As I reflect on the semester; I have to say – Thank God it’s over!
It has been a tough semester for me because I walked in the phone booth and thought I was able to but on my Superwoman suit, and fly out, and conquer a 16-credit course semester, prepare for the LSAT, stay actively involved in student activities at CWE, work a full-time job, and create (3) Lifetime Experience Portfolios in a matter of 4- months. But, when I couldn’t find the phone booth, I realized that I wasn’t Superwoman!
I registered for this Media and Society course last Spring, and I sat in Professor Karen Gregory’s class and thought to myself, how exciting the course will be with Professor Gregory, because it will help to satisfy my concentration in Literary, Media and Visual Arts, and it sounds like a lesson in media formats through a demonstration of all things pop culture. But to my surprise, I walked into class about 4 months ago, to learn that Professor Gregory had left the campus, and that the course was totally different than what I expected. Nonetheless, Professor Elizabeth Bullock came in with a quiet demeanor, and reserved style of teaching, and she calmed my nerves when I sat in her office almost at my breaking point, a few months later. As a new professor to the campus, she had big shoes to fill by taking over for Professor Gregory, and she did so with an attention-grabbing course with interesting topics that delved deep into the origin of the computer, internet, and the meanings behind how and why we are in an information age today.
For me, the course was enlightening and……is the real reason I am in college today; to rid myself of ignorance and gain the knowledge of life experience that I may not have already learned. However, I found the course to be a schema of cognitive anthropology, because it taught us how the human mind worked in the beginning of a technological world. Therefore, I thought it should have been labeled an “Anthropology” course instead. From Astra Taylor’s, “The People’s Platform” and her explanation of a rearrangement of the Digital Age; to Fred Turner’s teachings of Stewart Brand’s mark in history and the transition from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. The class took me by surprise, and yes, it helped to heighten my anxieties, because it was NOT easy. However, it was informative and fascinating. Thanks Professor Bullock for being fair and for understanding the demanding life of Students like myself, knee deep in Worker Education.
I think that a self-government system operates on the notion that they (community on the WELL) rule their own virtuality affairs and are free from control outside of the community. The people who are connected to the Whole Earth Lectronic Link are free to discuss various topics without the threat of being governed by political forces that will tell them that things are supposed to be done a certain way.
I get the sense that people go to the community to be informed, and check for updates and new information just by dialing into to this system to share, comment and distribute the information. I believe that Turner gives you an idea about how Brand created a forum for which a governing system was not allowed because of the restriction of new ideas, innovative ideologies and the austere forms of governing procedures. Therefore, a self-governing system operates in the way of being free to distribute guidelines, course of action, and the information needed by the community.
When I think of self-governing, I think of how we govern ourselves as a community according to our own data, as well as responsibilities. Self-governing is not relying or depending on government to fix our problems, but instead, is a sense of freedom and responsibility to solve one’s own problem. The WELL presents a new version of the modern ideal citizen who looks to self-govern in a virtuality world. For so long, we’ve been taught to listen to government and that we cannot govern ourselves, so this system acts as a mechanism to have the community do it themselves.
Turner (2006:56) references Buckminster’s Fuller’s idea of the “Comprehensive Designer,” described in Fuller’s book Ideas and Integrities (1963). As Turner (2006:56) explains, “[a]ccording to Fuller, the Comprehensive Designer would not be another specialist, but would instead stand outside the halls of industry and science, processing the information they produced, observing the technologies they developed, and translating both into tools for human happiness.” Elaborating on the idea of the comprehensive designer, describe the vision of the world espoused by Fuller. Why do you think this vision was so appealing to Stewart Brand? If you are unsure, take a guess.
I found an article that gives a detailed description of the idea of the comprehensive designer:
Comprehensive Designer would be aware of the system’s need for balance and the current deployment of its resources. He would then act as a “harvester of the potentials of the realm,” gathering up the products and techniques of industry and redistributing them in accord with the systemic patterns that only he and other comprehensivists could perceive. To do this work, the Designer would need to have access to all of the information generated within America’s burgeoning technocracy while at the same time remaining outside it. He would need to become “an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.” Constantly poring over the population surveys, resource analyses, and technical reports produced by states and industries, but never letting himself become a full-time employee of any of these, the Comprehensive Designer would finally see what the bureaucrat could not: the whole picture.
Being able to see the whole picture would allow the Comprehensive Designer to realign both his individual psyche and the deployment of political power with the laws of nature. In contrast to the bureaucrat, who, so many critics of technocracy had suggested, had been psychologically broken down by the demands of his work, the Comprehensive Designer would be intellectually and emotionally whole. Neither engineer nor artist, but always both simultaneously, he would achieve psychological integration even while working with the products of technocracy. Likewise, whereas bureaucrats exerted their power by means of political parties and armies and, in Fuller’s view, thus failed to properly distribute the world’s resources, the Comprehensive Designer would wield his power systematically. That is, he would analyze the data he had gathered, attempt to visualize the world’s needs now and in the future, and then design technologies that would meet those needs.
