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In the Light of Memory

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Surveying recent social media archives of street projections that subvert official narratives in South America

Diego Cerna Aragon

In November 2020, Peru — which already had been one of the countries most affected by the pandemic and the global economic crisis — experienced a moment of extreme political instability, leading to the impeachment of then president Martín Vizcarra. This sparked a massive wave of civil unrest, as it was seen as a coup orchestrated by the opposition forces in the parliament.

As the crisis unfolded, the use of a particular tactic stood out: street projections. Ingenious protesters reached the house of Manuel Merino — Vizcarra’s replacement in the presidential palace — to tell him that he was not their president, making clear that they wanted him out of office. This tactic also targeted TV stations, which were deemed to be accomplices of the illegitimate regime for their negative portrayal of the people marching in the streets.

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Projection in Manuel Merino’s house. Translation: “Not my president.” Lima, Peru. November 13, 2020. Source: https://twitter.com/helloketty_pe/status/1327448773749051392

Tragically, during the night of November 14th, two young protestors — Inti Sotelo and Jack Bryan Pintado — were killed by the police. The morning after, Merino stepped down from government after five catastrophic days in office. Activists continued to project statements, but now they had a different tenor. Projections were no longer a tool of protest. Projections now were a tool of memory: to memorialize the deaths of those who valiantly confronted an illegitimate regime.

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Projection in the streets of Lima made by artist Claudia Coca. Translation: “His name was Inti like the sun and the sun never fades out” [TN: inti means sun in Quechua]. Lima, Peru. November 16, 2020. Source: https://twitter.com/jfowks/status/1328503859308867584

Luminous interventions have been gaining ground globally in recent years for multiple purposes. However, artists and activists in Latin America seem particularly keen to employ projections as a remembrance of historic political episodes. This has been the case in Chile, where the 2019 and 2020 protests employed projections to remember the cases of human rights abuses committed by their military and police. Similarly, in Argentina projections bring back the faces of the desaparecidos of the military dictatorship. In Brazil, activists remember fallen fellows, recent victims of violent right-wing extremists.

The affordances of projections certainly offer two prominent advantages: portability and spreadability. First, in contrast with other expressions such as graffiti and posters, the message of the projections is not fixed to the support (e.g. walls). So, as long as one can move the necessary devices around the city, the same message can appear in different spaces and/or at different times. The file containing the message can also be distributed to different individuals with adequate equipment and, with enough coordination, the message can be projected in different places simultaneously. But whereas graffiti and posters remain in their places until they are taken down, projections are only visible while the device is on. Paradoxically, the messages compelling us to remember fade when the light goes off.

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Mobile artistic intervention by artist Juan Castillo. Translation: “We demanded dignity and they declared us war.” Valparaíso, Chile. March 3, 2020. Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B9UHsRtJS1E/

Social media users have worked their way around this issue. The custom of capturing and posting remarkable moments or events have created — sometimes inadvertently, others purposely — an archive of these luminous manifestations, storing their message in a more stable form: bytes in a database. Here the message acquires a second layer of spreadability. As publications are shared, the message reaches new persons: these memories are now not only available to those who witnessed a projection in a public space as it was happening but also to those who come across a post on social media.

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Screenshot of the Instagram feed of project gritaluz, Peru. Bio: “Collective civic projections. Follow the link and download images to project. If you have images, send them to [email address].” The projected text in the three images at the bottom: “30 days, no one guilty.” Source: www.instagram.com/gritaluz/

Certainly, these platforms have their own high dose of ephemerality. As any social media user knows, there is a propensity to quickly jump from one topic to another. Without any indexation or curatorial labor, these images of messages fade away when the projector is turned off. Fortunately, there are users dedicated to preserving these images in dedicated social media accounts. By storing, curating, and indexing these shareable images, these users create what we could name as spreadable archives.

Examples of these practices of archiving can be found in different platforms, although Instagram seems to be the preferred choice. For instance, Coletivo Projetação from Brazil is a long-standing collective that started in 2013 and does projections on a wide range of topics — from anti-racism to abortion legalization. A much more recent initiative is La Nueva Banda de la Terraza from Colombia, which started in 2020. Under their motto #aisladosperonocallados (#isolatedbutnotsilent), they started making projections as an alternative way of protesting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These archives are not free of complications such as ownership. These platforms are owned by corporations and there are no publicly owned alternatives. As a consequence, the registers of all these messages invoking the public memory are ironically privately owned. They do not belong to the public and our access to them can change according to corporate decision-making processes. The luminous messages that moved across an open public space, once turned into digital images, now circulate through private digital infrastructure.

Besides these general technological issues, Peru has its own complex relationship with historical memory. After the period of internal conflict during the eighties and nineties, the transition government of Valentin Paniagua in 2001 organized a Truth Commission in charge of clarifying the crimes and human rights abuses committed during these decades. The commission produced a detailed report composed of nine volumes. Given the evident impracticality of such work for dissemination purposes, an abridged version of the report was produced. Still, this version was more than 500 pages long. An even briefer publication containing only the conclusions of the report was also produced. Other alternatives, such as comics focusing on particular events, were also published.

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Projection in the streets of Lima. Translation: “Justice for our brothers.” Lima, Peru. November 29, 2020. Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CIMqWBfpVo-/

Written accounts of our collective memory are still necessary because they stabilize narratives. Over the centuries, the book as a media form has been fundamental for the dissemination of information. People also share and discuss what they read. But, unlike the projections highlighted in this piece, with books information consumption happens primarily between one person and one object. Furthermore, the fact that Inti and Jack died as a result of recent state-sanctioned violence complicates the production of official media memorializing them. In contrast, public projections have been mostly led by artists, activists, and common citizens.

Projections in public spaces do not replace expressions in other media forms. What they offer are new possibilities for how memories can be told and retold. They move memories out of books or museum exhibitions and into the streets. In this sense, it could be said that projections in these spaces make memory truly public. Moreover, their ephemerality also reminds us of the continuous labor that memory requires. Names, events, and ideas that are not mobilized are destined to wither. It is up to each one of us to bring them back. Let us not forget.

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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