Looking at/into the Net Mirror

If you have wound a path here, you likely read a bit about the background of the NetNarr courses and the intents for 2020.

In this year’s version, we are engaged again in public social media (mainly twitter under the #netnarr tag), but also expanding our space somewhat to a public but perhaps not so public layer of the web– an annotation layer. We will be having discussions, sharing, storytelling as well in notes we can attach to any public site using the Hypothes.is tool.

In our first class, we will get an experience together. Right here.

It’s also part of our site. If you know this, look for the small entry in the top right of pages like this. What happens when you open the yellow next that indicates a note? Maybe it means, say hello. What/who do you see?

About the Metaphor

Chances are you are familiar with the Netflix anthology series Black Mirror (see background info from WikiPedia). But maybe not? Use your annotation tools to share what you know of the show.

It’s a dark, largely dystopian view into technology and society, and calls back to antecedents such as The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone. Do you know these?

If you have seen the show, you know the opening title screen. But what does the title and name mean? Listen to creator Charlie Brooker fill you in.

What I took it to mean was when a screen is off – when a screen is off it looks like a black mirror. Because any TV, any LCD, any iPhone, any iPad – something like that – if you just stare at it, it looks like a black mirror, and there’s something cold and horrifying about that, and it was such a fitting title for the show.

I mean, I don’t know what else we would’ve called it – Spooky Technology Time?! It would’ve been rubbish. I quite like the fact that people are watching it on their TV or on their laptop, or their smartphone or whatever, and then as the end credits start running and the screen cuts to black, they see themselves reflected.


Fans tweeted out when they discovered this (these tweets went viral but seem to be gone now– what happens in twitter often does not stay there)

am i the only one who didnt know black mirror was called black mirror because when you look at your phone or computer screen after it’s turned off you see your reflection on the black screen…it’s a black mirror.. pic.twitter.com/ApBxUC3RdU

— 🔪 (@bleuvaIentine) December 29, 2017

I recently found out the meaning behind the name ‘Black Mirror’ and it’s bc when the episode ends and the screen goes black you see your reflection and subsequently then you can see reflection of the episode on your life and I AM SHOOK #BlackMirror

— Sarah Wheeler (@blueberryutopia) January 11, 2018

What’s your reaction to this? Had you thought of the show this way? What does this insight mean to you?

This class is not all about the show! It’s a metaphor meant to make you think about what happens behind your screens, on or off. We are aiming in this course to understand the ideas of network culture, public places, privacy, and ultimately surveillance capitalism.

And we will screen and discuss another series of short films in the same genre – Screening Surveillance (and we will have conversations with their creator).

But what does one do with these now present dystopian stories? It can leave one… helpless. As noted in “To stay relevant, Black Mirror has to change how dystopian fiction works” (The Verge), though, the arc of the plots are changing, and maybe becoming… not as dystopian?

All of this is to get you geared up to create your own network media rich narrative, maybe on a topic we will discuss during the course, but maybe something else.

A mirror reflects, but does it dictate? We hope you “note” your ideas.

Image Credit

Pixabay Image by The Digital Artist – later we will talk about how surveillance is most often represented as video observation, and how that is limiting.