Intro to Networked Collaboration

Brett’s first assignment

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Shibuya and Helsinki. I see
convergence as Jenkins describes “going on inside the brain” of one
person’s experience, choices explicit or unconscious about media and
the effect on freedom of ideas, understanding, constructed reality,
use of the mind, etc. rather than as he defines about “technological,
industrial, cultural, and social changes” that sound pretty exogenous
to the individual’s experience to me so far.  The meaning of the youtube remark may refer to his beliefs  “old and new media collide”, “power of the media producer and media consumer interact in unpredictable ways”, and “flow of content across multiple media platforms” (the notion “each of us constructs our own personal mythology from…information extracted from the media flow…” is definitely worth talking about later).

I do definitely agree that none of us knows the rules about this new interchange between
readers/viewers/users and the monolith media mediators (owners,
editors, publishers, producers, advertisers, sold-out-journos, etc.)
in participatory culture.  I am glad of that because we have the
chance to shape them to our liking beyond what any collectively dumb
congress could dream up. The notion that some individuals have greater
abilities to participate in this emerging culture however, also holds
true for the culture we are emerging from. Many people have been kept
without voice in that system. Not sure the emerging participatory
culture will correct that inequity since not everyone is participating
in this gadget game of ‘market forces’.

The readings raise questions for me about the emergent redefinition of
the public space, the nature of our intimate relationships, our self
identities. All the while reading, I am asking myself about what
actually constitutes communication or discourse, which is the most
important thing to me.

My greatest inspirations of life have been the kind of alchemy of
ideas I experience in NYC, or I imagine transpired in Toledo in Iberia
in the Middle Ages when the great classical texts were translated from
Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Arabic into vernacular languages and the
ruling Arab sultanate gave us the Astrolab and enabled Europe to
develop the culture which led to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment,
and the world we currently know. This translation was done in teams,
so bi-lingual or tri-lingual individuals could discuss the meaning of
a word or a text before committing quill pen to paper.  This is what I
love about NYC, we come together from all over the world, the nation
and mix, collide and experiment with our knowledge, ideas and dreams
to create a new world based on a combined vision and skillsets to do
it. My greatest dreams would have been working in Alexandria in
Alexander the Great’s Library, or in Amsterdam hanging out with
Spinoza.

So far, the communication I see in this networked world is different.
It do not see it so much as about inspiring discourse yet, but more
about freedom of association, change in family power, ability to
construct a new space of our own making nested within real space, and
ability to find and connect with people who at least symbolize freedom
to us.  In this way, I see it as akin to the freedoms observed by
wealthy western women in the 1900s by the proliferation of the
bicycle.  No longer did she need a man (even a servant) to drive a
carriage, or to stay all day in the company of her family on dark
shaded porches or on long walks in parks or on lawns. She could take
off for a while on her own, or with chosen companions to pass some
time and have conversations out of earshot of chaperones and monitors.
I think it has been said that such movements as ‘women’s suffrage’
and the Red Cross may have been enabled by this new independence for
the feminine power. This kind of thing is clearly happening now for
some young people on the planet with these technologies.

I do see the SMS thing as a great way to poll, to elicit engagement
and action from the crowd in the moment like in the Philippines. This
is very cool and much needed in our world, but I also care a great
deal about media literacy, commitment and responsibility for
self-education and self-informing, and representative samples in the
crowd that must go along with these new emergent powers for
‘democratic movement’ and any perceived ‘rights’ that may attach to
these new ways.

The SMS culture or virtual space does challenge my increasingly
emergent and gratifying practice of mindfulness which calls me to be
present with the people and situations I am with in the moment
(although when I am on my own or working at my desk I love the
Internet). I do not carry a blackberry or iphone for that reason, and
I still switch it off when I am in meetings, meals, and cars so that I
can be present, look deeply into eyes, see subtle facial expressions
or sense changes in emotion that speak powerfully to me, pickup on
tiny threads of words and thought, open a new train of thought, keep
my eyes on the road, etc.

I am inspired by citizen journalism and emergent alternative media to
replace the FCC licensed stuff which is failing us. I am inspired by
the concept of the Mash-up from the point of view of breaking down
barriers of information and understanding, and am committed
professionally to trying to develop tools and protocols and prototypes
that can really enable that kind of real discourse at which I marvel.

So, I am not yet inspired by what I see happening with the mobile
internet as concerning ideas, discourse and true learning from each
other. The Helsinki concept of live, work, collaborate is the part of
all of this that inspires me, rather than the street culture, virtual
world thing described in Shibuya.  In many ways, the mobile and media
convergence culture described at Shibuya or Helsinki looks to me to be
a continuation of a media experience that probably started in the US
in the 1950s, a movement toward constructed realities by homogenous
groups and conformity around suburban mass-materialist culture enabled
by new media (i.e. broadcast TV in the 1950s, game shows, variety
shows, Mickey Mouse Club, Romper Room, Miss America pageants, etc.),
technocracy, and the change in discourse observed through the
broadcasting career of Walter Cronkite, which bibliomane or
bibliophile still lament. But, I am optimistic about the prospect of
new media forms and practices that can take us further toward
realizing the true potential of not the technologies, but of greater
merger of human viewpoints, knowledge, thought and inspiration in a
Quantum way on a troubled planet, once we learn more about how to do
what the translation teams did in Toledo.

Re: social networks I like to use. LinkedIn has been an amazing way to
find old friends and colleagues from around the world, and to now stay
permanently connected (as long as we keep our profiles updated with
current contacts). That has been the greatest joy. I haven’t really
met anyone new from LinkedIn beyond some superficial connections for
business yet.  LibraryThing is the other social network I love because
it is based all about our personal library books as content of the
personal profile. This really allows you to know something about a
person, and to connect with people who share your quirky interests
(and who have proven their commitment by reading these many long
books). I have not begun to scratch the surface of that one, but have
invested in uploading my library and writing reviews of my favorite
books. A Small World has been a kind of funny one to connect with
friends around the world of a more purely social nature, although not
as daring or intimate as myspace or facebook.

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September 7, 2008 - Posted by | culture, social networking | ,

2 Comments »

  1. Brett – a really interesting reflection on change, the process of transition and the adaptation of public space. Particularly enjoyed the references to hanging out with Spinoza in Amsterdam and translations in Toledo that sparked the Renaissance.

    I, too, would have loved to hang out with Descartes in Leiden when cogito ergo sum came about and the world turned in on itself, seeing for the first time, deduction as knowledge.

    Funny, I wonder what Descartes would have thought about the morphing of public space due to networked knowledge and online presence. I imagine that he would’ve been really into it, that cogito – to ruminate, to ponder – could be extrapolated into rumination in the ether, extending presence past the physical — a continuation of cogito in a way…contineo – to touch, reach, grasp, affect…

    Maybe even cogito contineo ergo sum — or so I might imagine 🙂

    Comment by funksoup | September 11, 2008 | Reply

  2. cool
    so much happening re: Descartes now
    check out
    “Descartes Bones”
    the new book by Russell Shorto
    being presented at Open Center on Oct 28 8PM

    Here’s an excerpt from the Open Center catalog

    “deeper exploration of the of the birth of science, the rise of democracy, the mind-body problem and the conflict between religion and scientific materialism, which still helps foment some of today’s greatest conflicts…” (like the mortgage crisis???)

    Comment by brettbarndt | September 15, 2008 | Reply


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