Let the Questions Roll…

There needs to be more scholarship and research on new media.  How fast can we keep up with the new media, though?  Once research is done does it not become nullified by the new developments and new usage of media?  But can we just rely on intuition and anecdotal evidence.

Additionally, I wonder how much hindsight we need to be able to understand new media and social movements.  In 1982 MIT created Film and Media Studies.  In 2000 and 2003 MIT formed CMS as a field of study.  Is a decade a decent amount of time for formulating studies and conclusions?     I suppose my big question is just how do we keep up and do studies instead of just using what these articles use, anecdotal evidence and intuition.

I have many interests, which, unfortunately, has made choosing a major quite difficult for me.   However, for the moment, I have settled on Political Science.  In January my friend asked me if I wish to go in to public office.  It almost made my stomach turn over!  Nope, I do not want to go in to public office!  My main reservation is that I have always felt that politics is not really about politics.  Instead it is about how people are portrayed and it is all a game.  Castells piece points to this, “the workings of the political system are staged for the media so as to obtain the support…of citizens who become the consumers in the political market”  (240).  Castells is lessening my hostility towards media politics because he explains that power really is dependent on communication because that is where there is a “battle over the minds of the people” (238).

In the last election, Obama was applauded for his use of new media to reach out to voters.  I am anxious to see how he fares in the upcoming election.  Will the same tactics work this time around?  Or have people moved on to different media outlets?  Are people going to be as impressed with his media outreach?

Castells devotes much of his article to scandal politics.  He talks about google bombs, embarrassing video clips and spoofs.  As a media consumer and YouTube visitor, I have witnessed the power of spread of these things.  I am far more inclined to watch YouTube spoofs than a full political debate.  Uh-oh – this is an example of media users staying in a homogeneous environment.  I often watch the Colbert Report and find that I can gain perspective on issues (plus a few laughs).  However, I am often concerned that I default to this type of learning and then I am hearing comedic, biased reports.  Are there not more than jokes, games and scandal?  Can’t there be more than scandal in new media?  Or perhaps Castell just chose to focus on that.

I have always been a proponent of Internet freedom.  However, Garrett’s piece begs the question of where the line is on what is aggressive disruption in new media?  An attack on flight control systems or a national power grid can be constituted as terrorism but it isn’t always so clear.  Castell sites European Union legislation, developments in China and owning network infrastructure as new ways of policing.  If our communities are partially transitioning to new media realms, do we allow for chaos and lawlessness?  Where there are people, there is power, counter-power and possibility for ‘escalation in to violence’.  But the great thing is that there are no less boundaries and control!

Castells and Garrett seemed to focus on the gifts of new media with a mention of the concerns and risks.  Thank goodness the third piece explained more of the concerns about media.  Along with many of the concerns including frame clouding, polarization, regime control and false sense of external support, I also have to wonder about over-saturation.  If people are constantly barraged with information, can they simply ‘shut-down’?  This is where social movement organization and strategy comes in to play.  If images or information about a certain movement are constantly appearing will I get the sense that there are enough other people supporting and getting involved that I will turn away?  What about the idea that new media can give people a false sense of support towards a movement?  There was mention that with action online, people feel more obligated to get involved.   However, I remember seeing a lot on Facebook (statuses, photos and links to stories) about Breast Cancer Awareness.  I am skeptical that everyone who changed their status in support of Breast Cancer Awareness actually donates to the cause and is involved year-round.  They are definitely raising awareness.  Is that enough?  Does this speak poorly to the organization of the movement or to how new media facilitates involvement?

I have let so many questions roll…out of curiosity and out of lack of understanding.  I am anxious to learn more about media politics, policing, effectiveness and organization.


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