Installed windows 8.1 in a VM today for testing. Surprisingly, not hating it. Especially when running on an SSD, it’s quick. And I haven’t seen that damned spinning blue cursor yet. Kind of love the weather app with built-in ski reports… And writing blog posts from Word? Feels… wrong… but it might work. Never thought I’d say this, but I could actually use this without ranting non-stop (as I did during my last foray into Windows 7 – had to give up the Dell laptop because my blood pressure kept rising…)
On noopower1 through marketing and repetition extended into ubiquitous social media:
Operating within the larger political economy of advertising–supported media, it is not surprising that Facebook, Google, and Twitter mirror marketing’s penchant for experimentation and repetition. Software engineers working for these firms pore over data about what actions users most commonly take — that is, what is most often repeated within the architectures of the sites. These engineers then constantly tweak their interfaces, APIs, and underlying software to reinforce these actions and to produce (they hope) new ones. The tiny changes in the Google homepage, for example, are akin to ripples on the surface of a body of water caused by motion deep underneath, as software engineers seek to increase the attention and productivity of users of these sites.
Real–time data collection on links clicked and videos watched provide marketers with the data they need to experiment with different messages, images, sounds, and narrative structures, allowing them to tailor messages to target publics, and then this process is repeated, ad nauseam, in a cybernetic loop. Behavioral tracking of users allows marketers to repeat messages across heterogeneous Web sites as users visit them, as well as make sales pitches via mobile devices as users travel through space. The messages that result in sales are repeated; those that do not are archived (perhaps they will be useful later). Liking, “+1”ing, or retweeting an ad enters users into a contest to win a trip to the theme park built around the movie that was based on the video game currently being advertised, a game in which the main character must use social media to build a following to solve a crime. All of this is, of course, a marketer’s dream: the observation, experimentation upon, and ultimate modulation of the thoughts of billions, the chance to increase what they call (in some of the most frightening language imaginable) “brand consciousness” over other forms of consciousness and subjectivity. It is the reduction of the scope of thought to a particular civic activity. It is the production of the flexible and always–willing global consumer as the real abstraction of our time. Consumption über alles.
Thus, to counter the reductive noopower operating in and through the social media monopolies, activists and technologists must create systems that allow for radical thought and heterogeneous uses, for differences that make a difference. The alternatives to social media monopolies must be built with protocols, interfaces, and databases all designed to promote new political thinking — noopolitical thinking — and to resist reduction of thought to repeated marketing messages of all varieties. We all can agree that this is probably impossible, but we always must keep a better future on our minds as we work with what we have on our minds.
The potential for thinking through new re–combinations, new ways to draw up code and language into a new media politics are suggestive. But I want finally to return to the question this article began with: more or less? This text has been framed by a belief that social media monopolies ought to be disrupted — and in the name of at least two of the things they are axiomatically understood to promote (social justice, solidarity as a form of community) and do not. It has been argued that this disruption might be attempted through a toolset — silence, disruption of language, and the exploitation of language’s capacity for polysemy (the metaphor and the lie) — that is not often considered as apt for such a task. My conclusion, and here I return to salute Ivan Illich, is that these tools can be deployed to produce other kinds of more convivial engagements — a better commons — than our apparently ‘social’ media enable. Above all, I have wished to take seriously the idea that communication density, and increasing communicational volume, does not — in and of itself — indicate more understanding, freedom, openness, or ‘good’. To make this case demands also taking seriously the idea of a media politics that begins with silence.
“At the University of Calgary we have built a strong financial foundation due to the hard work of many people over the last several years,” says Cannon. “We have contingency funding set aside, and we will continue to work to find operational efficiencies and grow revenue. We will continue to move toward our Eyes High goals. Nevertheless, a budget reduction of this size means that we have some difficult decisions to make in the coming months.
“We know students, faculty and staff will have many questions about what these cuts mean to the university. We simply do not have all the answers yet. We will keep you informed over the coming weeks, including holding Town Halls for the campus community later this month.”
Adds Cannon: “Given the level of this cut, and the government’s clear focus on post-secondary institutions working more closely with each other and with government to find efficiencies, eliminate duplication and more closely align university research with the economic agenda of the province, structural change may be necessary within the post-secondary system.”
Additionally, educational technology can be prone to cycles of hype and fetishism, where new tools and applications are rapidly adopted by individuals who are seen as innovators in the field, with little time for thorough or rigorous investigation of the pedagogical strategies that may be enabled by the affordances of these new tools.
Norman, D. (2013). A Case Study Using the Community of Inquiry Framework to Analyze Online Discussions in WordPress and Blackboard in a Graduate Course. (Master’s thesis, University of Calgary). Retrieved from http://darcynorman.net/thesis
I realized while writing my comprehensive list of edtech predictions for 2013, that I’ve been playing around with edtech for almost 2 decades. That kind of surprised me. It doesn’t feel like that long. But, when I step back and think about it, yeah. Almost 2 decades.
1994 – started working as a contractor at the UofC faculty of Nursing, building a series of award winning multi-media inter-active CD-ROMs.1
1998 – left the UofC to work for a small eLearning company, building a multi-media inter-active learning management system for corporate training.
2001 – dotcom bubble asploded. unemployed worked as an independent consultant for awhile.
2001 – back to UofC, working in the Learning Commons as a consultant, building learning object repository prototype and other fun stuff. also built a corporate learning management system based on learning objects and standards etc…
2001 – hired as an instructional designer / programmer at the UofC Learning Commons. Worked on a bunch of various projects, including EDUSOURCE, CAREO, Pachyderm. Got to travel a bit.2
time passes, hilarity ensues. blogs. wikis. podcasting. rss. good times. it was the golden age of edtech…
2011 – moved into IT at the UofC as an “IT Partner”, working with a few faculties, focusing on elearning stuff.
so. yeah. that’s a long time. and it feels like we’re constantly just on the verge of changing everything. No. Really. It’s all going to change for real this time. For good! Seriously! Wait. Why are you laughing? Stop it! cough
built in Macro-Mind Director, then Macromedia Director. Actually met @cogdog online for the first time around then. wow. [↩]
and got to meet awesome people like @brlamb, @downes, etc… [↩]