At INC we’re proud to present Maisa Imamović's first book:

The Psychology of the Web Developer, Reality of a Female Freelancer (INC Deep 
Pockets #4)

Underneath the user interface of any website—be it simple or complex—lurks the 
web developer’s struggle with money, prestige, and power. An ever-lasting race 
to the top, never not working. Yet what are these unseen costs of being a 
traditional web developer, and who decides the rules of the game?
In this book on the psychology of an emerging yet often overlooked profession, 
Maisa Imamović explores the technological complexities underneath ordinary 
websites by asking questions such as: Who is a web developer? What does their 
assistant look like? Why does everybody want a ‘simple’ website? What on earth 
is WordPress cringe? And what does it mean to be a female freelance web 
developer in a world full of tech bros?

Strolling through this landscape of questions with irony and self-reflection by 
her side, Imamović takes the reader on an insightful, playful journey. 
Combining recollections of the author’s very first digital friend with a 
characterization of a bossy Senior Web Developer and his loyal Assistant as 
well as funny, raw testimonies of her own (post-pandemic) development within 
the field, the book can be read as a quest for liberation of the constraints of 
being both a web developer and a user.

Maisa Imamović is an Amsterdam-based writer, web developer, designer, and 
artist, currently doing her MA at CalArts. The Psychology of the Web Developer: 
Reality of a Female Freelancer is her first book.


For nettime we present a fragment here, called Anorexia:

The example of one’s relationship to information reminded me of my love for 
Avril Lavigne, or rather, her image, which motivated me to go to an internet 
café for the first time.
It was a hot summer day. I paid fifty cents for one hour of surfing on Google. 
Avril Lavigne’s documented stardom was big enough to occupy eleven tabs of 
image search results. Having one hour gave me enough time to carefully analyze 
these images as both containers of several images, and as individual ones.

The vibes of the first two tabs were my favorite, as they contained the images 
I recognized from my printed collection at home: portraits depicting her as a 
popstar, rockstar, sk8er girl, and complicated. Each image made me guess as to 
which context it was taken in. At the bottom of every tab, there was another 
bottom, revealing buttons to move onto a new tab.

It was a gruesomely hot summer day. I was not alone in my search. My sister, a 
Britney Spears fan, joined me to browse through Britney’s images on a computer 
next to mine. While our index fingers were scrolling down together, our 
analysis-immersed bodies seemed unaware of each other’s presence. These moments 
soon became our everyday activity. One hour of internet a day became a strategy 
to keep our minds sane.

After two weeks of reloading and anticipating new releases of Avril’s images, 
my skin started to itch. I started noticing the texture of the screen on top of 
the images grid: flat, shiny, unreal. I was bored.

The author and poet Ocean Vuong once read somewhere that beauty has 
historically demanded replication.1 That, in order to keep it alive through 
time and space, we make more of anything we find aesthetically pleasing. In 
this way, we allow ourselves to look at it over and over again. We (try to) 
make it last.

Unwilling to give up the beauty of my Avril appreciation just because I got 
bored, I started looking for ways to break out of my boredom. That’s when I 
spotted a printer in the café. This printer marked the beginning of my 
curatorial practice, one that emerged out of my intense ‘studies’ of Avril 
Lavigne. I started printing, then organizing a selection of images born out of 
various Avril settings: stage moments, backstage moments, collaborations, 
hangouts, dates. Right-click

→ Save Image As... → Left-click → Save to my personal folder called Maisa’s 
Avril, lounging cozily on the shared computer’s desktop. Double-click to Open 
Image, Click Print... Printing. Meanwhile, hold left-click and drag the folder 
to Recycle Bin. Right-click → Empty Recycle Bin. (I was afraid that the next 
user on the computer would steal the folder without having done all this 
research, curatorship and clicking that I was doing.)

I wanted to intellectually and physically own all of Avril’s images, to show my 
peers what it means to be the biggest AL fan. It didn’t matter that I was not 
surrounded by that many Avril fans, because deep down I knew that information 
travels quickly, and that I’d start to recognize them sooner than later. They 
would appear to me. Through bracelets, pink highlights, skull prints. Through 
chains worn around skinny necks and wrists.

As expected, Avril’s visually documented life became an ongoing topic during 
after-school hangouts with my friends. We’d ask whether anyone had seen 
pictures from her latest concert in LA. Or if we thought her nonchalant street 
outfit meant that she was breaking up with Deryck, her boyfriend.

Archiving images became a kids’ power play. Whoever discovered the latest 
images of her first got to be the winner—whatever this entailed.

As new strategies for practicing the hobby of archiving started popping up, I 
found myself questioning my research methods. This discontent led me to look 
beyond Google’s All Images and peruse for information in the web’s gutter. I 
was specifically interested in finding images with extraordinary gestures of 
guitar smashing, facial expressions, middle fingers, and preaching about stuff 
in some sort of punk-style. I managed to compile a folder depicting who I 
believed Avril really was, or at least who she had been at the start of her 
career. Finding these gems would lead me to one day ‘become a winner’; again, 
whatever that entailed. Soon enough, the internet became a visible, rather 
tangible matter within my local surrounding: bracelets, pink highlights, skull 
prints, and chains. Skinny necks and wrists.

