This interview is a regular feature of the Quick Thoughts program on Status/الوضع. It offers insight into subjects that dominate online discussion in the Middle East. With every episode of the show, we will talk to Laila Shereen Sakr, who monitors, collects, and analyzes social media trends for R-Shief.
In this episode, Laila draws our attention to interesting changes happening to online spaces including the dwindling of "bridge figures" who traverse the various online echo chambers, the polarization of online discourses, and the increasing un-networking of digital communities. This is an early glimpse into what could be a defining pattern in the use of social media for years to come including a phenomenon now being described by many as "social media fatigue."
Laila Shereen Sakr is a digital media theorist and artist working in computational art, live cinema, data visualization, and media activism. She is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Her work uses media analytics, visualization, and immersive storytelling techniques to map how participation in virtual worlds and networked publics have influenced the formation of a virtual body politic. This research led her to design the R-Shief media system for archiving and analyzing content from social networking sites, and the cyborg representation of VJ Um Amel. She published a software patent for “Automatically Generating Semantic Meaning from Social Media Content,” filed June 2013. And she serves as co-editor of After.Video open access video book. Shereen Sakr has shown in solo and group exhibitions and performances at galleries and museums across the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East, and has published extensively. She holds an M.F.A. in Digital Arts and New Media from University of California, Santa Cruz, an M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and a PhD in Media Arts + Practice from the University of Southern California. Recent reviews appear in The Wall Street Journal, Science, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, Voice of America, The Monocle, Art Territories, Digital Media and Learning, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, Jadaliyya, and The Creators Project.