Category Archives: Annotated Bibliographies

‘Blurry by Design: Public Matters on Social Enterprise’ on KCET Artbound

I had the great fortune of working with Public Matters last year and learned a lot, much of which I didn’t expect. Namely, as I explain in this KCET Artbound post, Blurry by Design: Public Matters on Social Enterprise, how an activist art collaborative strategically blurs the lines between the antithetical institutional logics of the market and social movement to green East Los Angeles’ food desert.

I had fun the whole time because they’re fun the whole time. (Yes, even with institutional logics!)

1_ELARA_Lab

East L.A. Renaissance Academy Student researchers in the Toxic Edibles Analysis Lab from the video “Have You Noticed How Much Junk Food We Eat?”
From left: Jocelyn Herrera, Martha Meija, Omar Vargas, Amisadai Hernandez.

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Community Development, Media Arts

the on-the-street political reality of CicLAvia…it’s totally nice

Some of you might know of CicLAvia, LA’s biannual celebration of bikes, feet, skateboards, roller skates, roller blades…anything non-motorized, really. We and many of the world’s cities have Bogotá, Colombia to thank for originating the Ciclovia concept of shutting down city streets to car traffic for real, street-level participation, and straight-up giddy physical engagement with our built environments. The streets are packed and yet the people are smiling.

Angelenos have CARS (Community Arts Resources) for its wildly successful adoption, as well as galvanizing multiple, much needed, bike lane designations throughout the city. If you needed proof of political buy-in, please cast your eyes upon this picture of the tracings of a photo-op. Yes, we were just in front of City Hall, and yes, that is a bike lane. Meta.

Leave a comment

Filed under Public Space, Quotidian

Reflection on Aristotle’s “The Politics”

While I’ve passed my quals and technically need just one more methods course, nothing could stop me from taking this semester’s special seminar, Social Justice and Public Policy, with Price School Associate Professor Lisa Schweitzer. Nothing. Lisa is one of the unicorn academics — amazing in all regards — and this particular class is a veritable carnival of bringing justice theory to bear on contemporary policy debates. Each week, she provides a reading prompt and we write one-page responses. Given that the readings are classics, I thought it might be interesting to publish those prompts and responses over the course of the semester.

“Which three points about justice, in Aristotle’s framing, strike you as being most outmoded/unhelpful/wrong vis-a-vis your own internal sense of justice? Why? Can you identify three points of agreement between your own ideas about justice and Aristotle’s?”

A first-time contemporary reader can struggle with Aristotle. Setting aside that he affirms the institutions of slavery and gender inequality, he is an unabashed aristocrat. No revolutionary, he asserts there are three types of good city (polis) formation: monarchy, aristocracy, and constitutional government (or polity), all in contradistinction to their respective perversions: tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy. Above all, Aristotle prefers the king with unique “moral wisdom” (p. 281), who will govern the polis justly, as would the finest of household managers. Aristotle bases this and all other positions in the reading in the implicit and teleological argument that man is, by nature, “a political animal” (p. 265), and cities, organic sites for the common good. It is natural for man to convene in the city, and thus, the most correct and just practices are those that afford the polis the greatest amount of natural harmony. It is on the issue of naturalness that Aristotle’s argument hinges, and so by turns fails and succeeds.

Among the first problems is his conception of the slave. Again, this is less about the moment in history than it how he waffles in describing that particular household relationship’s agents. To wit, there is such thing as a bad citizen and a bad man, and sometimes the slave possesses the “rational faculty of the soul” (p. 267). By that extension, can we feel truly comfortable agreeing that the ruler/ruled relationship is “beneficial” (ibid) and “necessary” (ibid) in all cases? Taken to the extreme, if the city’s leader is a tyrant and his position thus unnatural, how do we categorize the rest of the city member’s roles? Are the slaves now freedmen, household-managing citizens?

Second, while Aristotle does not countenance social mobility, nature certainly does. Male mammals do not fight each other for fun, but for status and leadership. Aristotle’s hermetic class conception thus makes little sense depicted as “natural.” Aristotle all but admits this weakness in his discussion about who might become citizens when. In some instances the wealthy mechanic may enjoy citizenship, but never the laborer. In other instances, one citizen parent will do, in others, having both is mandatory.

Finally, Aristotle is a straight-up xenophobe – in any era. Those without need for cities are “barbarians” (p. 265), and no resident alien or foreigner may ever hope for citizenship. Except national borders are social constructs – there’s really nothing natural about them other than the regrettable human tic to reject the unknown.

However, Aristotle’s emphasis on one’s natural commitment to and responsibility for the collective good is well taken. Returning to the topic of the ruler, Aristotle argues that city governments who adjudicate on behalf of the common interest are just. By contrast, governments operating on behalf of individual interests are “perversions” (p. 285) – they are “despotic; whereas the city is an association of free men” (ibid). Within this, distributive justice is meted out in terms of “proportionate equality:” one’s take from the city must accord with his contribution to it. Romney and sundry CEOs who ship jobs overseas are, in Aristotelian terms, grossly overpaid.

Not surprisingly, Aristotle recognizes there is a rightful and natural limit to one’s wealth, and thus privileges use over exchange value. Within the household, the manager must practice moral virtue, seeking out only things that have function, a legitimate use. Through this art of acquisition of wealth, he provides for and justly leads his household. The household manager who abandons this art in favor of the art of acquisition of currency acts unnaturally.

Finally, Aristotle’s wisdom has material implications. Naming usury as the worst of all types of exchange, he explains, “Acquisition for acquisition’s sake…makes barren metal breed” (p. 274). Reading this, I thought of balloon payments and sketchy refinancing contracts, and saw miles and miles of abandoned houses in my mind’s eye.

In the end I find Aristotle’s conception of natural order best serves questions of equality, and not society’s constitution. “What works for the collective?” is as critically important a question today as it was when he first wrote. It is up to us to modify what his “collective” means.

Work cited
Aristotle. (2007). The Politics. In  Justice: A Reader, M. Sandel, ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Leave a comment

Filed under Community Development, Planning Theory

DeRienzo, H. (2008). Community organizing for power and democracy: Lessons learned from a life in the trenches. _The Community Development Reader_, J. DeFilippis & S. Saegert, eds. New York and London: Routledge.

Harold DeRienzo is Managing Member of Greenways Resources LLC. He has served as an advocate, planner, organizer, developer, lawyer, mediator, and protagonist for many of the most pressing housing and community development issues in New York City.

DeRienzo’s polemical chapter begins by distinguishing between the “neighborhood,” a specific, geographically limited “housing services cluster” (p. 181), and the more powerful — and power-related — “community.” The former’s characteristics are: atomization, external economic dependency, and service infrastructure. “Community,” by contrast, requires three things: (1) commonality, which, to DeRienzo, is regrettably sufficient for many community organizers; (2) economic interdependence (Weber, 1968; Berry, 1993); and (3) collective capacity, which follows from the first two and requires sober appraisal.

DeRienzo describes two forms of community building: (1) Static Enhancement, which implies a satisfaction with the status quo, and (2) the Transformative Model, where reality is made (Berlin, 1991). Community power is, like community, fragile and dependent on quality social infrastructure. Given this, DeRienzo sees three types of community organizing efforts: (1) Organizing for Domestication, which he calls “manipulation;” (2) Organizing around Issues, or issue-specific mobilization, which is a bit better but ultimately just minimizes hurt; and (3) Transformative/Developmental Organizing. Here one must recognize the inherent challenges and still strike at the heart of the problem (e.g. public space, institutional accountability and control, political involvement).

