Week 2: Turner and Shirky

In Counterculture to Cyberculture, Turner discusses the evolution of computers and technology from the 1940’s-1980’s. He describes how the technology has changed from primarily Governmental/military use during World War 2 to the beginning of individual use in 1984 when Apple computers first advertises their Macintosh.

Along with the changes and advances in technology, Turner also discusses the individuals who played vital roles during the counterculture movement and decades that followed. One important figure at the very beginning was Stewart Brand. Brand was involved in New Communalism, a counterculture social movement, which was “devoted to the ongoing pursuit of increased man-computer integration” and focused on the collaboration and sharing of ideas and information (Turner, p. 104).

The counterculture movement and involvement with computer technology wanted to get away from mainstream culture and create an environment were ideas and information were free and flowing. However, the movement eventually collapsed. It is interesting to observe, that this lead to the development and evolution of the Internet we know today, which is ironically, a huge part of mainstream culture.

Even though the New Communalism movement collapsed, their aspirations for collaboration and sharing of ideas can be seen throughout many online media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.

In the book, Here Comes Everybody, Shirky explains how platforms such as Facebook have allowed people to come together and speak out. He states, “Consumers now talk back to businesses and speak out to the general public, and they can do so en masse and in coordinated ways” (Shirky, p. 179).

While it is clear that sites such as Facebook and Twitter have the ability to connect people and facilitates an environment for collaboration and the dispersal of information, do the masses actually use it for that purpose? Originally Facebook was for staying connected to friends and family, has it shifted into a more political interface? If so, does political/activism involvement online transpire into actions?

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9 Responses to Week 2: Turner and Shirky

  1. I think that while Facebook and Twitter are often used for political activism and commercial awareness – as a way for companies to advertise their products to mass consumers – the basis of these platforms is indeed to share and spread information. The Internet has turned into a way for people all over the world to keep in touch, share information, interests, views, etc. in a way that was impossible before this type of technology was invented. So while political leaders and corporations do utilize this platform as a means to get their message across, it is because of this original mode of communication that their efforts are so effective. Furthermore, this platform is also the reason why the Internet is so widespread and popular around the world – everyone just wants to be heard.

  2. margauxsax says:

    The masses do use social media for ‘the dispersal of information’ but it isn’t always for political purposes. Understandably, many users talk about themselves–their schedule, social events they’re looking forward to, and taking pictures of what they ate for lunch. However, many users like to keep friends and family updated about their daily lives and political opinions factor into the equation. Users post their political views and links to articles about elections/social issues. Posting and commenting on these articles won’t lead everyone to take the information they (didn’t) read and act outside of the web but it will reach others. Online campaigns pickup steam as more users see their friends talking/posting about it on social media sites. Politicians, social and political organizations are on these sites as well where they receive instant feedback to stories. This dispersal of information online can influence political/social activism.

  3. jessliu91 says:

    Today, I believe that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets are still generally used for collaborating, staying connected with friends/family, and passing on information to friends of followers. Today, many of the Facebook posts and Tweets that we read generally have something to do with the user’s personal life or interests, ranging from what they are currently doing to their opinions regarding politics. In fact, more broadly speaking, the Internet itself still continues to be a powerful tool to disperse and receive information. With that in mind, social media outlets have in fact become a viable resource for political campaigns. Political candidates social media pages have thousands of fans or followers and they use this medium to pass along information to the public. And even without these pages, users of Facebook/Twitter will post their opinions or articles about politics regardless whether or not a candidate is using the site. However, despite the uptick in using there sits for political activism, the purpose of Facebook still continues to be an outlet to stay connected and receive information. Because of this, I don’t think that social media sites encourage much physical action, like getting to the polls and voting; rather, it’s more of a medium to pass information about candidates that hopefully, they will then pass along to their friend who plans on voting.

