Send the link below via email or IMCopy
Present to your audienceStart remote presentation
- Invited audience members will follow you as you navigate and present
- People invited to a presentation do not need a Prezi account
- This link expires 10 minutes after you close the presentation
- A maximum of 30 users can follow your presentation
- Learn more about this feature in our knowledge base article
Do you really want to delete this prezi?
Neither you, nor the coeditors you shared it with will be able to recover it again.
Make your likes visible on Facebook?
Connect your Facebook account to Prezi and let your likes appear on your timeline.
You can change this under Settings & Account at any time.
SMC316 Week 1: Introduction
Transcript of SMC316 Week 1: Introduction
"Nearly two-thirds of American adults (65%) use social networking sites," (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2015).
Comparable adoption rates in Canada - two thirds of Canadian adults (Canadian Press, 2013).
"95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online and 81% of those online teens are users of social media sites" (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2012).
38% of EU kids aged 9-12 years have an SNS account (EU Kids Online, 2011).
In Canada, 99% of teens/children are now online, & the most recent stats reveal that "32% of kids in grades 4 though 6 have a Facebook account" (Media Smarts, 2014).
Online social networking: something that occurs across contexts, across platforms (computers, mobile devices, gaming consoles, TVs, etc.), and across diverse forms of online practice/activity:
content sharing sites (Youtube, Spotify, ThisisMyJam): posting/reposting, commenting, liking, linking, friending, profile pages, leaving traces ("views"), etc.
content creation sites (Scratch, DeviantArt, Ravelry, Storybird): posting/remixing, collaborating, commenting, liking/hearting, friending, groups, profiles/portfolios, etc.
multiplayer games/networks (PlayStation Network, XBox Live, MMOGs, LittleBigPlanet, Dark Souls, Farmville, Words with Friends, etc.
boyd (2008): Traces social networking back to Friendster, founded in 2002. Not the first, exactly, but the one that "popularized the features that define contemporary social network sites--profiles, public testimonials or comments, and publicly articulated, traversable lists of friends" (p.121).
MySpace - 2003 - welcomed bands & alternative uses (e.g. posting free downloads of songs, celebrity persona-building, fan activities, online socializing with friends/classmates (rather than strangers).
4. Highly Controversial
5. Part of Everyday Life
Key Attributes of Social Networking Technologies
boyd & Ellison's definition
Expanding the definition
Established definitions (e.g. boyd & Ellison)
Expanding definitions (e.g. Social networking as something that occurs across contexts, across platforms (computers, mobile devices, gaming consoles, TVs, etc.), and across diverse forms of online practice).
Privacy, Surveillance & Always-On Access
Dissolving and transforming notions of public/private and presence.
Policy concerns and regulatory questions (sovereignty, public good, protecting vulnerable populations, etc.)
Business models, data-mining and flows, the user as commodity (how do social networks make $$$?).
Introduction to the Course:
Why a Course on Social Media?
University of St. Michael's College
University of Toronto
Sara M. Grimes, PhD
Faculty of Information
Search, Locative Technologies & Resituating the Network
The politics and problems of "search" algorithms
The importance of geography, space, location/ing
Mapping the network, rethinking physical/virtual divides: relationships, environments, objects, etc.
"We Are Data"
Revisiting the business of social media, where users = data, and data = $$.
More involved than business. Concurrent transformations in traditional social relationships, expectations (personal, professional), identity formation, etc.
Thinking through the ethics of data, from self as data to "big data" (aggregate vs. individual).
Online, Multiplayer Gaming Networks
Virtual worlds and massively-multiplayer online games, and web-enabled games as social forums and/or social networks of play.
Player-creator networks; why badges, achievements, trophies and gamerscores matter.
Play, leisure, creativity and the notion "affinity spaces" (Jim Gee). vs. surveillance and enclosure in networked gaming spaces.
Fan Networks, Social Capital & Participatory Culture
Social networks of fan/creator engagement (whether they like it or not!), new(ly visible) audience dynamics (participatory culture).
New notions (and debates) of authorship, tributes, fan fiction, fair use/dealing, & transmedia intertextuality.
Cultural capital and social capital.
Remixing, Reposting & Copyright Issues
Remixing, re-appropriation, adaptation, bricollage, transformation vs. imitation, ongoing debates about copyright (and intellectual property) in a digital, collaborative, crowd-sourced world.
Emerging (and heavily contested) social and legal norms around ownership, authorship, reposting, attribution and commons.
©2010 Mari Kasurinen
©2008 Brett Gaylor
Networking Activism & Political Action
The role (documented, alleged and contested) of social networking media & tech within contemporary political movements, activism and social change.
#Ferguson and Black Lives Matter,
Anonymous & Hacktivism
Awareness vs. Action (public vs. virtual)
©2011 Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Transnational Networks & the Globalization of Social Media
SNS and contemporary shifts in global access (media/tech/info), power and movements.
Global networks of media, technologies and power; notions of "global culture"
Emerging theories of digital globalization, transnational flows, and enduring issues/questions of access, mobility, exchange.
Closer look at social technologies & the "Arab Spring" events
Reclaiming Social Media
Revisiting earlier questions about business models, production/distribution systems, ownership, power relations, and the political economic dimensions of current social networking technologies.
1. Recent Phenomenon
Initial users mid-20s/30s. Some used the site's dating features, but lots of other uses as well. In 2003, bands started using it to connect with fans, promote shows, which Friendster discouraged by deleting band accounts.
2. BIG Business
3. Highly Popular
How will we explore all this?
Results of the social media survey
Defining social network(ing) sites, media, technologies & practices.
Expanding definitions (from "sites" to forums")
Continuities & differences: mediating on mediation :b
Details re: assignment #1
Written in 2007, there were already "hundreds of SNSs, with various technological affordances, supporting a wide range of interests and practices" (p.1).
Definition: "web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system" (p.2).
Backbone of SNS = Profile
Class Participation in Social Networking Forum (30%)
Ongoing: Week 2 - 11. Worth 30% of your grade: grade will be based on keeping up with weekly posts (15%); and based on relevance to course materials/themes , class discussion, assignments, etc. (15%).
Evaluation: based on two "logs" that you will create (screenshots) of your contributions, which you will "hand in" mid-term (covering weeks 2-6, due Feb. 24) and end of term (covering weeks 7-11, due Mar. 30)
Your log entries will be cross-checked with the forums themselves.
NOTE: You don't have to use real names or existing profiles, BUT you do need to make sure I have any handles, nicknames, pseudonyms you use for this course linked up to your real name/student number when you hand in your logs (so I can
cross-check and count
1. Create an account (if you don't have one already)
2. Tweet @smgrimes to let me know you're in this class (I'll follow/add you to the SMC316 list - which you can then follow, if you'd like)
3. Start following and contributing to the class discussion, using #SMC316 (very important!!!!)
1. Create an account (if you don't have one already)
2. Search for Group "SMC316 Social Technology and Networks"
3. Send request to be added as member of group
4. Start posting, commenting, liking on Wall (we can move into other features as things get going)
Network - not networkING - because "'Networking' emphasizes relationship initiation, often between strangers. While networking is possible on these sites, it is not the primary practice on many of them, nor is it what differentiates them from other forms of computer-mediated communication" (p.2).
Argue that the truly unique characteristic of SNS is that they contain "articulated social networks" - they "enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks" (p.2).
©2009 Schmelling & Liao, for McSweeney's
Shirky (2008): "we are living in the middle of a remarkable increase in our ability to share, to cooperate with one another, and to take collective action, all outside the framework of traditional instituations and organizations" (p.21).
"Whether creating a Wikipedia entry, posting a comment on Reddit, running a WordPress blog, participating in an open source software project or reading a posting on BoingBoing, the lifeblood of the Internet is a direct target of SOPA" (Michael Geist, thestar.com, Jan. 18 2012).
As Lastowka (2012) explains, while existing legislation (DMCA) provides “safe harbor” provisions for hosts of online content, who could "avoid copyright infringement liability by following certain procedures" (e.g. removing infringing content when asked, etc.), SOPA and PIPA put an onus on hosts and Internet service providers to police copyright infringement.
The consequences of copyright infringement (or suspicion thereof) would also be much harhser - offending sites would now be able to be "banished" from the web altogether (through changes to the Domain Name System - DNS).
Criticisms: copyright infringement defined in very sweeping (oftentimes corporately-biased) terms.
Risk of witch hunt mentality erring on the side of "caution" - shutting down (access to or content on) sites, posts and forums that "could be" conceived of as infringement.
What does this tell us about our ability to share and engage in social/cultural participation "outside fo the framework of traditional institutions and organizations"?
Private Messaging*: A feature similar to webmail - allows for private messages to be exchanged between 2 or more users.
*boyd & Ellison specify these are not "universally available"
Common Features of SNS
(boyd & Ellison)
Profiles: Unique pages featuring personal information about the user, incl. descriptors (age, location, interests), photo(s), tastes...
Self-presentation (performance) & Impression management
Friends: articulated list that "identif[ies] others in the system with whom they have a relationship" (p.3). Many bi-directional (e.g. Facebook - both people must confirm "friend"ship), but others not (e.g. Twitter - followers, can be blocked but no need to confirm or follow back).
Key: "Public displays of connection" (Donath & boyd, 2004) & friendship performance.
Comments*: Mechanisms enabling users to leave messages and post content on their Friends' profiles (publicly, quasi-publicly - see above)
Social Network(ing) Forums
Broader term that encompasses a variety of different technologies, genres of participation/theme/design, platform, activities, types of engagement. Identified in terms of the presence of the following attributes:
Hierarchies of Access
The mechanism and public/private setting may differ, but having some sort of ability to communicate with others is a crucial part of online social networking
Hierarchies of Access
Hierarchies (differentiating users) based on level of access to site content, items, communication, special features, etc. Established structurally in the technical design, chat systems, security mechanisms, and business models (e.g. can pay for deeper "premium" access or tools, etc.).
