Thanks to Pete B for flagging up this video from one of Michael Wesch’s students.
I dig it because the thoughts are all a bit vague and half-finished – it sort of makes you cringe. But this is kind of the point. kzhines, rather than producing a finished article, is ‘learning in public’ – the video is a sort of stream of consciousness. I know that digital anthropology is kind of the most zeitgeisty course out there, but I wonder how much this very public learning will become mainstream. It kind of makes authors who go ‘i’m sharing this draft with you now’ look a bit backward – the sharing of half-finished thoughts in this video is just so self-evident it would kind of be silly to flag it up. This raises all kinds of questions about what kind of learners are going to be be comfortable with this type of behaviour – this is extra intriguing because academia is so totally not about sharing half finished thoughts at all! When I was on holiday last week my friend was telling me how one year after its publication his study partner still won’t let him read her pHd thesis. It seems to be more the pop/commercial public intellectuals/writers who are sharing their work before publication rather than the hardcore academics.
I also dig it because it kind of bridges the disconnection between broadcasting and creating new ideas. I spoke at a conference in Barcelona about participative culture a few weeks ago where I tried to weald together the work we did at Demos about Video making and some of Charlie L’s wethink stuff. Put crudely Charlie’s slant on the web is that it is at its most meaningful when it is bringing people together to develop new ideas – the rest is noise. Much of internet video, and I guess the videos we blog about is still in the ‘broadcasting paradigm’ – somebody makes a video and wants other people to watch it. This is only very loosely connected to the development of new ideas. Maybe this is why we intuitively like the nubs that end with questions rather than statements – the question gives us a role to play and opens the idea. This video seems to step beyond that a bit. If you comment on this video, you’re not criting her thesis you’re helping it get written. I think there’s a good comparison to be made with Queen Rania’s open attempts to rewrite representations of women in the Islamic world.
I also half dig what she’s saying. I like the idea that anonymity is authentic as it (supposedly) excludes the possibility of your choices being seen. I also like the idea that the internet enables people to play with their anonymity – this seems like a more useful concept than enabling people to play with their identity which is how the socially networked generation is described. People have always been able to play with their visible identity which they have continued to do online – the interesting thing about the web is that it enables people to play with being anonymous, which is fundamentally different. It’s really hard to think about how you could have played with anonymity before – calling out a joke in a crowd, going to confession or an eyes-wide-shut style sex party, but that seems about it. I guess that given the newness of these anonymous forms of expression and connection, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that they suddenly seem authentic.
Finally, this video is so obviously so totally American. Americans are just so much more confident with putting themselves out there and saying what they think. We were talking the other day about how if the self-depricating British had invented youtube the tagline would never have been as brash as ‘broadcast yourself’ – ‘apologise now’ might have been more fitting. This just made me generally wonder how much social media is locking us into American cultural norms, or whether other cultures are are simply able to fit our own cultural norms into it. On a side, Paperlillies, a reasonably well known UK vlogger, despite poking fun at Americans seems to almost speak in an American accent now.