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development

Looking Into Some Books to See _Out the Window_

The following is a literature review I did last winter to better familiarize myself with the media literacy, participatory culture, and networked publics literatures. I post it today in preparation for my minor field exam tomorrow. Full disclosure: it is heavily laden with in-text citations.

—————

“I too will try to recollect what I can, knowing well that any totalizing description of LA-leph is impossible. What follows then is a succession of fragmentary glimpses, a freed association of reflective and interpretive field notes which aim to construct a critical human geography of the Los Angeles urban region.”

Edward W. Soja (1989, p. 223)

Geographer Edward Soja imagining Los Angeles in cinematic terms in 1989. Better still, though, might be to consider his ruminations not as evocative of cinema but of its more affordable, and thereby more democratic kin, video. As Soja wrote his opus, media artist Anne Bray was founding Freewaves “A Magnet for Media Arts,” intending to use video as nothing less than a tool for structural reformation of the public sphere (Rogers, 2010). In the years hence, and in a turn paradigmatically expressive of the communications revolution, Soja’s 1989 cheap and readily available film video is 2011’s exotic, the museum conservator’s charge, having been replaced by an even more flexible, affordable, and apparently democratic technology: digital video.

In those twenty years and change, the communications revolution altered the landscape, real and virtual, beyond our wildest collective dreams (Allon, 2004; Appadurai, 1990; Bar, Baer, Ghandeharizadeh & Ordonez, 2008; Barnett, 2004; Buckingham, 2000, 2003, 2009; Bull, 2004; Canclini 2001; Caron & Caronia, 2007; Castells, 1996; Couldry, 2004; Couldry & McCarthy, 2004; de Block & Buckingham, 2007; Gibbs, 2004; Ito, 2008; Jenkins, 2006; Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton & Robison, 2009; Kabisch, 2010; Lim & Kann, 2008; Massey, 1994; McCullough, 2006; Morley, 2000; Moores, 2004; Rogers, 2007, 2010; Russell, Ito, Richmond & Tuters, 2008; Shirky, 2010; Singhal & Rogers, 2004; Soja, 1989; Townsend, 2006; Tuters, 2004; Tuters & Varnelis, 2006; Varnelis, 2008; Varnelis & Friedberg, 2008). Freewaves missed not a beat during this telecommunications tempest. It was among the first media arts organizations to use the Internet as a screening/archive to supplement the citywide screenings, and in doing so illustrated video’s Internet-borne transition from production- to distribution-centeredness (Rogers, 2007), and thus the evolution of creative consumer to producer (Bar, Baer, Ghandeharizadeh & Ordonez, 2008; Barnett, 2004; Buckingham, 2000, 2003, 2009; Bull, 2004; Caron & Caronia, 2007; Castells, 1996; Couldry, 2004; de Block & Buckingham, 2007; Gibbs, 2004; Ito, 2008; Jenkins, 2006; Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton & Robison, 2009; Kabisch, 2010; Lim & Kann, 2008; Rogers, 2007, 2010; Russell, Ito, Richmond & Tuters, 2008; Shirky, 2010; Townsend, 2006; Tuters, 2004; Tuters & Varnelis, 2006; Varnelis, 2008; Varnelis & Friedberg, 2008).

Characterizing Freewaves as a media arts organization only glances lightly on its true pursuit. Media and Cultural Studies scholar Kenneth Rogers (2007) avers, “Freewaves is less organization than it is a network” (p. 38). Likewise, its endeavors radiate outward, subsuming creative production, distribution, and educational outreach in collaborations with arts and social justice activists to nourish connective links between otherwise disparate Angelenos and their lives. Its most recent project, the cooperative Out the Window,embodies the apogee of Freewaves’ aspirations.

The first of its kind participatory learning experience for young people and the Los Angeles Metro ridership, it is a collaboration among four of the city’s media arts organizations – Freewaves; UCLA’s Center for Research in Engineering, Media, and Performance (REMAP); Echo Park Film Center; and Public Matters. The project’s first phase comprised the instruction of students from East Los Angeles, Echo Park, and Historic Filipintown to consider, reflect on, and creatively document their neighborhoods. Their resultant art and related questions were then broadcast from June 13-18, 2011, and again in October and November, joined by local Angeleno artists’ productions, on LA Metro bus televisions to the riders with the aim of sparking SMS-enabled and web-facilitated dialogue in a purposively mobile space among parties already separated by time and place.

Thus, Out the Window reflects a hearteningly optimistic take on the “annihilation of space by time” Marx (as cited in Morley, 2000, p. 172) foresaw so long ago. How so optimistic? And why these methodologies? What are the ideological, technological, and educational conditions that helped give rise to this particular project? The following paper comprises select literature that examines just these questions. In the first portion, I will consider writings on new media’s intersection with space, what I believe to be the Out the Window collective’s bedrock assumptions, and its turn to locative media to articulate these conditions and beliefs. In the second section, I will delve into pedagogy – of the media, the border, and the oppressed – all aimed at the creation of a participatory culture and the “networked public.” Note I wrote “hearteningly” and not “exclusively optimistic” above. Even the most fanatic supporters of new media submit provisos, and there are of course detractors. The paper submits their positions, too, and concludes with thoughts on implications for media research itself. I maintain understanding these literatures underscores Out the Window’s unique and important contribution to art-generated urban social justice: dialogue, education, participatory democracy, and self-expression.

Communications Technologies and Public-Private Spaces

“Why not argue that media coverage massively multiplies the interconnections between places, rather than weakening our sense of place?”

Nick Couldry (as cited in Moores, 2004, p. 23)

Whether we are living in the incipient stages of the electronic-architectonic metamorphosis of the city (Couldry, 2004) or in the middle (Tuters, 2004), the notion that the opportunity for public space has proliferated as a result of new media is widespread (Allon, 2004; Barnett, 2004; Canclini, 2001; Caron & Caronia, 2007; Couldry, 2004; Couldry & McCarthy, 2004; Gibbs, 2004; Ito, 2008; Jenkins, 2006; Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton & Robison, 2009; Kabisch, 2010; Lim & Kann, 2008; Moores, 2004; Morley, 2000; Russell, Ito, Richmond & Tuters, 2008; Tuters, 2004; Tuters & Varnelis, 2006; Varnelis, 2008; Varnelis & Friedberg, 2008). Specifically, Fiona Allon (2004) disagrees with David Harvey (1989), saying his time-space compression needs to be rethought and that communication technologies have in fact summoned “new spatialities and temporalities” (p. 261). As more media points are added to the virtual landscape, we experience “a restructuring of the articulations between the public and the private” (Canclini, 2001, p. 23), apparent also in the “reordering of urban life” (ibid.). Mobile telephony has even rendered Augé’s (1995) non-places and Caronia’s “no-when times” (as cited in Caron & Caronia, 2005, p. 38), erstwhile existential states of abeyance, functional. Sitting, riding in the bus to our unique destinations, we can now reach out in collective communication.

