Thursday, April 30, 2015

PCH 12: Halavais

The mass-demass cycle is as follows: technology or media is created by a group of pioneers who collaborate in order to use and popularize the new technology or media, the technology or media is then taken over by a small number of powerful people (i.e. corporations), who in turn, present it to an audience, which then reclaims the media or technology as their own and begins to create with it. This is significant in terms of participatory culture because it explains the methods through which technologies and media are obtained. Blogging is different from this mass-demass cycle because it began in the hands of the people and continues to be an accessible technology for the people, as most blogging can be done for free (though there are corporations that are involved). Halavais describes blogging as a "free frame of reference" because it is a simple act that helps the user to reframe their way of thinking about the world. Blogging is an accessible format for discourse that almost anyone can use. When there is a free, accessible discourse format, the opportunity for radical sociopolitical change presents itself.

"Free frame of reference" originated in the late 1960s as a store where all of the items were free. The store had essentials such as food and clothing, and the "frame" was in reference to "a large yellow picture frame" by the entrance (Halavais, 114). The store revolutionized the way that its "customers" thought about consumption and the value of items in our society.

I can not say that I agree entirely with Halavais in terms of the perspective demanded by blogging. Self-expression has always been accessible in one public format or another, blogging just magnified the scale and audience. I believe that, with the diversification of blogging, it has still maintained its spirit as a free frame of reference. Very few people are willing to pay actual money to blog, whereas as few years ago, people would pay quite a bit of money in order to keep and maintain a professional blog. Now, there are more ways than ever to express oneself freely through the Internet.

The ideal is tarnished, though, through the commodification of blogging. In order to be a true "free frame of reference" profit would not be an issue. Now blogging sites are able to make money off of their users through the use of advertising. Yes, the users may not have to pay directly, but they are still being used for monetary gain.

Equality within the attention economy is a difficult idea to navigate. Perhaps equality within the attention economy would be an egalitarian format in which each person gets their say for the same amount of time among the same number of people.

Social media as gemeinschaft would be the use of free blogging among a group of people to organize a social protest. Social media as gesellschaft would be the requirement of monthly subscription fees for a website in order for the few people in charge to make a profit off of it.

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