Categories
Public notebook

Always look on the brightside of the downside…

Image: Grin-and-bear-it optimism...
Image: Grin-and-bear-it optimism...

Being utterly besotted with the web, and especially the social web, as I am, I tend dislike nay-saying about its significance, and the manifold benefits this thing will bring to society, the world etc. You know the sort of Daily Fail nonsense: Facebook gives you cancer, Twitter rots your brain, bloggers never meet real people.

But there’s a difference between reactionary nonsense and thoughtful critiques. Over at the O’Reilly Radar blog, Joshua-Michéle Ross has been poking at some of the more troublesome prospects that social technologies bring. Like how much of our identity and personal data are we surrendering for analysis by corporations and governments (since analysis of that data is a big part of my business, but I also value personal freedom that’s a particularly interesting issue for me).

He takes through a series of four posts that I highly recommend reading:

  1. The Evangelist Fallacy, Social Media and The New Age of Enlightenment: In which we are reminded that the Enlightenment with which we draw so many parallels to today brought not just progressive new ideas about equality and rights, but new (very effective) thinking about how to control the massses.
  2. The Captivity of the Commons: With the whole world connected and people living their lives in public we need to re-think privacy and how corporations work (so that they are less amoral).
  3. The Digital Panopticon: How the nightmare of the Panopticon is effectively at hand if corporations are able to see every detail of our livs in plain sight.
  4. Social Science Moves from Academia to the Corporation: Funding for social sciences will increasingly come from corporations as they try to understand how to manipulate mass social media.

As Alan Patrick says on Broadstuff:

hat makes this post extremely fascinating is that it comes from the O’Reilly Radar, which – in my experience anyway – have tended to be on the “cup overfloweth” side of the New New Social Thing, never mind a Glass Half Full – so this Glass Half Empty article – the first, it seems, of a series, is a rather fascinating shift of tenor, methinks.

He senses the beginning of a backlash, good and proper, perhaps coming from businesses (that aren’t managing to figure out how to get value out of networks as fast as Joshua-Michéle fears) as well as individuals wanting to rein in how much web shadow they are comfortable casting.

Meanwhile, Ian Delaney has a melancholy reflection on this subject that makes for good further reading and thinking matter, about how his early hopes that social media would bring socialist values to the fore are fading. He picks up the Panopticon analogy and extends it to society.

philosopher Michel Foucault back in the 70s picked up and ran with the idea of the Panopticon, especially in his best-known work Discipline and Punish. His idea was that Bentham’s model wasn’t just an idea for a prison; but for a society.

He argued that prisons are a really new idea. Back in the past, we simply thrashed/burned/drowned/stabbed transgressors. That all changed in the C18th with the Enlightenment . The idea of law-enforcement was ‘enlightened’ with the  understanding that resources [people] didn’t need to be wasted and that better social control is exercised through freely-given compliance, rather than co-option.

People could be turned into machines, a consequence of political thinking in the emergence of industrial society and the rush to efficiency and cost-allocation. Once properly mechanised, they could be ‘trusted’ – the scare quotes, because the trusted prisoner is no longer human. A big part of that process is surveillance: once people know that they are always (potentially) watched, they’re a bit more compliant to the rules, and a bit more like machines.

Actually, Ian turns from melancholy to fighting talk. Where is the transgression, he asks? What passes for subversion online is often just prnaksterism, often funded to, in small feats of legerdemain to slip in a flash of brand in front of the viewer.

The echo chamber is another danger in all of this, Ian says. Where are the racists in his network?:

Racists are poised to take Stoke in the next by-election. They don’t appear on my spectrum because I have deliberately blinded myself to their existence on a day-to-day basis. Diversity of opinion is purely opt-in (with strong incentives to opt-out) in socialmediaworld.

Add some racists to your feed list? I don’t know about racists, but I enjoy having different views on hand in my inbox. I detest a great deal of what some political bloggers say, but I like to try and understand. Sometimes I have had my mind changed too. I understand people on the right (OK, mainly the centre right) much better than I did when I was a pre-web student. Then I used to sneer at people for reading the Telegraph for goodness sake. Now I’ll read it’s leaders and blog posts alongside Comment is Free and the Guardian.

