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Section IV. Part I

September 18, 2010

The one thing I can say with certainty is that theory about media and tech culture is changing almost as rapidly as the actual technology itself. Without being nihilistic, I would like to say I think the rapidity of changing thoughts/ideas on the sphere of media and tech is telling…well, telling enough to make a tentative statement that no one really knows what to make of it. 🙂 No more digression (or am I really digressing?). Section IV was all about the conceptual side of media studies. It begins by giving us, readers, a linear timeline of contemporary history of media studies starting with cybercultural studies, who, naively and prematurely, predicted the emancipatory revolution of media. Then, followed with the pessimistic ‘doom-and-gloomers’ who essentially thought/think any form of new media was/is just another mechanism to control and brain wash the masses and make us do things we really don’t want to do. To no surprise, they follow with the safe, middle-of-the road theorists who are critical of any extremist perspective, and accordingly see both sides to a point. Either way, the beginning of the chapter addresses the futility of making any kind of solid prediction from any of these theoretical frameworks, noting, “Predictions often tell us more about the immediate concerns and technological imaginary of the time they were made than about their future” (p. 241), which I appreciated reading. Actually, I think this is a rather radical statement within the traditional paradigms of education (always thinking in reference to the formal ed system since I’m supposed to, right?) and think it needs to be discussed more in the ed. research journals.

The common thread, however, between these perspectives is their agreeance in the pervasive and ubiquitous presence of new media in human’s everyday lives and practices.

More interesting to me, was the discussion on ‘play.’ The bullet points gave us a nice ‘bare-bones’ understanding on the nature of play within new media.  However, I challenged the third bullet, or maybe I was/am just confused… Games, yes, have their rules, but people break rules and many times, can get away with breaking them (depending on their position or status within the game)… It had a few words that followed, “Yet play is disruptive and generative’ but, I would have liked the author(s) to dive more into that particular claim, that I think, hints to my previous challenge.

The chapter follows with commentary on new media’s influence of the everyday incorporating inquiry into the multiple social aspects and symbolic statuses that new media invites us to think about.  It also complicates the producer/consumer debate by re-thinking how to think about the relationship between producer-technology/consumer-technology/producer-consumer/producer-consumer-technology.

It gives us a bit of history of the multiple functions of the PC through the culture of hackers, who were in the computer world, rebels, who were tired of being ‘told’ how to use and why to use the computer, and in their unrest changed, or at least, initiated the revolution of the multifunctional PC.

The chapter discusses the bifurcated conversation of the term, edutainment, which I have heard used more as a negative and condescending concept.  However, it’s alter meaning re-defines the world of both ‘education’ and ‘entertainment’ marrying two, what used to be, unlikely worlds together.  And personally, I am much more inclined to entertain my education through the latter. 🙂 I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes here, but I think people who privilege ‘formal education’ over or distinct from the entertainment industry could learn a lot from the entertainment business… Is not ‘formal education’ regulated and controlled by the same dominant institutions and ideologies of entertainment? Do we not learn a great deal from media? Could this not be used as a critical form of education? Is formal education REALLY that critical?  I see much more commonality than dissimilarity. What are everyone else’s thoughts?

Another interesting sub-section was the actor-network theory, which I interpreted the author(s) summation as anti-anthropocentric and gave us a radical way of re-conceptualizing the devices humans interact with and the humans themselves. Humans are neither here nor there to their object-like counterparts, according to this theory…. And, while at first, my initial reaction is to disagree by saying, ‘What?! Of course there’s a difference…’ another side thinks this idea is awesome.  Do we not live in a world where a corporation is considered a human being, and human beings are considered objects/products for the corporation? Still thinking about this one…

The next section glosses over subjectivity and identity. It furthers by outlining specific methods subjectivity and identity formation have intersected with the new media-world.  This reminded me of a research project I did when I was in McNair.  I wanted to look at people who participated in online birthing/parenting communities and how they were using them and why they were using them, and the meaning they made from participating in them. I was also a participant and had been an active ‘member’ for the previous three years.  My own conclusions of the data were much the same as the beginning of this paper, which were, people used the site for various reasons. Power structures/relationships did not erase themselves when they entered the site, but their was also a profound sense of agency where before-hands there wasn’t… Also, besides identity formation, it was a place to ‘play’ and give ‘relief’ to the ‘reality’ of their off-line, which ironically enough was a realm to talk about all the stuff they were getting away from. 🙂 It was an escape but wasn’t…

Also, another sidenote: on page 271, the authors discuss the influence/effect of networking sites… A thought I had… in a time of an increasingly and intensely structured quantitative world–where quantitative methods pushed by quantitative epistemologies/ideologies dominate our understanding of a ‘legitimate knowledge’, is it no surprise when the author(s) say “we are seeing a signficant qualitative shift in the intensity and characteristics of connections between people, technologies, imaginations, and economies in lived popular technocultures” (p. 262)? Two sides of technological coin? Or am I just making no sense here??? Put it out there, see what people think…

I’m going to have to come back and write, part deux… There was so much in these 40 pgs. Back for more later…

P.S. Some goodies…


Kinda…. idk… creepy, amazing, scary… what?

A great video on the blurring of, well… everything!!!


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