Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Assignment posting on "Alternative" Online Media

Till today I did not now that the postings on the blog will be coded as 'discovery postings', 'substantive postings' and 'assignment postings' as part of the grading mechanism at the course New Media and Society. I have purposely left some of the latter out to save the comments, questions, critique for our weekly web-conferences - I am certain that some of the classmates did similarly. I have probably misunderstood the initial guidelines, therefore, I post some of the comments I planned to make last week and I intend to make tonight. It seems that in the core of this misunderstanding is a question of public and private.
Salter, L. (2006). Democracy & Online News: Indymedia and the limits of participatory media.
»We can consider media technologies and the uses of them through such a framework – they are democratic to the degree to which people can participate in the production process on their own terms.« (p. 1) This sentence is ideological and it is acctually expression of what Pickard identifies as radical democracy. What does it mean »on their own terms«?

The question I would like to rise in connection to Salter's article is: To what extent is the reproduction of the dichotomies between mainstream media and alternative media, mainstream news and alternative news legitimate and appropriate in academia? Aren’t these dichotomies simple ideological generalizations?

Pickard, V. W. (2006). Assessing the Radical Democracy of Indymedia: Discursive, Technical, and Institutional Constructions.
I have really enjoyed this article especially the part on the three tyrannies: the tyranny of structurelessness, the tyranny of ideology, the tyranny of the editor. This article is a great insight in the practice of IMCs and it delivers what it promises in the introduction: the illustration of how radical democratic principles are manifested across Indymedia practices, their advantages, lacks and paradoxes.

Herring, S. et al (2005). Conversations in the Blogosphere: An Analysis “From the Bottom Up”.
It is a strong article through the prism of research interest and conclusions as well. Mezhodology could be questionable in regard to research interest (communication between bloggers), because they started sampling with A-list blogs and then went on. It demystifies understandings of blogging as a democratizing force in public communication. This is reflected in the last sentence of the Discussion: “blog conversation appear to be a perceptually salient phenomenon.”

1 comment:

Lee said...

Thanks for your comments on my article.

1, you are right, my sentence is "ideological". The point is, so are the definitions of democracy used by everyone. Sometimes this is realised and made obvious, as with my article, and at other times (as by, for instance, BBC journalists or Western politicians) a particular democratic ideology - representative liberal democracy - is made natural and its ideological connotations are hidden. Perhaps I should have been more explicit about this, because I guess that as my background is in political theory, I took this knowledge for granted.

2, "on their own terms" means that they produce according to their own needs or those of their communities rather than according to the need to make a profit or assemble a national audience.

3, the dichotomy between alternative/radical and mainstream is (are) not "simple ideological generalizations", though it is becoming less salient these days. When considered holistically - in respect of full and free relations of production, and when contrasted with bureaucratically structured profit-making media organisations that interface with the state and economy the dichotomy can by useful. However, if we think about innovations such as YouTube, the distinction breaks down.

Lee Salter