Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Blogphilosophy: #socialmedia #participation is reproducing powers that be

We live in a participative world. Social media allows everyone with an internet connection (and who is not behind censored internet walls) to like or dislike any topic or content open to voting. We all have opinions that can be heard. But having an opinion does not necessarily add to a more humane world. In fact, opinions are most of time simple reproductions of what already rules governing ideology: war and inequality.

When social media got on to societies stage I was thrilled. The educational opportunities seemed limitless… Yes, I am a tech utopian. I belief – every time – that this or that new technology will save us and give birth to a world where all creatures great and small will live in harmony. Where people will know peace and love their neighbor’s no matter how distant or different they are. How can we not love ourselves in all our different appearances?

After the first feeling of utopia, once again reality kicks in. As social media followers are growing in numbers, the ruling norm is becoming more visual in the content shared within these now established media. It seems that establishment is such a true power concept. Once any technology, however promising and liberating at first, is taken up by the masses, it becomes part of the establishment. Participation will only result in a reproduction – although slightly different at best – of existing powerhouses. So why do I belief in participation?

The voiceless human beings that roam our global village once again stay silent. Numbed by their own context, lack of expertise, circumstances thrust upon them, life’s unfortunate circumstances... What can I do about it?

In an attempt to give a bit more voice to those that are scarcely represented in the digital world, I have decided to pick up m4D or ICT4D (mobile for development/ICT for development) as one of the topics of MobiMOOC. Although it is not in the top 6 of topics. But I take that liberty, as I hope that it might close the existing digital gap just a bit. Call it a utopian action. I am strengthened in that choice by Michael Sean Gallagher who is a utopian believer as well (not sure if he would agree). He is on a mission and as such I am truly thankful that he wants to facilitate that topic in the upcoming MobiMOOC. In fact he is gathering people from different regions to share their expertise on the subject. He seeks to give voices to those who are unheard, and looks to alleviate dire straits for those living in less fortunate areas. I am sure all (future) participants can relate to that as we are all in this together, learning to improve our lives as well as those of others no matter where our target audiences live.

Picture of the digital divide is from a wonderful blogpost by Todd Q. Adams.