This summary is related to several Lifestream posts this week. I saved a YouTube clip of Fred Turner on Pinterest and watched it whilst I was at the gym, hence the blurred photo post on Instagram. I was squeezing the most use I could from a period of time.
In the video clip Turner describes how members of the US counterculture of the 60s, ambivalent towards technology, made movement back to “the land” to rediscover themselves and form new communities with alternative values. Supporting this movement, a publication entitled The Whole Earth Catalog, dreamed up by Stewart Brand, came to “establish[ed] a relationship between information technology, economic activity, and alternative forms of community that would outlast the counterculture itself and become a key feature of the digital world” (2005, p.488). A full circle was turned: technology came to underpin and facilitate a community turning away from a politics that had spawned such affordances from the “large scale weapons technologies of the cold war” (p.488), yet ironically the community ultimately failed to “escape the pull of America’s technological and economic centers of gravity” (p.512).
Turner relates how technology was co-constitutive alongside political, economic and social elements, of a new sociability upholding alternative values in a digital age. By following his exposition, I was able to gain more perspective on how technology interrelates with particular people in particular places for particular purposes at particular times (students, online, learning, now) and how these interrelations become cultures in the sense described by Hand (2008, p.18),
“There are new forms of circulation emerging which override or replace older modern structures, where culture has in a sense replaced the social …”
Half-listening to the radio in the night, I tuned into a BBC World Service broadcast which, coincidentally, described another digital culture full circle (saved on Pinterest). This one concerned the rise of fake news accounts on the internet and the creation of “click-worthy” stories, especially prevalent during the US Presidential campaign, which gained traction and prominence on Google and Facebook and made millions through advertising. One way Facebook is attempting to combat the proliferation of false news (according to the broadcast), is to develop algorithms to identify recently-created news sites and demote them in the rankings of social media feeds. The tech giants’ algorithms promoted these news accounts and now the companies must marshal new code to help quash them.
Hand, M. (2008). Hardware to everywhere: narratives of promise and threat, chapter 1 of Making digital cultures: access, interactivity and authenticity. Aldershot: Ashgate. pp 15-42.
Turner, F. (2005). The WELL and the Origins of Virtual Community. Technology and Culture, 46, pp 485-512. DOI: 0040-165X/05/4603-0001$8.00