Our whole concept of community is in flux. Associations of people are further flung (Appadurai, 1996; Castells, 1996; Jenkins, 2006; Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton & Robison, 2009; Lim & Kann, 2008; Massey, 1994; Morley, 2000; Moores, 2004; Rogers, 2010; Russell, Ito, Richmond & Tuters, 2008; Soja, 1989; Tuters, 2004; Tuters & Varnelis, 2006; Varnelis, 2008; Varnelis & Friedberg, 2008), “psychological neighborhoods” (Meyerowitz as cited in Morley, 2000) join the earthbound ones, and indeed, communications technologies provide us the “raw materials for a new cartography…in the details of people’s daily lives” (Rouse as cited in Morley, 2000, p. 43). Communications scholars Andre Caron and Letizia Caronia (2007) remind us not only do these media propagate community, communications technologies construct meaning in our lives. Following Certeau (1984), they argue our cell phones are not incidental effects – our communiqués are cultural artifacts, material and discursive objects. Our “mobile conversations are effectively powerful social glue” (p. 176).

While some embrace these new geographies, others are less sanguine. Artist and critic Michael Gibbs (2004) coins the term “Cellspace” (p. 280) to reflect the enmeshing of our digital information with the real world, noting the edges between public and private space have become so obliterated we will have desperately private mobile phone conversations in the most public of forums. In “‘To each their own bubble’: mobile spaces of sound in the city,” Media Studies scholar Michael Bull (2004) suggests that the more the public realm warps to meet our communication technologies customs, the more we warp with it, becoming all the more alienated from one another. Social-cultural anthropologist Arjun Appadurai (1996) holds new media are creating communities devoid of sense of place; as such we should regard all cultural forms as “fractal” (p. 46) in configuration.

Doreen Massey and the Situationist International on Los Angeles Metro Buses

“…praxis, not therapy; form, not structure; situation, not power.”

McKenzie Wark (2011, p. 159)

While many voices and minds contribute to Out the Window’s formation, I submit geographer Doreen Massey (1994) and the Situationist International (SI; 1952-57) are the project’s primary ideological forebears. Massey’s power-geometry concept critiques Harvey’s time-space compression, noting its effects are distinct depending on an agent’s class, gender, and ethnicity. Massey’s “power-geometry” obliges us to see that “time-space compression needs differentiating socially” (1994, p. 148). However, while power relations are asymmetrical, marginalization does not equate to impotence; migrant populations can and do deploy control in their new cities (de Block & Buckingham, 2007). To bulwark their agency and better sociospatial relations, what we need is “a sense of place which is extroverted, which includes a consciousness of its links to the wider world” (Massey, 1994, p. 195).

The Out the Window collective recognize Los Angeles as a fractal-metropolis. Its articulation of Bull’s alienating cell phone for opening discursive spaces between parties unfamiliar is a direct attack on that metropolitan condition. Better still, its infiltration of Transit TV, the (confoundingly) private television system operating in LA Metro (public!) buses, is pure Situationist détournement, and each bus ride, a conceivable dérive (Wark, 2011). The playful tempo and energy of the videos evoke painter and theorist Asger Jorn’s contribution of artistic materialism to SI practice. Art is not embedded in Marx’s superstructure but within our infrastructure; it is playful, social. Jorn proposes, in contradistinction to Althusserian Marxism, games and “ontology of nature as flux, difference, and cooperation” (p. 53). The Situationists believed ultimately in a low theory, with “critical thought indifferent to the institutional forms of the academy or art world” (p. 3).

Locative Media

“…location aware, networked, mobile devices make possible invisible notes attached to spaces, places, people, and things.”

Ben Russell (as cited in Tuters & Varnelis, 2006)

May ‘68’s posters are today’s locative media. Accordingly, programmatic text-friendly Situationism is widely agreed to be a precursor to the locative media movement (Gibbs, 2004; Tuters, 2004; Tuters & Varnelis, 2006). Certeau (1984) agreed with the Situationists that the best way to come to know your city is to walk its streets. This existential practice reforms: individuals are no longer consumers but producers (Kabisch, 2010). Through locative media, one returns “to the messy multiplicity of the street level” (McCullough, 2006, p. 26), where she is “messaging, searching, meeting, and tagging” (p. 27). The experiences and consequent discourse are not of virtuality, but hybridity (Kabisch, 2010).

Artists are drawn to locative media for reasons manifest. First, it is the latest addition to the public space intervention stable (Gibbs, 2004; Townsend, 2006; Tuters, 2004; Varnelis, 2008). “In practice, psychogeography brings the art installation and its public…from the contained space of the gallery into the body of the city” (Tuters, 2004, p. 1). Second, it is at once unfettered from the worries attending much media art equipment, such as monitors and projectors, and reinforced by the proliferating open source software for “mobile geography, collaborative mapping, and social organization” (Gibbs, 2004, p. 280). Next, locative media is apparently bound to discourses of human subject-centered representation, foregrounding the human experience in space with two types of Situationism-inspired mapping options: annotative (virtual place-tagging) and phenomenological (action tracing) (Tuters & Varnelis, 2006). Finally, locative media can be politically powerful: tagging systems in particular are potent methods for sharing authorship for the re-designation of places and things in the urban realm (Townsend, 2006).

However, if a primary objective of locative media is to illustrate the nuances and textures of culturally constituted space (Townsend, 2006; Tuters, 2004; Tuters & Varnelis, 2008), interaction designer and researcher Eric Kabisch (2010) finds it wanting. “A place – in all its richness – becomes a static marker on a map, a journey becomes a line, and a community becomes a polygon outline…. We must move from modes of…representation and move to those which engage the interaction and performance of the user and the environment” (p. 50). Locative media researcher Marc Tuters and architecture scholar Kazys Varnelis (2006) also write about locative media’s brush with neo-Cartesianism, but dismiss that critique as emblematic of “another nostalgia, one for an autonomous art” (ibid.). They do, however, agree that some locative media artists collaborate with the commercial and state sectors, those most associated with the articulation of hegemonic power, certainly not grassroots social movement (Kabisch, 2010; Tuters & Varnelis, 2006).

Media Literacy

“For want of a better term, media literacy is a form of critical literacy.”

David Buckingham (2003, p. 38)

What is media education? Why is it important? Simply, it is the process of teaching media literacy, the ability to read and write media. Multiliteracy education refers to dealing with the ever-widening range of media and the concomitant requirement to go beyond traditional literacy training (Buckingham, 2003). Advocating scholars regard such education as not just important, but essential (Buckingham, 2000, 2003, 2009; Caron & Caronia, 2007; de Block & Buckingham 2007; Jenkins, 2006; Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton & Robison, 2009). Media and education scholar David Buckingham (2003) contends media is embedded in children’s social relationships, thus multiliteracy is not just about modes of communication but the “inherently social nature of literacy” (p. 38). Attaining media literacy upholds the process of interpretation, criticism, and identity building (Buckingham, 2000, 2003; Caron & Caronia, 2007; de Block & Buckingham 2007; Jenkins, 2006; Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton & Robison, 2009). Per the Share, Jolls, Thoman media literacy framework, students learn to consider the following questions: Who created this message? What creative elements are employed to get our attention? How many might perceive this message differently from me? What lifestyles are reflected in or omitted from this message? And finally, Why is this message being sent? (Jenkins, 2006; Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton & Robison, 2009). These questions foster young people’s attainment of skills, knowledge, moral frameworks, and self-confidence (ibid). Further, critical appraisal of the media fosters “‘identity work’ … laying claim to more prestigious or powerful social identities” (Buckingham, 2003, p. 109). Caron & Caronia (2007) argue teens’ use of communications technology artifacts likewise encourages individuation.

