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Marshall MacLuhan

The Internet as a centralizing force.
by

Lannie Pearcy

on 30 January 2013

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Transcript of Marshall MacLuhan

Comm. 105, Group 2 Presents The Internet
as a
Decentralizing Force Internet Communities "All technologies are extensions of our physical and nervous systems to increase power and speed... Alteration of social groupings, and the formation of communities occur with the increased speed of information movement."
(MacLuhan, 1995, p. 90) Speed Up, Connecting Communities Faster Than Ever Before Speed-up creates a centre-margin structures. When this extends beyond the ability for the original authority to control, new communities branch off to establish their own colonies. This is a time when the donor population redoubles its efforts to exert control. In light of recent events, let's use #IdleNoMore as a case study. "Our electric extensions of ourselves simply by-pass space and time, and create human involvement and organization for which there is no precedent." (MacLuhan, 1995, p. 105) "Lack of homogeneity in speed of information movement creates diversity in patterns of organization. It is quite predictable, then, that any new means of moving information will alter any power structure whatever." (MacLuhan, 1995, p. 91) Computer Ownership The Internet and Resource Mobilization Participatory Politics Collective Identity Media Coverage "Where there are great discrepancies in speeds of movement... serious conflicts occur within organizations." (MacLuhan, 1995, p. 91) Civil Disobedience (Online) "Now, when information itself is the main traffic, the need for advanced knowledge presses on the most routine ridden minds. So sudden an upsurge of academic training into the marketplace has in it the quality of classical peripety or reversal." (MacLuhan, 1995, p. 103) It's a fairly well known fact that computer ownership has increased dramatically since the 1990s.
The early days of the internet (aka. Web 1.0, or the pre-participatory era) adhered to the traditional "gatekeeper" model of journalism. (Slater, 2011)
Today, websites can be created and published in the absence of financial backing and acute technical proficiency. (Slater, 2011)
It is now understood that a large proportion of the populace in the developed nations spends a significant amount of time accessing social media on a tool that was formerly restricted to the workplace. "Now that man has extended his central nervous system by electric technology, the field of battle has shifted to mental image making-and-breaking, both in war and in business." (MacLuhan, 1995, p. 103) "Whenever speed-up has occurred, the new centralist power always takes action to homogenize as many marginal areas as possible." (MacLuhan, 1995, p. 92) "The principal factor in media impact on existing forms are acceleration and disruption. Today the acceleration tends to be total and thus ends space as the main factor in social arrangements." (MacLuhan, 1995, p. 94) "Our electric extensions of ourselves simply by-pass space and time, and create human involvement and organization for which there is no precedent." (MacLuhan, 1995, p. 105) Social scientists often examine the resources needed to coordinate collective action. in social movements (Ramos, 2006)
This is measured by the analysis of organizations that function as participation spheres (also known as "hubs of interaction"). (Ramos, 2006)
Online movements are most effective when they're used "alongside a spirited and committed community campaign." (Slater, 2011, p. 20)
Even today, pickets and demonstrations in real life, however, act as a "centralized information hub for passersby and a common gathering place." (Slater, 2011, p. 21)
Before the advent of the internet, activists were dependent on organizations like the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Metis National Council, and the Native Women's Association of Canada to act as "sites of mobilization." (Ramos, 2006, p. 216) Participatory politics is defined by two qualities: it is peer created, and it relies on social media. (Kahne & Middaugh, 2012)
Creates a new voice for agency and influence (Kahne and Middaugh, 2012), allowing the consumer populace to collaborate in real time, and publish instantly to a "potentially global audience." (Slater, 2011, p. 22)
Allows for small interest groups to counter powerful entities, like governments and corporations. (Slater, 2011)
Provides liberation from "traditional keepers of information." (Kahne & Middaugh, 2012, p. 55) Social scientists examine how particular social movements and "bystander publics interact in order to build and assert identities." (Ramos, 2006, p. 214)
The mobilization of social movements is related to everyday interactions between people, and the use of social networks. (Ramos, 2006)
The first social movement based on a shared PanAboriginal identity occurred as recently as the 1970s, with the activity of the American Indian Movement (AIM). (Ramos, 2006) One of the ways that old centralist powers attempt to exert control is through traditional forms of media. Media biases can occur at multiple levels.
These forms of media tend to adhere to the "official version of events," (Wilkes, 2010, p. 332) which has the adverse effect of promoting racist sentiments, and justifying the use of military/police force (Wi,kes, 2010)
The press seeks stories that are dramatic and sensational, which reflects upon the judgements made by authority figures during the "filtering process. (Wilkes, 2010, p. 334)
