David Golumbia on Wed, 23 Feb 2011 20:46:32 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Twitter does not cause revolution, people do

On Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 6:15 AM, <Newmedia@aol.com> wrote:
Most of the institutions of the West have been built under the dominant influence of television. This is a medium that compels you to SIT BACK, get the equivalent of an eyeballÂMASSAGE and to go out and buy things that you don't really need. The result -- in FORMAL CAUSAL terms -- is a passive, drug-addicted, consumerist society.Â
But, for the past 20 years, television has been being replaced by the Internet -- which causes you to LEAN FORWARD, get BUSY and, increasingly, to SOCIALIZE with other PEOPLE.Â

this is a wonderfully blunt comparison. i don't think it's sustainable when you dig into the details. which tv shows and which software programs exactly cause which change, how and when and why? how does how much use of which websites counteract how much watching of video time-displaced from previously hard-scheduled programming? which computer games cause you to "lean in" and get involved and which don't? which moments in those games? there may be a causal story, but i don't find nearly as much in mcluhan as i find necessary. i think people WANT there to be a causal story, of a particular sort.Â

as for the impact of the internet on politics, i will refer where I always want to drag my fellow US-ians' attention. in my humble opinion, US politics has never been near a less representative or more narrowcasted limit than it is today and has been since GWB was elected. IF the internet has "democratizing" effects on politics, and IF we believe that those "democratizing" changes are beneficial and lead to mutual exchange,Âunderstanding, and deep sharing of knowledge, those effects must be awfully weak, because they aren't working in the US. If anything, it looks to me like broadcast methods employed by Limbaugh, Ailes, Luntz, GWB et al are asÂeffectiveÂtoday as have been any propaganda campaigns in history.Â

or perhaps you think, as i do, that the tea party is one of the changes wrought by new media, in my opinion because "the web" including "web 2.0" is in fact a narrowcasting medium unless you want it to be otherwise. the tea party thinks this too. i bet hamas does too.Â

what constrains the changes to be good ones? i see no such built-in corrective mechanism, if we could even understand what one could be. what is the result of democratization? there sure is a lot of congratulating going on for changes in governmental power; does that automatically due to new media lead to freer and more open societies? a revolution is not finished in two weeks, even if a dictator steps down. does new media guarantee that the replacement will be "good"? whatever that might mean?Â

David Golumbia
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