Topics in Emerging Media and Communications

The Unconscious Crowd

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Our relationship with media has changed forever. Reading “Premediation” by Richard Grusin was a revelation for me because I was able to look at my own responses to the information flow of the news media, government and military entities from a new perspective.  The salient point that arose in the book is how we document and exchange images, memories, personal stories through digital media, so much so that it has become an ordinary occurrence in our lives. Grusin refers to this as our “technological unconscious – the way in which they are integrated within our everyday unconscious use of technology (72).” When we experience something, we immediately want to share that experience, and what better way to do so is through the wired network?

When we are participating in an experience via a media source, we have an awareness that others are simultaneously experiencing the event as well. This provides a feeling of connection, regardless of physical proximity, which seems like an important argument for the benefits of interactive digital communication. Grusin acknowledges this , but he explores the questions of how our interactions with media technologies elicit emotional responses and how those responses effect us socially and politically.

I would like to take this a step further by exploring how our relationship to each other through a digital platform can be utilized in an effort to promote change. Grusin focuses his arguments in “Premediation” around the change that happened after the attacks of 9/11. He believes that the powers of the government, military and news media focus our collective attention on possible threats as a way to instill immediacy and fear, while also establishing a protective patriarchal relationship.

As stated above, this effects not only how we view the information flow we live in, but it also effects how we view other individuals swimming in the flow. To turn the idea on its head a bit, if individuals can be mobilized as a group force for political concerns, as we’ve seen in the War on Terror or Tea Party rallies, than it’s not a stretch to assume that individuals can be brought together to play an active roll in bringing about change in the world, specifically through crowd-sourcing methodologies.

Grusin’s theory in “Premediation” is that we each have a technological unconscious is reinforced by the sheer volume of the information distribution in the network space and our awareness of our participation in the sharing will only grow smaller and smaller as technologies improve and information spreads. People experience a sense of connection on the web daily, whether it be the photos their share, their activity on social media platforms, their blog responses or their charitable donations (i.e. clicktovisim).

Government, corporations, and activist groups are well aware of this participatory landscape and seek out ways to exploit connectivity.  Crowd-sourcing has already been established as an effective way to direct the flow of information, so much so that people are often unaware of their contributions. The question then becomes not whether it is possible, but how using a group participation model to elicit ideas and information changes our relationship to each others and the idea of group cooperation.


Written by HiuHiMedia

March 3, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Posted in Social Media

Tagged with ,

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