Everyone is a Media Organization

Writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, Emily Bell argues that Donald Trump is a media organization.

The new US President's behavior, according to Bell, can best be compared to that of a "loud, competitive, digitally attuned, populist media organization." During the campaign, numerous media outlets, pundits and commentators suggested that the key motive for Trump to be running for President was to set up his own media empire afterwards.

This may all be true, but it perhaps fails to grasp the significance of the near-complete mediatization of the lifeworld of everyone - not just high-profile people like Donald Trump. We do not live with media anymore - we live in media (and have been for quite a while now).

In media life, everyone is a media organization.

In order to effectively participate in society, we constantly have to market and upgrade ourselves - we have become commodities. In media, we are products catching the attention and attracting demand and customers on a global marketplace where we are "simultaneously, promoters of commodities and the commodities they promote” (Zygmunt Bauman in Consuming Life, page 6). No consumer unless a commodity. And the only way to be successful as a commodity, we have to perform upgraded versions of ourselves in perpetuity - in media.

Our homes become mediatized and mediated through AirBnB, our cars via Uber, our bodies through Tinder, our skills with Amazon Mechanical Turk. We publicize the music we listen to via Spotify, the people we talk to through Facebook's news feed, the information we ingest on Twitter and Tumblr, the things we see on Instagram, and the places we visit by checking in - everywhere. 

In doing so - whether voluntary or not - we participate in a near-perfect Panoptic prison, where omnoptic surveillance (Bauman would say: Liquid Surveillance) as everyone monitors everyone else is the benchmark for being.
We are all media organizations.

The thing is, Trump is just one of billions of media. And, like all of us, his spot in the flashlights is all too temporary. Sure, he can do more damage than most of us. But we all have Communication Power too. The question is not how to fight this, to unplug, or to surrender. At issue is how we will be (in) media both ethically and aesthetically.

For me, this is a renewed take on media literacy - one where we learn to love media, to come to terms with our desires and passions in media, and make sure those feelings contribute to a better, more just world.

One way to do so is to become a zombie (or embrace the fact that we already are), that is:

- Stop caring (and telling stories about) yourself, but focus on the collective, the social.

- Stop looking at society in terms of categories (such as used in the census) in order to compare and contrast, instead consider each other in terms of similarity, remixed and remixable.

- Embrace your passions (just let no authority, whether economic or political, ever exploit you for doing what you love) while accepting they may lead to nothing. Perhaps they are truly worthwhile only of they lead to nothing.

This is what zombies do: they do not care about categories - there are no distinctions between young and old zombies, black or white zombies, rich or poor zombies. Heck, zombies do not even recognize leaders or hierarchies. Zombies have a unique kind of zombie sociality, where they both are in it for themselves yet always seek out others to tag along and team up with. And finally: zombies are undeniably passionately driven at what they do. And when they are done and have won - zombies will always win out in the end - what do they do? Nothing. 

The solution for a world where we are all media organizations now is not an all-out war against fake news, post-truth politics, and fact-free journalism. Sure, all of these wars are noble endeavors.

However, our reality is now a media reality - one that we are all authors of. So perhaps it is not so much a renewed reliance on society's expert truth-tellers (such as quality news media, librarians and educators) that we should strive for, but rather a particular set of skills (that we should acquire and hone over a long career) that make us a nightmare to people like Donald Trump: skills to tell different, and better stories.

Media Life: Open University Course in Amsterdam

In the Fall of 2014 The Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies hosts my Media Life course. The course is open to students from any level (Bachelor, Master, PhD) and is free for students and faculty/staff registered or working at all Dutch universities.

Beyond this, the course is also open to the public! The University of Amsterdam charges 70 Euros per study point (ECTS), and the course is ranked at six points (total cost: 420 Euros). As I have tooled the course to be of particular interest to media and communication professionals who want some new inspiration for engaging with digital culture, I am really hopeful folks working in the media - journalists, film and television makers and producers, game developers, advertising creatives, spokespeople (for companies, government agencies, and NGOs), marketing communicators, public relations officers and any other makers, producers and communicators to sign up!

Information on the course (including how to sign up and register) can be found on the site of the IIS. Class sessions are once a week on Wednesday evening in a comfortable venue close to Amsterdam Amstel station, easily accessible from anywhere. Language: English. For reading we will use my Media Life book (Polity Press, 2012).

More info and updates can be found on the course Facebook page and official Twitter channel. The content of the course is best represented by this awesome movie trailer designed and produced by Austin Guevara:

Media Life - Official Trailer [HD] from Austin Guevara on Vimeo.

Let me be clear: this is not a course rehashing the tired debate between public and private life online, about whether online video games are good or bad for your kids, or what is wrong with Facebook's privacy policies... This is a course intended to break through those debates, expose the assumptions, values and idea(l)s behind them, moving forward to discuss not what is or what should be, but what we can do and what can be done.

Finally: please share, forward, and recommend this course to your friends, colleagues, and family - the more the merrier! I promise it will be quite a ride...

A Life Lived In Media in Digital Humanities Quarterly

Just received note of the preview publication of the follow-up to our original working paper (of 2009) on the media life project, titled A Life Lived In Media and coauthored with Peter Blank (of BlankMediation in Chicago, US) and Laura Speers (of King's College in London, UK) in the excellent online open access journal Digital Humanities Quarterly (volume 6, issue 1).

In this piece, we try to give more body to the media life hypothesis - that we do not live as much with, but increasingly (and inevitably) in media - by exploring how a life as lived in media gets expression through the kind of invisibility, selectivity,creativity, sociability, and reality engendered by what we do in media.

Our abstract:
Research since the early years of the 21st century consistently shows that through the years more of our time gets spent using media, that being concurrently exposed to media has become a foundational feature of everyday life, and that consuming media for most people increasingly takes place alongside producing media. Contemporary media devices, what people do with them, and how all of this fits into the organization of our everyday life disrupt and unsettle well-established views of the role media play in society. Instead of continuing to wrestle with a distinction between media and society, this contribution proposes we begin our thinking with a view of life not lived with media, but in media. The media life perspective starts from the realization that the whole of the world and our lived experience in it are framed by, mitigated through, and made immediate by (immersive, integrated, ubiquitous and pervasive) media.

Please check it out, leave a comment (here or at the DHQ website), and let us know what you think! More papers from the media life project are listed here.

Media Life (2012): Preface

In 2012 my book Media Life came out. The excellent external reviews of the manuscript (courtesy of my publisher, Polity Press) all but asked to include a bit of a roadmap, as I have tended to let the argument emerge organically out of my writing (I sincerely had no idea where I was going with the narrative other than wanting to explore a life in, rather than with, media and information). Below the full preface (in its second draft) of the book, additionally functioning as the introduction to the courses I have developed around the media life project (variously titled as Living in the Information Age, Media Life, and Living Information) at the universities of Indiana, Helsinki, and Amsterdam.

Updated version dated June 13, 2016. 

Media Life - Preface: In Media
You live in media. Who you are, what you do, and what all of this means to you does not exist outside of media. Media are to us as water is to fish. This does not mean life is determined by media - it just suggests that whether we like it or not, every aspect of our lives takes place in media.

Part of this kind of life is coming to terms with a supersaturation of media messages and machines in households, workplaces, shopping malls, bars and restaurants, and all the other in-between spaces of today's world. Over the last few decades, the key categories of human aliveness and activity converged in a concurrent and continuous exposure to, use of, and immersion in media.

It must be clear, that media are not just types of technology and chunks of content occupying the world around us - a view that considers media as external agents affecting us in a myriad of ways. If anything, today the uses and appropriations of media can be seen as fused with everything people do, everywhere people are, everyone people aspire to be. There is no external to media life - whatever we perceive as escape hatch, passage out, or potential delete key is just an illusion. In fact, we can only imagine a life outside of media.
In terms of what media communicate it is tempting to point to governments, companies and corporations for pushing an unrelenting, ever-accelerating stream of content and experiences into our lives. However, most mediated communication comprises of work done by you and me: through our endless texts, chats, and e-mails, with our phone calls from anywhere at anytime, and through our online social networks that function as the living archives of social reality.

