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Selfies Were New… in 1839

Yesterday my wife and I were visiting the Grand Canyon, and the act of self photography was in full gear (sticks and all) by the visitors there, including us.

Yet, the act of the self photograph is hardly new. From the Public Domain Review comes the story of Robert Cornelius doing the act in 1839. And painters have been at it for centuries before that.

So what is new? Is it the widespread act? The promoting in social media. We explore this week many questions of the selfie and what it means (or does not).

The Selfie City project provided a research angle on the nature of selfies in different cities around the world.

We are asking you this week to engage as well in a turning inside out of the typical concept in Dr Zamora’s Selfie-Unselfie project, which we ask you to take on as a response to the activity in the NetNarr Make Bank. You will find there as starters examples by students in previous classes.

And to look deeply into the net mirror, at something that goes beyond self representation, to ask what is real. Test your skills at Which Face is Real by guessing which of two photos are real vs ones generated by a sophisticated algorithm.

I have to admit my score after a few rounds was less than 50% correct. Not that winning is a goal, but considering what this means for human representation online.


Image Credit

Public domain image from Robert Cornelius’ Self-Portrait: The First Ever “Selfie” (1839)

By Prof Alan

An early 90s builder of the web and blogging, Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling, photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He has been a part of NetNarr since 2017.

2 replies on “Selfies Were New… in 1839”

I played as well and I got many wrong. But I have a question the wrong faces are computer composites of features? Is that possible? they look so real? I’m a little scared that we can manipulate the image in this way. Any enlightenment you have to offer I would be glad to receive? Thank yoU! #netnarr

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