by Tim Stock
Culture networks historically have spun narrative for how we live. Think about it. After WWII, an emerging American middle class decided to expand its options for commerce and camaraderie, so they built highways and a networked culture of early suburbanites was born.
But when we talk about networks today, we see only the technology system that supports the network, not the human structure. It’s the structure and process behind the human connections that’s critical.
The structure empowered by technology allows likeminds to connect, thrive and make global impact -- no matter how micro. Not too long ago, rave culture leveraged digital networks and pioneered podcast. And, more recently, the Tea Party leveraged digital networks to make its stand. Without technology, we might have dismissed the movement as laggard.
To understand where we go next means we need to evolve our perspective on how we look at the systems and unlock the human codes that drive them. If we do not, culture will leverage system decline before we know what’s happening, much like graffiti leveraged the decline of cities and skate culture leveraged the decline of suburbia.
by Tim Sheridan, Jeffrey Schnapp and Dana Vachon
Media theorist Marshall McLuhan famously envisioned a cultural “global village,” a collective identity shaped by the media we share. To a remarkable extent he foresaw how social media would change the game of culture, putting the power of creation in more hands than ever before, and this change in itself would be the new culture. Now that that future has arrived, have the inherent limitations and transitory nature of YouTube videos and Facebook postings made the new aesthetic canvas so small that no great work could emerge – like a (Rebecca) Black hole collapsing in on itself? While McLuhan insisted that the value of the content itself wasn’t as important as the channel that served it, in a quick-hit landscape where the memes of “Charlie Bit My Finger” and “Friday” are major touchstones, it’s fair to ask whether the changes in media have raised mediocrity and banality to an art form. So is the new social culture a vital democracy or decomposing exquisite corpse?
9th–13th March 2012