With the majority of the world population owning a mobile phone, telecommunication networks spanning almost every inch of the globe, sales figures of any and all media devices growing steadily worldwide, dead media technologies and practices regularly resurrected, any and all media by default integrated into an always-on real-time live mode of being, an almost complete mediatization of society (link to PDF) seems a somewhat self-evident observation.
A media life is much more than media hardware, software, and content - it is also everything we do with and in response to media: how we build and sustain relationships and family ties, how we derive cultural status and social currency from the kinds of media we use (the music we listen to, the shows we follow, the games we catch live), and the various ways we more or less deliberately manipulate time and space by checking our email on mobile devices, listen to audiobooks with noise-cancelling headphones, and record our private participation in public proceedings (weddings, concerts, the weekend soccer game) with networked devices that simultaneously immediatize and immortalize our lived experience as they mediatize it.

As we merge our perception of ourselves and others with what can be mediated about us, media competencies, literacies and fitness become paramount to the human condition. Media benchmark our experience of the world, and how we make sense of our role in it. A media life reflects how media are both a necessary and unavoidable part of our existence and survival.

It certainly seems there is more media in everyday life. Media are ubiquitous - they are everywhere - and pervasive - they cannot be switched off. Furthermore, our near-complete immersion in media constitutes the majority of time spent in waking life. Media consumption studies worldwide consistently show over the years how more of our time on any given day gets spent using media, and that being concurrently exposed to media has become a mundane mark of existence.

The media life perspective recognizes one further quality of media: that they, as much as the human brain (or the cosmos), are indeterminate. Media are not finished, nor static - but plastic, and malleable. Media evolve. As hardware and software, they act upon each other next to their interactions with us. We emotionally invest ourselves into media as much as our media become an affective part of us. As platforms for communication media constitute as well as reproduce the world we live in.
Throughout the Media Life book and the various courses I teach related to these themes, I use media interchangeably with information and communication technologies, and with machines more generally insofar relations with humanity and society are involved.

Media, thus broadly conceived, are any (symbolical or technological) systems that enable, structure or amplify communication between people.

Life, on the other hand, is not just about surviving - it is about living a live life, a life worth living, a form of liveness that goes beyond simply making it work from day to day.

At the heart of the media life project is the question what a good, passionate, beautiful, and socially responsible media life looks like.

A dichotomous reading of the mixing of media and life identifies and maps ways in which human beings and behaviors steer the development of media in an attempt to make sense of people's everyday life and what can be done about it. Such media-centrism and technological determinism often boils down to benevolent or malevolent mechanistic fascination with the machinery of media and the technique of technologies. It tends to obscure rather than unveil the interdependency of humanity and technology - as it keeps insisting on finding ways of making sense of the world outside of media, of attributing primacy of the social over the technological.

In essence, media-centrism (and its attendant arguments about the real or perceived influences of media on ways of being alive) is a product of a live lived in media: it is a delusion we maintain in order to convince ourselves and each other that we exist not just next to, but in an intrinsically more central and indeed privileged relationship to our media. Maintaining an outside to media makes us, as human beings, feel special.

As French philosopher Jean Baudrillard remarked in response to the way the Wachowski's used his work as inspiration for their The Matrix film franchise (in an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, July 2004): "The Matrix is surely the kind of film about the matrix that the matrix would have been able to produce." Correspondingly, media-centrism and technological determinism can be considered to be the kind of theoretical stopgaps a media life perspective would produce in order to mask itself. The illusion that we can comprehensively control our media (for example by pulling the plug, pressing the 'off' switch on a remote control, by becoming 'mediawise' or developing sophisticated media literacies) in fact preserves media as the primary definer of our reality. If we let go of this deception - this dualist fallacy of domination of man over machine (or vice versa) - it may be possible to come to terms with the world we are a part of in ways that are less about effects, things and what happens, more about process, practice, and what can be done.
The heart of the media life project is the question how we can understand ourselves and the world we live in if we accept, if only for a moment, that we do not live with, but in media.

