[iDC] the ostrich solution

tobias c. van Veen tobias at techno.ca
Sat Feb 10 09:13:05 EST 2007

hi there,

Here's the general point then I'd like to offer for debate: social media
*doesn't* educate because it doesn't engender questioning. To educate people
to use social media is to question, to teach to question. But is this
happening here? As Danah Boyd wrote of this particular social media space,

> "And i'm being bloody cautious in this post!  Why?  Because
> i think of it as a professional context where i should try to act
> like a lady.  Sorta."

Contrasting iDC to Nettime is a learning -- an educational -- experience.
Whereas Nettime follows a critical model -- lots of questions & open-ends --
iDC attempts to round-up its discussions into neat packages. The difference
between Nettime and iDC is that of the historical usuage of "net-critique"
to "social media." A shift of the invisible audiences then from critique
(Nettime) to "professional context" (iDC). Social media is part of this
"professionalization" of discourse wherein now only two choices appear, as
Boyd continues:

> So, people have two choices: go into hyper paranoid mode and constantly try
> to think about what it means to be seen by all people across all time OR
> live your life in the context you think it should be and hope that you can
> convince others of this later.  (This can be called the ostrich solution.)

As Boyd notes, to the teens-at-home it is just this choice which is not only
unacceptable, but it is boring. I agree! Further, I'd also like to suggest
that this choice is also a product of the lens of "professionalization"
wherein every moment of actualizing the social in this medium -- iDC -- is
held back by fear of dissemination, by a fear of the invisible audience of
"who is reading" -- this is a fear, here, of the professional apparatus of
academia. Social media *in this context* signals self-censorship. To break
through it will mean persistently asking questions, even if they are
excluded from the little reductions and round-ups that attempt to validate
and canonize discourse in this "professional" context: is social media
"social" at all? 

--. Or, are we witnessing the effects of the nonsocial medium, behaviours
which are at once anti-social to the social of the offline world yet
hypersocial to the friend networks of the digital realm?

--. Are these questions antisocial to the conservative professionalism of
this list or just nonsocial by skirting the discourse of positivism -- &
provoking the delete button?

And why are we assuming that we need to educate the "teens" on these matter?

 I can't help but think that perhaps a few questions should be thrown back
in "our" laps first, that we need to "educate" ourselves -- ask a lot of
questions as to what we are up to, here -- before believing in the need to
save the teenage class from some kind of terrible fate.



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