"Where the capitalist class sees education as a means to an end, the 
vectoralist class sees it as an end in itself. It sees opportunities to make 
education a profitable industry in its own right, based on the securing of 
intellectual property as a form of private property. To the vectoralists, 
education, like culture, is just “content” for commodification."— McKenzie 
Wark, A Hacker’s Manifesto 

One boredom followed another followed another followed another. Consuming 
information in a fast
pace made me feel homeless in my own present, but hopeful about feeling settled 
in my future. My physical appearance manifested the information uncovered 
through all of my user curiosities: they caused me to wear black, to feel blue, 
and to be anorexic for seven long years of my teenage life.

At the age of thirteen, I got tired of manifesting these ‘informational 
changes’ onto my body so literally. I needed less obvious methods of relating 
to my subconsciousness. As I was searching for a new way to relate to the 
uncovered online information and my addiction to excavate it, I stumbled upon 

Anorexia forums—a stream of information that soon became my favorite place for 
digital information.

Learning that deliberate hunger is a way of saying no to whatever the 
disordered is trying to negate felt just right. An act of reduction (of the 
body, of the self) seemed like a way to get rid of the information that, at 
that time, defined me so clearly. I longed to be something other than I was. 
De-creation, of and for me, was about to be cultivated as a new form of 
relationship with the information entering my life as a teenager.

Through these anorexia forums I learned about the many subjects one can negate, 
often being the image of oneself, and parental control. Many teenagers who 
wanted to gain control over their young lives found comfort in practicing 
eating disorders. They could eat and puke as much as they wished, in order to 
reach the weight that best defined the parameters of the space they wanted to 
occupy. The size of their bodies, according to them, manifested their relation 
to their domestic context. The healthier the body, the more representative of 
its healthy environment it is. In contrast, sick bodies are independent of the 
environment in which they are rooted and where they mostly operate. Sick bodies 
bite the hand that feeds them. Hard.

The best way to share a personal ‘progress’ of shrinking with other users was 
to create an Ana story, a YouTube video made up out of images representing an 
authentic experience of the disorder. Most videos were accompanied by sad music 
playing in the background. Each story was told similarly:

(intro) What did the subject look like as a healthy and normal person?

(rising action) Until they discovered Ana online,

(climax) Then scaled down to their lowest weight (average was 112 lbs)

(falling action) Ended up in a hospital,

(conclusion) And finally went back to being healthy and normal.

A lot of these stories were not fully developed before they were shared. If an 
Ana video story ended with the disorder’s climax—the lowest weight—it meant 
that the situation will end in one of two ways: recovery, or death. There was 
something alluring about a video ending with an established definition of the 
climax point. Elaborate were my many speculations about how their stories 
ended. I nourished the need to discover how the story ended, and kept coming 
back to some of the YouTube accounts.

Most of the sufferers were my age and came from America, a land I learned to be 
the land of excess. From the pictures I could get an insight into their rooms, 
families, pets, domestic vibes. Most of them took pictures of their progress 
from their closet, a safe place to hide in case one of their parents walked in. 
The outdoor scenery around their house always seemed vast, but also rather 
empty. There was not much going on, except more lawns and houses.

Through these images, I could feel the comfort of the lights projected by their 
screens. But I also felt their loneliness; how there was no one’s reaction to 
the video that could validate it.

The place where I myself was growing up did not occupy that much space on an 
urban scale, nor did it feel like my body was a manifestation of its size and 
the various eating rituals it hosted. Thus it was hard to point out the exact 
subject of my negation to eat: sometimes I would blame it on my parents, 
sometimes on missing my home country. In hindsight, I think it might have just 
been solidarity all along.

Even though I never shared my progress in these various threads, reading about 
the users’ obsessive practices of calorie counting, body weighing, controlled 
eating and puking gave me a feeling that if I participated, I could find a 
sense of belonging. To belong, I had to learn how to occupy the least amount of 
space in the room.

As my body was shrinking, the feeling of being part of the online community 
grew stronger. Once again I longed to display my learned information onto my 
body and into my surroundings. Weighing 45 kg at the lowest, I wanted to occupy 
the least amount of space in the many rooms I encountered.

It was not boredom that urged me to put an end to this de-creation of my own 
body—for this process was very tricky to beat. It was the malnutrition, which 
stopped me from practicing other passions I found more important in life. Next 
to this, it was the moment I read the unable- to-recover story of a 30-plus 
mother lamenting about the mental pitfalls of eating disorders, hoping she 
wouldn’t pass it on to her daughter. It was her story that got lost in the 
thread, because she didn’t specify how much she weighed, nor how many calories 
she ate per day.

What I learned back then, is that information is not knowledge. A lot of 
information showing the reader which metrics and/or numbers one must reach to 
‘prove’ that one does it right is, in the end, just a race to the finish line.8 
An anorexic person becomes successful when she shrinks to the point of being 
hospitalized. In the hospital, she meets other anorexics who are counting and 
obsessing over their digits. Yet within this hospital context, the rules of the 
game change: instead of the lowest weight, death is the final destination of 
the race. The winner gets to die.

After seven years of practicing meditative hunger, the underlying irony of the 
situation helped me pull myself out of the race. Recovering from one eating 
disorder, and then another, challenged me to question how my identity could be 
based on finding meaning in nothingness, within the shrinking of my self. 
Recovery meant letting go of information that materialized nothingness, an 
emptiness that, as a user, made me feel so strangely fulfilled.

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