  4. Lauren Myefski says:

    I believe that Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets are still mainly used as a way to connect with family and friends, as well outlets for spreading ideas and information. While the Internet may have become a central part of mainstream culture, this does not mean there isn’t a place for those who wish to stray away from the majority. In fact, because of its popularity, the Internet is now a place where anyone can come together and bond over their commonalities. Many users focus mainly on mundane daily activities – what they ate for lunch, a hysterical comment from a friend, how much they love their favorite football team. Yet there are also a good amount of people who take of advantage of social media as a way to find people who agree with their beliefs and ideals. The issues that people bond over can range from cheeseburgers to music to politics and back – whatever may be of concern to them at the moment. In this sense, social media certainly has the ability to become more of a political interface, but it is quite exclusively used for those purposes. That being said, there are definitely people who solely use Facebook and Twitter for political purposes – thus giving words a chance to transpire into actions.

  5. Lauren Rouff says:

    It is so interesting that even though Facebook is so young, there is so much room for discussion and questions revolving around it. I personally think that people still use Facebook for the collaboration and dispersal of information, as you worded it. However, it is clear that the website is designed to be geared toward whatever individual users want and need. That being said, while I am sure there are some who use Facebook for politics and activism, I do not think the whole interface has shifted. People use the site for different things. It is great, though, that there is room for everything from political activism to connecting with family and friends. In my opinion, all uses are beneficial. It will be interesting to see in years to come what more will be added to the possibilities.

  6. nvelaga says:

    I believe that today’s new media, like Facebook and Twitter, are still new and still have the purpose of connecting family and friends primarily. But after the 2008 election with the influence Facebook had on it, new media is definitely becoming a political interface and a new way to bring about awareness to news, products, and personal relationships. I would say that political activism takes place when information is shared with a blink of an eye on Facebook. People are not afraid to speak what they want because in cyberspace people don’t feel as threatened.I feel analysis of new media and its effects still need to be tested over the next few decades to see what the true effects are since this media is so new.

  7. stemulka says:

    Well I agree that Facebook has shifted into a more political interface, I think it would incorrect to state that this has caused a shift away from the connection Facebook allows us to share with family and friends. Both political views and interpersonal connections are extremely important to people. Many base their identity upon such connections. Therefore Facebook divergence into a more political interface makes sense; particularly the discontent with politics within the general people grows. Facebook is an easy and effective way to voice your concern and connect with those who feel the same as you (i.e. groups). But at the same time, Facebook permits its users to upload pictures of their children to share with their family and friends, tag themselves in a location so all your family and friends know where they are and what they are doing. To put it simply Facebook is personal expression, and although mainstream, I believe that the “Hippies” would have appreciated the site. The site is free, open to anyone (over the age of 13) and for the most part allows anything to be written. It has inspired a lot of political change within America as well. Obama is referred to the “Facebook President” as he was able to effectively market to a younger voter demographic because thru the site. Protests are organized as events and groups which are able to attract more people than ever before. But it is still a deeply personal space for people, it just become more multiple faceted.

  8. I believe social media is large part of campaigns in the new media environments that they exist within. Social media allows politicians and their staffers to connect directly to the electorate. Fundraising has been drastically affected by the use of social media in campaigns. The Obama Campaign, in both 2008 and currently, uses Twitter as mechanism for directly incentivize voters to donate to the campaign. Using social media in this way contributed to Obama’s success of getting many donators to contribute smaller amounts of money.

  9. arpeters says:

    I think that while the main use of Facebook is still to stay connected to friends and family, Twitter has really become the platform for the dispersal of information. That’s not to say I don’t follow my friends on Twitter, but my main use of Twitter is to follow the news and stay connected to the world around me, and I believe that the design of Twitter makes this much easier than Facebook. On Twitter, one can easily follow various news sources and media characters essentially making it the simplest way to see and follow breaking news and important stories. For our generation today, I think Twitter is and will continue to be a vital asset in the dispersal of information.

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