[iDC] How does social media educate?

Alan Clinton reconstruction.submissions at gmail.com
Sun Feb 11 17:53:34 EST 2007

I think that, to clarify what I take from Armin's discussion is that we need
to ask questions about how we participate in media culture.  We need to
question the relationships between such terminologies as "studying" a
culture/media phenomenon, "buying into" it, participating in it, or "using"
it.  Armin's reminder of how "social media" was coopted by big corporations
from hacker cultures reminds me of how (much more successfully than
academics and even social activists) corporations have understood (or
intuited) the lessons of the Situationist International in their ability to
engage in detournement of existing practices, technologies, and ideas.  We
need to ask why this is so and, in our own practices, studies, and
pedagogies, see what we can detour from the entities that have made quite
creative (if reactionary) uses of theft.  Part of this inquiry, of course,
has to take a psychonalytic dimension not only theoretically but in
practice.  Corporations, rather than arguing the virtues or vices of
narcissism, fantasy, and dream logic, have recognized their power and made
effective use of a human psychology which is far more deviant and eclectic
than anything found in traditional hermeneutics.

With this broader approach, I don't see any real contradiction between Armin
and Danah as long as we recognize that concepts like social media and their
more or less popular instantiations need not be static in nature.  In other
words, we neither accept or reject Youtube or MySpace or the like, but
recognize their existence and influence as well as their more deleterious
effects.  But we also study them to see a) how successful they have been in
monopolizing social and personal "desire" b) what we can learn about desire
from them  c) and what we can steal from them either in terms of rhetoric,
interface structure, or ideas to promote a truly social media rather than
what is now, as both Trebor and Armin note, a largely superficial and
commodified social instantiation.

Key to this, as educators and media practitioners, is never to forget that
desire is what motivates people, whatever their age--to deny this is to
ensure our irrelevance.  Pure critique and pure acceptance, of course, both
cede desire to corporations.  What we need is to produce mediated desire in
the service of whatever revolutions will help make a more just, creative,
and free distribution of world cultures.

Alan Clinton

On 2/11/07, danah boyd <zephoria at zephoria.org> wrote:
> On Feb 11, 2007, at 2:38 AM, Armin Medosch wrote:
> > first of all, when I follow, loosely, I must admit, this debate here
> > about social media an interview comes to my mind which I recently did
> > with a young hacker. he said, haveing looked at myspace et al, he came
> > to the conclusion that whoever called those environments 'social' must
> > have a very different idea from his about what is 'social'.
> >
> > so why do eminent scholars and digital media experts on this list buy
> > into the social media hype? is it because big capital and mainstream
> > media has developed a couple of years ago the notion of web 2.0?
> > and now
> > we are forced to believe that those things are important? how
> > important
> > are they really?
> What are you talking about?  How on earth would the practices that
> have emerged on MySpace not be considered social?  There's no doubt
> that there's also a commercial component to these systems, but to say
> that there's no social component to them is preposterous.  Every day
> millions of teenagers login to hang out with their friends, converse,
> show off, validate one another, and otherwise go about a slew of
> social practices.  Every day, i talk to teenagers who tell me about
> all of the different social interactions that get played out across
> multiple media - mobiles, IM, MySpace, etc.   I would concede that
> the artifact itself is not inherently social, but as an environment,
> it is designed to and successfully supports social interaction.
> And you ask how important these systems are?  Have you spent time
> with American teenagers lately?  Or musicians?  (Or LA scenesters,
> but that's a different story...)  MySpace has radically altered the
> social dynamics and information flow amongst these groups (and
> between bands and fans).  And this is just MySpace.  There are
> hundreds of these sites that have changed the lives of all different
> relevant social groups.  Who cares if the industry and media has
> hyped it and is creating all sorts of funny terms that have become
> naturalized into the vocabulary of those invested in the systems?
> The fact of the matter is that these systems are playing a
> significant role in society today and it's critical to pay attention
> to them for exactly that reason.  It seems idiotic to me to only pay
> attention to the systems that i theoretically value.  This is like
> saying that pop culture and "low-brow" art should not be studied
> because the only thing of value is that which has "high-brow"
> cultural capital.  MySpace is mainstream, like it or not, and thus i
> think it's *extremely* important.
> danah
> - - - - - - - - - - d a n a h ( d o t ) o r g - - - - - - - - - -
> "taken out of context i must seem so strange"
> musings :: http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts
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