Monday, November 2, 2009

maya-hackers use mysterious series of tubes

"First, global justice movements are global." --Jeffrey S. Juris.


Juris also asserts that the network "is...emerging as a widespread cultural ideal among certain sectors, implying new forms of decentralized, directly democratic parties, reflecting both the traditional values of anarchism and the logic of computer networking." This is a more informative and insightful claim than the one above, clearly...

I really didn't understand the whole part about hackers. It just sounded to me like neither Diane Nelson nor Jeffery Juris have any idea what a hacker is, because they both seemed to think it means an activist who uses computers and/or networks, which makes no sense. I have no idea why a Mayan who is 'engaged in cultural activism and transnational networking' would be classified as a hacker, but maybe there is more to the background of Mayan activism that I don't know. I also don't get 'activist-hacker' as a term, though I think Juris is using it as a metaphor?

The only activist-hackers I can think of are Anonymous (they hacked the scientology web sites and shut it down several times, for example, as part of a larger protest of scientology being classified as a 'religion' and attempting to censor the web). Fyi, Anonmyous members are mostly from 4chan and 711chan, online forums that are a wild ride into testoterone-filled computer nerdness that you may never recover from--fair warning, seriously.

I like Juris' comparison of networked, grass-roots social movements to the traditional values of anarchy-- that was interesting. But mostly, he seemed to fall victim to the assumption that Bennet is careful to warn against. Bennet reminds us that networked behavior and all online behavior is "more the result of the human contexts in which communication occurs than the result of the communication media themseves (Agre, 2001, qtd in Bennet, 2003). It's very tempting to talk about global social movements as if they are the result of the media they use, or in some way inextricably tied to it, instead of thinking of them as groups of people using technology available to them in ways that further their agendas. A lot of authors instead seem blinded by the glorious tubes..

On the other hand, I liked Bennets particular take on the medium's affect on the message-- he focuses more on how porous the different media spheres have become, how easy it is for 'citizen media' or individual messages to be picked up by the mass media when they resonate with enough people to become the next new internet meme or top pick on digg. I think that this, more than anything else, is the most significant aspect of networked communication- it removes many of the old outposts for gatekeepers, at least so far. It's not just the horizontal netowrks, its that mass media are also connected to those horizontal networks instead of existing outside of them as they used to.

1 comment:

  1. Your comment on the mass media picking up on the individual messages of citizen journalists reminded me of a tongue-in-cheek clip I saw about the use of Facebook updates and Tweets as a "source" of news:

    Here is more of a pro-con clip on the issue of the inclusion social media content in mainstream journalism: