[iDC] How does social media educate?

Michel Bauwens michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Sun Feb 11 23:56:01 EST 2007

Interesting exchange between Armin and the others.

I agree with most of the points. With Armin, that there are indeed two
worlds, with Danah and the others, that the Web 2.0 sites are indeed social.

I wonder if this community is familiar with tools that can differentiate
between the value and behavioural logics that differentiate people, and that
are a function of their psychological and social development. I'm thinking
of systems of interpretations like that of Clare Graves, and as popularized
by the various versions of Spiral Dynamics and Integral Psychology. While I
have been often critical of the uses and abuses of hierarchically ranking
psychological states and people, I do not find that these systems are
altogether wrong, and they help us understand various practices.

When I advocate 'peer to peer solutions' through our various sites at the
p2pfoundation, I'm in no illusion that everybody can use these new tools at
their full benefit. They can only be fully and maturily used by about 2% of
the current population (that corresponds to what is called the yellow meme
in the Spiral Dynamics system; a further slice of 25% of cultural creatives
also can use to a great extent; the others use it, but with altogether
different logics and attitudes). But as an institutional, legal,
organizational and technological infrastructural format, embedding the
social wisdom of those who designed it, they, pretty much like a document
like the American Constitution of the universal bill of rights, can have an
upward pull effect, even to those that are not educated/matured to take full
use of it. We have to accept that people have different levels, different
values, and that current social structures and corporate interests may pull
them down, but at the same time, we continue efforts to pull them up. This
may sound perhaps elitist, and perhaps it is, but I see it as simple
accepting that people are different, and that it is indeed better to be more
tolerant, to broaden one's circle of concern, to act in a more loving and
kind way, open to more sharing and participation, etc… Certain tools are
more compatible than others to achieve such effects. But again, efficient
tools are able to design in such a way that there is congruence between
different levels of usage, and that collective and individual interest

I see history as an effort by pioneering wisdom communities (relative to the
level of their age and general population) to create positive social change,
which is than eventually incorporate, but also diluted deformed by the
existing dominant paradigms and power structures and interests. This
dominant paradigm, also subject to change, represses both the lower and the
higher forms that threaten either regression or loss of power because of
institutional reform.

Both aspects, i.e. working at a general level and for the wisdom
communities, are important. I.e. recognizing where people are at in general,
and being present with humanity as it is (this is Danah's point), and this
is also why it is useful to use corporate-owned tagging and photosharing
communities, because it is a way to exert influence; while at the same time,
to develop further the uncompromising new social technologies in the wisdom
communities, which is Armin's point. To be avoided is an absolute dichotomy
between both, and to be encouraged are the skills and attitudes to straddle
both worlds. In time, the former will incorporate features of the latter,
although of course, in a deformed/diluted way. At some point then, emergence
of phase transitions can occur, in which a new level of social and
psychological complexity causes a faster adaptation of the institutional
frameworks, and a new set of problems…**

Armin said:

i sometimes these days feel like living in a parallel world, of course
there are many parallel worlds, but what I am coming at in particular is
this split between the sort of 'public sphere' and 'public
opinion' (there are not enough inverted komas to signify my level of
disdain of what this nowaday means) created by mainstream media and what
it creates attention for and the world of open source culture. In one
world people are really gross, only care for themselves and a narrowly
defined type of 'friendship' and sociality; their main goals are to get
rich quick and/or become a celebrity; in order to achieve this you have
to be really competitive and fuck everyone else over. In the other world
people are involved in an exchange economy, often based on a friendly
competition; they care for each other and the liveability of the wider
world. Incidentially, or not, on the BBC or Sky Television we never hear
about this other world. It is almost completely blanked out. Since the
Guardian changed the name of its 'Online' section to 'technoloy' even
there we read only about new gadgets and ego shooters. It is strange how
capitalist media manage to blank out everything that does not fit into
its concept.

On 2/12/07, Alan Clinton <reconstruction.submissions at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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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> > )
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