Shirky (2008): SNS enables groups to organize without the hierarchies and systems that enable traditional organizations to function (coordinate large groups & multiple tasks effectively).
Says: "the idea of limiting communications, so that they flow only from one layer of the hierarchy to the next, was part of the very design of the system at the dawn of managerial culture" (p.42).
SNS, such as Flickr, exemplify "post-managerial organization" - they are simply "platform[s]; whatever coordination happens comes from the users and is projected onto the site" (p.46).
Large-scale coordination can now be achieved at a "low cost" (or is the cost merely absorbed/hidden?).
Shirky describes this "group undertaking" as a progression, or ladder of activity (higher up the ladder, the deeper the level of engagement, higher difficulty in achieving):
Sharing: fewest demands on participants, participation largely individual
Cooperation: involves changing behavior to synchronize with others (who are doing the same); a conversation - give and take. Higher level of cooperation = "collaborative production": participation involves co-authoring, "no one person can take credit for what gets created" (p.50).
Collective Action: the most difficult to achieve, requires a group t o commit themselves to a particular effort, the decision/outcome of which is binding, responsibility is shared, user identity is tied to identity of group ("cohesion of the group becomes critical" (p.51).
©Mermaid Parade 2011, Coney Island, NY (photo by: Eby Harvey)
How would you define SNS - in terms of key characteristics, unique activities enabled, underlying organization?
For you, today, what sites/technologies best exemplify "SNS"? Why?
Are these early, foundational definitions and theories still relevant? Why or why not?
What do you make of Shirky's two descriptions of power/organization in SNS and online culture more generally? What tension(s) is he engaging with, and can it be reconciled (& if so, how)?
Accessibility Services Request
Special Invitation from TIFF Higher Learning
Brief revisit of Shirky's "organizing without organizations"
This week's readings:
reputation & management, data mining & surveillance
expectation v. reputation
privacy - different values and/or different priorities?
There is a student in this class who requires a volunteer notetaker as an accommodation for a disability. By signing up and posting your notes, you can make a significant difference for this individual’s capacity to fully participate in this course. Go to: http://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/accessibility/pcourselist.aspx or come in person to Accessibility Services 215 Huron St. Suite 939.
Many students notice the quality of their notetaking improves through volunteering.
You will also receive a certificate of recognition.
TIFF Higher Learning Master Class
with Game of Thrones author
Request for Volunteer
George R.R. Martin
Tuesday, March 13 at 10:00am
TIFF Lightbox, 350 King Street West
1 ticket per student - bring valid student ID
Rush tickets should be available the day of the event
30 tickets reserved for SMC300 students
Hearn (2010): Looks at the various "web tools and analytics that...measure, manage, represent and structure our feelings..." (p.422).
Online reputation as one area (out of many) where user participation is "mined for value" - asks "But, where, and for whom, are profits actually made in these processes?" (p.422).
Hidden Structures of SNS
"Affective Economics" - emotional investment, commitment, motivations that drive consumer practice. Includes ideas of self/identity, social/cultural capital, fetishization of particular goods and brands, brand loyalty, etc. (feelings - emotional & physical). Big Name: Lawrence Grossberg
Affective Labour: Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri Immaterial labour = caring/customer service, personal life experience, sense of self...adds "affective" value to work, to consumer transactions + fuels capitalism more generally.
Related: Social Capital - See Gauntlett Chapter 6 (required reading on Week 8)
Hearn argues that the structuring of users' affect and performance of "self" can be understood as "self-branding" - wherein meaning-making and self-identity (construction/performance) are directed (structured) and manipulated by commercial interests to generate value/profits.
Maybe not "organizations" in traditional sense - but social networking (& online cultural participation) still subject to big organizations/institutions, who continue to make (top down, hierarchical) autonomous decisions about value (what's considered valuable, how will value & the profits it generates be maximized, etc.).
Hearn: "power of authorizing and validating attention" (p.424)
Decisions express themselves in various ways: 2 examples are technological design and underlying business priorities. E.g. shaping platforms to support & advance whatever types of activity, or data, generate the greatest profit at the least cost, etc. Not always to the exclusion of everything else, but a prioritization that can be in tension with the idea of the self-organizing system described in the Shirky chapter.
Not reciprocal or shared - the economic value of this relationship is only available to "those who develop, control and license the mechanisms of extraction...not the people doing the expressing" (p.423)
This configuration generally marked by exploitative relations. + users lose control of what they produce.
The "empty self"? ->
Social Costs & Benefits
Human battery farm, still from "The Matrix" (1999)
i.e. Pick stuff or we'll pick it for you
Liking/Hearting as Curation or Filing System
Expectation & Responsibility
Both articles point to growing social expectation that users will "be" online - available to make plans with friends, view a family member's photo album - but also have a public persona/reputation for employers to check up on...and later for clients, students, business associates to base opinions or decisions on.
Who is currently "responsible" for building & maintaining your online persona? (hint: you - even though lots beyond control)
Sense that there are immediate consequences to NOT engaging, not sharing, not participating...
Is it a question of values, or of notions/opinions, or awareness, or perhaps priorities?
Where do we see the greatest risk,
what do we see as having "value"?
Contrast with Raynes-Goldie, who discusses the social costs associated with NOT engaging, divulging, participating. Sees use of loopholes and workarounds as evidence of ineffectiveness of Facebook's privacy controls. Yet, respondents used the site anyway. Perceived benefits outweighed perceived costs.
Proposes that young people are more concerned with "social privacy" than institutional privacy.
Many Types of Privacy...
Judith Wagner DeCew (1997): informational and expressive:
Raynes-Goldie (2010): "For DeCew, informational privacy is the protection of personal information relating to daily activities, finances, and lifestyle. Expressive privacy is the desire to protect oneself from the influence of peer pressure or ridicule and to be free to express one's own identity" (p. 4). R-G puts both types under the larger term "social privacy."
Institutional privacy: (R-G identifies with pre-SNS notions and concerns): Until recently "if you were to ask someone about privacy they would frame their response based on how institutions such as governments, banks and other businesses, use or misuse their personal information" (p.4).
Especially associated with privacy threats originating from government and large corporations.
Another way to look at expectation and responsibility - users' own expectations of how their data will be used, assumptions about responsibility of sites to protect, act in best interest, inform, etc.
E.g. what do we think companies can and would do with information about what you and your friends are doing on Friday night? Or data showing you like ice cream and Game of Thrones?
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
©2009 Factoryjoe/Wikimedia Commons
Connecting Hearn & Shirky (both readings & SOPA talk):
Hearn (2010): "As reputation seekers in the reputation economy, we may be nodes in the new distributed means of production as producer, product and consumer, but we do not even begin to control the means of our own distribution" (p.435).
FB Timeline - Revealing Data Patterns
Hand in your Social Media/Tech Map (Assignment 1)
Guest Lecturer!!!!!: Glen Farrelly, PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Information & Geosocial Networking expert
Social Networks, "locative aware mobile tech" and the "new spatial logic"
Alternate Reality Games (ARG), mobile tech and networking the "magic circle"
De Souza e Silva & Frith (2010):
"Locative mobile social networks (LMSNs)"
Connect people to physical spaces/places (Reconnect? Reveal??)
Connect people to each other
One way: allowing people to "see each other's position on a map" & "interact with one another according to their relative distance in physical space" (p.485).
De Souza e Silva & Frith argue that LMSNs represents a new way technology mediates the social:
by mediating relationships "between users and physical/digital spaces"
AND highlighting the physical (in terms of geography, location) within relationships "among users connected in a social network" (p.485).
Not entirely new - early examples in art, research and games since 2001 (and some linkages to smart mobs, etc., using non-location aware mobile technologies before that). But stunted for many years by lack of access to API, privacy concerns, limited bandwidth (De Souza e Silva & Frith, 2010).
Key point: LMSNs lead to a "shift in the traditional meaning of networks: from spatial strictures where the nodes [users] overshadow the paths [physical space]...to structures in which the paths indeed matter to the user" (p.487). Indeed, LMSNs encourage users to pay attention to "paths" or physical spaces and places - often reward them for doing so.
Locative Mobile Social Networks
Key Characteristics of LMSN*:
They are networks: a "structure of connected nodes"
These nodes are mobile: can move through space while communicating via mobile devices
Commercial - location-based services
They "visualize the physical location of the nodes of a social network" - here again, we see how visualization/representation plays a key role
*Described on p.487
Since 2008 - iPhone 3G & Android - broad "popularization and commercialization of location-aware applications" (p.486) - which contain "location based services (LBSs)" such as "geotagging", "mapping" and social networking.
Differentiate LMSN from previous "Mobile social networks" (MSN), which have 4 key characteristics:
nodes converge in physical spaces (e.g. flash mob)
organization of network occurs digitally
ephemeral (can dissolve as quickly as they form)
many-to-many interaction thru mobile devices
Example "Flash Mob": See #SMC300 Playlist on Youtube Channel
International Dance Day Flash Mob at the Toronto Eaton Centre (2010)
In contrast to things like flash mobs - where the important thing is converging at the same place at the same time (how you get there is irrelevant), location-aware tech emphasizes the in-between: the journey, the trajectory, the paths between nodes (and the act of travelling between nodes).
Emphasizes by: putting continuous attention on location and distance. Informationalizing spaces/places. Visualizing users, experiences, visits, routes, etc.
Deleuze and Guattari (1987) notion of the "nomadic network":
De Souza e Silva & Frith (2010): "Nomads traveling through space still travel from point to point, just like members of LMSN still travel from point to point. But for the nomad, it is the 'intermezzo', the in-between, which matters more than the final destination" (p.494).
