Saturday, June 20, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
For anyone following the events in Iran, Clay Shirky has a thing or two to say about it in an interview with TED. Here is the full Q&A, source is posted at the bottom of the page.
What do you make of what's going on in Iran right now.
I'm always a little reticent to draw lessons from things still unfolding, but it seems pretty clear that ... this is it. The big one. This is the first revolution that has been catapulted onto a global stage and transformed by social media. I've been thinking a lot about the Chicago demonstrations of 1968 where they chanted "the whole world is watching." Really, that wasn't true then. But this time it's true ... and people throughout the world are not only listening but responding. They're engaging with individual participants, they're passing on their messages to their friends, and they're even providing detailed instructions to enable web proxies allowing Internet access that the authorities can't immediately censor. That kind of participation is reallly extraordinary.
Which services have caused the greatest impact? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?
It's Twitter. One thing that Evan (Williams) and Biz (Stone) did absolutely right is that they made Twitter so simple and so open that it's easier to integrate and harder to control than any other tool. At the time, I'm sure it wasn't conceived as anything other than a smart engineering choice. But it's had global consequences. Twitter is shareable and open and participatory in a way that Facebook's model prevents. So far, despite a massive effort, the authorities have found no way to shut it down, and now there are literally thousands of people aorund the world who've made it their business to help keep it open.
Do you get a sense that it's almost as if the world is figuring out live how to use Twitter in these circumstances? Some dissidents were using named accounts for a while, and there's been a raging debate in the community about how best to help them.
Yes, there's an enormous reckoning to be had about what works and what doesn't. There have been disagreements over whether it was dangerous to use hashtags like #Iranelection, and there was a period in which people were openly tweeting the IP addresses of web proxies for people to switch to, not realizing that the authorities would soon shut these down. It's incredibly messy, and the definitive rules of the game have yet to be written. So yes, we're seeing the medium invent itself in real time.
Talk some more about the sense of participation on Twitter. It seems to me that that has spurred an entirely deeper level of emotional connection with these events.
Absolutely. I've been saying this for a while -- as a medium gets faster, it gets more emotional. We feel faster than we think. But Twitter is also just a much more personal medium. Reading personal messages from individuals on the ground prompts a whole other sense of involvement. We're seeing everyone desperate to do something to show solidarity like wear green -- and suddenly the community figures out that it can actually offer secure web proxies, or persuade Twitter to delay an engineering upgrade -- we can help keep the medium open.
When I see John Perry Barlow setting himself up as a router, he's not performing these services as a journalist. He's engaged. Traditional media operates as source of inofrmation not as a means of coordination. It can't do more than make us sympathize. Twitter makes us empathize. It makes us part of it. Even if it's just retweeting, you're aiding the goal that dissidents have always sought: the awareness that the ouside world is paying attention is really valuable.
Of course the downside of this emotional engagement is that while this is happening, I feel like I can't in good consicence tweet about anything else!
There was fury on Twitter against CNN for not adequately covering the situation. Was that justified?
In a way it wasn't. I'm sure that for the majority of the country, events in Iran are not of grave interest, even if those desperate for CNN's Iran info couldn't get access to it. That push model of one message for all is an incredibly crappy way of linking supply and demand.
CNN has the same problem this decade that Time magazine had last decade. They simultaneously want to appeal to middle America and leading influencers. Reaching multiple audiences is increasingly difficult. The people who are hungry for info on events of global significance are used to instinctively switching on CNN. But they are realizng that that reflex doesn't serve them very well anymore, and that can't be good for CNN.
Do you get the sense that these new media tools are helping build a global community, forged more by technology and a desire for connection, than by traditional political or religious divides?
You can see it clearly in what's happening right now. And it cuts both ways. The guy we're rallying around, Mousavi, is no liberal reformer. But the principle of freedom of speech and fair elections and the desire for reform trump that.
So how does this play out?
It's complex. The Ahmadinejad supporters are going to use the fact of English-speaking and American participation to try to damn the dissidents. But whatever happens from here, the dissidents have seen that large numbers of American people, supposedly part of "the great Satan," are actually supporters. Someone tweeted from Tehran today that "the American media may not care, but the American people do." That's a sea-change.
PS: More on this one later.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
1) Enhancing the ability to network and communicate: Each new invention, "status update" or "SMS blogging" or microblogging, allows faster and more instantaneous communication.