Media and information, to most people, belong to the realm of the unreal, or less real. What if this exclusive orientation to the otherness of (reality in) media acts as a crutch rather than a tool for living our lives more ethically and aesthetically? Instead of fusing the horizons of media and life, it seems as if we invest all our time in keeping them separate. By way of first step and chapter in the book (and the coursework I have developed around it), I therefore unpack this history of man-machine separation, while at the same time highlighting how throughout this discussion media life was always already firmly established in our sense-making practices of the world and our role in it.
The second dilemma I faced, was how to bring media back into our awareness without simply stating that one needs to look more closely at media - which would maintain their alterity. By adopting an archaeological approach to media in conjunction with a social history of dominant media species - the television and the mobile phone - I suggest that the key to understanding media is not to emphasize their difference but their disappearance from our lives. This amounts to a paradox: the more media dematerialize, the more people seem to be talking about media and what they mean to us. From a media life point of view I engage this enigma by emphasizing how, through our apparent need for media in order to express anything meaningful about them, the intense discussions about the role of media in people's lives are symptomatic of the mediatization of both individuals and society.
As we lose ourselves to technology, what happens next? The conflation of technology with technique, and of media with being mediated tends to be viewed with apprehension. Surely, the cold machines of media are alien to all that we consider as life? If so, an existence engulfed in media means we are perpetually caught in what has been aqueously described as a communicational 'bubble' filled with the 'foam' of media.

"We swim in an ocean of media," a headline in The Christian Science Monitor (of 28 September 2005) reads in a report on people's media use. Splashing around in open water makes it hard to notice what is going on around you, on shore and elsewhere, let alone taking in the plights of other human beings. Such liquid lamentations pervade much of the otherwise prudent thinking on media and everyday life. I try to take up this challenge in chapter three by arguing that there is no necessary relationship between the technological and the social. The relations that do exist are clearly both structural - machines are always social as much as they are technical (paraphrasing Gilles Deleuze) - and highly dynamic - living in media is not the same for everyone.

Just like human beings, media have both traits and states. In the everyday negotiation and symbiosis between media and life, it becomes possible to uncover these qualities and explore them to a fuller extent. One of the key qualities of our media is their uncanny capacity for recording and storing everything we do with them. As social media strategist Renny Gleeson (of advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy in Portland, Oregon) observes about the way people use mobile media in his TED talk of February 2009: "our reality right now is less interesting than the story we're going to tell about it later.
A media life can be seen as living in an ultimate archive, a public library of (almost) everything, a personalized experience of all the information of the universe. At the same time, in media life the archive is alive, in that it is subject to constant intervention by yourself and others, that it always remains incomplete as much as it is endlessly comprehensive. In the absence of all-seeing librarians and neatly categorized compendiums, the only way we can make sense of ourselves and each other in media is by carefully, and continuously, checking each other out. This is the theme of the fourth chapter, as the age-old premise of a Big Brother-like surveillance society comes full circle in a media world of mundanely massive mutual monitoring, where everyone is (or can be expected to be) watching everyone else.

If we live in media and information, we are in the process of co-creating a society particular to the media of our time that are always already remediations of earlier technologies and societies: never the same, always similar. In chapter five I address the constituent elements of a society in media by suggesting that it resembles a world after the zombie apocalypse. Like zombies, we lose our sense of ego and individuality as we are collectively lost in our technologies. Whether through watching the same or similar television shows regardless of where we are in the world, or simply by logging on to the global grid of the 'network of networks' that is internet, we are - again, much like zombies - irreducibly connected into a worldwide flow of data, information, techniques and technologies. Like zombies, we cannot seem to get enough of media - even though there does not seem to be a collective nor consensual agenda as to where we are going.

As Sonia Livingstone suggests (link to PDF) regarding the motivation of a society in media: "[f]irst, the media mediate, entering into and shaping the mundane but ubiquitous relations among individuals and between individuals and society; and second, as a result, the media mediate, for better or for worse, more than ever before."

