Times Newer Roman: A Crowdsourced Font as a Social Media; How Social Media Inscribes Values into Its Users

Pham, Khoi, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Foley, Rider, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Morrison, Briana, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

Discourse on the internet has become significantly worse over the past decade. Though different social media platforms and discussion mediums on the internet have varying levels of toxicity, researchers are not able to pinpoint the design decisions and algorithms that contribute to a more hostile discussion environment. Times Newer Roman is a parody social media platform where users can draw letters of the alphabet and vote on drawings to create a crowdsourced font. The website serves as an experiment to examine how design aspects such as anonymity, feed algorithms, and voting systems affect the quality of content of a social media platform. After the experiment is concluded, the data will help contribute to the field of online discussion. Since internet communication is heavily integrated in society, all features of an online discussion platform must have its impact on human to human interactions considered. Using Actor Network Theory, the prescriptions of a platform’s attributes can be analyzed to pinpoint how a user’s mood is altered by social media. In the opposite direction, a user’s actions can inscribe a feature by communicating anything the user wants, reflecting the user’s mood. Actor Network Theory provides a framework that can encapsulate the volatile nature of social media, with the users and technology changing to meet each other’s needs. By analyzing the results of the Times Newer Roman drawings and votes, the correlation between certain social media features and drawing quality can be established. It was found that anonymity encourages a negative feedback loop and that voting causes a positive feedback loop, with the features prescribing negative and positive values.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
font, social media, actor network theory, times newer roman, internet

School of Engineering and Applied Science Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Briana Morrison
Technical Writing Advisor: Rosanne Vrugtman
STS Advisor: Rider Foley
Technical Team Members: Khoi Pham

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