2) Adding greater degrees of complexity to social communication. As the new techniques pile up, some catch on like wildfire. This literally adds layers upon layers to a virtual ecosphere. Over time, complexity and the rate of that complexity increases.
This exponential growth has blurred the lines between "online" and "offline." Describing the internet as a "geek tool" for "computer programmers" or "techies" is a forgotten association. Nearly everyone's online, and most of us are talking. Chatting goes on, and the internet, mobile phones, etc are interconnected, a part of everyday life and interaction.
So following this trend, how can we further enhance, evolve interaction with each other? We can add one another to blogrolls, email, leave comments, etc. It's almost like planting grass seeds. They'll take root, and develop a loose but connected "patch." The question is, how can networks such as Open Anthropology, or Open Source Sociology make successful, organic and living communities? It starts with basic networking, but I suppose the question I'm putting forward is: what makes a successful network?
Good resource for studying social interaction and the internet: Here Comes Everybody.
PS: The interesting phenomenon of increasing complexity over time raises some more questions, and more possibilities. Like what you say? Well for one thing, this might help us get a clearer understanding about whether or not we can take more evolutionary perspectives on changes in society. Biological evolution also gets more complex as time goes on. As more parallels emerge, what new tools can we use to understand ourselves and the societies we live in? Perhaps this calls for a renewed interest in sociobiology.
"-his membership in several pro-copyright groups was merely an educational tool that increased his knowledge of the issues."
This is sure to outrage the already angered population who support the Pirate Bay, and view this as a sweeping act of money, power and corruption talking over any sort of objective trial. For anyone unfamiliar with the Pirate Bay's case, and why it's pretty significant, I recommend taking a stroll down memory lane: The King Kong Defense
The Pirate Bay was brought to trial in Sweden due to heavy pressure from US lawyers (on behalf of Hollywood and other media business). They charged the Pirate Bay, a bit-torrent tracking site, of promoting and encouraging the act of "illegal filesharing." Do people have a right to share their music, their movies, if they are not making a profit off of them? Is Sweden being bullied into enacting laws that more powerful countries seek to be instated? Do US companies have the right to do this? And furthermore, to what extent will we lose our privacy in person-to-person sharing? As the internet becomes a vital role in society, big decisions like this one set precedents.
As people become more integrated and interconnected, the older, stricter legal and economic systems need to evolve. If you take a look throughout history, it seems clear that the system needs to evolve with and for the people, not the other way around. Luckily, this is being done at a smaller level. The Creative Commons offers a new legal system for sharing your media. So too does the Science Commons do for collaborative research. We're living in a new world, and it's high time governments and businesses learn they can't stop that from happening.
Sources: Court Review Says Pirate Bay Judge Not Biased
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Why shouldn't we then take this new territory, with all of its busy, chatting electronic and organic devices (mind, bodies and machines) and do something in the spirit of ever-evolving unification? That is, to simply communicate with each other. I urge anyone who stumbles across this little node to speak up, leave a comment, or write me back! And I'll do the same. Talk, and someone talks back. It starts with such a simple process of interaction.
Eventually, and given enough time to evolve, take root and spread its first leaflets, the "noosphere" will reach a new plateau of development. Imagine, if you will, a society of chatting, writing bloggers, where the majority of thoughts, feelings, ideas and projects all emerge from this rich ecosystem of minds. That reality is already here, sprouting up in this blog and that. So I urge you to do, whatever it is that you're doing! But whatever that may be, consider it in the words of Teilhard:
"No evolutionary future awaits anyone except in association with everyone else."
1) Re-regulate copyrighting.
2) Abolish the patent system.
3) Reduce surveillance on the internet.
About time there were official voices of support for modern forms of media exchange, no?
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Wouldn't it also be interesting to see what science fiction writers could do with the philosophy of open source? Could we imagine entire societies running in such an open, decentralized and collaborative way? How would you make money? What would be the ups and the downs? Society would appear more like a "hive" of minds working to create "nodes" or projects of one sort or another. Interesting possibilities! Any creative minds out there?
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Open Source Sociology.
If you or anyone you know is crafty with website design, or would like to assist in building the network (moderators, bloggers, etc), please contact me: shaman sun (at) g mail.
The Reading Room
- The Rise of the Network Society by Manuel Castells
- Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell
- Sex, Ecology, Spirituality. Ken Wilber.
- Man's Place in Nature, Teilhand de Chardin
- A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity
Open Source and Other Links
open source sociology by Jeremy Johnson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.opensourcesocio.blogspot.com.