Full title:

"Yearning to Be the Center of Everything When We Are the Center of Nothing: Parallels and Reversals in Chaco, Hubble, and Facebook."

Published in Telematics and Informatics, Volume 30, Number 1, February 2013, pp. 35-46.


Barry Vacker and Genevieve Gillespie

Read/download the paper: Chaco Hubble 

Below is a brief summary of some of the key ideas of the paper. The illustrations are not included in the published paper.


At some point in our lives, perhaps we have all peered through binoculars or a telescope in reverse and seen the world at a much smaller scale. This visual experience is an apt metaphor for explaining the deepest and most existential meanings of Facebook, Twitter, and social media. Seems crazy, right?

We know the Hubble Space Telescope is designed to see stars and galaxies as it peers across the vast universe, so if we looked through the Hubble in reverse would we see tiny people in Facebook? Sure, it is a metaphorical question, but it does prompt us into thinking different about Facebook.

Of course, Facebook is the most successful of the “social media” sites exploding around the world, networked technologies which permit people to share everything from photos to status updates to the latest events in their lives. In this sense, Facebook and all social media are “apps” for the internet, applications which permit people to document and represent their lives to themselves and their friends. And Facebook provides this free app in exchange for the panoptic power to surveil and archive every action taken in Facebook and provide that data for prying corporations and spying governments. Much theory and research have already gone into exploring the social and economic implications of the many facets of Facebook. 

But, does Facebook have a meaning that is deeper than social or economic, perhaps an existential meaning that says something about how we are adapting (or not adapting) on Earth to our place the cosmos?


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