I’ll unsubscribe because people are boring, not because I disagree. Maybe that’s just me. And maybe I need to listen more to some Green voices, some far right voices, some Socialist Workers Party voices.

All is not lost, I say. Fight on…This world is still ours to shape, perhaps as never before. We’re right to identify these pitfalls and blind alleys, but nothing is inevitable in all of this. There’s still a revolution to be had.

After we’ve read these warnings, go and read some Umair Haque manifesto. Then think about what you will do this year to change the world. Seriously.

Point is: there’s a lot at stake.

Categories
Public notebook

Spread social media literacy (and save the world)

Image: Howard Rheingold says "Spread the (social media) love"
Image: Howard Rheingold says spread the (social media) love

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution for you that might do some real good: teach someone at work or in your family how to use social media tools.

Actually New Year’s Resolution is too weak a way to frame this. It’s a call to arms. A plea to your humanity.

Feeling revolutionary itch but not sure how to start scratching with a mortgage/student debts/rent to pay? This is how.

Why? Because our future’s at stake…

Howard Rheingold‘s written an essay with the catchily academic title “Partcipative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies“:

The alphabet did not cause the Roman Empire, but made it possible. Printing did not cause democracy or science, but literate populations, enabled by the printing press, devised systems for citizen governance and collective knowledge creation. The Internet did not cause open source production, Wikipedia or emergent collective responses to natural disasters, but it made it possible for people to act together in new ways, with people they weren’t able to organize action with before, in places and at paces for which collective action had never been possible. Literacies are the prerequisite for the human agency that used alphabets, presses and digital networks to create wealth, alleviate suffering and invent new institutions.

Helping others to understand how to use a wiki or create a Facebook group and you are spreading a new kind of literacy.

A literacy in participative media, or for the sake of not clouding the terminology in this blog, a social media literacy.

A widespread ability to use social computing tools will be the basis for a New Enlightenment of sorts:

The more people who know how to use participatory media to learn, inform, persuade, investigate, reveal, advocate and organize, the more likely the future infosphere will allow, enable and encourage liberty and participation. Such literacy can only make action possible, however, it is not in the technology, or even in the knowledge of how to use it, but in the ways people use knowledge and technology to create wealth, secure freedom, resist tyranny.

Image: Facebook groups - one small step...
Image: Facebook groups - one small step...

It reminds me how some friends of mine used Facebook – about which a year or two back they were very sceptical, to organise a protest. It worked, insofar as it gained momentum, grew, sustained itself and attracted attention.

The lessons from that are with them always. And next time, if their neighbourhood is threatened by some planning travesty, or their lives are affected by bureacratic stupidity they have a network and knowledge of networks and social media tools that they will be even quicker to pick up and more adept at using when they do so…

Responding to Howard Rheingold’s essay, Prof Mike Wesch says: “I employ social media in the classroom with a sense of urgency”.

It’s not just that we have so much to gain by as many people as possible being literate in this new medium, but that we have much to lose by there not being mass social media literacy.

Wesch says:

We use social media in the classroom not because our students use it, but because we are afraid that social media might be using them – that they are using social media blindly, without recognition of the new challenges and opportunities they might create.

So here’s some simple ideas that I might try out to spread social media literacy…

  • Help someone set up an RSS reader to get all their news and blogs…
  • Record a brilliant presentation or speech and distribute it on SlideShare, a blog, a podcast, a video..
  • Show them how to organise that event or holiday on a wiki…
  • Help someone looking for a job or freelancing to make more of LinkedIn and a couple of other tools (BTW this article, written about journalism, can teach any freelancer or contractor a thing or two)
  • Volunteer to help a sports or cultural club to get some of their stuff online in a better way…
  • Show someone who has set up a cause on Facebook to set up their own blog / website and use other tools to further their activism…

With the iCrossing team I published What is Social Media? a while back – maybe I should start a project to add to that with more “how to” examples…

It’s not just that one project that you’ll be supporting, you’ll be spreading a new kind of web literacy that really will change the world.

