Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Discussion on readings from last Thursday and today (3/3)

Thursday's discussion (focused on Ch.4 in Fuchs):

In Thursday's reading, I found Ch. 4 in Fuchs very interesting as it discusses 'Social Media and Communication Power.' This chapter heavily discusses Manuel Castells concept of communication power within the context of social media. He stresses the role of the internet and social media as a part of the 'network society.' He thinks social media and communication power is a part of mass self-communication. He thinks self-communication is based on Umberto's Eco semiotic model of communication as the emergence of "creative audiences" engage the interactive production of meaning on the internet, which further emerges the idea of sender/addresser. However, I agree with this, it is much less a sender-receiver Internet now a days. I still found this particularly interesting. It adds to what we have learned thus far, a more personal aspect. How we, as humans, socialize, internet included, to put ourselves out there, to be known for specific things, and to allow other people to see what one is doing. Within this social media, counter-power and communication power are used. The power used, is to analyze, in part, the society we live in, which further structures and creates hierarchy. Then, there is the hierarchy of power within the internet, large corporations vs. small, vs. social media corporations, vs. the individual consumer. The counter-power is in trying to be against the commodification of everything, which is becoming increasingly occurring. Castells says that the role of communication shouldn't be neglected in both the power of the internet, and the political counter-power that is trying to keep the internet free of large-scale commodification. Though Castells has many valid points, he lacks a social theory, and his approach isn't legitimately theoretically grounded, but rather seems a little random and not based on the system and facts. He forgets about the engagement with social theories in which "conceptualize power, autonomy, society, and capitalism." He feels that power of communication is coercive and a violent feature within all societies. This is naturalizing domination and overlooks possibilities of domination-less communication and societies. One can interact on many planes and mediums, without having someone or something controlling or creating a lack of individual freedom and power. Castells also compares humans to computing, their logic and description of society in a whole. This allows no room for the actual role of humans within society, as he compares them to parts of a machine and technology. Though technology has a set way of working, societies (though they have governments) do not have fully set ways of living, communicating, working, etc. In Castells thoughts and discussion on the Arab Spring occupy movement displays techno-euphoria and techno-determinism thinking like Shirky. He advances an asumption that contemporary social movements emerged from and are based on the Internet and are acted out on social media. This shows how much of an importance social media is in activism. Through the power of the Internet and social media hubs, groups and activists are able to spread their cause and increase awareness and also increase in numbers. Though Castells has several good points, a more sturdy and critical theory of social media/media is needed.

Tuesday (3/3) Discussion of reading Ch. 8 Fuchs focus:
I think we have all, at one point or another, had a twitter or read the many tweets, often celebrity fights, that occur on the medium of Twitter. I used to have one, and deleted it after I realized I didn't care, nor want anyone to know "what I was doing" all the time. Twitter is a perfect example of how people live within the internet, and want to allow others to follow their every move. Their internet life becomes intertwined with reality, as I often hear "I'm gonna tweet this," etc. Though it is interesting and amazing we have the power to communicate and self-express, it is also a huge step away from privacy and close relations, to where anyone, anywhere can know what you are doing, where you are, and it often forms a "persona" around you based on what your twitter feed says. You can make yourself look like whatever or who ever on Twitter. The public sphere of twitter is universal and so is many blogs and micro-blogs. I found this chapter particularly interesting due to it's explanation of social media and the public/communication aspects of it. Twitter is, as all other medias, a politically based media. The use of social media allows a larger revolution, as Ch. 4 touched on. Protests have found organizations and created sites, such as on Twitter, to spread their cause, which creates collective protest action and awareness, with influences of politics, mainstream media, alt. media, idealogical violence, etc. which then amplifies the protest which causes a revolution. The social media also shows the contradiction of society, by showing forms of domination that causes problems that are economic, political and cultural in nature. Thee problems can result in crisis's  Castells focus on emotions of outrage and hope can be seen here. This area of contradiction can be seen because our society, itself, is contradictory. Soial media in a contradictory society can end up doing the opposite of what the initial goal was. Public spheres due to being a space for political communication, and the ability to access resources that allow people to participate within the social realm. This helps anaylyze whether the societies live up to their own expectations. It also tests freedom of speech and public opinion as the distribution of their information becomes widespread. ALso, the use of educational material for resources are within the public sphere. With so much within the sphere, its no wonder, that there are so many activism sites or groups that often get forgotten or misread due to a contradictory web society. This book says Facebook, Twitter, etc. are not public spheres, but i disagree. Though they do not cause revolutions or protests, they are ohow they are often publisized and further expanded.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say that I too used to have a twitter and stopped using it for the same reason - I don't want people knowing what I'm doing all the time (I didn't really use it much when I did have one, to be honest). I have friends who used twitter religiously, tweeting every funny moment of class or every great quote from a dinner, and the privacy aspect always seemed off to me, even if you can keep accounts "private."

    That being said, I see what you mean about Twitter being politically-based, though I question whether or not it is so politically-focused anymore. With this change, do you think that Twitter is all it's made out to be in terms of helping further revolutions? I see how it could help - it's a good way to disperse information to larger groups of people, than, say, having to text or call or email - but wouldn't most of the people following those political accounts already be interested in the topic at hand? I suppose they could garner more interest, but I wonder how far that can go in 140 characters.

    I guess another question I would have about the public sphere is that if they cannot cause revolutions or protests and only serve to further publicize and expand them, then could any medium of publicizing and expanding a protest be considered a public sphere?


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