In The Making of Citizens: Young People, News and Politics, David Buckingham (2000) advances children are cynical about the news due to a “growing awareness of their own powerlessness” (p. 203) His suggestion, that this can be ameliorated by departing from the classical, incredibly conservative format of the news model, relates to communications scholars Arvind Singhal and Everett M. Rogers’ (2004) “entertainment-education,” wherein media messaging is conceived to exploit mass media’s appeal “to show individuals how they can live safer, healthier, and happier lives” (p. 9).

Communications and convergence culture scholar Henry Jenkins also advocates for sociopolitical actualization through creativity. I will return to participatory culture in greater detail later, but for now here are the set of new media literacies laid out by him and others in 2009’s John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Report on Digital Media and Learning, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century (Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton and Robison). This list of integral “cultural competencies and social skills” (2009, p. xiii) adds to conventional classroom knowledge: play (which de Block and Buckingham, 2007 also promote), performance, simulation, appropriation, multitasking, distributed cognition (the ability to use tools), collective intelligence, judgment, transmedia navigation, networking, and negotiation.

Border Pedagogy

“It is also about linking learning to social change, education to democracy, and knowledge to acts of intervention in public life. Critical pedagogy encourages students to learn to register dissent, as well as to take risks in creating the conditions for forms of individual and social agency that are conducive to a substantive democracy.”

Henry A. Giroux (2005, p. 216)

Education scholar Liesbeth de Block and David Buckingham (2007) bemoan the tendency to treat children as passive recipients of socialization in their adoptive countries. They are active performers and often, as in the case of economic migrants (those migrating for employment opportunity and improved standard of living – the clear majority of the immigrants in the United States and certainly among the Out the Window teen participants’ families), develop ambiguous power relations with their parents post-migration. They are the “front line” in migrant families’ endeavors to negotiate their new environments (p. 23).

Just as media literacy advocates see their project as component to a larger political objective, so too does cultural critic Henry Giroux (2005) conceive his border pedagogy. Pedagogy matters because it is the province in which issues of authority, social praxis, and political intercession are learned, practiced, and implemented. Border pedagogy requires even more. First, the liberal concept of multiculturalism and consensus needs replacing with a “radical notion of cultural difference and citizenship that recognizes” (p. 24) that discord persists between constituencies. Second and third, that its core values are those of “democratic revolution – freedom, equality, and justice” (p.  24), and that these tenets must be proclaimed within each of the diverse public spheres. Finally, recalling Situationism, Giroux enjoins students to participate in “cultural remapping as a form of resistance” (Giroux, 2005, p. 25).

Liberating Discourse in the Digital Divide

“And we may see the emergence of an educational ‘underclass’ that is effectively excluded from access, not merely to economic capital but to social and cultural capital as well.”

David Buckingham (2003, p. 203)

“The pedagogy of the oppressed, as a humanist and libertarian pedagogy, has two distinct stages. In the first, the oppressed unveil the world of oppression and through the praxis commit themselves to its transformation. In the second stage, in which the reality of the oppression has already been transformed, this pedagogy ceases to belong to the oppressed and becomes a pedagogy of all people in the process of permanent liberation.”

Paolo Freire (1993, p. 36)

How to bridge the digital divide? It exists. Surveying 461 LA Metro riders in 2011, the Out the Window team discovered that while 51.5% of English-speaking riders usually use the Internet, 43.9% of Spanish-speakers never use it. (This relationship exists even when controlling for age.) One cannot conceive of media – whatever the form – without thinking of the sociocultural implications and modalities (Allon, 2004; Appadurai, 1996; Bar, Ghandeharizadeh & Ordonez, 2008; Barnett, 2004; Buckingham, 2000, 20003, 2009; Bull, 2004; Canclini, 2001; Caron & Caronia, 2007; Castells, 1996; Couldry, 2004; Couldry & McCarthy, 2004; de Block & Buckingham, 2007; Freire, 1993; Gibbs, 2004; Ito, 2008; Jenkins, 2006; Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton & Robison, 2009; Kabisch, 2010; Lim & Kann, 2008; McCullough, 2006; Moores, 2004; Morley, 2000; Rogers, 2007, 2010; Russell, Ito, Richmond & Tuters, 2008; Shirky, 2010; Singhal & Rogers, 2004; Tuters, 2004; Tuters & Varnelis, 2006; Varnelis, 2008; Varnelis & Friedberg, 2008).

What’s more, the implications of the digital divide are nuanced. A 2004 research (as cited in Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton and Robison, 2009) demonstrated that young gamers later become gainfully employed adults. A year later, a study conducted in the United Kingdom found the divide yawns not in terms of access but speed, site, quality, and support – the extent to which the Internet is engaging and rich (ibid.). Who and what provide this engaging access? Schools, after-school programs, and parents (ibid.). This is relevant because access amounts to cultural capital, to “cultural forms of expression and communication” (Buckingham, 2003, p. 183). Oscar Gandy (as cited in Couldry, 2004) goes so far as to say that the “real digital divide” (p. 24) is encountered in market and political language, and that information flow and storage have raised critical questions about how to assure trust in markets and politics. And the fact remains that access, humdrum access, costs money. While mobile telephony manages somewhat to traverse the divide, the locative commons command progressively specialized hardware to function – and we continue to pay handsomely to private corporations for access to said commons (Tuters, 2004).

Jenkins (2006) worries that focusing exclusively on access obscures the greater threat, the participation gap. The emphasis should be on a pedagogy that inspires youth to see themselves as creative producer, which bears with it a call for adult education in simultaneity. Jenkins concedes those about whom he waxes poetic in Convergence Culture (2006) are “disproportionately white, male, middle class, and college educated (p. 26). His is an impassioned defense: he is an “active fan” (p. 12) and “critical utopian” (p. 258).

Out the Window has a similar critical utopian spirit. It also hearkens critical pedagogy theorist and philosopher Paolo Freire’s manifesto, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1993). Freire advocates for nothing short of radicalization of its actors. Fed “by a critical spirit” (p. 19), radicalization is invariably creative and, vitally, assures a revolutionary’s steadfastness. Cardinal to Freire’s theory: that the oppressed are not marginalized within society, nor is their ambition with revolutionary leaders to overpower their persecutors, but to liberate them also. The revolutionaries and the oppressed actualize this collective liberation through their “permanent relationship of dialogue” (p. 50), constituted by “the essence of dialogue itself: the word” (p. 68). Together these groups can intervene in reality and achieve global change. For Freire, all true words are praxis and their articulation summons social justice.

In his Theory of Revolutionary Action, Freire upholds intersubjectivity between Subjects-Actors (revolutionary leaders) and Actors-Subjects (the oppressed) in contradistinction to the Theory of Oppressive Action, featuring Actors-Subjects (the dominant elites). This mode manifests in the “co-intentional” (p. 51) learning that revolutionary leaders engage in with the oppressed. “Problem-posing education” embraces an ardent practice of discovering reality, it “strives for the emergence of consciousness and critical intervention in reality” (p. 62). This joint tutelage assumes neither party bears more knowledge than the other – all people must regard themselves as independent, autonomous thinkers. Caron and Caronia (2007) echo this sentiment in their concept of “intentionality,” namely that the deliberate interfacing with an object or phenomenon encourages rebellion against apparent constraints to overcome adversity; “where there is choice, there is responsibility” (p. 53).

The Consumer Citizenry and Participatory Culture

“To consume is to make more sense of a world where all that is solid melts into air.”