Realizing this, indigenous protesters have been deliberately tailoring their strategies to "facilitate bold headlines and front page placement." (Wilkes, 2010, p. 335) "The internet brings new opportunities for everyone, but at the moment international activists are benefiting relatively more than their opponents." - Peter Van Aeist and Stephan Walgrave (Slater, 2011, p. 19) As activity on the internet increases rapidly, so too do the number of threats to the security of Canadians from both domestic and foreign agents. (Government of Canada, 2012)
The international activity level of the internet makes it incredibly difficult to assert control over crimes (like hacking) that are not restricted by national boundaries.
Lately, civil disobedience has made an appearance online in the form of "Hacktivism," which a moniker used to describe hacking involves the targeted use of hacking that is driven by a social or political impetus. (Definition courtesy of Dictionary.com)
One of the most renowned hacktivists operates under the name Anonymous, and is known for targeting corporate and government networks. (Bronskill, 2012) Social media can be integrated with an existing organization's website; while this may be easy for a grassroots movement, this can be potentially burdensome for some large organizations.
(Slater, 2011) In general, 19th Century social movements generally pertained to social inequalities, while 20th Century movements were premised upon "the assertion and reaffirmation of denied identities." (Ramos, 2006, p. 214) Dec. 10, 2012
14, 682 Tweets Dec. 11, 2012
10, 434 Tweets Dec. 19, 2012
19, 858 Tweets Dec. 20, 2012
23, 404 Tweets Dec. 21, 2012
32, 040 Tweets Jan. 7, 2012
24, 870 Tweets Jan. 10, 2013
33, 409 Tweets Jan. 22, 2013
56, 762 Tweets Jan. 16, 2013
32, 422 Tweets Saskatchewan,
National Day of Solidarity Victoria Island, Hudson Bay
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence
begins her hunger strike West Edmonton Mall, Alberta
Demonstrations Across Canada
Road blockades Ottawa, Ontario
Aboriginal Leaders
demonstrate
at Capital Hill Attawapiskat Audit Ottawa, Ontario
Meeting with the Prime Minister #IdleNoMore Twitter Activity (Galloway, 2013) "Speed, in turn, accentuates problems of form and structure... Older arrangements had not been made with a view to such speeds." (MacLuhan, 1995, p. 95) The challenges of maintaining control over the internet are so extensive that the presence of this technology challenges the homeostasis of the old centralized power. Cultural Revival as a Homogenizing Factor Question Do you think the next big political battle will be waged on the web, or in the streets?
Is the internet a powerful enough tool to threaten existing structures of authority? Sources Cited MacLuhan, M. (1995). Chapter 10. Roads and paper routes. Understanding media: The
extensions of man. Cambridge, ME: MIT Press. Ramos, H. (2006). What causes Canadian Aboriginal protest? Examining resources,
opportunities, and identity, 1951-2000. Canadian Journal of Sociology, 3 (1),
211-235. Wilkes, R., et al. (2010). Packaging protest: Media coverage of Indigenous people's
collective action. Canadian Sociological Association, 47 (4), 328-357. Slater, C. (2011). Going online for social change: Techniques, barriers and possibility
for community groups. Social Alternatives 30, 19-25. Kahne, J., & Middaugh, E. (2012). Digital media shapes youth participation in politics.
Kappan, 52-58. Galloway, G. (2013, November 25). At the crossroads: the Idle No More campaign.
The Globe and Mail, pp. A6, A7. For example, 60% of the newspaper articles featuring a story on the Oka Confrontation framed it as an issue of law-and-order, rather than one of political injustice with deep historical roots. (Wilkes, 2010) Events were more likely to receive press coverage if they contained suggested elements of violence. (Wilkes, 2010) http://decolonizingmedia.tumblr.com http://decolonizingmedia.tumblr.com http://decolonizingmedia.tumblr.com http://decolonizingmedia.tumblr.com http://decolonizingmedia.tumblr.com http://decolonizingmedia.tumblr.com http://decolonizingmedia.tumblr.com http://decolonizingmedia.tumblr.com http://decolonizingmedia.tumblr.com http://decolonizingmedia.tumblr.com Social Movements Online In this television program airing on the CBC, indigenous correspondent Wab Kinew reports on modern cultural revival efforts and challenges some of the pervasive stereotypes that are present in popular culture today. 8th Fire - Indigenous in the City http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/8thfire//2011/11/indigenious-in-the-city.html "Idle No More: Where do we go from here?" On Jan. 23, #IdleNoMore supporters gathered at Uvic's First People's House to facilitate a discussion on the movement's proceedings. http://www.spreecast.com/events/idle-no-more-where-do-we-go-from-here-1.html Organizers predominantly relied upon social media, like Twitter and Facebook, in order to mobilize and organize a large volume of people. The event was recorded and streamed online, along with a chat window from which viewers could comment. This video was accessible to a global audience, and an enduring record of the night's proceedings remains. Check this out: (Optional) For example... On Jan. 6, 2013, Anonymous implicitly
allied itself with #IdleNoMore. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. (2012). Cybercrime. Web. Accessed Jan. 26, 2012. <http://www.international.gc.ca/crime/cyber_crime-criminalite.aspx?view=d> Bronskill, J. (2012). Anonymous the face of new online 'hacktivism.' The Vancouver Sun. Accessed Jan. 26. 2012. <http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Anonymous+face+online+hacktivism/7354758/story.html>
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