Experiencing space (& movement through space) in this way may change traditional perceptions. Particularly applied to urban space.
e.g. Transit time can become social experience (as opposed to "dead time") - filled with opportunities for discovery, interaction, information, challenges, play, etc. Can inspire rethinking of routes and habits, e.g. not choosing the quickest way, but one you haven't taken before (to access new data, experiences, games, etc.)
Shift in perception = re-appropriating, re-claiming, re-thinking, and/or re-enchanting the urban environment (long thought to be alienating, rationalized, prohibitive, etc.).
E.g. Hidden Playgrounds
"[W]hat's promising about these seeing stone games is the way in which they open up space for those more imaginative and autonomous forms of play. By breaking down existing definitions of what an urban or suburban landscape is, how it should be experienced and what kids are expected to do there, games like The Hidden Park put forth a direct challenge to the idea that public space is inappropriate and dangerous for kids. Once this space is opened up, so is the play potential" (Grimes, 2009, p.2).
Spohrer (1999) describes 3 ways a shift in our perception or notion of place can be valuable:
New conceptual category - nonphysical information - can be overlaid/contextualized within physical spaces and become a part of them.
Same place = multiple meanings - depending on who perceives it and why
Meaningful properties of a place can be stored/accessed/shared.
(as cited in De Souza e Silva & Frith, 2010, p.490)
Example of ARGs can be useful here (ilovebees)
Turning everyday life and everyday space into a hybridized play experience. Shared with others. Breaks the rules (social norms).
Huizinga (play theorist) talks about play occuring in a "magic circle" which separates the game/activity being played from the "serious" of everyday life (work, consequences, money, etc.) Circle is drawn in time and space, temporarily. Inside the circle, a new, made-up set of rules are followed - to which everyone "buys in" voluntarily for the duration of the game (can be negotiated, of course).
Play = deeply important and meaningful. Sharing in a suspension of disbelief, co-creation of imaginary shared universe - Culture generating.
Pitfalls of Location-Aware
De Souza e Silva & Frith (2010) list 3 main areas of concern:
Possible risk to traditional forms of sociability/communication (tribalization through LMSN)
Many of the issues raised at the end of the article, as well as in the Borland & King (2005) mention of the commercial dimensions of ARGs, touch upon issues we discussed last week.
What additional elements (or concerns) do LSMN add to our notion of privacy (risk, etc.), surveillance, commercialization, corporate appropriation, and changing (or not changing) social relationships?
Shifting Modes of Distribution & Production
Death of the Middleman?
Rise of the Curator
We are all
Arts & Crafts
The rise of Indie
We are all "producers"
Micro-financing and crowdfunding
DIY identity politics
DIY vs. UGC
Making vs. customizing vs. curating vs. modifying vs. remixing vs. creating vs. ...?
"...the Pinterest juggernaut is growing faster than Facebook when it was this size. Investors recently plowed in $27-million only five months after the company raised its previous round of financing. But even those who believe Pinterest is onto something big may not really understand why" (Eyal, 2012 - Globe & Mail article)
"Curation is creation
For a company of its size, Pinterest’s users are creating content at an unprecedented pace. Unlike on Facebook and Twitter, where users have to actually think of new content to post, Pinterest is not about what is happening right now. Users are not prompted to think about “what are you doing?” In fact, they are not prompted to think at all – they are prompted to feel" (Eyal, 2012).
Pinterest and Gender:
Reported that 60% of users are female, aged 22 to 44.
Lot of media attention over the past 2 weeks - much of it either raising the issue of gender (e.g. "it's a woman's thing" - unlike other sites that "emerged from the male-centric world of technology" (Tossell, 2012)), or bemoaning the fact that gender is being raised at all.
Links here with broader post-Industrial feminization of consumption (shopping, adornment, etc. as "feminine").
Are there also parallels between dismissing Pinterest participation as merely shopping, non-creative, etc., with historical devaluing of crafts (vs. arts), women's role in craft traditions (see Gauntlett's history of arts & crafts movement, for example).
Submit links on reddit and you can now file them under the "SMC300" subreddit (tag/folder that lets you add links to a growing list of course related links submitted by SMC300 students & prof).
Thanks to Matt Valenzano for help & advice on using reddit!
Why join reddit?
Joining reddit is easy - figuring it out is a bit tougher
Create an account (no email or personal info required - very easy and immediate - username, password and you're ready to start). Send a message to "smgrimes" so that I can friend you.
Reddit is a sort of crowdsourced news site - users submit links to published articles, blog posts, etc., file them under one or more thematic categories (subreddits), vote and comment. Users can vote a link "up" or "down" - the results of which determine where it appears on the feed (most popular at the top, least popular at the bottom). Subscribe to subreddits to pick which themes (or groups, categories) you're most interested in following.
Making sense of all the data available can be a bit overwhelming (steep learning curve), but submitting a link is VERY easy (so is voting and commenting).
Gives us a tool for sorting all the fantastic articles you guys are linking to on Facebook and other SNS. We can sort them by popularity (as determined by US), rather than temporally...as Matt points out, this will allow us to figure out what the class AS A GROUP finds most interesting, etc.
Also prevents from re-posting the same link twice (tells u it's been posted already - can focus on comments or voting instead of posting redundant links).
Shirky argues that historically, the media industries got to "exert considerable control over the media and extract considerable revenues from the public" in exchange for helping overcome complex problems associated with distributing (or "moving") content from creators to consumers. Now that problems of "production, reproduction and distribution are much less serious" - professionals no longer have as much control over content. "We are all media outlets."
This + Idea of niche news, etc., raise an interesting point.
There is still clearly a need for sorting through the copious, ever growing amount of content now available. We can do it ourselves. We rely on our networks. We use tools provided to us in SNS to file, categorize, sort and stream (e.g. +subscribe, playlists, groups/circles, lists, bookmarking, tagging, hashtagging, etc. etc.).
"Fig.2 Information spread in online social networks. Our study suggests that strong ties are similar and more likely to be tuned into the same web sites. Weak ties, being more dissimilar, tend to visit different websites" (Eytan Bakshy/Facebook Study, 2012).
Concern that increased personalization and customization could aggrevate the "echo chamber effect" or "confirmation bias" - the theory that people tend to seek out and remember information that is consistent with their existing beliefs. Also - if users are only exposed to info they have pre-selected as being interested in, will that overly limit what they hear/see?
And/or if content is created and posted specifically for a very specialized/niche group, who and what is excluded?
Of course - this phenomenon (and surrounding concerns) are hardly new. People have sought out confirmation of beliefs, received large % of their news and information from personal networks, selected particular news channels over others, etc., for years.
+ Underlying assumption here that traditional news outlets always fair, balanced and comprehensive. But many stories & perpectives omitted, many studies demonstrate news channels/papers exhibit bias (political, class, etc.) in their selection and presentaiton of news stories.
Shirky describes the power of distributed news networks produced by a new, diverse "ecosystem" that includes formal organizations, as well as informal groups, individuals. Not just about re-posting (or how many times a story is re-posted), but the power of crowds to fact check, contextualize, add specialized knowledge, highlight news items overlooked by traditional industries, etc.
Now that SNS is so popular, are we really that isolated from different views, values, interests, etc.? E.g. Facebook study
We also turn to specific people and organizations for guidance.
The rise and spread of digital curation as a valued skill, source of social capital, object of trust and loyalty. Some "professional" (either official or unofficial part of their work), others amateur.
E.g. Boing Boing (for particular type of daily news). Tavi Gevinson's blog for fashion/trend watching. My friend Jono for tips on new bands.
What is the role of curators? Who assumes it? How do we value it, acknowledge it, think about it? In labour terms? In terms of taste theory (e.g. Pierre Bourdieu)? As a type of creativity?
Indie movie about the indie games industry, created by James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot (from Winnipeg), with soundtrack by indie musician Jim Guthrie.
Just won best editing/documentary at Sundance.
Glowing reviews. Optioned by HBO for a regular series.
From the film's official "About" page: "Indie Game: The Movie has been significantly supported by the online community through two successful Kickstarter campaigns.
The project launched in May 2010 on Kickstarter. The film raised its initial goal [$15,000] in 48 hours. In June 2011, the filmmakers reached out to the community again through Kickstarter with another pre-order campaign to help with finishing costs of the film. The response was overwhelming. This time, the community helped the production reach its goal in just over 24 hours. The campaign closed with over 200% of its goal."
Buy/Support Local Artisans
Crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, self-funding, patronage - vs. traditional media models.
Changing role(s) of the "middle man" - financiers, gatekeepers, censors and curators.
The rise of "indie" across media/industry.
New dynamics, challenges and opportunities for creative professionals/amateurs/pro-ams.
Do it yourself.
E.g. Ele Carpenter's (2005) Open Source Embroidery project highlights the overlaps between embroidery and computer code, including a tradition of "open source" sharing of how the artifact was made.
©2005 Ele Carpenter
Uncovering links to prior movements, practices, where handmade and amateur produced cultural artifacts were central (making them and consuming them).
Examples post Industrialization/ rise of mass produced goods.
Establishes important continuities between digital and material/physical. Not all online and offline creations will share the same traditions and properties, but many do. What's similar (and different) about creating an online scrapbook and making one out of paper and glue?
Gauntlett encourages us to move beyond just discussing form to also think about the processes involved. E.g. creativity, making connections with others, sharing, learning, building social capital, etc.
Also encourages us to examine these things as more than "technology"-related phenomena. So often framed in terms of tech-emphasis and as "new"...but there are other traditions, practices and processes to consider. Gauntlett outlines an alternative history within which to contextualize much (*not all*) of the current interest in user produced content online.
Think back to previous discussions of how these user contributions can be thought of as a form of immaterial labour. Based on modern notions of labour, measured in units of time/effort rather than outcome...in fact workers are here seen as alienated from the products of their labour. Perhaps more useful is the artisan model (pre-modern and contemporary - still exists in many domains) - where the work is not rationalized, product non-alienated, outcome is key.
