Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Storytelling through Social Media

Having taken the introductory course in media from St. Michael's College last year, I have since been constantly thinking about McLuhan's theory that our society right now is in the process of re-tribalization. I.e., same as the modern age was the age of individualism, the post modern will be the age self association with different groups and tribes.
I carried this idea with me to another class, this a study of Boccaccio's The Decameron from the 14th century (thus, the pre modern era). Since the book itself is all about story telling, I couldn't help but equate the circle of the 10 characters who spend 10 days telling each other stories as something quite similar to SNS -- our Facebook newsfeed is solely comprised of "stories" of our friends' activities; twitting links to the world is nothing short of telling a story either.
Thus, it seems to me that we are back in a culture which relies on story telling to make sense of the world around us. The web contains countless forums of discussionsm, and in a way, their sole purpose of existence is to create a particular narrative about a given subject which will allow us to experience it collectively. Examples of these are book discussion forums, for instance, or even the current debate about whether or not Chris Brown should have been allowed to perform at the Grammy's last Sunday.
Another example is something I saw on  the news last week about a car crash of 11 cars. One of the witnesses was making a statement about the fact that he was the only one that went out to the people that were on the brink of death to console them in their last minutes, whereas everyone else that was present at the scene were more interested in capturing the scene on their phones and cameras. He was complaining about the indignity that these by-standers incurred to the victims by making their deaths into a "spectacle". This brought me back to thinking once again that we have become a culture which needs to share "stories" with our networks (or tribes) in order to be able to experience it ourselves.
It could be that McLuhan's ideas of all-encompassing tribalization of society might have been too broad, but it seems to me that SNS, and the story-telling culture which they allow and perpetuate, are a very clear example of a post-modern culture which is more tribal in nature than the modern.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More than "Yourself"?: YouTube's Redesign

For a brief but important update on Gauntlett's discussion of YouTube in Chapter 4, check out Ethan Tussey's (UCSB) recent post on the In Media Res (Media Commons/Future of the Book) site on YouTube's recent redesign and new emphasis on niche/personalization. His starting point is a video that the company released in December entitled "Get More Into YouTube" - a shift away from "Broadcast Yourself" that Tussey deconstructs for us by drawing our attention to the politics and implications (both positive and negative) of a more personalized, entertainment-driven YouTube experience. Here's an excerpt from the original post:
On December 1st, 2011, YouTube released a video, “Get More Into YouTube,” that previewed and promoted its redesigned interface. The major focus of the redesign was to “channelize” YouTube by asking users to subscribe to the video feeds of particular content creators. YouTube has long had a subscription function but the redesigned interface makes this the primary feature of the website, framing YouTube as an entertainment destination like HBO instead of a place to search for the clips everyone is talking about. For many users, “Getting More Into YouTube” would mean abandoning their current habits and joining a “monetizable” niche demographic.
[...] 
I am not as unsettled by this prospect as many of my colleagues or the 15,000 people who “disliked” the video announcing the website redesign, I am more concerned with the way YouTube, a website that originally promoted itself with the motto “broadcast yourself,” is abandoning its digital ethics to become a better version of television.
Does this new design/focus change the ways in which YouTube operates as a "archetypal digital creative platform" (Gauntlett, p.89)?? Or is it just a more efficient way of organizing your own viewing/use experience? Or something else entirely?

Also - what does this redesign tell us about the ongoing struggle to curate, sort, filter, evaluate, make sense of, file and archive the endless reams of data and content available to us on these various platforms (or even the web more generally)?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Craft and the New Economy


Via City of Craft and the Ontario Crafts Council (OCC) website, news about an upcoming symposium at OCADU (part of an entire "CrafTalks" series) examining the relationship between craft, new business practices, technology, DIY and social responsibility. Not sure how much of these will relate directly to social media/tech, but I suspect there will likely be at least a few talks/presenters examining things like Etsy, Pinterest, etc. Here are the details, copy-pasted from the OCC site:
Presented by the OCC in partnership with OCADU’s Material Art & Design Program

Taking place at OCAD University
100 McCaul Street, Toronto



Craft and the New Economy is a one-day symposium that brings together international, national and local speakers to address the relationship between craft and issues of sustainable business practice, technology, DIY and social responsibility. The term ‘new economy’ does not simply address issues of recession and global connectivity, but the development of new tools, processes of engagement, and the role of craft in the 21st century. Craft and the New Economy is an opportunity to explore the complex terrain of craft as object, profession, and cultural intermediary.

Craft and the New Economy will be held at OCAD University, located in the Auditorium at 100 McCaul Street, Toronto. Please see Directions and Accomodations for maps and more details.

Generous support for the Craft and the New Economy symposium is provided by the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council. Special thanks go to the OCADU Material Art and Design Program for their ongoing partnership in the CraftTalks lecture series.

Craft and the New Economy is also generously supported by:

Primary Sponsor Organizations:

The Textile Museum of Canada, sponsor of Sheila Kennedy

Support Organizations:
The Gardiner Museum
Harbourfront Centre Craft Department
Sheridan College Crafts and Design Program
The Design Exchange
Toronto Craft Alert
City of Craft
The Glass Art Association of Canada