11.5.07

Participatory Culture Shift - "coming to come seen"

This week I have somehow managed to read several different pieces about a new form of public participatory culture happening across the globe. The idea is basically that everyday people, like you reading this, and me typing while at work, are coming together without leadership or hidden agendas to share information, ideas, dreams and even practical information. This has been quite evident as a movement with the internet and things like blogging and Wikipedia. But it is not limited to cyberspace. One of the articles I read was in Ode Magazine and it talked about the G8 summit protests, which brought together thousands of people who were there to represent a myriad of ideologies, from environmental issues to religion, human rights and business.

There has always been a sort of strange relationship to the idea of "the man” controlling society. Some people refer to the man with a sense of dread; while others laugh at the thought that there is some hidden power out there controlling everything, or at least watching. Whether or not the “man” exists or not may soon become irrelevant because technology and communications are allowing normal people to share ideas and create community like never before.

Take this blog her for example. I started writing on Ku Yah! about a year ago. My intention was to practice my writing and have a way to get it out of my head and notebooks. What it’s really done is caused me to write. You see I’ve come realize that, having the desire to write and actually writing are two different things. In the span of a year I have certainly grown in my own sensibilities as a writer, I have come closer to understanding where my skills and strengths are and perhaps even where I may want to move with my writing in the future. But those are consequences which I set out to achieve.

What I hadn’t expected was to be absorbed into an international community with other bloggers. We link each other, read each others ideas, follow each others links to far flung cyberspace reaches and learn about new ideas. And blogging is only scratching the surface. Participatory projects like , Flickr, Wikipedia and WiserEarth are changing the way information is valued. If you ever had the Encyclopedia Britannica sales guy come to your house and make his pitch to your parents, using you as an excuse for the exorbitant amount of dough they had to lay out for this printed knowledge, then you have seen what kind of pressure this can have on a person.

What is exciting now is that knowledge which is free to the end user, and was created for free, will tend to have less of an agenda than knowledge created for profit. Maybe we will see history books 30 years from now being written based on blog archives and not by historians working for massive publishers with huge lobbying power. And maybe then history will be a bit more objective and inclusive of all people.

So as I close down the workday I feel excited about the possibilities. I feel that the future is not all Global Warming and wars. Of course the key is participation, and participation is the corner stone of democracy, and George Bush is not democracy. So I plan to get out there and conitinue reading, linking, writing, and more importantly –doing.

4 comments:

nmm said...

Write on!

Gazelle said...

Although his election margin in 2000 was questionable, A LOT of Americans did vote for Dubya. Then in 2004, his margin was a solid one. That is participation. To me, Bush is very obviously an idiot and merely a figurehead for far more intelligent and greedy individuals. The only logical conclusion I can make from all this is that a lot of IDIOTS voted for him, inferring that there a lot of idiots among us. Unfortunately, idiots can still be part of a democracy, albeit not a very true and good one.

All that said, I agree that dialogue and organizing and educating through technology are all positives. The bad news is that the evil doers use the same technology...

ras said...

Gazelle - did GW really win that first election? Did his party not scare the hell out of the voting Mexicans and Blacks on the second election?

Perhaps you're right. But I feel that there be more there than a nation of mostly idiots.

Gazelle said...

Maybe he didn't really win that first election. I have my doubts. I'm just acknowledging his millions of blind supporters (people who are not helped by his policies and yet "trust" him or find him a "strong" leader). These are non-critical thinkers I'm talking about - and outside of my little progressive bubble in Portland they are everywhere.
As I understand it a lot of hispanic voters are drawn to his faith and social conservativism as well. And if scare tactics were used there are no rules against that in our democracy.

I think GW is simply a product of a system that needs serious cleaning up - elimination of the electoral college, radical campaign finance reform, strict rules governing lobbying tactics, serious 3rd party participation, etc. etc.

Anyway, I hope I'm wrong about the idiot factor but it bears discussing - you gotta understand the enemy to defeat him (or in the case of Condi, her).