Media, Information and Technoculture 2100F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Sergey Brin, Web 2.0, Planned Obsolescence

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MIT 2100G: Political Economy of Media
Week 7 Readings
Feb 23
From Mass Consumption to Mass Cultural Production
Explosion of user-created media content
Made possible by free web platforms and inexpensive software tools
People are able to share media and easily access media produced by others
We have moved from media to social media
2000s, saw a shift in Internet users accessing content produced by other non-professional users
2000s, the web became a communication media
Communication took place through a variety of forms
oEmail, posts, comments, reviews, ratings, votes, links, etc.
People increasingly get their news from social media sites
Mobile phones act as an important platform for media production and consumption
The Practice of Everyday Media Life: Tactics as Strategies
User-generated content is celebrated by a number of different players
Replacement of mass consumption of commercial culture with mass production of cultural objects
Tactics – ways in which individuals negotiate strategies that were set out for them
oEx. A city’s layout, signage, driving and parking rules and maps are strategies created by gov’t and
oThe ways an individual moves through the city are tactics
oAn individual can’t reorganize the city, but can adapt itself to their needs by choosing how to move
through it
Most objects which people interact with in everyday life are mass-produced goods
Customization is important to many consumers today
Consumer and culture industries have turned every sub-culture into products
Details of everyday life have become public through the creation and uploading of media onto numerous
Social media platforms give users nearly unlimited abilities to organize, promote, and broadcast thoughts and
Social media companies today focus on flexibility and adaptability
Social media platforms profit from having as many users as possible – have a direct interest in having users
interact with the platforms
oGive users unlimited storage space to store media
oAbility to customize their online presence
Conversations through Media
New kinds of communication where content, opinion, and conversation cannot be separated clearly
oEx. Blog posts – entries are comments about an item posted by another source
Other content/news/media can be used to initiate or maintain a conversation
The exchange of tokens is more important than what the token actually is
There also exists conversation around a piece of media
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oEx. Comments added to a YouTube video which respond to both the video itself as well as other
comments by other users
oPeople can respond to each other regardless of where they are and what time it is
Is Art After Web 2.0 still possible?
Has social media made art irrelevant?
Contemporary art became a form of mass culture
For social media, the number of people uploading and viewing media led to increased amounts of innovation
TAYLOR, CHAPTER 6 – Drawing a Line
Production is a precondition of access to cultural commons
Article must be written before it can be read
Society is reluctant to recognize this fact
Dominant economic theories emphasize the value of exchange of ideas
We focus on the way things circulate rather than how they are created
Jefferson was heavily opposed to the privatization of knowledge
People refuse to acknowledge the systems on which digital technology depends on
oLithium and coltan mines
oEnergy-guzzling data centers and server farms
oSuicidal workers at Foxconn factories
oWomen and children in developing countries up to their necks in toxic electronic waste
Demand for precious metals used in devices has:
oCaused an increase in political instability
oLed to unsafe/unhealthy/inhumane working conditions
oOpened up markets for child and forced labour
oEncouraged environmentally destructive extraction techniques
Environmental costs of the production and distribution of our devices is enormous
Digital culture may suck up 30% of residential electricity supplied globally by 2022
More than 3 million data centres worldwide
In US, data centers account for approx. 2% of energy consumption
oEach center consumes enough energy as a small town
Demand for electricity to power and cool these centers doubled from 2000-2005, and increased 56% from 2005-
Talks of a potential energy crisis
Many data centers appear on the Toxic Air Contaminant Inventory
Most high-tech production has been outsourced in the pursuit of lower wages and less stringent labour and
environmental standards
We are continually assured that the digital revolution will improve our lives, making our world more inclusive,
egalitarian, and greener
oEx. The promise of electronic publishing
oOne e-reader consumes the resources equal to approx. 40-50 books
oAverage e-reader is used for less than two years, then is disposed of and replaced
oIf every American abandoned paper for digital, the environmental impact of reading would go up
Products “designed for the dump” ensure a steady revenue stream for a number of companies
Companies such as Apple seek to shorten the replacement cycle of their devices, making it easier and more
affordable to buy a new gadget than fix an existing one
Apple products are designed to expire
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