Fred Turner (2006:38) writes that “For both the New Left and the New Communalists, technological bureaucracy threatened a drab, psychologically distressing adulthood at a minimum and, beyond that, perhaps even the extinction of the human race. For the New Left, movement politics offered a way to tear down that bureaucracy and simultaneously to experience the intimacy of shared commitment and the possibility of an emotionally committed adulthood. For the New Communalists, in contrast, and for much of the broader counter-culture, cybernetics and systems theory offered an ideological alternative.” Explain how Turner distinguishes the New Left from the New Communalists through the affinities of latter to a cybernetic vision of the world “built not around vertical hierarchies and top-down flows of power, but around looping circuits of energy and information” (2006:38).
While both movements of the New Left and New Communalists were revolutionized because of the fear that both sides had, due in part to what they considered as being inconsistencies in governmental monopolies and problems that steered separation and phobia after the war. The New Left was nervous about the process of change and the New Communalism formed communities that were not against the war. Turner distinguished the New Left from the New Communalist through different visions, one from the other as having the same ideas of technology and war while the other is the formed communities and organizations to make for a stronger design made by all. However both were overshadowed by forces of capitalism and according to the Book Review by Anna McCarthy: Turner’s history of the New Communalism, a cultural formation as rooted in the collaborative, interdisciplinary research culture of Cold War defense science as it is in Trips Festivals and tofu potlucks, offers us a far more complex, and to my mind, more interesting and politically necessary story of how present day visions of new media came to be. If contemporary spin offers us a potent, if naive, vision of the digital network as a space where community, democracy, and economic growth can finally coexist, Turner’s book is a convincing account of very tangible social networks, embodying and disavowing certain forms of power and privilege, that made such visions possible.
Due by midnight Tuesday, November 3rd (300-350 words).
In her essay “Whatever Blogging,” Jodi Dean (2013:169) articulates the “new modes of community and new forms of personality anticipated by the dissolution of inscriptions of identity through citizenship, ethnicity, and other modern markers of belonging.” Choose at least two examples used by Dean to elaborate on this notion of “whatever being” and the form of communicativity that it points to.
I will start with the new forms of community as I look, and find that there is a vast amount of gentrification around where I was born and raised, and the new craze is “Brooklyn”. People have a need to belong, and when they are part of a new community and have called it home; although they have “no mileage” they will claim it as a representation of who they are, and for that matter that they have always been. Therefore the “whatever being” term is when people see “whatever” they belong to at the moment, as being the identity that they’ve formed on who they have become. It is funny to me when I see a person born and raised in the mid-west and come to move in a community like Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn; they now represent Bed-Stuy and are attending Brooklyn Nets games, wearing Brooklyn logoed clothing and opening restaurants and shops with the tag “Made in Brooklyn”, when they don’t know anything about its history, its stories or people who called the borough home for many years since birth. Therefore, “whatever” is wherever I am, or whatever I do that I represent, I am a part of its community and its following. The same holds true with it comes to internet blogging. I find that bloggers tend to focus on the less important things and form opinions on that of which are trending and have the audience’s attention, that makes for a less than meaningful discussion in order to feel like part of a discussion of a story and or being a part of a group who has an opinion, even if it’s not that important.
In “Return to the Crowds,” Ahyan Aytes explains the source for Amazon.com’s micropayment-based crowdsourcing platform called the Mechanical Turk: from an 18th-century Automaton Chess Player. In your own words, explain the connection Aytes wants to make between a chess-playing machine and Amazon’s new platform.
I believe that since the Mechanical Turk or Automation Chess Player was a so-called illusion to have one believe that they were playing the game of chess against the brains of a machine, that Ahyan Aytes explained the connection between the Mechanical Turk and Amazon’s new Mechanical Turk as being an illusion that the machine is actually doing all of the work, when in fact there are people behind the work that are doing the job for the machine. Since computers can’t perform certain tasks, it is the labor of man who actually does the work for the computer, while having the user believe that they are one against the machine, as the case with the Turk in the 18th century when it was believed by the user that they were playing chess with a machine that was smart enough to move the pieces across the board and win every time. And as Aytes explained; “it may seem to your customers that your application is somehow using advanced artificial intelligence to accomplish tasks, but in reality is the Artificial Artificial Intelligence of the Mechanical Turk workforce”. So, Aytes makes a valid point that the customer will believe in the machine and think that the machine is actually working for them, but in fact, it’s the machine that is being used as the work-horse while there is a human cracking the whip on the horse to push the and haul the material.