What else can we do? Run some evening classes? Offer online coaching…

Via John Naughton.

: : Bonus social media literacy links… One of the nicest and most practical resources for getting up to speed on social media tools and other web-related stuff is the set videos from the Commoncraft Show. One of my favourites is the wiki video, which does a perfect job of simplifying and explaining a powerful online tool:

Categories
Public notebook

Spread social media literacy (and save the world)

Image: Howard Rheingold says "Spread the (social media) love"
Image: Howard Rheingold says spread the (social media) love

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution for you that might do some real good: teach someone at work or in your family how to use social media tools.

Actually New Year’s Resolution is too weak a way to frame this. It’s a call to arms. A plea to your humanity.

Feeling revolutionary itch but not sure how to start scratching with a mortgage/student debts/rent to pay? This is how.

Why? Because our future’s at stake…

Howard Rheingold‘s written an essay with the catchily academic title “Partcipative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies“:

The alphabet did not cause the Roman Empire, but made it possible. Printing did not cause democracy or science, but literate populations, enabled by the printing press, devised systems for citizen governance and collective knowledge creation. The Internet did not cause open source production, Wikipedia or emergent collective responses to natural disasters, but it made it possible for people to act together in new ways, with people they weren’t able to organize action with before, in places and at paces for which collective action had never been possible. Literacies are the prerequisite for the human agency that used alphabets, presses and digital networks to create wealth, alleviate suffering and invent new institutions.

Helping others to understand how to use a wiki or create a Facebook group and you are spreading a new kind of literacy.

A literacy in participative media, or for the sake of not clouding the terminology in this blog, a social media literacy.

A widespread ability to use social computing tools will be the basis for a New Enlightenment of sorts:

The more people who know how to use participatory media to learn, inform, persuade, investigate, reveal, advocate and organize, the more likely the future infosphere will allow, enable and encourage liberty and participation. Such literacy can only make action possible, however, it is not in the technology, or even in the knowledge of how to use it, but in the ways people use knowledge and technology to create wealth, secure freedom, resist tyranny.

Image: Facebook groups - one small step...
Image: Facebook groups - one small step...

It reminds me how some friends of mine used Facebook – about which a year or two back they were very sceptical, to organise a protest. It worked, insofar as it gained momentum, grew, sustained itself and attracted attention.

The lessons from that are with them always. And next time, if their neighbourhood is threatened by some planning travesty, or their lives are affected by bureacratic stupidity they have a network and knowledge of networks and social media tools that they will be even quicker to pick up and more adept at using when they do so…

Responding to Howard Rheingold’s essay, Prof Mike Wesch says: “I employ social media in the classroom with a sense of urgency”.

It’s not just that we have so much to gain by as many people as possible being literate in this new medium, but that we have much to lose by there not being mass social media literacy.

Wesch says:

We use social media in the classroom not because our students use it, but because we are afraid that social media might be using them – that they are using social media blindly, without recognition of the new challenges and opportunities they might create.

So here’s some simple ideas that I might try out to spread social media literacy…

  • Help someone set up an RSS reader to get all their news and blogs…
  • Record a brilliant presentation or speech and distribute it on SlideShare, a blog, a podcast, a video..
  • Show them how to organise that event or holiday on a wiki…
  • Help someone looking for a job or freelancing to make more of LinkedIn and a couple of other tools (BTW this article, written about journalism, can teach any freelancer or contractor a thing or two)
  • Volunteer to help a sports or cultural club to get some of their stuff online in a better way…
  • Show someone who has set up a cause on Facebook to set up their own blog / website and use other tools to further their activism…

With the iCrossing team I published What is Social Media? a while back – maybe I should start a project to add to that with more “how to” examples…

It’s not just that one project that you’ll be supporting, you’ll be spreading a new kind of web literacy that really will change the world.

What else can we do? Run some evening classes? Offer online coaching…

Via John Naughton.