If everyone has the means of production & distribution, control over these no longer bestows special privileges enjoyed by factory owner, media mogul, studio head...which included setting prices (to incl. overhead, etc.), establishing what % the creator would get of the profits, as well as supporting production. Middleman but also financier, promoter, infrastructure engineer, etc.
Without the middleman, who determines the value of cultural texts and artifacts?
Who will support creators through the process of creation? Who are the new patrons? Do we need patrons?
Gauntlett (2011): Making digital content is "like craft in the tinkering, weaving, 'from the ground up' experience of making something; and it's also like craft in that the maker imprints some of their character upon the work, and its audience are likely to sense their 'presence'" (p.81).
Web 2.0 has led to a massive explosion in production and sharing of this content (and associated experience of connection). Gauntlett highlights the importance of digital creative platforms in this shift (e.g. Youtube). "Web applications which encourage people to make and share things are often not very specific tools, as such, but are broad platforms...[a] kind of stage which they offer for creative performance" (p.88).
3 characteristics of "digital creative platforms"
Framework for participation
Agnostic about content
Different way of thinking about all of the content people produce and share through their social networks. Not merely as interactions between people, or as data being mined, but as a form of cultural production/creative output.
The idea that our culture is increasingly "interactive" and customized implies activity and agency on our part. How do we understand the participatory processes involved in SNS?
Gauntlett (2011) - reveals linkages between user created content and DIY culture. Both in terms of the ways in which crafters and DIY communities are using social networking and other online tools to connect and amplify their activities; as well as in terms of the ways in which producing digital content can itself be seen as a kind of DIY, a type of craft, a form of creativity.
Uses an expanded definition of creativity:
"Everyday creativity refers to a process which brings together at least one active mind, and the material or digital world, in the activity of making something which is novel in that context, and is a process which evokes a feeling of joy" (p. 76).
Within and alongside amateur production = professional or aspiring creators striving to connect w/ audience and markets.
We are all makers of culture and distributors of culture, but we are also still consumers, readers, audiences...albeit, oftentimes these roles are performed (experienced) in parallel.
A third dimension of the rise/merger of DIY + SNS is how it (potentially) changes our role as consumer. Consumer of DIY, of independently produced, DIY, handmade, ethical, non-traditional, non-mass produced goods & services.
Gauntlett refers to this on p.61 - "since the start of the present century - and obviously these are rough and blurred movements, not clear-cut phases - enthusiasm and respect for homemade things have risen again." Talking about making things yourself - but extends to "buy local," the current popularity of craft fairs, some aspects of ethical consumption, and tie into identity/performance issues as well.
Kickstarter keeps 5% of the total (for successful projects) Amazon Payments takes 3 to 5%. The project creator keeps the rest and retains 100% ownership and creative control (Kahan, 2012).
Kickstarter - success story of crowdfunding, though many projects don't succeed in securing the funding requested (current estimates = around 46% do) (Ovshinsky, 2012).
The ways in which these trends apply to media are ambiguous and complex. Unique market structure and traditional production models (plural - different media have different norms). Also, clear tensions with notion of "free culture" and p2p practices. Industry push back and lack of sustainability.
Here too, trend toward independent production flows into market. The rise of "indie" as corporate ethos (or, in some cases, just a branding strategy) and alternative (perhaps transitory) models in response to shifts in power/access/norms.
Catch up on readings, social media posts, assignments.
Week 8 (Mar.9)
Skyrim meets the Bronies
SDK, Beta Testing, Community Support
Indie Game Industry,
Indie Games + Industry
From "Scene" to
The Production of culture
Social Networks of Play
Problematizing the "player"
Rules of the Game
New due date: Week 9
Mid-term paper 30%
1,800-2,500 words (magazine article length)
Topic of your choice - must be relevant to this course (obviously).
8 academic sources minimum, incl. at least 4 SMC300 course readings (at least 2 original).
Looking for QUALITY over quantity - so be sure to make EVERY WORD COUNT.
Non-commercial User-generated Content
29.21 (1) It is not an infringement of copyright for an individual to use an existing work or other subject-matter or copy of one, which has been published or otherwise made available to the public, in the creation of a new work or other subject-matter in which copyright subsists and for the individual — or, with the individ-ual’s authorization, a member of their household — to use the new work or other subject-matter or to authorize an intermediary to disseminate it, if
(a) the use of, or the authorization to disseminate, the new work or other subject-matter is done solely for non-commercial purposes;
(b) the source — and, if given in the source, the name of the author, performer, maker or broadcaster — of the existing work or other subject-matter or copy of it are mentioned, if it is reasonable in the circumstances to do so;
(c) the individual had reasonable grounds to believe that the existing work or other subject-matter or copy of it, as the case may be, was not infringing copyright; and
(d) the use of, or the authorization to disseminate, the new work or other subject-matter does not have a substantial adverse effect, financial or otherwise, on the exploitation or potential exploitation of the existing work or other subject-matter — or copy of it — or on an existing or potential market for it, including that the new work or other subject-matter is not a substitute for the existing one.
Definitions of these terms and what they entail, as well as opinions about what the differences between them might be (if any), have long been in flux. Not stable categories, though formalized in various ways through popular discourse, cultural norms, laws and regulation, industry standards, etc.
Important because how we think about these things informs which activities are deemed legitimate, significant, valuable. Philosophical and pragmatic implications.
From Making to Playing and back again
Martin & Deuze (2009): "One of the most important aspects of technology in independent game development is the role that network technologies and digital distribution have in allowing for a diversity of content to reach the market. For [indie] developers, the internet allows direct access to consumers..." (p.280).
Martin & Deuze (2009) "Digital distribution has a significant influence in shaping the structure and identity of indie game development" (p.280). e.g. file sizes reduced for enhanced accessibility, sacrificing graphics and audio. Result is an emphasis on abstractions, game mechanics, concept, story, etc. Games as art.
Distribution shapes content
©2009 Daniel Benmergui "Today I Die"
Taylor (2002): "It takes a player to create a character and it takes the time of the player to develop the character. Through their labor they imbue it with qualities, status, accomplishments. Indeed, while the owners of a game provide the raw materials through which users can participate in a space, it is in large part only through the labor of the players that dynamic identities and characters are created, that culture and community come to grow" (p.232).
Huizinga (play theorist) talks about play occuring in a "magic circle" which separates the game/activity being played from the "serious" of everyday life (work, consequences, money, etc.) Circle is drawn in time and space, temporarily. Inside the circle, a new, made-up set of rules are followed - to which everyone "buys in" voluntarily for the duration of the game (can be negotiated, of course).
Play = deeply important and meaningful. Sharing in a suspension of disbelief, co-creation of imaginary shared universe - Culture generating.
©2009 Wired, Ensidia guild World of Warcraft
"Social" and casual games on SNS, web-enabled portable devices
Web-enabled console games
Online multiplayer PC games, incl. MMOGs
Digital games, and gamer communities, provide a compelling case study for exploring many of the issues raised last week, while introducing unique dimensions and relationships worthy of examination in their own right (e.g. complex nature of play).
Play is often understood to be (or at least include) a creative practice. Lots of slippage within gamer culture between play and creation, and within game development between play and production. Industry relies heavily on independent producers, immaterial labor of players, ongoing control over distribution when it comes to gaming consoles. Indie scene is thriving. Gamers are a particularly empowered group (noteworthy).
Limor Fried (Lady Ada): Electrical engineer, owner of Adafruit Industries, gamer, leader in open source hardware. In 2010, put out an Open Source Kinect Challenge - $1K (then $2K) to the first person to unlock the Xbox360 Kinect's motion sensors for tinkering/repurposing.
Microsoft condemned the challenge, Fried raised the prize to $3K. Lots of attention and accolades, & eventually Microsoft got on board - both with Limor Fried's challenge and broader movement to "hack" their devices.
LittleBigPlanet - on PlayStation3 and PlayStation Portable. Made by Media Molecule. First released in 2008 - now includes 5 different titles. Broad assortment of UGC and customization tools included + support (tech, content managment, moderation, etc.).
Over 5 million player-made levels
For some games/companies: Reliance on player contributions and participation at various levels.
Beta - playtesting.
Modding communities - R&D, identifying new talent.
Wikis & walkthroughs - community support, collaborative instruction manuals, generating game "lore."
Think back to last week's discussion of indie games:
XBox360 Live for Android
Martin & Deuze (2009) apply a "production of culture framework" developed by Peterson & Anand (2004) that focuses on how culture (texts, symbols, meaning) is "shaped by the systems within which they are created, distributed, evaluated, taught, and preserved" (cited on p.280).
Describe 5 key domains which creative professionals use, develop and give meaning (to the product, but also to their own role(s) in these processes):
laws and regulation
industrial and organizational structure
Conclude that the role of indie game development is "dual" and complex...at times contradictory. "On one hand, digital distribution and a proliferation of cheap or free middleware allows for a greater diversity of voices in the production of culture. However, in an industry that is already rapidly rearranging itself to address expanding markets and broadening audience demographics...the so-called indie alternative model has also become a playground of fairly typical and mainstream values and practices [found] across studios large and small" (p.290).
As mentioned in Martin & Deuze (and as seen in the Lady Ada example above), the open source movement is alive & well in game culture.
+Many (though certainly not all) developers release Software Development Kits (SDK) enabling the creation of certain modifications and applications for particular game software packages.
Ongoing negotiation and re-negotiation of the system seems in line with game playing more generally - finding, bending, breaking the rules.
As in other areas we've looked at, however, current push to limit this negotiation by restricting user rights. e.g. Bill C-11 also contains a digital locks super-clause that would give the cultural industries even more control over how hardware and software is used (and trump the user rights discussed earlier).
Ideas for paper topics:
A discussion of Raynes-Goldie's proposal that younger users prioritize a different type of privacy than others.
An examination of the sudden rise in interest (and gender debate) around Pinterest, and what this says about current popular perceptions of curation and consumption.
An overview of the arguments for and against SOPA or Bill C-11
A critical engagement with existing definitions of online "social networking" (can include expansion and modification to create a new definition).
A meditation on the role of "creativity" in SNS (and/or problematizing the idea that making is as prevalent as Gauntlett and Grimes would have you believe).
As in other areas, current emphasis on DIY - various events, tools and support for learning game design. e.g. Game Jams, Gamestar Mechanic, Quest to Learn.
More people making games, easier access to distribution, micro-financing, broad community support, etc.
The Politics of Platforms
Player as active
Player as consumer
Player as user
Player as producer
There is no game without gameplay
Fans, fan networks: meta-participation, narractivity, transmedia intertextuality
The Harry Potter Alliance
We Love You So
Knowledge communities, cultural capital and social capital
If there's time: Lead into next week: rights/rights management
Additional details re: Assignment 2 (referencing, format, acceptable sources)
Media-based fandom, fan tributes and derivative works show up throughout our creative SNS platforms. Today we're going to focus on how to understand these practices, at the level of meaning making and personal motivation.
"We are an army of fans, activists, nerdfighters, teenagers, wizards and muggles dedicated to fighting for social justice with the greatest weapon we have-- love. Join us!"
Founded in June 2005 by Andrew Slack, our Executive Director, and Paul DeGeorge of Harry and the Potters. They and other members of the Board of Directors heavily involved in online Harry Potter fandom (fan fiction sites, discussion forums, tribute bands, etc.).
Community of over 100, 000 members, 60 local chapters worldwide.
Spike Jonze’s feature film rendition of Maurice Sendaks classic story Where The Wild Things Are has hit movie theaters worldwide.
The film represents years of work from hundreds of different artists, writers, photographers, musicians, actors, and creators of all degrees.
This place has been established to help shed some light on many of the small influences that converged to make this massive project a reality....
©2009 Ruets, Spurn and Ewsoe
Very cool design blog that included posts on a variety of fan activities. Blurs distinctions between fan's own participatory culture and more directed forms of guerrilla marketing.
Current campaign "Not in Harry's Name" - putting pressure on Warner Brothers to only use Fair Trade chocolate in HP licensed chocolate/candies (chocolate trade linked to child labor & trafficking). Previous: Accio Books book drive to build a library for a school in NY state. Last year they collected 41,415 books, which they donated to local communities.
Just one example of the dedication and breadth of the Harry Potter fan community. Online presence is strong. Front and centre in the academic discussions of fandom/cultural participation; frontlines of the copyright debates and actual legal disputes.
Illustrative example of growing trend within the media and marketing industries to not only support but tap into (& benefit from) fan activity as a way of fostering brand identity, orchestrating viral and geurrilla marketing strategies), exhibiting cultural and social capital... "in" with the community.
Notice the recurring theme of "love": not coincidental. Lovemarks - marketing theory about the intense, dedicated relationship people can develop towards brands, media, etc.
Parallel academic theories: "affect" (emotion/feeling) and affective relationships (emotional, personal, tied to caring and identity)
All is Love
"The materials of popular culture may become raw materials for our creative expression, vehicles for exploring aspects of our own personalities, and shared points of reference to facilitate social interaction. Anthropologists and historians look at artifacts as materials that encapsulate the values and practices of another culture. We can look at the contents of mass media as artifacts that help us to better understand our own culture. In both cases, though, deciphering an artifact’s meanings is a complex process, because the same artifact may serve multiple purposes, operate in multiple contexts, and become invested with multiple meanings." Reproduced from Henry Jenkins’ (2000) Children’s Culture Study Guide (URL: http://web.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/resourceguide.html)
Media as Source? Yes! But keep this in mind:
In many of the the concepts discussed in this week's readings: emotion, feeling, personal relationships, family bonds, preferences, choices, sense of self and belonging....all play key role in what makes processes work.
Tendency to instrumentalize this dimension of personal experience in academia. See Coleman's inability to stray too far from economic rationale for why people build/sustain social capital. i.e. struggle to accept that sometimes people don't merely act in self-interest, but "because they believe it's a good thing to do" (Gauntlett, 2011, p.134).
©2011 Jon Swope "Princess Vader"
Refers to the numerous ancillary texts and activities created and distributed by users/audiences/readers/players themselves. These include fan sites, informal “guilds,” machinima, player-made maps, cosplay, fanfiction, media-based wikis - practices, texts and objects that are inspired by exiting media, but generated outside/above, & increasingly shared/performed on a large scale (i.e. online, via SNS, etc.).
Particular, media-based form of participatory culture.
In addition to extending experience beyond the confines of the “source”/original text or context, these materials also function as “paratexts” which help “shape the reader’s experience of a text” and “give meaning to the act of reading” (Consalvo, 2007, p.9).
These types of fan practices are not necessarily universal (indeed, far from it) but they are *illustrative* (albeit perhaps a bit extreme) of the interpretive and transformative power we retain in our interactions with corporately-produced cultural artifacts.
i.e. Culture Generating Practice
Not simply an involved way of consuming media, but demonstrative of the active role of the "reader" in constructing the text, generating meaning and experience that surrounds culturally shared texts/artifacts.
Overlaps with narrative theories in compelling ways...enduring questions of the author, the reader, meaning making, etc. Esp. in digital, SNS contexts.
Booth (2009) "Narractivity": "the process by which communal interactive action constructs and develops a coherent narrative database" (p.373) (database/wiki: archive of material, of narrative events (kernels & satellites) and possibilities, boundless yet spatially constructed, tale is non-linear but unfolds as individual journeys/juxtapositions).
Occurs in two ways:
1) (re)"construction of narrative knowledge" (p.373)
2) "deconstruction of narrative meaning" (p.374)
According to Booth, these practices reform the telling of a narrative - both in terms of fans own interpretations (and reinterpretations) of narrative events, but also in terms of their interactions with other fan interpretations (i.e. the social, the fan network, the collaborative/communal generation of story, norms, etc.)
“Transmedia intertextuality,” which Kinder (1991) describes as, “a means of structuring characters, genres, voices and visual conventions into paradigms, and models for interpreting and generating new combinations” (p.35). (Booth dismisses the relevance of this, but it IS key. See Marsha Kinder, Henry Jenkins and Dan Fleming)
These "texts" require involved reader participation, even at most basic
e.g. seek out several texts juxtapose (The Matrix as key example)
In their most engaging (successful) incarnations, openings for user participation are much more involved, flexible and multi-faceted, foster various types of UGC, shared/collaborative interpretation and sense-making, discussion and meta-participation (e.g. We Love You So, various examples of Harry Potter).
Fans + industry involved (important for later discussions of copyright and "rights management")
Choices, preferences and knowledge about cultural texts/artifacts/practices serves as source of cultural capital (think of trend setters, early adopters) – a way of distinguishing ourselves from others (see Pierre Bourdieu).
In class terms, capital mobilized as cultural signifier – align oneself with higher classes, distinguish oneself from lower classes (think middle class practice of kids taking classical piano lessons, ballet – markers of high culture, etc.).
These activities aren't simply about loving a book, leisure and engaging in communal storytelling. Also (increasingly) "public" - contributing to a larger, shared culture with community at large, or smaller subculture of like-minded people (which can include original producers, etc.).
Cultural participation - about inserting oneself more explicitly into our SHARED culture. Drive to contribute to deeply important dimension of life (caring), but also involves questions of identity and position within that culture.
“Affinity spaces” (James Paul Gee): spaces within which shared endeavours or interests occur as its starting point, rather than focusing too specifically on defining or labelling a particular group of people as belonging to a particular “community” based on traditional criteria (geography, attending the same university, etc.).
Not just about niche interests or exclusive subcultures, however (research on online affinity spaces shows they):
enable people of various skill levels to participate
adapt a core organization through interaction
encourage the development and sharing of knowledge (while valuing different types/levels of knowledge)
incl. various ways to gain status and leadership
open to many different forms of participation
Related to cultural capital, but also more overlap with our ongoing discussion of social networks and broader societal impacts....social capital. Contested & evolving term, Gauntlett provides several definitions in Chapter 6.
Putnam: Essence of social capital = "social networks have value". Our relationships and contacts with other people boost our happiness, health, productivity as individuals and as a group.
Social capital: "connections among individuals - social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them" (cited in Gauntlett, p.138).
Bridging social capital: draws people in, embraces diversity, makes links between different people and groups (Gauntlett, p.139).
Bonding social capital: more exclusive, ties similar/like-minded people together (Gauntlett, p.139).
Produced through various activities and associations - civic engagement, townhall meetings, volunteering....
But ALSO leisure activities and socializing (e.g. bowling)
Internet and Social Capital
At the time of writing (Bowling Alone), Putnam was optimistic but unconvinced that SNS/web would replenish social capital. Gauntlett points out many ways SNS foster both bridging and bonding social capital. Highlights NOT a replacement for face-to-face interactions, as Putnam supposed.
Bowling Alone Revisited
Gauntlett doesn't mention Putnam's more recent work, but since Bowling Alone, he has continued to investigate social capital and civic engagement among Americans. Recent article (with Sander) highlights a rise in civic engagement among American youth in the post 9/11 period.
Same timeframe as rise in SNS.
But linkage with "civic engagement" is key to this theory.
In Putnam: Social capital - civic engagement, but Bourdieu & Coleman have much different approach.
e.g. Bourdieu (as with Jenkins, etc.) cultural capital, cultural engagement just as important in terms of process and outcome.
Q: are social activities only worthwhile if they lead to civic engagement? and/or is contributing to shared culture also meaningful? and/or is it about fostering interpersonal relationships and bonds? why? (thinking back to FB discussion about playing on gaming networks not as "social" as sharing personal info on traditional SNS...does that make it less valuable/meaningful?)
Gauntlett's book is itself an argument that SNS is fostering important forms of connection, creativity, social engagement (of various types). What do you think?
Ties in with broader discourses about why people engage in SNS and what it's "doing" - underlying implication some outcomes better than others.
Putnam doesn't (necessarily) link SNS use with self-reported rise in youth saying that keeping up to date with political affairs is "very important" (see chart above).
Bourdieu: Social capital is generated by "virtue of possessing a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition" (cited in Gauntlett, p. 132). Directly linked to cultural capital by way of notion of "habitus" - how groups reproduce themselves (in terms of culture, social norms, expectations, gender roles, class, etc.). e.g. old boys' club.
Coleman: social capital one of many resources a person can use (along with skills, money) - not "owned" but available as a standing reserve. Source of support, useful source of information, facilitates particular actions, based on trust and shared values, community (Gauntlett, p.133).
Check out the video of the My Little Pony Skyrim mod on the #SMC300 Playlist
Check out the trailer for Indie Game: The Movie on the #SMC300 Youtube Playlist
Hand in your assignments
"Everything is a Remix"
Copyright and copyleft (Lessig)
Remix/configurable culture & technologies
Social conceptualizations of copyright, remixing, and ethics
Kirby Ferguson - US filmmaker
©2011 Kirby Ferguson, still from Everything is a Remix
Short series produced in 2010-2011, available online in various formats.
Origins of the term "remix" (music)
Cultural history of remixing and derivative works
How notions of creativity inform our ideas about creative works, originality, etc.
How copyright and intellectual property laws have evolved - & in Ferguson's opinion - have come to conflict with cultural norms
Copyright was originally conceived as a "mix of protections" aimed at rewarding artists for their creativity "by creating incentives for artists to produce great new work" (p.23). Ensuring they maintain a certain amount of control over their work and are able to limit who is able to profit from their work (themselves or limited/permitted others).
Always in a relationship with public domain - idea that eventually these works would go into the public domain (i.e. copyright is temporary); also, limitations and exceptions to copyright based on notions of common good and the rights of the public (fair use/dealing) to create parodies, criticism, learn from, etc.
Makes a distinction between "Read/Write" (RW) culture and "Read/Only" (RO) culture:
Read/Write: a culture in which "ordinary citizens "read" their culture by listening to it or by reading representations of it...[but also] add to the culture they read by creating and re-creating the culture around them" (p.28)
Read/Only: "a culture less practiced in performance, or amateur creativity, and more comfortable...with simple consumption" (p.28). (for Sousa, result of mass culture...for Lessig, more a result of limited access, tech design and copyright laws).
©2009 Nyutech Scribus (screenshot)
©1958 Evert F. Baumgardner, source: National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons
From the CC About page: "The idea of universal access to research, education, and culture is made possible by the Internet, but our legal and social systems don't always allow that idea to be realized. Copyright was created long before the emergence of the Internet, and can make it hard to legally perform actions we take for granted on the network: copy, paste, edit source, and post it to the Web."
[...] CC provides "a free, public, and standardized infrastructure that creates a balance between the reality of the Internet and the reality of copyright laws."
Sinnreich et al. (2009)
Article seeks to problematize "remix culture" - at least, some of the ideas and assumptions behind its major theories (Lessig, Manovich, etc.). Rather than link contemporary remix practices to previous forms of reappropriation, want to focus on digital (re)"configuration" as a "fundamentally different process" (p.1246). Is it?
Propose the term "configurable" culture and tech, rather than remix, in order to include a broader range of practices and platforms - both "production-adjacent" (e.g. mash-ups, remixes, game modes) and "consumption-adjacent" (e.g. playlists, avatar customization, Pinterest boards) (see. p.1247). Way of further dismantling the production/consumption binary - reified in the privileging of (narrow focus put on) "remix" type activity.
Why? In 2006* - most reported use of/engagement with digital media was (arguably) still on the "consumption-adjacent" side of the production/consumption continuum:
*Note: this is one instance where 6 years might make a big difference, given the boom in web 2.0 tools in the years following the survey reported here.
Key contribution: examination of social conceptualizations of copyright and surrounding issues (particularly as they relate to practices, demographics and personal ethics).
e.g. correlation between age and beliefs/practices when it comes to "configurable" culture: younger people are more aware of configurable technologies, more likely to engage in configurable practices, more likely to accept them as legitimate (e.g. seeing mash-ups as "original").
Sinnreich et al., 2009, p.1251
SNS and political movements
the power of protest/presence
Shirky: how SNS enable instant, diffused, coordinated yet easy entry forms of "collective action"
Case study: KONY2012 (our class as living laboratory - thoughts, conclusions)
Goldberg: public/virtual sphere
Final Exam info!!!!!
adj \ˈsī-bər\ + noun \ak-ti-vi-zm\
: political activism on the internet
"[T]he Internet has played an unprecedented role in the way [the global justice movement] has organized, mobilized and disseminated information, enabling it to emerge as a globally networked force for progressive social change" (Milberry, 2009,).
Unlike previous social movements, the "newest social movements" (Day, 2005) are "nodal, networked and leaderless...a "movement of movements" (Klein, 2004)" (cited in Milberry, 2009, p.).
Global Justice Movement ©2011 Understory
Occupy Wall Street ©2011 PC Magazine
"[C]ome together temporarily and occasionally for large manifestations against globalized capital, mobilizing via digital and mobile communication networks" (Milberry, p.). Supports Shirky's description.
This phenomenon was new in the 1990s. But today, continues to evolve - increasingly prominent, involving larger & larger numbers, faster & faster responses (+ backlashes, debates and fizzles), & inc. powerful impacts.
Cyberactivism, SNS-enabled activism and (arguably) slacktivism exist alongside "tech activism" and "hacktivism" - which involve actual programming, coding, peer-to-peer information leaks and hacking.
NOT the same thing, but often overlap....perhaps increasingly so????
Key: These works also recognize limitations and overly-celebratory discourses associated with these "strategies" -- continue to question, challenge, etc.
e.g. Bakardjeva: These activities "do not square neatly with elevated notions of political and civic participation" - perhaps more in tune with notions such as "life politics" (Giddens, 1991) "sub-politics" (Beck, 1997)...."subactivism"????
Milberry calls cyberactivism a "new mode of radical action." She and scholars such as McCaughey and Ayers (2003), Boler (2008) and Bakardjeva (2009) highlight the ways in which pratices such as virtual sit-ins, online petitions, email campaigns, vlogging, user-generated news coverage, and the like have expanded political action and contestation.
Also spread awareness of issues (global & local, political, social), help people make sense of public issues, and *FEEL* more involved in civic life.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
2pm - 4pm
BN3: Upper Small Gymnasium, Benson Building (320 Huron St. 3rd floor)
Comprehensive: covers all readings and lectures, weeks 2-12
Week 13: Review (prep for exam)
Open Book: req'd readings, lecture notes
20x short answer, 3x short essay
Shirky: "Information cascade" - shared awareness:
facilitates effective and rapid group coordination
which in turn can lead to/enable political action
SNS: not only documentation (permanent) but distribution (rapid & global) of evidence
“Information is not knowledge.”
Information is power
Kony 2012 Backlash
Global ambassador in the fight against the use of child soldiers: Canadian Senator Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire
Has spent past 5 years trying to get the Canadian government to take action by adopting a stronger stance against the use (& prosecution & lack of reintegration strategies) of child soldiers. E.g. the Child Soldier Initiative, Dallaire's book on the topic (left), the Bill he introduced (now waiting to be re-introduced), and numerous calls to the Harper administration to repatriate former child soldier (and Canadian) Omar Khadr (held in Guantanamo by US military since 2002, when he was 15 years old).
Another Key Criticism (still circulating): Message
Focus on "Kony = Evil" sidesteps bigger issues, including systematic, institutionalized problems w/ international responses (& relationships more generally), involvement of Western militaries, the forms of support offered, etc.
"As more people adopt simple social tools, and as those tools allow increasingly rapid communication, the speed of group action also increases, and just as more is different, faster is different" (Shirky, p.161).
JasonRussell (InvisibleChildren) ©2012 Reuters /Brendan McDermid
e.g. North America's stance on Child Soldiers
March 14, 2012: Landmark ruling by the International Criminal Court (ICC), convicting Thomas Lubanga (Democratic Republic of Congo - former president) of war crimes for recruiting children into his armies.
Meanwhile....at the ICC
Evgeny Morozov (2009): Defines as "feel-good online activism that has zero political or social impact. It gives those who participate in "slacktivist" campaigns an illusion of having a meaningful impact on the world without demanding anything more than joining a Facebook group."
Goes on to say that: ""Slacktivism" is the ideal type of activism for a lazy generation: why bother with sit-ins and the risk of arrest, police brutality, or torture if one can be as loud campaigning in the virtual space?" Concern = online activism will displace and diminish civic engagement (sound familiar? i.e. Putnam)
e.g. Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) tool: allows anyone to volunteer their computer to assist in hacking campaigns
Involved in various movements: incl. last year's Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, and recent retaliations for the Megaupload raids
©©2008 anonymous at No On 8, by qwrrty (Tim Pierce) via Flickr
Shirky: "Groups are capable of exerting a different kind of force than are individuals, and when that force is turned against an existing institution [like a government or a corporation], groups create a different kind of threat" (p.161).
How protests work (when they work) - e.g. Leipzig protests leading up to the toppling of German Democratic Republic (GDR); flash mob inspired protests in Belarus.
Susanne Lohman: "information cascade":
individuals each have a particular threshold at which they might become compelled to join a protest.
a key factor: fear of punishment
each successful march = diminished fear + spread awareness
Shirky: "Using the state's reaction against itself is a kind of jujitsu" (p.169).
e.g. ice cream flash mobs as political protest - uses public tools to force the state to react after the fact. The attendees can then document and publicize the reactions.
SNS's role here:
Enables rapid and simple group formation (e.g. as seen with flash mobs)
Removes obstacles to collective action
Function as "ordinary tool" can enable unprecedented effects (e.g. shift away from advance planning along w/ spread of mobile phones)
Enables new, widely accessible and widely used forms of documenting, producing, sharing, distributing and storing (as endless copies become impossible to contain & control)
Three levels (Shirky, p.163):
Everyone knows that everyone knows.
Visible action (e.g. protests) = Everyone knows that everyone knows that everyone knows.
Shirky argues that this third level = step necessary for real public action.
Organizing without Organizations
Social tools make it possible to keep the organization of the group effort invisible, while the results become immediately (and in some cases highly) visible.
Groups can be coordinated with little advance planning. Can be coordinated in public (online) without linking directly back to individual participants, places, etc.
Diminished Obstacles for Participation
Collective action is traditionally very difficult as it requires high level of commitment from participants. Often - meant convincing people who care a little (but not enough to do something on their own) to care more (and join a group effort).
With SNS: "people who care a little can participate a little, while being effective in aggregate" (p.181).
All "On the Record"
Initial criticisms: focused on the makers of the video (Invisible Children), their track record, motivations (?buy a bracelet to sign the petition?), providing simplified, incomplete & misleading information, claiming there had been no media coverage, equating military presence with victory, celebrity endorsements, etc.
Criticism then moved to the SNS users who made the film a viral hit (accusations of "slacktivism").
Expressions of conflicted feelings, reactions to the initial criticisms and backlash.
©2012 Max Fisher|The Atlantic
Twitter: Kony mentioned 11.5 million times in one week
Fisher claims that the Kony 2012 was "so popular precisely because it reduced Central African violence to such simplicity that viewers didn't have to bother themselves with learning more, and because it told people that all they had to do to fix the problem was share the video on Facebook and maybe buy a wristband." - and that this is ultimately what doomed it to "fail"
(although he also points out that Invisible Children sold an enormous amount of merchandise in the process).
Public Fury Quickly Fizzles to....?
Yesterday - press filled with coverage of the "just as sudden" drop in interest in Kony.
Katie Baker's Jezebel article carries the headline:
"No One Cares About Kony Anymore"
Given all the criticisms, debate, backlash, back and forth that took place over the past week...is that necessarily what happened? Did people just lose interest, or realize it was a more complex issue than was initially presented?
Did people not "bother themselves" to learn more, or did the campaign fizzle out in part because they *did* learn more?
Malcolm Webb, reporting for Al Jazeera, on the film's public screening in the northern Ugandan town of Lira:
"The Al audience was at first puzzled to see the narrative lead by an American man – Jason Russell – and his young son.
Towards the end of the film, the mood turned more to anger at what many people saw as a foreign, inaccurate account that belittled and commercialised their suffering, as the film promotes Kony bracelets and other fundraising merchandise, with the aim of making Kony infamous."
Only a small % of these tweets & blog posts came out of Uganda itself, and these were largely ignored by those engaged in the Kony 2012 mealstrom. Nonetheless, Ugandan and other African bloggers, writers, activists and journalists did voice immediate concern and criticism toward the video and the public reaction.
What a lot of this comes down to is the recurring question of whether or not online activism translates into "real" world civic action. But what does this mean?
The Revolution will be (and was) Tweeted
The 2011 "Arab Spring"
©©2008 anonymous at No On 8, by qwrrty (Tim Pierce) via Flickr
Watch the Al Jazeera coverage and interviews with some of the audience members on the SMC300 Youtube Playlist
Watch the "Awareness 2012" parody video on the SMC300 Youtube Playlist
As Goldberg points out - LOTS of scholarship advancing the idea of online/virtual as important (or potential) part of the public sphere. Flashback to week9 discussion of copyright...underlying assumption that new media produces a "networked pulic" with public interest, rights, etc.
Public sphere: "a site of social activity comprised of rational discourse which occasions the informal constitution of the public will. In new media scholarship, the development of a networked public sphere is framed as a migration or extension of an already existing public sphere to an online platform, a reuscitation of an ailing public sphere, and/or a first-time venture whose success has been made possible by the advent of digital network technologies. Media scholars' interest in the public sphere is often articulated in opposition to political apathy, cynicism, disenfranchisement, consumerism, and increasing media concentration" (Goldberg, p.741).
Papacharissi (2002), p.12): "Can it promote rational discourse, thus producing the romanticized ideal of a public sphere envisioned by Habermas and others? Does it reflect several public spheres co-existing online, representing the collectives of diverse groups, as Fraser argued? Are online discussions dominated by elements of anarchy or accord, and do they foster democracy? Will the revolutionary potential of the internet be ultimately absorbed by a mass commercial culture?" For Papacharissi, in 2002, the internet was a public space, but not yet a "public sphere."
If remixing is political,
why not reposting?
Goldberg's interest here is in unpacking some of the underlying assumptions in this virtual/public debate. He argues that: "regardless of its content, the inherently economic quality of internet participation contributes to the production of a different and under-examined mode of power than is presumed in scholarship of the public/virtual sphere" (p.744).
Seen in the Kony 2012 criticisms - whose voice/perspective dominated in the film, who was included/excluded from the debate (beyond a matter of access!!), outrage expressed by Ugandans interviewed over the commercial nature of the campaign, celebrity endorsements (aligning with a cause for self-branding/reputation building purposes)...
Goldberg provides an extreme(!) but sobering antidote to some of the widespread optimism about the democratizing power/potential of SNS - where expanding access to social tools, increasing user participation means drawing more people into deeply embedded (economic) power relations.
Makes us rethink some of our arguments about the importance of awareness or slacktivism: liking and reposting ad campaigns - even PSAs, fighting for our rights to access/engage with corporately-produced mass media...pretty much in tune with market priorities (although we might disagree when it comes to the methods).
But...also (arguably) inadequate consideration of those working outside the system, developing alternatives - both offline and on - and how those excluded from the system might feel about that (and how they might instigate massive change).
Shirky (p.187): "...however minor they may seem, any tool that improved shared awareness or group coordination can be pressed into service for political means, because the freedom to act in a group is inherently political."
The Revolution *was* Tweeted...
but what does that mean?
Arab Spring & SNS
Gladwell (CNN interview in May, 2011):
"I've been as dumbstruck as everyone else about what happened in the Middle East. [...] But "… in cases where there are no tools of communication, people still get together. So I don’t see that as being… in looking at history, I don’t see the absence of efficient tools of communication as being a limiting factor on the ability of people to socially organize "
In 2010, only a month or two before the Arab Spring, Malcolm Gladwell published an article entitled: "Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted" in the New Yorker. Critiqued scholars (including Shirky) and techno-enthusiasts for the undue emphasis put on SNS as a tool for political and social action. Describes key characteristics of Facebook & Twitter as inadequate for real (tangible, effective) political orgnaization: weak (social) ties (rather than strong); lack of hierarchy and lack of comprehensive strategy.
Wikileaks - responded to initial events by publishing US government's criticisms of the Tunisian regime. Some sources (UK Guardian) described this as providing further inspiration for popular action (similar to our discussion last week of information cascade: 3rd level - we all know that we all know that we all know...)
December 2010: Start of a series of massive protests, strikes, civil uprisings, regime changes, state oppression & retaliation in various countries across the Middle East. Spreads from Tunisia, Lybia, Egypt, Yemen - Bahrain, Syria. Various different outcomes, many ongoing.
Social media use is/was at the forefront of global news flows: arguments about centrality to coordination and orchestration of actual political actions. e.g. news media & techno-enthusiasts have played up the role of SNS in inspiring/enabling. Critics warn that political action is about mobilizing humans - tools used is secondary.
Rebecca MacKinnon (2012): "The digital activists who played a key role in bringing down the governments of Tunisia and Egypt did not spring immaculately from Facebook and Twitter. They started building interconnected online and offline movements well before either service was conceived, using a variety of platforms, services, and software--some built by companies, some built by themselves or created noncommercially by others. They were also major contributors to--and beneficiairies of--the digital commons" (p.21).
Evgeny Morozov (2011) "Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go" (Guardian article) - "Cyber-utopians who believe the Arab spring has been driven by social networks ingore the real-world activism underpinning them."
Points out that although the uprisings last year may have appeared spontaneous to Western observers (& therefore analoguous to a flash mob, as Shirky describes and as discussed last week), history shows that technologies don't play so central a role in popular regime changes (echoes Gladwell's main argument here).
"By emphasising the liberating role of the tools and downplaying the role of human agency, such accounts make Americans feel proud of their own contribution to events in the Middle East."
- Morozov, 2011
Website started in 2004 by Riadh Geurfali and Slim Amamou to disseminate articles by Tunisian dissidents and activists (banned from publishing in Tunisia); information hub for activism; repository of videos, pics, articles about human rights violations committed by/under Ben Ali's regime, info about censorship/surveillance and how to get around it.
Nawaat team used various social platforms - but the structures of these platforms also used against them. Youtube channel frozen after someone reported them for violating TOS. Facebook accounts reported for not using real names (too dangerous).
Bloggers in Egypt tracking similar evidence on crimes and arrests by Mubarak's regime. Egyptian Blogs Aggregator - used Drupal to aggregate posts of Egypt's political bloggers. Spread to various social networking tools, e.g. Facebook for organizing street protests, spreading info about arrests, etc.
Anonymous (hacktivist org. we looked at last week), which includes Tunisian members, launched "Operation Tunisia" in early Jan. 2011, attacking Tunisian government websites, distributing info/tutorials on how to keep identity anonymous online.
Used preexiting ties to a gloal network of activists, hacktivists, groups and resources...
