Democratization and the Networked Public Sphere

Danah, Ethan, TreborHey, speaking of things happening in the city I want to go to, Trebor just let me know about a panel at New School next Friday that looks really promising. The three panelists are each interesting and original thinkers in their own right, with enough convergence/divergence to provide for an interesting discussion, I think. Hope to see you there.

Friday, April 13, 2007, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
The New School, Theresa Lang Community and Student Center
55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor
New York City
Admission: $8, free for all students, New School faculty, staff, and alumni with valid ID

This evening at the Vera List Center for Art & Politics will discuss the potential of sociable media such as weblogs and social networking sites to democratize society through emerging cultures of broad participation.

danah boyd will argue four points. 1) Networked publics are changing the way public life is organized. 2) Our understandings of public/private are being radically altered 3) Participation in public life is critical to the functioning of democracy. 4) We have destroyed youths’ access to unmediated public life. Why are we now destroying their access to mediated public life? What consequences does this have for democracy?

Trebor Scholz will present the paradox of affective immaterial labor. Content generated by networked publics was the main reason for the fact that the top ten sites on the World Wide Web accounted for most Internet traffic last year. Community is the commodity, worth billions. The very few get even richer building on the backs of the immaterial labor of very very many. Net publics comment, tag, rank, forward, read, subscribe, re-post, link, moderate, remix, share, collaborate, favorite, write. They flirt, work, play, chat, gossip, discuss, learn and by doing so they gain much: the pleasure of creation, knowledge, micro-fame, a “home,” friendships, and dates. They share their life experiences and archive their memories while context-providing businesses get value from their attention, time, and uploaded content. Scholz will argue against this naturalized “factory without walls” and will demand for net publics to control their own contributions.

Ethan Zuckerman will present his work on issues of media and the developing world, especially citizen media, and the technical, legal, speech, and digital divide issues that go alongside it. Starting out with a critique of cyberutopianism, Zuckerman will address citizen media and activism in developing nations, their potential for democratic change, the ways that governments (and sometimes corporations) are pushing back on their ability to democratize.

About the Panelists:

danah boyd is a doctoral candidate in the School of Information at the University of California-Berkeley and a fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Communications. Her dissertation focuses on how American youth engage in networked publics like MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Xanga, etc. In particular, she is interested in how teens formulate a presentation of self and negotiate socialization in mediated contexts amidst invisible audiences. This work is funded by the MacArthur Foundation as part of a broader grant on digital youth and informal learning.
http://www.zephoria.org/

Trebor Scholz is a media theorist, artist, and activist who is interested in the economics of sociable media and networked social life in relation to politics and education. As founder of the Institute for Distributed Creativity (iDC), he contributed essays to several books, journals, and periodicals and co-edited “The Art of Free Cooperation” (forthcoming). He is currently professor and researcher in the Department of Media Study at the State University of New York at Buffalo and research fellow at the Hochschule fuer Kunst und Gestaltung, Zurich (Switzerland).
http://collectivate.net/journalisms

Ethan Zuckerman is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. His research focuses on the distribution of attention in mainstream and new media, and on the use of technology for international development. With Rebecca MacKinnon, he leads a project called “Global Voices” which focuses on using weblogs around the world to close gaps in mainstream media coverage. In 2000, Ethan founded Geekcorps, a technology volunteer corps that sends IT specialists to work on projects in developing nations, with a focus on West Africa.
http://ethanzuckerman.com/

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