: : Bonus social media literacy links… One of the nicest and most practical resources for getting up to speed on social media tools and other web-related stuff is the set videos from the Commoncraft Show. One of my favourites is the wiki video, which does a perfect job of simplifying and explaining a powerful online tool:

Categories
Public notebook

Spread social media literacy (and save the world)

Image: Howard Rheingold says "Spread the (social media) love"
Image: Howard Rheingold says spread the (social media) love

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution for you that might do some real good: teach someone at work or in your family how to use social media tools.

Actually New Year’s Resolution is too weak a way to frame this. It’s a call to arms. A plea to your humanity.

Feeling revolutionary itch but not sure how to start scratching with a mortgage/student debts/rent to pay? This is how.

Why? Because our future’s at stake…

Howard Rheingold‘s written an essay with the catchily academic title “Partcipative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies“:

The alphabet did not cause the Roman Empire, but made it possible. Printing did not cause democracy or science, but literate populations, enabled by the printing press, devised systems for citizen governance and collective knowledge creation. The Internet did not cause open source production, Wikipedia or emergent collective responses to natural disasters, but it made it possible for people to act together in new ways, with people they weren’t able to organize action with before, in places and at paces for which collective action had never been possible. Literacies are the prerequisite for the human agency that used alphabets, presses and digital networks to create wealth, alleviate suffering and invent new institutions.

Helping others to understand how to use a wiki or create a Facebook group and you are spreading a new kind of literacy.

A literacy in participative media, or for the sake of not clouding the terminology in this blog, a social media literacy.

A widespread ability to use social computing tools will be the basis for a New Enlightenment of sorts:

The more people who know how to use participatory media to learn, inform, persuade, investigate, reveal, advocate and organize, the more likely the future infosphere will allow, enable and encourage liberty and participation. Such literacy can only make action possible, however, it is not in the technology, or even in the knowledge of how to use it, but in the ways people use knowledge and technology to create wealth, secure freedom, resist tyranny.

Image: Facebook groups - one small step...
Image: Facebook groups - one small step...

It reminds me how some friends of mine used Facebook – about which a year or two back they were very sceptical, to organise a protest. It worked, insofar as it gained momentum, grew, sustained itself and attracted attention.

The lessons from that are with them always. And next time, if their neighbourhood is threatened by some planning travesty, or their lives are affected by bureacratic stupidity they have a network and knowledge of networks and social media tools that they will be even quicker to pick up and more adept at using when they do so…

Responding to Howard Rheingold’s essay, Prof Mike Wesch says: “I employ social media in the classroom with a sense of urgency”.

It’s not just that we have so much to gain by as many people as possible being literate in this new medium, but that we have much to lose by there not being mass social media literacy.

Wesch says:

We use social media in the classroom not because our students use it, but because we are afraid that social media might be using them – that they are using social media blindly, without recognition of the new challenges and opportunities they might create.

So here’s some simple ideas that I might try out to spread social media literacy…

  • Help someone set up an RSS reader to get all their news and blogs…
  • Record a brilliant presentation or speech and distribute it on SlideShare, a blog, a podcast, a video..
  • Show them how to organise that event or holiday on a wiki…
  • Help someone looking for a job or freelancing to make more of LinkedIn and a couple of other tools (BTW this article, written about journalism, can teach any freelancer or contractor a thing or two)
  • Volunteer to help a sports or cultural club to get some of their stuff online in a better way…
  • Show someone who has set up a cause on Facebook to set up their own blog / website and use other tools to further their activism…

With the iCrossing team I published What is Social Media? a while back – maybe I should start a project to add to that with more “how to” examples…

It’s not just that one project that you’ll be supporting, you’ll be spreading a new kind of web literacy that really will change the world.

What else can we do? Run some evening classes? Offer online coaching…

Via John Naughton.

: : Bonus social media literacy links… One of the nicest and most practical resources for getting up to speed on social media tools and other web-related stuff is the set videos from the Commoncraft Show. One of my favourites is the wiki video, which does a perfect job of simplifying and explaining a powerful online tool: