texts, Facts, Emotions – Cyborgology
There is a trend—one that was present prior to the election but has increased dramatically since—in our inability to communicate with people who hold radically different political convictions. It is a complete systems failure. On the smaller end of the scale, it takes form in the specialized vocabularies that we do not share, the differences in language use that muddy conversations and leave us confused. Higher up the scale are the different sources we rely on for news, the different windows to the world that deliver information to us and form our basic conceptions of reality. And at the top of this systems failure is something more difficult to discuss, let alone solve. It is a crisis of epistemology—the ways we come to know the world—that is bound up in the collapse of trust in fundamental institutions, and an apocalyptic paranoia that everyone you disagree with is knowingly working toward the destruction of your way of life.
No Contest – Real Life Magazine
It’s not hard to see why reality TV is popular with television production companies: It is cheap to make. Instead of depending on conventional writers and actors, reality shows rely more on recording and editing technology itself, which allows vast amounts of footage to be captured and pared down into satisfying, formulaic narratives. But what do these formulas consist of, and what makes them so compelling?