Week11 tie in: One of the key criticisms of putting too much emphasis on Western SNS such as Facebook/Twitter: these companies often work WITH repressive regimes (e.g. Twitter censorship controversy last month); majority of tweets, etc., came out of Western countries; also economic critique (e.g. flash back to Goldberg)
A Question of Power
As Castells states: "Power in the network society is exercised through networks." But it is extremely easy to lose sight of power, power relations, and how both existing and emerging power centres/holders negotiate and struggle for control over how networks will be used, defined, by whom, etc.
Morozov, MacKinnon, Mejias, Gladwell, Goldberg and others... trying to remind us that just because the network *appears* decentralized, democratic, celebrated as a "neutral" tool filled with endless potential for empowerment, etc., doesn't mean that it actually is.
Four Forms of Power:
1. Networking Power: power exerted by those included in the "global network society" (individuals and orgs that are part of the networks that constitute the core of the global network society) over human collectives/individuals who are NOT included in these global networks. (exclusion/inclusion - gatekeeping).
**costs of exclusion increas faster than benefits of inclusion
4. Network-making power: power exerted by those who create the network (i.e. programmers) according to their own values and interests. + power to establish & switch alliances between one dominant actor of a network to another (e.g. governments, industries, etc.). The most crucial or paramount form of power in the network society.
***e.g. Twitter's new policy to block certain Tweets (& Twitter accounts) only in particular parts of the world
3. Networked power: power to "impose an actor's will over another actor's will on the basis of the structural capacity of domination embedded in" the network (specific to each network)
2. Network power: power exerted by imposition of the "rules of inclusion" - i.e. standards those INSIDE the network must follow/comply to in order to use the networks.
**rules may be negotiated, but once set become compelling for all those in the network
Exerted by "...fighting to change the programs of specific networks and by the effort to disrupt the switches that reflect dominant interests and replace them with alternative[s]..." (Castells, 2011, p.773).
wherever there is power - there is counterpower
Global Media Culture
Mark Poster (2008)
Manuel Castells (2011)
Place: Bissell Building, 140 St George St
Where will you be next fall? Thinking of Graduate School?
Thinking of your career? Think iSchool.
We all live in an ocean of information---you deal with it every day.
Now make it your career.
Take this opportunity to visit the iSchool to
Discover if we are a match for your goals
Meet with admissions officers
Find out how to enhance your application package
Chat with current students
Have your questions answered
Bring your transcripts and CV. We'll review your degrees and give you information about international educational equivalencies and English facility tests.
iSchool: Admissions Open House
Date: Sat, 2012/03/24 - 11:00am - 2:00pm
Announcement: Open House at the iSchool this weekend
Shirky v. Gladwell on the role of SNS in the "Arab Spring"/Fall/Winter
Revisiting Goldberg - Virtual/Public
A Question of Power (Castells)
Global Media & Culture (Poster)
Castells points out that in our "globally interdependent world" even the most powerful governments/regimes do not have "all the power". States may bring chaos to their people and to the international scene, but their power and control aren't absolute. See this highlighting of "interdependence" as relevant to the discussion of the role of SNS (spreading awareness, political power of media, mobilizing other nodes of the network, etc.)
As raised in other critiques, Castells highlights importance of "network-making power": the ability to program/reprogram the network (set its goals, design, etc.) & the ability to connect/ensure cooperation of different networks (alliances: in goals, resources, fighting competition...which can ultimately mean anyone trying to provide alternatives or set different goals).
Communication processes, orgs and networks = key fields of power. All power exercised by influencing the human mind through multimedia networks of mass communication (culture, agenda-setting, etc.). "Source of the construction of meaning in the public mind" (p.786) (beyond 'awareness')
E.g. Says the conflicts of our time are fought through multimedia communication networks - who gets to program, switch? Just as industrial factory produced both corporate capital & labour movements, online/digital produces both networks of domination and networks of reistance.
He gives several examples of network-making power holders: media corps., Facebook Inc., etc.
Examples of counterpower?
Important when thinking about the critiques of the role of SNS in social/political movements. e.g. Twitter was just broadcasts not political action, most came out of the West. Bypassed control systems, gatekeepers, media/internet blackouts, mainstream media bias, etc.
Also - Not the only SNS involved. In the "world of mass self-communication...diversity of formats is the rule" (p.780).
Poster takes up this idea of the importance of multimedia & cultural industries within the emerging "global culture" - theorizes about what this "global culture" might be - how it is changed by global exchanges, mediation of information technologies, Western discourses on "global"
Problematizes the idea that SNS platforms (media/tools/programs) are fixed to particular geographical location or national/regional culture. Implies that it is still too early to say that existing power relations & hegemonic culture will prevail online - digital tech, SNS, peer-to-peer structure facilitate global media exchanges and flows. The platforms are increasingly global in nature - used, appropriated by people around the world - who will also contribute to determining its "nature" and its "rules".
Points to diversity of languages, emergence of hybrids, new local cultures/global subcultures, problems of translation....
"The development of global culture then must be seen not as the negotiation between fixed cultures in competition for hegemony...but an entirely new scene of cultural configurations whose outlines can certainly not be discerned today. Global culture is a new project for humanity. It will mix relations of forces with creativity before anything like a temporary stasis emerges" (p.695).
MIA - World Town
"Global culture can only be
culture" (Poster, 2008, p.698)
Course Evaluations: 2:10-2:25
Big Brother Inc.
+ Facebook Passwords
e.g. Bill C-30: Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act
Other "Lawful Access" Legislation
Evgeny Morozov (TEDtalk) "How the Internet strengthens dictatorships" (12minutes)
The Value of Anonymity
can be Dangerous
Ellerbrock (2011): Research aims to better understand the recent shift in public opinion about privacy (dramatic change over a very short time span). Proposes associations between once-controversial surveillance technologies/practices and "play" (in this case, leisure, fun, socializing, Web 2.0 cultural practices) are key to unpacking these shifts.
Focus on automated face recognition (FR) systems: from history of marginalization of vulnerable groups to new incarnations e.g. Picasa/Google, Facebook/Face.com
Ellerbrock (2011, p.530): "...more playful uses of an otherwise controversial technology have fundamentally altered both its popular representation and the ways in which it is taken up by the public - moving from an identification technology widely associated with state control, airport security, and the war on terror to a new representation as a “benign” and user-friendly computer application that instead speaks to pleasure, convenience, and personal entertainment."
"Normalizing" a New Order
Through Celebratory Discourse
Deconstructing web 2.0 manifestos
FR: Troubling history. Origins = various "militarized identification purposes". Boom following 9/11 within national security schemes: increased funding + decreased public resistance (e.g. FR-enabled CCTV systems in airports, border crossings, city centres, etc.).
Continued difficulty in correctly identifying individuals - lots of false positives, implicated in racial profiling (design bias - algorithms more easily confused by darker skin and eye colours). In keeping with biometrics throughout history - linked w/ discrimination (ethnicity, race, gender, socio-economics, etc.)
FR = for personal use, diffusion through social media, Web 2.0 tools (photo uploads/sharing) and emerging digital cultural practices (e.g. seen as an extension of photo tagging), convenient & easy to use.
These forms coded as "soft" - fun - social, consumer-oriented, less technical, feminized, controllable (?).
Not only largely accepted (**although still resisted by many!!!), but enroll users in working for the technology - putting in time/energy (immaterial labour) to compensate for the technology's limitations (e.g. false positives). Normalizes FR - increased familiarity (association with fun and mundane uses), focus shift to using it yourself, etc.
According to Ellerbrok, noteworthy in 3 ways:
matches are verified by individual users (correct/incorrect)
often connected (auto/by user) to a real-world identity (email, Facebook profile, etc.)
increasingly made (publicly) available to social media platforms (which also means available to data-brokers, governments, etc.)
What happens when a "serious" tool is used for "playful" purposes? Are the serious implications still there? Are these technologies really so context dependent? Facebook might appear "worlds away" from national security...but is it?
What happens when we shift from a "serious" example to a "playful" example? Do the underlying politics and potentialities shift as well, or are they still there, obscured by the playful? Is the potential for the "serious" (the system in place, the opportunities to use it for this or that purpose) what we should focus on, or concrete examples/actual uses?
Making connections and revisiting a couple of key themes:
Big Brother Inc. = linkages between government and corporate surveillance (the case of Bill C-30)
Dissent can be dangerous - Morozov's argument that SNS can be used as a tool of oppression, government surveillance, & unexpected alliances between power holders
Normalizing the new order (commercial, governance, data exchange, immaterial labour) & mainstreaming controversial technologies and practices through:
"Playful" applications (Ellerbrock, 2011)
Celebratory discourses (Van Dijk & Nieborg, 2009)
Privacy, anonymity and politics: When/where dissent can be dangerous, how your data is tracked and used can be a matter of life or death. Last week = alliances between corporate SNS owners and governments, examples of how existing design/systems of SNS can be used *against* citizens and political movements. Puts a different slant on questions of the value of privacy, importance of anonymity...beyond public performance or controlling access.
In addition to concerns about regulation/exploitation of users' content and immaterial labour (discussed earlier this semester), growing concerns about how our data is used by authorities -- governments, law enforcement agencies, etc. -- for widespread surveillance, bypassing established citizen rights and expectations (e.g. needing a warrant), criminalizing & punishing various online practices we've looked at this semester.
Increasingly involves collaboration (from voluntary to enforced) between private sector providing services/collecting data and state authorities (law enforcement, government agencies, etc.). Already prevalent in some parts of the world. Coming soon to Canada???
We've talked about the pervasiveness of celebratory discourses re: SNS in this class (the readings, discussions, etc.) several times. Way of emphasizing potential, but also distracts from "darker" dimensions, political economic/power relations, etc.
Van Dijk & Nieborg (2009) highlight other ways these discourses also shape/steer the mainstream = normalize underlying models & assumptions, sidestep debate & critical analysis, infiltrate cultural theory.
How does this tie in to our earlier discussion of the recurring need to evaluate SNS practices based on measurable/traditionally defined outcomes?