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February 28, 2007

OurFloatingPoints 4: Participatory Media


Ulises Mejias + Trebor Scholz

!! TONIGHT !! Emerson College and New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc./Turbulence.org present OurFloatingPoints 4: Participatory Media: Ulises Mejias and Trebor Scholz: The Challenges and Affordances of Participation in the Age of Networked Individualism :: DATE: February 28, 7:00 pm [EST] :: VENUE: Emerson College, Bordy Theater, 216 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The event will be streamed live and broadcast to Second Life [Emerson College Island, Emerson Island (145, 109, 23)]. Free and open to all!

This Floating Points event will start with Ulises Mejias and Trebor Scholz both presenting their positions about opportunities and problems with participation in sociable web media. They will then discuss each others argumentation and end with a debate open to the public at large. The sheer scale of current networked sociality demonstrates the potential of sociable web media to democratize society through emerging cultures of broad participation. While phenomena like information overload accompanied the emergence of communication technologies for a very long time, this current social turn is new.

Millions of people can now perform themselves as speakers, which is more pertinent than the question of quality or even political orientation of the produced content. In his presentation, titled "The Participatory Challenge," Trebor Scholz will investigate the affordances of sociable web media by looking at examples of the different intensities and motivations for participation in sociable web media and their effects.

Is production the new consumption? In "Networked participation: Wisdom of crowds or stupidity of masses?" Ulises Mejias will assess whether sociable web media can live up to its promise of reinvigorating the public sphere. While participatory networks are certainly posing an alternative to the ways in which the old mass media generates and disseminates messages, there is increasing skepticism about their ability to transform this aggregation of (mostly self-referential) information into meaningful social change. Furthermore, participatory media networks run the risk of being appropriated by the same mass media networks that contribute to the alienation of the individual within society. To understand why this is happening, we need to engage in a critique of the network as a model for organizing social realities. Only then will we be able to conceptualize new social realities that incorporate the best of networked participation with other ways of being in the world.

Ulises Ali Mejias is an educator and technocultural theorist whose research interests include networked sociality, the philosophy of technology, and learning design. He is a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, where he has taught a graduate seminar on the affordances of social media. His dissertation, "Networked Proximity: ICT's and the Mediation of Nearness" deals with the redefinition of social relevancy by digital media and explores the limits of the network as metaphor and model for organizing social realities. Mr. Mejias has been nominated two years consecutively for an EduBlog award.

Trebor Scholz is a media theorist, artist, and activist who lectures internationally on the affordances of networked sociality for media activism, art, and education. As founder of the Institute for Distributed Creativity (iDC), he contributed essays to several books, journals, and periodicals and co-edited "The Art of Free Cooperation," forthcoming with Autonomedia (NYC). He is currently assistant professor and researcher in the Department of Media Study at the State University of New York at Buffalo and research fellow at the Hochschule fuer Kunst und Gestaltung, Zurich (Switzerland).

Posted by jo at February 28, 2007 06:36 PM