[iDC] How does social media educate?

Ryan Griffis ryan.griffis at gmail.com
Thu Feb 8 20:01:25 EST 2007

> Rather, they lie with us, peer producers. But in all cases where we  
> accept
> less than autonomous infrastructures, and accept the privately-funded
> private platforms, then we have to accept the dual nature of those
> platforms, who are both co-dependent on the expressive sharing  
> dynamic, and
> the need to fund, and profit from, that same activity.
> So, if the concern about the web 2.0 ethic is false or misleading,  
> where do
> the true ethical questions lay?
> Perhaps the answer is the following:
> 1) to acquiesce that sharing practices are a huge advance in social
> practices
> 2) that community-based open infrastructures are better but not  
> always in
> every case more 'competitive'
> 3) that we should work, rather than complain about voluntary  
> labour, in
> creating economic formats, that are equally commons-dependent and
> supportive, but operate along cooperative lines of equity in that  
> very same
> market?
> Let's be watchful of abuses by Web 2.0 companies by all means (but not
> necessarily be obsessed by revenue sharing practices), but more  
> importantly,
> let us construct the infrastructure of the peer to peer  
> civilization of
> tomorrow.

This sounds aptly pragmatic... but so does recycling and the so- 
called "keep america beautiful" campaigns. Not that social media is  
the same as the production-waste problem, but i'm very skeptical, to  
put it mildly, of ethics discourse. (side note: realtors in the early  
20th century US made an "ethical" decision to exclude black  
homeowners from neighborhoods because it would bring down the  
property values of those already living there. ethical = responsible  
to white residence) i'm especially skeptical of ethics discourse that  
seeks to place the solution to the problems of capitalism on a group  
called "consumers." Which is exactly what recycling and the "kab"  
campaigns did for the politics of waste. we don't need to cut back on  
production, or even reuse packaging. no we can feel good about single  
use containers because we can put them in a different (usually green)  
container where some proportion of them will become renewed material  
for more packages. the nice closed loop we see in the recycling icon.  
(sorry for the waste analogue... i've been reading Heather Rogers'  
"Gone Tomorrow" which i highly recommend)
just like the term "consumers", "users" can never be expected to make  
radical, or even slightly reformative, changes to the overall value  
system of capital. it seems delusional to think that an  
"infrastructure" of a "peer to peer civilization" can be constructed  
by people who are ultimately functioning as "user" and "consumers"  
and just because i might be "producing" something called content,  
doesn't mean i've changed my fundamental relationship to the means of  
production. as was said before, i'm basically consuming a platform  
with which to "express" myself, which includes service agreements  
with multi-nationals, hardware and software purchases. how do we  
construct an "infrastructure" in those terms? on what ground would it  
take shape?
"abuses" are normative and relative. the ethics of realtors.
the peer to peer civilization of tomorrow will most likely look like  
that of previous centuries, if at all.
</ cynicism>

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