Sites of Social Dissent

As I’ve gone back through my previous posts I’m realizing that I seem to be a little disjointed; the posts about social media seem to be moving along fairly cohesively, but the art posts still seem a little forced. So this is going to be my attempt to tie everything together conceptually and to explain why I think discussions of art and media go together nicely. Since I’m not writing a thesis right now, I’m going to take my time and address the reasons individually. That said, the first topic is “social dissent.”

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Mediated Commons

Last month Wired magazine’s cover story was “#Riot: Self-Organized, Hyper-Networked Revolts—Coming to a City Near You.” On the surface, the article (written by senior editor Bill Wasik) appeared to be yet another look at the use of social media in organizing protests, riots, etc. But rather than dwelling on the mobilization aspects of social media, Wasik emphasized the social nature and the sense of community and identity that are formed prior to actual interaction. As Clifford Stott explains in the article, mobs organized through social media are unique in the sense that they have “create[ed] the identity prior to the event.” Through a single message, the participants prepare themselves mentally for the events. However, while these gatherings have the potential for violence, they also serve a somewhat democratic function. For example, Wasik offers the “impromptu street parties” organized by the dance group, Team Nike.

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Youssou President?

I’ll admit it–when I heard that the Grammy Award-winning Senegalese artist, Youssou N’Dour, was joining the presidential race–I was skeptical. In my defense, this is the same man who (less a month earlier) declared that he would never–jamais— run for president. And why should he? He’s already earned the title.

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Blacking out SOPA/PIPA

When I originally wrote about 21st Century Statecraft Month, I was torn on whether or not I wanted to address SOPA/PIPA. In fact, my first draft of the post was a complete rant about the hypocrisy of 21st c. Statecraft Month and the timing of the two bills. After realizing that I had devolved into incoherence, I rewrote the entire thing and decided to hold off a little bit longer. Now, the two bills have been shelved and it would seem like I missed the opportunity to comment, but I’m actually very glad I waited.

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As seen by Haitians

The other day I came across an article on NPR about some projects in Haiti that were using photography as a way to show Haiti–two years after the earthquake–through the eyes of Haitians. As explained by photographer Maggie Steber, from FotoKonbit, an underlying belief of their organization is that providing Haitians with cameras to document their world, “gives them the power to show us what they think is important, beautiful, strange, funny, and… share intimate things that you and I might never see otherwise.”

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21st Century Statecraft

I know I said that the use of social media in constructing a strong public sphere would not be my sole focus, but second post in and here I go… In my defense though, it’s “21st Century Statecraft” month, and well… that just begged for comment, so here it is…

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And so it begins

As some of you might remember, the use of social media in organizing the protests in the Middle East was sort of a thing. No one really talked about it, thought about its implications, or even went so far as to credit the success of protests in places like Egypt, with its use… oh, wait–they did! And it was warranted, during the Arab spring, social media proved to be a highly effective tool for social mobilization. But, as Clay ShirkyEvegny Morozov, and Mathew Ingram would like to remind you–this is not always the case. And, more importantly: we should all stop pretending like it is. These protests and movements would have happened eventually. Even if the Internet didn’t exist. Incredible right?

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