Friday, 16 August 2013

The Power of Place

Image from:

 For the blogging exercise the social network that I have chosen to study and engage with is StumbleUpon. I joined this social network mainly because it is something completely new and a website that I have never heard of. StumbleUpon focuses upon finding out the interests of a person through the creation of a profile and from these interests generates websites on the internet that relate to those found interests. The whole point of the website is to help the user find interesting and relevant websites in the cyber-world in an easy and manageable way, as according to Barnes (1997), we can travel endlessly in cyberspace, without limits, for cyberspace is electronic, and electronically we can represent not only the actual physical universe but also possible and imagined worlds. But the movement through space is one that you can search anything but its all kept in one centralised area and easy to access again and again.

Immediately the first thing I looked at was how the network was structured. It is set in a easy to use interface with the cycling of internet websites controlled by a simple press of a button. The websites are easily recalled through the history or likes tab. Whilst searching through these pages it is possible to write comments and StumbleUpon records everywhere you go and "It's like somebody's always putting it on your permanent record. You learn to watch yourself." (Turkle, 1995) The theory of power that I felt was most present in this website was Parson's idea which described power as “The capacity to mobilize the resources of the society for the attainment of goals for which a general ‘public’ commitment has been made” (Petray, 2013) The way I saw this was that the site operators use their power to find out what interests a person has and then utilising this infromation they help us, the users, to find appropriate material. This form of power is one that beneftis both parties equally.

One problem I found with travelling through this networks space was that using the stumble button moved through random pages and sometimes even thought they related to your chosen interests they  wouldn't actually interest you at all.So there is a restriction to your freedom in searching making what you search through designated by the site operators. When talking about travelling through networks Barnes (1997) said that the passing of time is the only way of identifying movement within this space of dislocated hyperlinks between locations. In the short time I have been using StumbleUpon I have already travelled hours through it's space. StumbleUpon also brings together the real and virtual lives by connecting to other social netwroks such as twitter and facebook, to allow users to share the things they have found with their friends and the world.

Until next time,

 Here is a link to the StumbleUpon home page where you can sign up if you wish to try it:

And also a quick guide to the purpose of StumbleUpon:


Barnes, G. (1997). Passage of the cyber-flanuer. Retrieved 15 August, 2013 from

Petray, T. (2013). BA1002: Our Space: Networks, narratives and the making of place, Lecture 2: Power. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved 15 August, 2013 from

Turkle, S. (1995). Life On The Screen Identity in the Age of the Internet. Retrieved 15 August, 2013 from:

Image Credits:
Retrieved 15 August, 2013 from:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Aaron,

    I really enjoyed your blog as I have had not heard of StumbleUpon.
    I found it interesting that most social networks have a common theme in the ability to built a home range. (Petray,2013) StumbleUpon seems to be as Barnes (1997) stated "all journey in cyberspace leads deeper into the labrinthine web of of links, further away from the exit point, further away from the exit point - as one shifts in temporal space further away from the point of entry."
    I also found it interesting when you mention the problem of being guided to sites that may not be relevant to the user. This seems to demonstrate the power of the site operators to determine where the user travels.
    Thanks again and look forward to future blogs

    Cheers Simone


    Barnes, G. (1997). Passage of the cyber-flanuer. Retrieved 11 August, 2013 from

    Petray, T. (2013). BA1002: Our Space: Networks, narratives and the making of place, Lecture 3: Maps. [PowerPoint slides].
    Retrieved from