[iDC] How does social media educate? :: a playlist in response to danah

john sobol john at johnsobol.com
Fri Feb 16 23:44:12 EST 2007

On 14-Feb-07, at 10:13 AM, Ulises wrote:
> 01. How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? :: sociable web media (even 
> when
> operating within 'open' models) exists in a capitalist economy; it 
> cannot exist
> prior to its commercialization

unless you make your own paper and pencils and presses and TVs and 
microphones and antennae the same is true of all literate tools and 
mediated communications
this means nothing really

> 02. Can't Buy Me Love :: the architectures of participation in 
> sociable web
> media are determined primarily by the dynamics of a market economy, 
> which raises
> ethical questions because capitalism is inherently anti-social

do you mean that blogging (for example) exploits the world's poor 
because any blogger will at some point have made a commercial 
transaction within the capitalist market economy in order to access 
hardware and software and connectivity?
This may on some level be be true but by this same logic every phone 
call between lovers or bicycle ride to the beach is unethical as well. 
Kind of a loopy argument.

> 03. If I Knew You Were Coming (I'd've Baked A Cake) :: yes, social 
> media objects
> operate in both a market and a gift economy, but the 'gift' is always
> subordinate to the opportunities to derive profit from it; the best we 
> can hope
> for is hybrid capitalism

your first assumption (that the 'gift' is always subordinate to the 
opportunities to derive profit from it) again subscribes to an abstract 
logic divorced from the lived experiences of real people. Does your 
argument also hold true for people who buy each other wedding rings, or 
for parents who buy their kids birthday presents, all of which also 
involve profit-making and taking? I'm not saying this to rationalize 
capitalism's nefarious consequences but let's not pretend we're atomic 
robots rather than feeling people.

your second somewhat forlorn assumption (that the best we can hope for 
is hybrid capitalism) strikes me as missing the point. In light of the 
familiar weaknesses of capitalism, are you suggesting that settling for 
a substantial structural readjustment to capitalism (i.e. hybrid 
capitalism) to accommodate far more p2p-ness and 'gift-driven' (i.e. 
relationship-based)  economic relationships is some kind of consolation 
prize? Maybe in academic socialist parlors where dreams of the 
old-school Marxist revolution still live on, unaffected by the history 
of 20th century political pathologies and outcomes, 'hybrid capitalism' 
would be considered a lame result compared to hypothetical revolutions 
to come, but from where i sit, it sounds like a helluva step forward.
> 04. This Unavoidable Thing Between Us :: sociable web media *can* be 
> potential
> resources of anticapitalist struggle; however, the actualization of 
> these
> resources cannot be framed in terms of bridging the 'digital divide' 
> in order to
> grant everyone access to the 'marketplace' of the public

maybe not. i waffle on this one. i'd just like to advance the argument 
that sociable web media, or whatever you want to call it, is not just a 
potential player in an anticapitalist struggle but is rather inherently 
anti-capitalist itself, despite all of your emphasis on market 
economics and the costs of accessing infrastructure. I'm saying the use 
of these tools is anti-capitalist, even if the platform is not. 
Obviously we disagree as to which is more important and more 
transformative of the other. It's anti-capitalist because it's of the 
process economy. Literate capitalism is a product-based economy.

> 05. It Smells Like Teen Spirit :: sociable web media controlled by 
> corporations
> produces plural monocultures, which should not be confused for diverse 
> or
> authentic social spaces

again, maybe so. plural monocultures are all around us though. When we 
ride the bus, when we walk through our neighbourhoods, shop at stores, 
go to rock concerts or raves or school or work or other countries. 
Maybe its not only corporations that create them. And although i am 
quite comfortable to posit diversity as a vital ideal (while also 
recognizing the value of cultural integrity), I think the equation of 
diverse social spaces with authentic social spaces is extraordinarily 
arrogant. Bullshit really.

> 06. Where The Hood At :: the network is a limited model for organizing 
> social
> realities; nodocentrism can be particularly corrosive to local 
> connections, as
> it makes anything not plugged-in to the network virtually invisible 
> (despite the
> hype, the hyperlocal does not enhance but subordinate the local and 
> the social
> to a market economy)

good point. yes it's true, if it can't be googled it doesn't exist. so 
you go across town to MegaShoe for your shoe repair because the cobbler 
around the corner doesn't have a website. Possibly in the hybrid 
capitalist economy this will change. we have yet to see the build-out 
of the networked economy in physical space, and this may occur at a 
surprisingly local level in the years to come. or not.

> 07. Alone Together :: the social scripts of networked individualism 
> leave people
> more alienated and prone to control by state and corporate interests,
> monopolizing social and personal desire

this just kills me. as opposed to what? watching 7 hours of TV a day? 
"monopolozing social and personal desire" - you must be joking. I have 
a 21-year old who sits next to me at work who has over 100,000 mp3s on 
his hard drive. And what knocks me out is he knows all about all the 
indie bands who made them, almost none of which I've ever heard of. In 
his own way he has extremely refined taste and that taste is very much 
rooted in his deeply-felt personal aesthetic, which reflects no 
corporate agenda I've ever seen. And he seems typical of a lot of young 
folks I know. They'd piss on you if you told them their desires and 
tastes were monopolized by the state or by MTV. And that's not even 
getting into the whole realm of user-generated content, which is really 
the point here. What planet do you live on that you can tell a 16 year 
old or a 66 year old that their myspace page featuring their personal 
musical wankings of whatever quality are corporate-programmed 
inauthentic crap?

> "
> 08. We Don't Need No Education :: we need to not just teach/learn 
> 'with'
> sociable web media, but 'against' it; we can struggle to design for 
> more
> autonomy and diversity, but we need to simultaneously develop the 
> 'literacy' to
> question the assumptions behind it

um ok. what else is new.

> If I have missed some important 'tracks,' please feel free to add them 
> or re-mix
> them to your heart's content.

how about these

09. Sympathy Fucks for the Devil
do businesses stand to become more responsible and responsive if we 
make them more transparent by inserting sociable web media into their 
internal and external communications? Let's find out.

10. Money That's What I Want
can poor oralists with refined dialogical, improvisatory and 
non-literate knowledge-sharing skills acquire more money and better 
living conditions by leveraging their facilitative skills as 
community-builders in the hybrid capitalist online sphere? Let's find 

11. I Scream You Scream We All Scream for I Scream
are a billion people sharing stories on a commercial p2p platform 
better off (socially and economically and spiritually) than a million 
people sharing stories on a  commercial p2p platform? Let's find out.


bluesology • printopolis • digitopia
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