[iDC] How does social media educate?

R Labossiere admin at klooj.net
Sat Feb 10 01:05:43 EST 2007

Baby you can drive my car.
And maybe I'll love you.

democracy, what is it? why do we cleave to it as an "ideal"?

p2p is not democractic per se, it's a new phenomenon, people coalesceing around issues, topics, processes...
and that has little to do with representational poltiics
a) it isn't political (it may be, but that isn't necessarily the driving force)
b) it isn't representational -- there aren't appointed (or even elected) spokespersons pivoting at some upper point on the folks they represent

what it is (imho) is flat... pluralistic... inclusive... results driven...intuitive (people will cleave to what they feel is "right" once it is enunciated by anyone)

what it not is... representational... leadership driven... expertise driven (though guidance by the better informed is part of it, so we need to consider perhaps the meritocracy effect)

what will be critical is the way p2p produces results (without authority as we know it), how it will press back on represenational democacy, subtended, as we see everywhere democracy has been, to corporate power.

on a brighter note, ha ha, the idea that violence might be necessary to subvert "the system" is proven to be no longer true and is abandonned in favour of progressive, if indeterminate, development. 

P2P plays a different game, in which the goal is the creation of, and choice between, alternatives. 

We are closer to realizing this possibility than we can imagine.

Baby you can drive my car.
And maybe I'll love you.

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Michel Bauwens 
  To: iDC 
  Sent: Friday, February 09, 2007 10:19 PM
  Subject: Re: [iDC] How does social media educate?

  In my opinion, the 'peer governance' of projects where people congregate to produce something in common, where participation brings decision, differs from democracy.

  What I think happened is that our new distributed technical and organizational infrastructures allow for the global coordination of a multitiude of small projects, which have a scale that permits such co-decision, and turns out to be more democratic and efficient than centralized or decentralized modes. Because it is more efficient, the existing institutions feel driven to adopt it, while at the same time they need to protect their existing power monopolies. Trying to mix and match both is what gives it the contradictory nature. 

  The hypothesis of a peer to peer mode of civilization is simply that the p2p mode will be the core, that the current subsystem becomes the metasystem. The other two scenarios, one of which is that the old establishment achieves to stop the new, I believe to be irrealistic, if only because it is destroying the biosphere and therefore incompatible with its own reproduction; the middle scenario, a successfull integration of peer to peer within a renewed Empire and system of cognitive capitalism, is a distinct possibility, but not a certainty. 

  Democracy however, is not distribution, but decentralization, because it operates on too big a scale, and there is no a priori consensus.

  Peer governance, which is non-representational,  does therefore not replace representative democracy, both will co-exist. As peer projects get bigger, they may have to adopt representational processes, while on the other side of the equation, representative processes will adapt and/or make place for more spheres of responsible autonomy and self-governed networks, while itself also adapting multistakeholder formats that bypass pure representation. 

  Mills definition cannot be applied to the processes inherent in peer governance, which circumvents scarcity.


  On 2/6/07, Ulises <arsalaan1-idc at yahoo.com > wrote: 
    Tobias (and all),

    I share your sentiments regarding Hinchcliffe's definition. Somehow, it is not enough. 

    Someone please fill in the blank: Instead of seeking to define social media in functional terms (all the hype about what it can do), we need to define it in terms of _________ .

    We tend to get excited about the presence of the word 'social' in the term 'social media.' It signifies a new era, we are told (for the sort of reasons Hinchcliffe gives). At the same time, we take too much for granted (I believe) the presence of the word 'media,' a word that hints at very specific dynamics of information consumption and social control. You wrote: 

    "if these [Hinchcliffe's] 5 points [conversation, open organization, transparency, bidirectionality, and distribution] face significant difficulty throughout history, then why would a  specific technology somehow enable the realization of these [direct democracy] values?" 

    Precisely! This is the reason why I asked at the beginning:

    What is the educational problem in our societies to which social media is said to be the obvious answer?
    What kind of society requires the emergence of social media as an educational tool in the first place? 

    Consider the importance that Hinchcliffe gives to 'pull' --as opposed to 'push'-- in social media. This characteristic is important only because media has historically been associated with 'push.' Now, however, we are told that _social_ media is 'flattening the world' of communication. Why, then, continue to call it _media_? Is our collective subconscious  interjecting a moment of honesty here? When 'push' becomes a mass phenomenon, doesn't it start to approximate 'push'? 

    You bring up direct democracy. Here's C.W. Mills' description of direct democracy:

    "The people are presented with problems. They discuss them. They decide on them. They formulate viewpoints. These viewpoints are organized, and they compete. One viewpoint 'wins out.' Then the people act out this view, or their representatives are instructed to act it out, and this they promptly do." (The power elite, 1956, pp. 299-300) 

    Mills was deriding this uncomplicated view of direct democracy because it does not take into account power dynamics. But our enthusiasm for social media seems to fuel this fantasy. Hey, what could be better for democracy than a healthy public sphere with increased possibilities for communication? But it's like Deleuze says: "Repressive forces don't stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves... What we're are plagued by these days isn't any blocking of communication, but pointless statements." (Negotiations, 1995, p. 129). 

    If social media is to fulfill an educational purpose, it will need to contribute more than the individual's ability to make a statement, even if that statement is made in an environment with the flatness, transparency, bidirectionality, and open distribution that Hinchcliffe describes as the essence of social media. 


    iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity ( distributedcreativity.org )
    iDC at mailman.thing.net

    List Archive:

  The P2P Foundation researches, documents and promotes peer to peer alternatives. 

  Wiki and Encyclopedia, at http://p2pfoundation.net; Blog, at http://blog.p2pfoundation.net; Newsletter, at http://integralvisioning.org/index.php?topic=p2p

  Basic essay at http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=499 ; interview at http://poynder.blogspot.com/2006/09/p2p-very-core-of-world-to-come.html; video interview, at http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2006/09/29/network_collaboration_peer_to_peer.htm 

  The work of the P2P Foundation is supported by http://www.ws-network.com/04_team.htm 


  iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity (distributedcreativity.org)
  iDC at mailman.thing.net

  List Archive:
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/attachments/20070210/c1cf093d/attachment-0001.html

More information about the iDC mailing list