Zombies are similarly driven - even the amputation of limbs does not tend to stop them - yet seemingly without creative impulse (other than feasting on our brains). Beyond the zombie metaphor, thinking about media zombies is instrumental to digging deeper, going beyond the surface of media and life: looking for ways in which we can theorize conjunctions of humanity and technology that highlight how a society in media is at once individual and interconnected as it is both embodied and virtual. This would hopefully open society up for the kind of plasticity and malleability of a world we are used to in media: whether by wielding a remote control or by re-arranging hardware, by clicking a mouse or by re-programming software, reality (in media) is open source.
If our sense of the real is experienced in media, how can we think of media as elements of our lives that can help us to get closer to reality than ever before? This dilemma is at the heart of the sixth chapter, where I question the kinds of connections we have with each other and ourselves in media, and try to move beyond either postmodern or existentialist frames for what is (or may be) real.

Our lifeworld - the world we experience most directly, instantly, and without reservation - is irreversibly mediated. It confronts us with endless versions of ourselves and everyone else. There certainly seems to be too much information available - to us as well as about us. Yet, as online social networks scholar danah boyd suggests, "in many situations, there is more to be gained by accepting the public default than by going out of one's way to keep things private. And here's where we see the shift. It used to take effort to be public. Today, it often takes effort to be private."
In media life it is pertinent to explore how one can derive value from mediated oversharing and overexposure. Such value may not only be symbolic. The seventh chapter explores evolutionary readings of media life, showing how contemporary discourse about the skills and competences one needs to navigate a mediated lifeworld signposts multiple media literacies as survival values. The solution is not, as has been suggested as far back as in the original responses to Charles Darwin's "On The Origin Of Species" (1859), to wage war on machines. It is by becoming media we enhance our fitness for survival.

In the eight and final chapter I tie all the elements of my exploration of life as lived in media together in the diagnosis of a 'Truman Show delusion' by American psychiatrists Joel and Ian Gold, who suggest that classical syndromes such as narcissism and paranoia in combination with pervasive information technologies in the context of a media culture where the boundaries between the physical and virtual world are blurring produce a new type of psychosis. What makes their analysis a fitting conclusion is the insight that this delusion, as diagnosed in patients and confirmed by colleagues elsewhere, can best be understood as an extreme rendering of what most people feel. In media life, the world can certainly sometimes seem like the television studio in the Truman Show movie (from 1998), with the significant difference that there is not exit.

The question is not how to avoid or destroy the media in our lives, but what Truman Burbank could do if he decided to stay inside of his fully mediated living arrangements. For one, he would be able to see himself live - and, if need be, adapt and evolve accordingly. This evolutionary process necessarily involves an awareness of how we are interconnected (in media), and therefore requires a sense of responsibility towards ourselves and each other that necessarily moves beyond the real or perceived manifestations of our divine machines.
Whether we like it or not, we are slowly but surely becoming information players and creators rather than simply those who are expected to work with the information that is given to us. We can indeed create art with life. In media, with information.

Indymedia, Journalism, and Digital Culture (part 6)

Final part of ICA paper, #6

For comments, criticism and a copy of the bibliography, please send me an e-mail.


In the final section of this essay I discuss the ways in which digital culture can be seen as a self-organizing property of Indymedia and journalism. With self-organization or autopoiesis I consider the various ways in which social groups (families, neighbourhoods, circles of friends) and social systems (medicine, law, politics, journalism) continually reproduce themselves by internalizing particular values, beliefs and practices operationally independent from the outside world yet at the same time structurally coupled with other groups and systems within that world. This notion was originally introduced in the 1970s by Chilean biologists Herbert Maturana and Fracisco Varela and has been introduced in the social sciences most prominently by German sociologist Niklas Luhmann. Self-organization is not particular to digital culture, as much as distantiation, participation and bricolage have manifestations before or next digital culture as well. Indeed, I consider all (social) systems to have autopoietic properties. Niklas Luhmann (1990) primarily considers the communicative acts and relationships within a social system as self-organizing, rather than the actors (that is: people) themselves. My argument therefore maintains that a digital culture is created, reproduced, sustained and recognized as such through the ways in which people establish relationships and communicate about these relationships. What is amazing about a digital culture - rather than a print, visual or information culture - is that it fosters community while at the same time can be fueled by isolation. In other words: we can be (or feel) connected to everyone else within the system - for example through chatrooms, Instant Messaging, group weblogs, Trackback systems and RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) feeds on individual weblogs, Usenet discussion groups, Bulletin Boards Systems, SMS-tv, and so on - while at the same time being isolated as individuals sitting at a desk in front of a computer at home, at the office, in a public library or internet cafe. Yet digital culture is not self-created and self-maintained through connected devices and access alone - it also has self-referential properties in that certain values, beliefs and practices are preferred over others. A good example is the emergence of a Netiquette as an evolving set of ethical guidelines for communicating and publishing online. These values are sometimes formulated in opposition to (and thus distantiated from) those upheld by mainstream corporate media: preferring the personal experiental account rather than professional detached observation, heralding openness for all rather than access based on expertise claimed on the basis of institutional authority, attributing more weight to providing a bottom-up platform for individual voices instead of top-down delivering of messages based on a consensual perception of the common denominator. Again we must realize that such values have not sprung into existence when the first Bulletin Board System went online. What has happened, though, is an acceleration of acceptance of these values through the ongoing proliferation of internet access and usage, and a corresponding process of infusing disparate social systems like oppositional social movements and professional journalism, inspiring the emergence of Indymedia and participatory news. If publics increasingly demand to have a say in the news, even though they do not know what they talk about nor are they generally interested in that news, it must be seen as a communicative act and thus an autopoietic component of digital culture. Digital culture, in other words, can be characterized by participation, distantiation and bricolage as its key elements, whih self-organizing properties are part of online (Indymedia) as well as offline (journalism) news media phenomena.

