Topics in Emerging Media and Communications

Infostreams and Action

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Contributing to the Internet stream of circulating content in a meaningful way is vital to bringing about change. Megan Boler’s “Digital Media and Democracy” discusses tactical media and it’s attempts to exploit online communities to bring about political change.  The arguments around tactical media’s role in democracy can also be applied to the use of crowdsourcing as a way of making individuals and communities feel involved in the process of change.

Crowdsouricng is a problem-solving model that sends out an open call for solutions to a crowd. For our purposes we will distinguish this crowd as an online community. The crowd is encouraged to submit solutions to the problem and the best solutions are then owned and implemented by the crowdsourcer (the submitter of the problem). This method of problem solving  offers the benefit of low-cost solutions in a short amount of time, use of a wide range of talent outside of internal network, insight into desires of crowd, and the crowd developing a sense of ownership through their contributions.

One of the benefits I’d like to hone in on is the idea of contribution through crowdsourcing. In the article “Communicative Capitalism: Circulation and the Foreclosure of Capitalism” Jodi Dean discusses the Internet in terms of a circulating data stream where messages are not necessarily new, just repackaged, “…the message is simply part of the circulating data stream. Its particular content is irrelevant. Who sent it is irrelevant. Who receives it is irrelevant. That it need to be responded to to is irrelevant. The only thing that is relevant is circulation, the addition to the pool (107).” Individuals and small communities can contribute to the infostream, which makes them feel as though they experience a registration effect; they are contributing to the big picture. But if the information surrounding the message is irrelevant, then how does the individual gain a sense of ownership in the Internet space, in effect, how does the individual feel valued? Dean says that “Precisely because of this registration effect, people believe that their contribution to circulating content is a kind of communicative action. They believe that they are active, maybe even that the make a difference simply by clicking on a button, adding there name to a petition or commenting on a blog (109).”


Written by HiuHiMedia

February 22, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Social Media

Tagged with ,

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