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New Media – Part III

September 20, 2010

Main Question: How has the characteristics of ‘networks’ impacted “the way we live our lives” and “the economic organisation of society” (Lister et al., pg. 169)?

First off, looks like I got the meat of the book. Anyways, part of the reason I came into American Studies was to examine political economy and its’ impact on digital spaces (I’ll be looking at that direct issue in India for my dissertation). So now one can see why this book, especially section 3, sparked an interest while reading.

Section 3 of New Media, in a broad sense, looks into the ways in which networked digital media and digital media culture studies came about and how issues surrounding politics and economy have impacted it (issues surrounding distribution, access, ownership, development, for example) … “It is precisely this type of interaction between enthusiasm, politics, commerce and technology that we wish to explore across the myriad forms of geeks and businessmen, college students and housewives, children and adults, gamers and gardeners that make up the web(Lister et al., pg. 163).

I say broad because there are some many different avenues to examine under either networked medias or d. media culture studies. As Lister et al. point out, “Questions of identity performance, the influence of the net on the public and business spheres, and questions of IP [Intellectual Property] continue to be the focus of the critical questions which new media scholarship attempts [to] ask(168). However these questions show an importance and tension within an interdisciplinary field of research.

How might the uses of networks or “Internet media sectors” interact with issues of power and control?

Steven Jones “observed that popular and critical writing claimed that the net would” [within Computer Mediated Communications] (pg. 166):

1)    Create opportunities for education and learning

2) Create new opportunities for participatory democracy

3) Establish countercultures on an unprecedented scale

4) Ensnarl already difficult legal matters concerning privacy, copyright and ethics

5) Lastly, restructure man/machine interaction.

In the “post web” era, David Gauntlett’s “review of ‘some of the main issues’ summarized the research areas in the field of CMC as (pg. 166-167):

  1. The Web allows people to express themselves
  2. Anonymity and play in cyberspace
  3. The Web and Big Business
  4. The Web is changing politics and international relations

To you, what is the importance of the Web?

Lister et al. say that political economy, “places the focus of research on the circumstances of production”, and asks the question … To what extent is the production of culture a practice of material production? (pg. 174)

But, political economy also says that economics necessarily determines cultural experience (pg. 174). Again from the blog … If we agree with Lister et al. when they say that, “Production in a capitalist society is primarily, but not exclusively, organised around the production of goods and services (i.e. commodities) for profit. In media production, a capitalist model of production therefore leads to the creation of cultural commodities such as books, television programmes, music CDs, websites, CD-ROMs, DVDs, computer software and so on”, then, let us try to answer Lister et al. earlier question …

How far do our existing methods and analyses continue to be useful for understanding new media and how far do we need to reinvent them for networked media, a newly emergent object of study?

The authors go onto state Social Shaping, “leaves a medium with a social form, and identity, which influences the way it is used and its impact on the world; it is never quite shaken off. In this way we can see that new media are as much the product of social, political and economic forces as they are of technological endeavour” (pg. 176).

Ok! I am going to stop here because there is simply so much in this part of New Media where “gutting” and/or actual reading proves the “beef” of the section. I feel that Lister et al. are actually trying to cover majority of what digital media culture studies entails … “In these circumstances it may be beyond the scope of this book to cover all the psychological or sociological ramifications of the net”. But let me list off a few more ideas and/or issues that are covered in this section:

  1. The impact of globalization on the internet and networked communities
  2. Thus, leading to a technological gap between classes of people … The Digital Divide.
  3. The rise and fall of the .com’s
  4. How intellectual property was, and still is being, determined … Like the video down below, should it be a problem for ideas to be “protected” as long as they are being used properly? I’m specifically thinking … is it ok to download Coldplay’s music off LimeWire? But does it change if I go to their concerts along with the downloading? Does the situation for Coldplay change if I buy their music but stop attending their concerts? Etc.
  5. Web 2.0 as a new “open source” concept (I can explain more in class) – along with YouTube and Wiki’s
  6. Online communities and online representations of “self” (aka identities) … Do these avatars belong to a man or woman? How old are they? What are their socioeconomic statuses? How does this question our concepts race, class, gender, sexuality, online age and maybe even what it means to be “human”?
  7. Like with the above picture, a sense of belonging, or having a silent voice arise

So, we can see that even though I could type out my summarizations for these latter portions of this section, it would have taken too much time! Plus, it allows for furthering our discussions in class!

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