Week 2

Counterculture has, ironically, played a key role in the development and history of prominent aspects of mainstream culture—the Internet and computing.  Although some may refuse to believe that the Internet and early computing were developed in the midst of and influenced by the ideals of counterculture, Fred Turner makes a compelling argument for this notion.  He discusses how counterculture movements like the New Communalist movement and people like Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth Catalog helped shape computers into a personal technology that allowed communities to come together and individuals to empower themselves.

I believe the counterculture had an influence on computing the sense that it made the computer more personal, allowing for individual empowerment, but I have a hard time believing that the computer would not have developed in that way on its own.  Perhaps the counterculture merely steered it in that direction sooner.

Clay Shirky expands on the possibilities of the Internet and discusses how its social reach continues to grow.  In theory, this wide social reach would be ideal for a counterculture movement, or any movement for that matter, because through aspects like social networking sites, the Internet community allows people to express themselves, share information, and ultimately be heard.

While the Internet community, and more specifically, social networking sites are democratizing in the sense that they give everyone a voice, important questions must be asked. If everyone has a voice, who is heard?  And furthermore, what makes some heard more than others?

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2 Responses to Week 2

  1. tommyotoole says:

    I think that your questions pose a great conundrum to those studying to social implications of internet use. In a sense, everyone does have an opinion, but it seems like these voices are typically being heard by other similar individuals. In Comm 361, we learned about the concept of Monadic Clusters that are formed through the high personalization of media intake. As individuals venture out on the internet to express their opinions and interests, they decipher what is meaningful to them. Through this personal filtering process on the internet, individuals may only surround themselves with other like-minded internet users. So, to answer your question, I would argue that everyone can be heard, but individuals in the dominant ideological groups will probably be able to express their opinions more widely and to a larger audience.

  2. kcarney91 says:

    I would have to agree that everyone does have a voice, but those with a larger platform have more reach than those who are lesser known or popular. For example, celebrities or famous politicians are much more likely to be successful when using the Internet as a means of sharing their opinions compared to individuals who only have 100 Twitter followers or Facebook friends. However, if social networking sites are used effectively by lesser known individuals they truly can share their voice with millions of individuals, but only with the help of those who are in major positions of power. While social networking may have been developed in order for everyone to have a voice in the Internet community, it is through what means an individual does so as well as how persistent they are in sharing their opinions as to whether it will effectively reach the public at large.

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