Néstor García Canclini (2001, p. 42)

Media and communications scholar Couldry (2004) addresses us from the Old World, anthropologist Canclini (2001) from the Southern Cone, and Jenkins (2006) from the megaUSA. Despite their discrete milieus, they all contend a consumer society can be our society. Couldry (2004) proposes the productive consumer, noting the network has exposed the false legitimacy of the producer-consumer hierarchy. Canclini, for his part, disagrees out of hand that neoliberalism is the only viable avenue into globalization. Likewise, he believes our prevailing conception of credible democratic participation is hobbled from the start. Were we to frame citizenship as a “political strategy” (p. 21), our options would be legion. Instead, we delimit ourselves, treating it as a reason-bound, Habermasian “political matter” (p. 20). Just the act of reconsidering citizenship assumes agency, the right of entry into and belonging in a sociopolitical structure – “the very arrangement in which we desire to be included” (p. 21). His media citizenship obviates the production-consumption binary, instead zeroing in on the institutional contingencies “through which cultural value is produced, reproduced, and contested” (p. 69). In the purchasing and appropriation of goods, we proclaim our cultural citizenship, thus rights as citizens.

“Empowerment,” for Jenkins and his MacArthur team (2009), “comes from making meaningful decisions within a real civic context” (p. 12). “Participatory culture” defined: “culture in which fans and other consumers are invited to actively participate in the creation and circulation of new content” (2006, p. 331). Better still, we have diverse access points; participation can occur at three levels, production, selection, and distribution. No, he acquiesces, popular culture will not exorcise America’s demons, but interacting with it can at least offer some semblance of agency, perhaps help fend off the general sense of disempowerment-fed malaise Buckingham (2000) implicates in young people’s political apathy. Jenkins’ (2006) convergence culture affirms both Couldry’s productive consumer and Canclini’s cultural citizen. Consumers now seek seek their peculiar quarry from among the scattered media. We “will go almost anywhere” (p. 2) for the entertainment we want.

Networked Publics

“Increases in community size, decreases in cost of sharing, and increases in clarity all make knowledge more combinable, and in groups where these characteristics grow, combinability will grow.”

Clay Shirky (2010, p. 142)

The implications are myriad. Another favored term, “networked publics” underscores the imbricated array of cultural, social, and technological advancements constitutive of and constituted by the emergence of the communications revolution (Ito, 2008). However we phrase it, “network publics,” “network culture” (Varnelis, 2008), “network society” (Castells, 1996), the ostensibly infinite digital landscape has ushered an altogether novel human existence. As much (perhaps more) than its relevance to technology or industry, convergence culture embodies “norms, common culture, and the artistry of everday life” (Russell, Ito, Richmond, & Tuters, 2008, p. 72).

Information sharing is a central virtue of the networked culture. While their concerns are of divergent scales – linguist and new literacy advocate James Paul Gee regards the individual while “collective intelligence” media scholar Pierre Lévy, the group – they share an abiding interest in Internet participation as expressive of “living in a world where knowledge is shared and where critical activity is ongoing and lifelong” (Jenkins, 2006, p. 192). Collective intelligence crusader Clay Shirky (2010) explains cognitive surplus emerges from four conditions: means, motive, opportunity (it requires a community, after all), and culture, or the collectively held assumptions about operations.

As a democratic phenomenon, collective intelligence is invariably “disorderly, undisciplined, and unruly” (Jenkins, 2006, p. 53), but however messy, that democratic exchange is as imperative in the Internet as it is anywhere else. While nformation and communication studies expert Lim and political scientist Kann (2008) endorse Jenkins’ stance that amateurs spreading their media and engaging in participatory culture “is an important aspect of democracy” (p. 99), they are slower to call it democratic. Rather, “it is convivial” (ibid). Some select from Habermas’ and Rawls’ respective contributions to deliberative democracy, espousing citizen involvement in discourse. Others choose mobilization, the development of expansive social networks. Others still are “uncivil, anarchic, and even undemocratic” (ibid, p. 80). Media theorist Neil Postman (as cited in Morley, 2000) and political theorist Chantal Mouffe (as cited in Morley, 2000), recalling Giroux (2005), each remind us this negotiation is fundamental to democratic action. Postman’s Internet “community” is as likely a faction not of shared but of variant interests, and the participants in which must juggle each others’ predilections. Mouffe maintains it is precisely the discrepancies among groups that assures democracy. Agonistic pluralism understands that “a healthy democratic process calls for a vibrant clash of political positions and an open conflict of interests” (as cited in Morley, 2000, p. 191).

Lim and Kann (2008) caution us not to read a robust e-clashing so readily as an expression of egalitarianism. Internet initiatives alone will not suffice, but must be done in coordiation with “other media networks, as well as between cyberspace and geographical place” (p. 90). Just as Massey’s (1994) mundane world comprises power-geometries, so too does the virtual one. In whichever realm, then, we must champion “network neutrality” (Bar, Baer, Ghandeharizadeh & Ordonez, 2008), recognizing that “networks can consolidate power in the act of dispersing it” (Varnelis & Friedberg, 2008).

What (Research) Is to Be Done?

“There is no value anymore, if there ever way, in research that assumes the researcher somehow has a radically different and ‘better’ perspective on the problems of everyday life.”

Nick Couldry (2004, p. 25)

Singhal and Rogers (2004) maintain entertainment-education is a propitious tool for social change. They contend it can positively impact audience appreciation and concomitant comportment, as well as establish conditions for advancement at both the local and institutional levels. Of course there are a whole host of factors that determine its effectiveness: audience characteristics, organizational factors, media environment, audience research, program-specific factors, and infrastructural factors. Not a one of them insignificant.

At the pedagogical level, there also remain realities and practical impediments to media research. For one, production is so profoundly a social, collaborative process that we cannot say that students’ visual output is an accurate portrayal of reality (Buckingham 2009). Buckingham (2003) rails against “Romantic notions of ‘creativity’ and ‘self-expression’ (p. 137). Production is not an end in itself but a unit of data for integration “into larger critical analysis education, and rigorous self-evaluation for theoretical insights” (p. 84). Such expeditions into meaning require that educators and researchers engage in starkly reflexive analysis. The asymmetrical power relations between teacher/researcher and student are as abstract as they are ensured (Buckingham, 2000, 2003, 2009; Caron & Caronia, 2007; Couldry, 2004; de Block & Buckingham, 2007).

Conclusion

“Networked digital media are beginning to be taken for granted in everyday life. Although the nature of adoption varies widely by factors such as nation, region, class, and gender, an increasing number of people are domesticating networked media for their ongoing business, for socialization, and for cultural exchange.”

Mizuko Ito (2008, p. 1)

Perhaps not remarkably, scholars in all this paper’s represented disciplines call for interdisciplinary work (Canclini, 2001; Couldry & McCarthy, 2004; de Block & Buckingham, 2007; Giroux, 2005; Varnelis, 2008). This is because the quotidian superimposition of the Network on authentic and virtual spaces is irrefutable. There has developed a mobile sense of space, virtual dimensions have gained in popularity, and mapping and tracking technologies have propagated. These conditions do not reflect normative goods – there are grinding tensions (Varnelis & Friedberg, 2008). They affect all, so all best weigh in.

Still, optimists within the discourse find assurances in Ito’s domesticated media. Returning to the subject of art, Jenkins (2006) charges the Internet’s cultural economy in all its variegated colors helps bridge the digital divide. The Internet acts as a meeting ground for an array of grassroots communities, it is a media archive for “amateur curators” (p. 275), and is spreadable media, thus a vehicle for agency. Buckingham (2003) agrees that the creative industries are not just economic boons to their communities, but convey appreciable psychological benefits, such as self-esteem and discovery of heretofore-unknown talent. The Out the Window team champions this idealism, hoping to share this psychosocial windfall with its student-creators and rider-participants and endeavor to transform Los Angeles from a fractal to a connected, egalitarian, and liberated network.

References

Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization (Vol. 1). Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press.

Augé, M. (1995). Non-places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity: Verso Books.

Bar, F., Baer, W., Ghandeharizadeh, S., and Ordonez, F. (2008). Infrastructure: Network Neutrality and Network Futures. In K. Varnelis (Ed.), Networked Publics (pp. 109-43). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Barnett, C. (2004). Neither Poison Nor Cure: Space, scale and public life in media theory. In N. Couldry & A. McCarthy (Eds.), MediaSpace: place, scale, and culture in a media age. London and New York: Psychology Press.

Buckingham, D. (2000). The making of citizens: Young people, news and politics. London and New York: Routledge.

—-. (2003). Media education: Literacy, learning, and contemporary culture. Cambridge and London: Polity.

—-. (2009). ‘Creative’ visual methods in media research: possibilities, problems and proposals. Media, Culture & Society, 31(4), 633.

Bull, M. (2004). ‘To Each Their Own Bubble’ Mobile spaces in the sound in the city. In N. Couldry & A. McCarthy (Eds.), MediaSpace: place, scale, and culture in a media age. London and New York: Psychology Press.

Canclini, N. G. (2001). Consumers and citizens: Globalization and multicultural conflicts (Vol. 6). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Caron, A. H., & Caronia, L. (2007). Moving cultures: Mobile communication in everyday life. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Castells, M. (1996.) The Rise of the Network Society: The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture Volume I. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Couldry, N. (2004). The Productive ‘Consumer’ and the Dispersed ‘Citizen’. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(1), 21-32.

—- & McCarthy, A. (2004). Introduction: Orientations: mapping MediaSpace. In N. Couldry & A. McCarthy (Eds.), MediaSpace: place, scale, and culture in a media age. London and New York: Psychology Press.

De Block, L., & Buckingham, D. (2007). Global children, global media: Migration, media and childhood. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

De Certeau, M. (1984). The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed (Rev. ed.). New York: Continuum, 1970.

Gibbs, M. (2004). Locative Media. Art Monthly, 40, 280.

Giroux, H. A. (2005). Border crossings: Cultural workers and the politics of education: New York and Oxon: Routledge.

Harvey, D. (1989). Time-space compression and the postmodern condition. Modernity: Critical Concepts. Ed. Malcolm Waters, 4, 98–118.

Ito, M. (2008). Introduction. In K. Varnelis (Ed.), Networked Publics (pp. 1-14). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York and London: New York University Press.

—-, Purushotma, R. Weigel, M., Clinton, K., and Robison, A.J. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Kabisch, E. (2010). Mobile after-media: trajectories and points of departure. Digital Creativity, 21(1), 46-54.

Lim, M. and Kann, M.E. (2008). Politics: Deliberation, Mobilization, and Networked Practices of Agitation. In K. Varnelis (Ed.), Networked Publics (pp. 77-107). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Massey, D. B. (1994). Space, place, and gender. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

McCullough, M. (2006). On the Urbanism of Locative Media [Media and the City]. Places, 18(2).

Moores, S. (2004). The Doubling of Place: Electronic media, time-space arrangements and social relationships. In N. Couldry & A. McCarthy (Eds.), MediaSpace: place, scale, and culture in a media age. London and New York: Psychology Press.

Morley, D. (2000). Home territories: Media, mobility and identity. London and New York: Routledge.

Rogers, K. (2007). LA Freewaves’ Too Much Freedom? Alternative Video and Internet Distribution. Spectator, 1, 56-68.

—-. (2010). We Are Here, We Could Be Everywhere Video on the Loose: Freewaves and 20 Years of Media Arts (pp. 15-43). Los Angeles: Freewaves.

Russell, A., Ito, M., Richmond, T., Tuters, M. (2008). Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Participation. In K. Varnelis (Ed.), Networked Publics (pp. 43-76). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Shirky, C. (2010). Cognitive surplus: Creativity and generosity in a connected age. Minneapolis and London: The University of Minnesota Press.

Singhal, A. and Rogers, E.M. (2004). Entertainment-Education: A Communication Strategy for Social Change. Mahwah and London: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Soja, E. (1989). Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. London and New York: Verso.

Townsend, A. (2006). Locative-media artists in the contested-aware city. Leonardo, 39(4), 345-347.

Tuters, M. (2004). The locative commons: situating location-based media in urban public space. Paper presented at the Futuresonico4.

—- & Varnelis, K. (2006). Beyond locative media: Giving shape to the Internet of things. Leonardo, 39(4), 357-363.

Varnelis, K. (2008). Conclusion: The Meaning of Network Culture. In K. Varnelis (Ed.), Networked Publics (pp. 145-160). Cambridge: MIT Press.

—- & Friedberg, A. (2008). Place: The Networking of Public Space. In K. Varnelis (Ed.), Networked Publics (pp. 15-42). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Wark, M. K. (2011). The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International. London and New York: Verso.

Leave a comment

Filed under Community Development, Cultural Economy, Media Arts, Media Literacy, Minor Field, Out the Window, Public Space, Research Fields, Scholarship

Morley, D. (2000). _Home territories: Media, mobility and identity_. London and New York: Routledge.

David Morley is Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths College, London. At Goldsmiths he co-founded both the Transnational Research Unit and the Pacific Asia Cultural Studies Forum. He is editor of the Comedia book series for Routledge. His research includes micro-practices of media consumption and macro questions, such as the role of media technologies in the creation of our lived “electronic landscapes.”

In this book, Morley wonders at the meanings of being “at home” or “homeless” in the postmodern age, and examines media’s role in assuring connections to one’s “home territory.” Using the German concept of Heimat — which is more social construction than factual account  — as a guide, he notes Heimat calls for at least an ethnic if not fully racial identification. Moreover, it is predicated on a traditional notion of gender relations, and of security. Heimat means, in turns, “birthplace,” “settled,” “identity,” “sense of belonging” (64) — order of a very specific kind.

“Vagabonds” are different from “tourists.” The former locate and relocate in Castells’ (1998) Fourth World, and the latter elite hop from place to place on any and all modes of transit. Harking Lipsizt’s (2007) American “white spatial imaginary” and a darker expression than Lloyd’s (2004) hipster “imperialist nostalgia,” Morley cites Ignatieff’s   (1995) analysis of nationalism — the more closely  you feel connected with your own group, the more hostile your feelings toward outsiders.

Media’s role in all this is deeply nuanced. On one level, communications technologies are “disembedding mechanisms” (149), taking their users from one geography to another virtually. You can escape one reality and flee to another. On another, they often force miscegenation. “In so far as the television is placed within the symbolic centre of the home, it can serve to disturb viewers’ symbolic sense of community by bringing unwanted strangers into their homes” (151). And on another still, it can give viewers a sense of homogeneous solace.

In terms of representation, immigrants are largely invisible. Sassen’s (1991) invisibility is geographical/cultural: “the fact that at night a whole other, mostly immigrant workforce installs itself in these spaces…and inscribes the space with a different culture (manual labor, often music, lunch breaks at midnight) is an invisible event” (as cited on 163). When these immigrant populations are represented in the media, they’re too often relegated to the marginalized, troubled communities trope.

As for access to the Internet, Victor Keegan (1997) reported that 96% of all Internet sites are based in the 27-nation OECD region and in English. “Ironically, for a technology which has been lauded for its capacity to transcend geography, the Internet turns out to have a very real geography which replicates and reinforces existing patterns of social, economic, and cultural division” (187).

Finally, Morley points to a few scholars whose writings are relevant to Out the Window.

  • Joshua Meyrowitz’s (1985) “psychological communities”: Digital communications unlock us from the notion community needs geography. We can instead use “networks of social relationships, whether local or distant, directly experienced or mediated” (178) to construct a sense of “personal community.”
  • Doreen Massey (1995): calls for “a sense of place which is extroverted, which includes a consciousness of its links to the wider world” (as cited on 195).

“This is not to say that the local is irrelevant: uniqueness if constructed (and reconstructed) by combinations of local characteristics with those wider social relations. Place is an articulation of that specific mix in social space-time” (as cited on 195).

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development, Media Literacy, Minor Field, Research Fields

Varnelis, K. and Friedberg, A. (2008). Place: The Networking of Public Space.In _Networked Publics_, K. Varnelis, ed. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Anne Friedberg, PhD, Cinema Studies from NYU, was Chair of the Critical Studies Division in the School of Cinematic Arts at USC and President-elect of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. She was instrumental in creating the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate and the Media Arts and Practice PhD program. In 2009, she was named an Academy Scholar by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Varnelis and Friedberg explain the spatiality of the Net: a quotidian superimposition of authentic and virtual spaces, the formation of a movable sense of place, the rise of popular virtual dimensions, emergence of the network as a socio-spatial model, and expanding mapping and tracking technologies. All of them are not solely technical but “thoroughly imbricated in culture, society, and politics” (15). This isn’t a normative good — there are tensions. “With connection there is also disconnection, and networks can consolidate power in the very act of dispersing it” (15).

“Place, it seems, is far from a source of stability in our lives, bur rather, once again, is in a process of a deep and contested transformation” (39).

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Public Space, Research Fields

Varnelis, K. (2008). Conclusion: The Meaning of Network Culture. In _Networked Publics_, K. Varnelis, ed. Cambridge: MIT Press.

“Network Culture” is a “broadly historical phenomenon” that has shifted society in a “real and radical” way (145). Following Charlie Gere’s (2009) Digital Culture, “the digital is a socioeconomic phenomenon as much as a technology” (146).

“Instead of nostalgia and allegory, network culture delivers remix…” (151).

To wit, some of the most captivating art practice is now done outside the gallery and in Silicon Valley, “like locative media” (152). Varnelis sees another emerging strategy, wherein “art becomes a background to life” (ibid).

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Public Space, Research Fields

Tuters, M. and Varnelis, K. (2006). Beyond locative media: Giving shape to the Internet of things. _Leonardo_, 39(4):357-363.

Kazys Varnelis, PhD, History of Architecture and Urbanism, Cornell University, is the Director of the Network Architecture Lab in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture. With Robert Sumrell, he runs the non-profit architectural collective AUDC.

This essay is a defense of locative media. It’s been criticized for its quick deference to commercial interests and its Cartesian representation. However, even if founded, these critiques bespeak another nostalgia, one for an autonomous art, unfettered from mass communication technologies.

“There’s something peculiar, even comical, in how the movement is, on the one hand ‘the Next Big Thing’ to some, a capitalist apocalypse to others.”

Ben Russell’s 1999 Headmap Manifesto, “the ur-text for locative media,” asserts:

“location aware, networked, mobile devices make possible invisible notes attached to spaces, places, people and things;” “Real space can be marked and demarcated invisibly;” “Geography gets interesting;” laypeople now have “the ability to shape and organize the real world and the real space” (as cited on 1).

Tuters and Varnelis add Situationism is widely agreed to be a precursor to the locative media movement. Indeed, Situationism was largely based on code, “a series of programmatic texts that advocated intervening in the city with only minor modifications.”

As an art practice, locative media appears to be bound to discourses of human subject-centered representation, foregrounding the human experience in space — tracing — and time — annotative.  The former is a phenomenological tracing of an actor’s movements, and the former, a virtual tagging of the world. Both are situationist, but the annotative actions aim to alter the world by adding to it, a la detournement.

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Public Space, Research Fields

Tuters, M. (2004). The locative commons: situating location-based media in urban public space. Paper presented at the Futuresonico4.

“The Locative Media Network seeks to marry the interests of the psychogeographer (whom we may frame as a ‘city hacker,’ after Social Fiction) with those of the online community networking enthusiast” (3).

The influence of Situationist International’s dérive, the psychogeographic walk, is unmistakable in location-based media. It shows us “the connection between the so-called internal (‘psychic’) and external (‘geography’) worlds. In practice, psychogeography brings the art installation and its public (although the distinction often begins to blur here) from the contained space of the gallery into the body of the city” (1).

Tuters explains, we’re living in the middle of a transformation of the notion of the “city.” Mobile technologies are proliferating and connecting virtual communities with reified urban space. Mobile telephony does manage somewhat to bridge the digital divide, but remember these systems are still tied to corporate interests, so a divide will likely persist given that rich technologies will always be costlier. If we do it right and establish public access through telecommunications infrastructure, “the 21st Century will be recognized for making available the digital domains to the public at large in the tradition of furthering our concept and implementation of democracy” (5).

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Public Space, Research Fields

Toomey, A.H. (2009). Empowerment and disempowerment in community development practice: eight roles practitioners play. _Community Development Journal_, 46(2):181-195.

Anne Helen Toomey writes that while we as community development practitioners have learned a great deal since the profession’s start, those communities to be “developed” are those with the greatest to gain or lose. The resident is stuck to deal with the fallout of whatever project’s undertaken.

Again, we see “community development” has many meanings, depending on the agent/agency. Bhattacharyya (2004) proposes the “pursuit of solidarity and agency” (as cited on 182), but Toomey wonders about another popular and equally ambiguous term, “empowerment.” Using Craig’s (2002) definition, “the creation of sustainable structures, processes, and mechanism, over which local communities have an increased degree of control, and from which they have a measurable impact on public and social policies affecting these communities” (as cited on 183), Toomey avers we should think just as much about its opposite, disempowerment.

Think of community development practitioners’ historical/traditional roles:

  • Rescuer: good in the case of the Marshall Plan but states explicitly someone needs rescuing
  • Provider: like Rescuer, but not in times of crisis; this is the most of the international development organizations, and research shows most of the outcomes are simplified/superficial
  • Modernizer: linked to 50s development practices which impoverished small-scale actors (see Scott, 1998)
  • Liberator: Paolo Freire’s (1970) bottom-up education so actors can understand their oppression…good, except potentially polarizing

Alternative roles of the community development agent (interesting to compare against Sherry Arnstein’s [1969] ladder of participation):

  • Catalyst: individual, organization, or even a community that sparks new ideas/actions; they work indirectly and sometimes unwittingly
  • Facilitator: brings people together, especially on behalf of marginalized communities, and in doing so, can challenge current power structures
  • Ally: a friend and supporter who can act in several ways — “solidarity” is key here and relationships can be horizontal
  • Advocate: more politically active than Ally and more concerned with the issue itself

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development, Major Field, Research Fields

Singhal, A. and Rogers, E.M. (1999). _Entertainment-Education: A Communication Strategy for Social Change_. Mahwah and London: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Arvind Singhal, PhD, Communication Theory and Research, USC Annenberg School for Communication, is Professor of Communication and Director of the Social Justice Initiative at The University of Texas at El Paso. His research and outreach spans multiple sectors, including health, health, education, peace, human rights, poverty alleviation, sustainable development, civic participation, democracy and governance, and corporate citizenship.

Everett M. Rogers, PhD in Sociology and Statistics, Iowa State University, was a communication scholar, sociologist, writer, and teacher best known for his “diffusion of innovations” theory and for introducing the term “early adopter.” To commemorate his contributions to the field, the USC Norman Lear Center established the Everett M. Rogers Award for Achievement in Entertainment-Education, which recognizes outstanding practice or research in the field of entertainment education.

“Entertainment-education is the process of purposely designing and implementing a media message both to entertain and educate, in order to increase audience members’ knowledge about an educational issue, create favorable attitudes, and change overt behavior. Entertainment-education seeks to capitalize on the appeal of popular media to show individuals how they can live safer, healthier, and happier lives” (9).

Singhal and Rogers believe entertainment-education can contribute to social change by: (1) positively impacting audience appreciation and comportment, and (2) influencing viewers’ external settings and establish conditions for change at the mesa or macro levels.

However, ensuring all determinant factors are well-aligned/healthy to ensure entertainment-education’s effectiveness is no small feat. The factors are: audience characteristics, organizational factors, media environment (exposure is key), audience research, program-specific factors, and infrastructural factors.

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development, Media Literacy, Minor Field, Research Fields

Shirky, C. (2010). _Cognitive surplus: Creativity and generosity in a connected age_. Minneapolis and London: The University of Minnesota Press.

Clay Shirky, social media theorist, is an adjunct professor in NYU’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program, where he teaches a course called “Social Weather.” He is also the author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.

Shirky’s view of the Internet is wholly positive. He proposes cognitive surplus, explaining it’semerging from the means, motive, opportunity (it’s communal), and culture (meaning the shared assumptions about operations). He, like many others, understands that young people are moving away from the consumption-only model of interactive media and undertaking a kind of “positive deviance,” when an individual’s behavior exceeds that of the norm, even when confronting structural challenges.

“Cognitive surplus” is the raw material of participation and continued connectedness through digital technologies.

“Increases in community size, decreases in cost of sharing, and increases in clarity all make knowledge more combinable, and in groups where these characteristics grow, combinability will grow” (142).

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Literacy, Minor Field, Research Fields

Scott, A. (2004). Cultural-Products Industries and Urban Economic Development: Prospects for Growth and Market Contestation in Global Context. _Urban Affairs Review_, 39(4): 461 -490.

In this article, Scott aims to address the real feasibility of placing cultural-products industries at the center of economic development policies, as has been increasingly common practice since the first generation of “place marketing and associated heritage-industry programs” (464) of the 1980s.

Today, says Scott, cultural economy industries are bound together by these three common features. They are:

  1. focused on aesthetic and semiotic content creation
  2. the more disposable income, the more industries’ products are consumed
  3. their presence encourages local agglomeration for production, which is then circulated into global markets.

About the functional points of industries: First, they’re “composed of swarms of small producers complemented by many fewer numbers of large establishments” (467). Second, the small producers tend toward flexible specialization and the large firms toward mass production, sometimes turning into “systems houses” (467), hubs of larger production networks. They conform to a contractual/transactional model with a heavy reliance on part-time/freelance labor, the instability of which leads to “intensive social networking activities” (467).

Cultural products industries operate best when their component parts cluster geographically. Globalization has in fact accentuated “agglomeration because it leads to rising exports combined with expansion of localized production” (472). Production may move elsewhere, creating “alternative clusters or satellite production locations” (473), such as Vancouver filming locations.

Partnerships between cities, facilitated by communications, also exist. Using the audiovisual industry as an exemplar, Scott hypothesizes “a much more polycentric and polyphonic global audiovisual production system in the future that has been the case in the recent past” (475), one that will get increasingly “enmeshed in [widening and decentralizing] global networks of commercial and creative interactions” (475).

Regarding developmental initiatives for the cultural economy, in cities where the cultural-products industries exist, the best policy comprises interventions “at critical junctures in the production system and the urban milieu to release synergies” (479). In cities without preexisting cultural production, there is often a revamping effort using “the relics of the industrial past” (479). Such initiatives, however, can unleash gentrification. In all cases, policy makers must know they have to reach out to the wider world’s consumer base.

“A vibrant cultural politics attuned to these issues will no doubt attempt to intensify the push to diversity while seeking to mobilize opinion in favor of a global cultural economy that promotes intelligence and sensibility rather than their opposites” (484).

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Cultural Economy, Minor Field, Research Fields

Scott, A. (1997). The cultural economy of cities. _International journal of urban and regional research_, 21(2): 323–339.

Allen J. Scott, PhD Geography from Northwestern University, is Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Geography at UCLA. He has spent the last several years focusing on industrialization organization and location, urbanization, the cultural economy of cities, and economic development.

In this paper he explores “the intertwined effects of capitalist production processes and the ever-increasing cultural content of outputs, and the ways in which these effects make themselves felt in the growth and development of particular place” (325). Moreover, he asserts that these effects will be complex and far ranging, exhibiting both Adorno’s (2001) bleak assessment of the flattening culture industry and a more optimistic one.

Scott opens, explaining place and culture are inextricably liked and not without tensions: place is “always a locus of dense human relationships” (324) and culture is incident to “place specific characteristics” (ibid) that distinguishes localities from one another. The postfordist cultural product economy affirms the supply side’s differentiation marketing strategy and the demand side’s fad-driven consumption. The net effect: flexible, specialized production by small firms enabled by technological breakthroughs and networked organization.

The most important upshot for this “productive-cum-competitive regime” (327) discussion: “large metropolitan areas…[are] rapidly becoming the master hubs of cultural production in a postfordist global economic order” (327).

There are three main points of the cultural economy:

  1. it comprises a wide variety of manufacturing and service activities
  2. its employment signifies its sheer size, which seems to be growing
  3. much of the cultural economy is located in major city centers.

Scott then explains the cultural-products industries can be summed up in the following five technological-organizational dimensions:

  1. the technologies and labor processes involve larger amounts of human handiwork and computer technologies
  2. production is generally arranged in small- and medium-sized, dense networks
  3. multifaceted industrial complexes arise from the smaller networks, which in turn require labor pools, thus reducing the risks for both workers and employers
  4. the complexes of cultural products industries are “invariably replete with external economies” (333), which leads to “the hypothesis that innovation…is likely to be a geometric function of the size and the relevant reference group
  5. agglomeration encourages new institutional infrastructures which can assist the local economy.

Finally, while cultural economies are densely agglomerated in their home cities, they are likewise global actors, “embedded in far-flung global networks of transactions” (334). Their success is thus dependent on local penetration and foreign, cultural access. Multinational corporations are no an essential ingredient in cultural production circulation.

“[G]eographically differentiated cultural production nodes are liable to be the rule rather than the exception” (335).

Leave a comment

Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Cultural Economy, Minor Field, Research Fields