I believe that Terranova characterizes the relationship of subcultural movements to capitalism as one big global conglomerate which as she described “local cultures are picked up and distributed globally, thus contributing to cultural hybridization or cultural imperialism” In other words, subcultural movements, though may have their own interests that operate in the existing social order, it is for the most part an incorporated operation that through labor, is all about financial gain through capitalist business systems. As a result, while social movements are conceived as coming together to form action, there is still conflict when capitalist are allowed to come from the outside to break through the system’s compatibility boundaries.
In my opinion, it is unfortunate that subcultural movements would “sell-out” and lose all focus to the purpose of the movement to begin with, in order to sell products or services. Big businesses are having their pockets stuffed and persuaded to showcase the subcultural member’s products and goods, while changing the cultural labor. Free labor is being produced in subcultural movements as the case in a digital society.
In the article by Terranova, Free “Free labor: Producing culture for the digital economy.”Social text 18.2 (2000): 33-58.she explains that: “These events point to a necessary backlash against the glamorization of digital labor, which highlights its continuities with the modern sweatshop and points to the increasing degradation of knowledge work. Yet the question of labor in a “digital economy” is not so easily dismissed as an innovative development of the familiar logic of capitalist exploitation. The NetSlaves are not simply a typical form of labor on the Internet; they also embody a complex relation to labor that is widespread in late capitalist societies”.
Therefore, what Terranova means is; its not fitting for subcultural movements to incorporate with capitalist ventures due to the fact that such movements are being taken advantage of by way of “selling their souls to the devil” while trying to move their system up, yet paying the cost through capitalist return.
Cheaper discounted work from users and participants is a great point that Ross makes regarding cheap labor, and reasons due to other forms of media. I will use the Reality TV show contestant for example; while we watch these shows whether we want to admit it or not, we are using them as a form of entertainment. Contestants and participants of reality show television are exploited in a way that their lives are exposed and used to depict real life actions as a way to gain exposure and fame. These contestants and participants are often used as a cheapened and discounted form of labor by the media to be use for entertainment purposes in order to bring business such as advertisements to the media forum for capital gain.
According to readwrite.com; the definition of Attention Economy is a marketplace where consumers agree to receive services in exchange for their attention.
This means that as a consumer, I am willing to pay attention to ads for products and services if I can be heard through blogs, feeds and posts. The sad truth is that this is an “attention economy” where information is written and posted online and the writer has no rights to the content anymore because it is owned by the company for which is distributing the data. Therefore, my definition of Ross’ “attention economy” is how authors are all out trying to be heard and attract attention while submitting their work to big business, but are not recognized and or compensated appropriately. In addition; work is not protected and is vulnerable to the Capitalist to produce the author’s work as if it belonged to them.
Readwrite.com also explains: News feeds illustrate the point well, since they ask for consumers attention in exchange for the opportunity to show them advertising. Search engines also show ads (asking for consumers attention) in exchange for helping users find answers online (a service provided for free in exchange for that attention).
A key point is that The Attention Economy is about the consumer having choice – they get to choose where their attention is ‘spent’. Another key ingredient in the attention game is relevancy. As long as the consumer sees relevant content, he/she is going to stick around – and that creates more opportunities to sell.
I have to agree with Taylor when she argues that “many hoped the Internet would help create a more varied cultural landscape, advertising dollars continue to distort the market by creating perverse incentives, encouraging the production of irresistibly clickable content” because I am one of many who thought that this would be the case. In fact, as I click on today, I am bombarded with “unnecessary” advertisements that interrupt my reason for visiting a site. Taylor’s definition in the book of “native advertising” explains how a site like Buzz Feed, a person would be hit with many advertisements with many different messages in order to market their product to a consumer, who may not necessarily be interested in the product but is forced to view the brand and its content in an attempt to coerce the consumer in to buying.
Another example of unnecessary advertisement or public notice would be companies collaborating with one another to form double messages that may not pertain to each other’s business, but like native advertising, force their products or services on to the reader. Tastemakers will coerce the reader of a site to see both ads and send a message that (although not connected) will have the viewer believe that both products are doubly good and therefore should be consumed. Taylor explains that Tastemakers are often partnered with Brands in order to sell things to readers. She states that “this kind of corporate saturation has long been the dream of free market acolytes” which only means that ads are being marketed freely, with or without the permission of the reader or viewer. It often puts me in the mind of television commercials, when (we) the viewer of television are interrupted by ads, yet we pay for cable television and should watch freely without interruption since we’ve paid. So, I often wonder, if we are paying cable, and the advertisers are paying cable, who wins and what are we getting as consumers, since the advertisers are getting their products and services out there, what are we actually getting.