Grossman, Amelie

Amelie Grossman

Amelie Grossman responds to the question: Are some types of knowledge more useful than others?

Object 1: YouTube notification bell for a video upload from Marius Angeschrien

I was waiting for a YouTube notification from Marius Angeschrien for his new YouTube video update on his project called “NextLevel” for a long time as I saw the previous one and really enjoyed it. However, since the YouTube notification bell did not tell me what video was uploaded and it just told me that YouTube wanted my attention for something it raises the question on how useful the notification bell is.

This YouTube notification bell is especially interesting for this exhibition as I was waiting for a specific notification but when I saw one, I did not know if it was the notification of Marius Angeschrien’s new update on his project or any other video to which’s channel I had subscribed to at some point. The icon itself represents a non-linguistic means of communicating, which enables more people to understand what is meant by this factual artwork. However, since the icon is confined to knowledge transmitted through an image, it lacks detailed information on why YouTube wants my attention. Therefore, widely accessible knowledge can influence the amount of knowledge communicated, making it less useful to a specific individual.

This YouTube notification bell additionally contributes to this exhibition as many people get addicted to YouTube because of its notifications although they themselves click on the subscribe button to allow YouTube to send notifications for video uploads. I, myself, was checking YouTube every day to see if the video was uploaded. The red 1 as part of the notification icon contrasts the black background very heavily, signalling the consumer that they should pay attention towards it. However, this might not be in the interest of the consumer as they might get distracted from something else. Therefore, knowledge that screams for attention can often be seen as useless as its aim is not for the benefit of the user but rather for the knowledge producer itself.

Object 2: Letter from my ancestors from World War 2

This is a letter from my great-grandfather to my great-grandmother about his life fighting in World War 2 away from home translated by my grandmother from Sütterlin (old German) into modern German. The fact that the letter was typed up for me to understand and changed to a Word document for me to receive raises the question on its contextual usefulness since it has now lost its originality and changed its purpose.

This letter from my great-grandfather fighting in World War 2 enriches this exhibition as the whole format of the original letter was changed into a digitalised Word document. The original letter was written on a French piece of paper (see Appendix 1), giving historical context about where my great-grandfather was. However, when it is typed up in a Word document it lost this knowledge making it less useful to interpret. This is due to the new “wrong” contextual knowledge that is added in form of the Word document. This gives the letter a different purpose of distributing rather than communicating with my great-grandfather’s wife. Therefore, taking knowledge from a second-hand source is less useful as it has changed its communication means loosing contextual knowledge.

Additionally, my grandfather’s letter firmly contributes to this exhibition as my grandmother had to translate it from Sütterlin to modern German so that I could understand what my great-grandfather wrote factually. This, however, takes away the emotional knowledge associated with the handwritten letter and specific letters he wrote in his unique way, how no one else did. It acts as evidence that he created it. Digital letters on the contrary are so generic that they cannot include the exact handwriting my great-grandfather had. This shows how generic knowledge can be useless without its emotional original context.

Object 3: TikTok video on how to make Mac N’ Cheese

This TikTok on how to make Mac N’ Cheese was shown to me by my sister as I asked her if she knew any Mac N’ Cheese recipes. It is interesting for this exhibition as it not only conveys the practical knowledge of how to make the dish but also factors such as the music in the background that might distract the effective knowledge communication.

This TikTok also enriches this exhibition as it conveys practical knowledge through an artistic platform. Other than a normal recipe, it not only includes written text on how to make Mac N’ Cheese but additional emotional knowledge through a combined use of music and video. This gives the practical knowledge communicated a rather emotional purpose. This means that the video not only conveys the knowledge of how Mac N’ Cheese can be made but also how the experience of making it might feel like. This distracted me from the real purpose I watched the video, which was to acquire factual knowledge on how to make Mac N’ Cheese. Therefore, the TikTok could be seen as rather useless when wanting to acquire specific factual knowledge without the influence of subjective interpretations.

This TikTok also enriches this exhibition as this Mac N’ Cheese recipe is not the best one I’ve ever tried but it was the quickest and easiest to make. This is probably because TikTok videos themselves are around 15 seconds long leaving not a lot of room for detailed explanations, which a common recipe would have. This also demonstrates how the purpose of this video was to make a quick and easy recipe rather than a perfectly tasting one. This means that the TikTok was aimed towards an epistemic community that values speed over taste much like my sister but not what I was looking for in a Mac N’ Cheese recipe. Despite our same family community, we have different friends belonging to difference epistemic communities and upholding different values. This shows how the usefulness of practical knowledge can vary between people depending on the epistemic community.

Works Cited

Feelgoodfood, „Mac N‘ Cheese in a Mug!“ Dec. 23, 2019. Tik Tok, 02 Feb. 2022, https://www.tiktok.com/@feelgoodfoodie/video/6773426177315998982?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1&q=mac%20n%20cheese%20feelgoodfoodie&t=1644841289978.

Marius Angeschrien, “Schlage meinen Escape Room, Gewinne, __” Jan. 9, 2022. YouTube, 02 Feb. 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiG2kQe4SLU.