The very fact that your eyes rolled (just a little bit) at the title tells you that it is absolutely true. So true its obnoxious to proclaim it. Perhaps cable news died when CNN made a hologram of Jessica Yeller and beamed her into the “Situation Room” just to talk horse race bullshit during the 2008 election. Or maybe it was as far back as 2004 when Jon Stewart went on Crossfire and shattered the fourth wall by excoriating the dual hosts for destroying public discourse. The beginning of the end might be hard to pinpoint, but the end is certainly coming. Fox News had its lowest ratings since 2001 this year, but still has more viewers than CNN & MSNBCNEWSWHATEVERITSCALLEDNOW combined. Even if ratings weren’t a problem, credibility certainly is. Imagine if CNN stopped calling themselves the “Most Trusted Name In News” and used the more accurate, “A Little Over Half of Our Viewers Think We’re Believable.” By now it is clear that the zombified talking heads of cable news are either bought and sold, or just irrelevant. Cable news channels’ hulking, telepresent bodies have been run through and left to rot on the cynical barbs of political bloggers and just about anyone at a comedy shop’s open-mic night. This last series of screw-ups in Boston (here, here, here and unless it was avant-garde electronic literature, here) begs the question if cable news channels can even tell us what’s going on anymore. Cable news is dead, but something keeps animating the corpse. (more…)
E. Gabriella Coleman’s new book Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking (2012, Princeton University Press) is an ethnography of Free and Open Source Software (F/OSS) hackers working on the Debian Linux Operating System. It is a thorough and accessible text, suitable for someone unfamiliar with open source software or coding. It would make an excellent addition to an IT and Society 101 course syllabus, or a reading group on alternative work organization. Coleman’s greatest achievement in this text, however, is not the accuracy of her depiction, but the way in which she dissects the political and economic successes of the open source community. By claiming absolute political neutrality, but organizing work in radical ways, contributors to F/OSS “sit simultaneously at the center and margins of the liberal tradition.” (p. 3) Coleman argues that while F/OSS, “is foremost a technical movement based on the principles of free speech, its historical role in transforming other arenas of life is not primarily rooted in the power of language or the discursieve articulation of a broad political vision. Instead, it effectively works as a politics of critique by providing a living conterexample…” (p. 185) (more…)
Credit: Andrew Hoppin
Cyborgology editors Nathan Jurgenson (@nathanjurgenson) and PJ Rey (@pjrey) live-tweeted Personal Democracy Media’s From the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street and Beyond: A Flash Conference. Below is an archive of the conference backchannel (also here) as well as the video from the event. (more…)
With all the rhetoric around “Facebook Revolutions” and “Twitter Revolutions”1 that we’ve had to endure over the last couple of years, it’s easy to get the sense that there’s something new about the character of contemporary political protest and revolutionary action, and that this newness is, in some fundamental way, the practical result of the omnipresent nature of technology. It’s difficult to miss the profound interweaving and enmeshing of the physical and digital aspects of protest as we see it in both the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street – the weight of the protests produced by the occupation of physical space by gathered human bodies, coupled with the constant documentation and nearly instantaneous sharing of images, video, and text that have chronicled these physical occupations and arguably helped them to grow – in short, the augmented nature of contemporary social action. We see this and to us it feels new. Even if we recognize that there are old things at work here – symbolism, patterns of mobilization and diffusion, pieces of the past reclaimed for the purpose of the present – we at least feel instinctively that there is something novel about the Arab Spring, Occupy, and all the other movements and events that have birthed themselves in correlation.
As the 2012 presidential race ever so slowly gains momentum it remains clear that social media will be influencing elections for a long time to come. In the long run, does the shift towards social media campaigning change who is perceived to be a legitimate candidate? If so, social media might change who wins elections and therefore changes how we are governed. Avoiding [for now] the issue of whether social media has inherent tendencies towards the left or right, what I want to ask is: opposed to old media, does new media benefit political underdogs and outsiders?
As Republicans announce presidential bids on Twitter and Obama gets friendly with Zuckerberg and Facebook, it seems that the presidential campaign has found itself augmented by and reliant upon social media tools; some of the very same tools many of us use, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on. Part of their popularity is that one can view and be viewed by people from all over the world in an instant and for no cost. It does not cost money to publish this post or to tweet about it later on. Social media campaigning is also relatively cheap; indeed, often times free. Alternatively, print advertising is expensive because space is scarce and the scarcity of broadcast time makes television and radio too costly for underdogs and outsiders to fairly compete. However, when we exchange atoms for bits we enter into a world of abundance, a world where broadcasting a message quickly and globally becomes cheap and easy.
This cheaper social-media campaign style may remove or at least lesson (more…)
Maryland Morning host Sheilah Kast interviewed Cyborgology editors Nathan Jurgenson and PJ Rey about social media’s role in the recent protests in the Middle East. Here’s a brief synopsis:
Citizens of countries throughout the Middle East were risking their lives to air grievances against their rulers long before Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg even enrolled at Harvard nine years ago. This year, though, they’ve taken to the streets in unprecedented numbers, and they’re using social media to organize themselves.
The phrase “Twitter Revolution” is now being thrown around in the media. Is that overstating it? Or is social media fundamentally changing the dynamic between governments and their citizens?
Listen to the full interview: http://mdmorn.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/218112-social-media-in-the-middle-east/
The protests in Egypt have been front and center in the American media over the previous two weeks. We were greeted with daily updates about former President Mubarak’s grasp on power, and, ultimately, his resignation. Buried in all the rapidly unfolding events were numerous stories about social media and its role in the revolution. I think it may be useful to aggregate all these stories as we begin to analyze how important social media was (if at all) to the revolution – and, also, whether the revolution has significant implications for social media.
As a prelude to the unrest in Egypt (and Tunisia) several cables conveying communications between US diplomats and the State Department were leaked to Wikileaks. The connection between these leaks and the protests in Tunisia was covered in the Guardian and the Village Voice. Journalists, ever eager for a sexy headline, quickly labeled Tunisia “The First Wikileaks Revolution.” The cables also brought global attention to “routine and pervasive” police brutality under the Mubarak regime, giving increased legitimacy to dissident groups.
After Tunisia’s President Ben Ali fell, unrest quickly spread to Egypt. Largely unprepared to cover the event, the Western media was forced to rely on Twitter feeds (as well as Al Jazeera) as a primary source for reporting. (For an excellent analysis of the most watched Twitter feeds see Zeynep Tufekci’s “Can ‘Leaderless Revolutions’ Stay Leaderless: Preferential Attachment, Iron Laws and Networks.”) (more…)