Taylor introduces the term “Open” and it’s related state “Open-ness” on page 21 within Chapter One, about a quarter of the way into the chapter. Taylor, emphasizes investigation of the term “Open” in order to unpack the ideologies of open-ness that were featured in the Don Tapscott TED Talk presentation our class watched.
By emphasizing a platform of Open-ness, Tapscott and others like him implicitly categorize any and all who disagree with this branded concept as being “Closed” as Taylor later explicates.
By bringing the meshed terminology/ideology of Open-ness to the forefront of the chapter, Taylor introduces the working conceptualization of the Internet and digital/social media that so-called New Media thinkers laud. The Internet of their designs, is an idealized space where Open-ness represents freedom and democracy and other values that are worshipped in theory but generally difficult to guarantee because of, ahem, capitalism.
Open-ness is to guarantee that those who make profit off of digital and social media will continue to do so with growing access to information and little to no regulations around how this information is utilized. The purported open-ness of the web that these folks are foaming at the mouth for will continue to erect an invisible but almost identical structure to the unfettered hierarchy of late stage capitalism. It’s not about open-ness for equality and democracy, it’s about open-ness for making a lot of money and keeping that wealth centralized in the same set of hands that has always controlled it – the corporate community. It’s very libertarian and as Taylor rightly identifies it on page 24, “Darwinian.” The New Media cheerleaders applaud this, the techno-skeptics typically do not have a cohesive or adaptable critique of this open-ness that is not self-reflexively knee jerk and closed in response.
Taylor is a true muckraker – a techno muckraker. She upends the ambiguity of open-ness in order to point back to the ideological aims encompassed within its lofty touting by new media cheerleaders and the pessimistic naysaying of less messianic techno-skeptics. This concept of Open-ness as waved about by figures such as Don Tapscott is picked apart by Taylor and shown for what it is really about: promoting competition (economic) rather than protecting the equality and diversity of voices that could theoretically guarantee active participation in a public and global form of true democracy, or a limitless open society.
Sergio Rodriguez’s group
On page 18 paragraph 2, Taylor uses the term digital feudalism in the concept of our information being “sold” to the social media. In addition, the two terms “techno skeptics” and “new media cheerleader” are quiet opposite from each other. Techno skeptics is the idea that companies should pay the users for sharing private informations with the media. In contrast, new media cheerleader is the idea that because the users already know the terms and regulation prior to creating the account, users should know that the information being shared is open to everyone to see.
The concept of digital feudalism may seem like a way to protect our privacy, however the protection of our privacy seems almost impossible if one is signing up for anything related to “social” media. After all, sharing our information is what companies are getting their profit from and eliminating that would not benefit the companies.
According to Taylor’s text, the New Economy emerged during the late nineties and was based solely on the buying and selling of ordinary goods; taking material that was available offline and making it available online. However, in 2000 capital funds increased significantly and online shopping failed to keep up. The New Economy vanished but gave way to a “second bubble”, Web 2.0 which monetized our sociability. Taylor states “To put it another way, Web 2.0 is not about users buying products; rather, users are the product.” (p.14)
Taylor’s definition of free information has to do with the fact that there are proponents and opponents to Net neutrality. Proponents believe that Net neutrality will allow the internet to become an open platform, where all users have access to free information. It has frequently been argued that this open network will ensure the the equal treatment of all data, but it fails to address the fact that net neutrality applies to cable or DSL service at home, but not your cell phone. Smartphones have given us the ability to search for information, and since people are frequently on the go, this is primarily their means of searching for information. Proponents of net neutrality believe that openness and free information will eliminate discriminatory behavior, and prevent companies from spiking traffic to their own websites. There is a commonly held belief that this access to free information will level the playing field and allow everyone to obtain success, especially those in arts and culture. However, these proponents fail to acknowledge the commercialization and consolidation of the digital sphere, as well as the market’s role in shaping our media system. In other words, free information which is seen as the tool that levels the playing field for all, is actually a myth because the corporate giants are still the ones who inevitably profit since most individuals do not have the money to invest in their success like huge corporations do.
Cooperative ethos is brought up by Taylor on page 19 of chapter one as a comparative concept, a third theory to contrast’ “techno-skeptic” social factory, digital feudalism ideas of Lanier and Scholz in which social media users are being used to feed the social economy with due compensation. Cooperative ethos is a concept of “new media cheerleader” Kevin Kelly who sees this new social use of technology as a positive cooperative, a new version socialism – a digital socialism. Kelly interprets the cooperative efforts of users not as exploitative, but a cooperative in which users who make the content should also regulate it. Advertising would not exist as it would mean promoting ourselves to ourselves. In other words, there would be no wealth to share as all profit would be reabsorbed into the cooperative effort. Those in the cooperative are invested in what they do and the reward of maintaining their efforts is the continuation and perpetuation of their media platforms.
Taylor may see the concept of cooperative ethos as an ideal, if not wishful thinking. It disregards the existing free market individualism and centralized authority currently established in our online society, though Kelly feels his concept, if adopted, would make they for-profit establishment non-existent. There is no talk of tearing down, or how to tear down, the current system in order to embrace the utopia of a cooperative ethos.