We live in a digital culture. That culture is still evolving - as all cultures are and always will be - in the directions as outlined in this essay. This will have consequences for the way we work, communicate, give meaning to our lives. We are at once local and global, individual and collective, isolated and connected, engaged and apathetic. I hope to have showed that this seemingly eclectic and paradoxical mix of values and charactertistics are by no means mutually exclusive, but rather must be seen as constituents of each other, and parts of a whole that is digital culture. Some of the most pressing debates of today - about authenticity and originality, self-determination and social cohesion, equity and equality - are already influenced by this emerging cultural system all over the world. Social systems in society are feeling the impact of this emerging cultural consensus as well - especially the traditional institutions of modernity: parliamentary democracy and journalism. With a discussion set against the backdrop of Indymedia and journalism I have aimed to synthesize the core elements of digital culture with the often-voiced concerns about the decline or change of national politics and mainstream news media, in order to show how new types of citizenship, participation, activism, dialogue and interactive communication have emerged. There is a message of hope here somewhere.

This sweeping overview of what in my opinion are the three core elements of contemporary digital culture - participation, distantiation, and bricolage - hopefully shows effectively that the phenomena we observe in daily life online have their emergent properties in the offline of days gone by. I realize I am not suggesting anything new or original here - I am merely offering my own bricolage in order participate in the self-organizing system that is academia, and by referring to authors before me building on their ideas and publications, I hope to become part of a creative commons that inherently consists of multiple authorship and collaborative control over the concepts we discuss.

[The End].

Indymedia, Journalism, and Digital Culture (part 5)

Continuing ICA paper, #5


John Hartley (2002: 22ff), referring to Claude Levi-Strauss, defines bricolage as the creation of objects with materials to hand, re-using existing artefacts and incorporating bits and pieces. According to Hartley, bricolage incorporates practices and notions like borrowing, hybridity, mixture, and plagiarism. Most scholars in media and cultural studies invoke bricolage when describing the mixing, reconstructing and re-using of separate artifacts, actions, ideas, signs, symbols and styles in order to create new insights or meanings. Bricolage has many manifestations: as in the various ways in which (sub-) cultures constitute their 'new' identity by borrowing artefacts - clothes, hairstyles, accessories - and ritualistic activities - dancing, communicating, performing - from a wide variety of groups and time periods. The extreme metal scene for example combines Biblical with oppositional references (the inverted cross) in order to distinguish itself from the mainstream, to that purpose also wearing shirts with gory pictures or offensive words printed on front and back (Purcell, 2003, p.29). This kind of blending to achieve new - if only temporary - styles, indentities or subcultures has also been associated with the supposed end of Grand Narratives as a typical feature of Lyotards' postmodern era.

With bricolage originality or a modernist emphasis on 'first things' as an emblem of quality is thrown out of the window in favor of an attitude that prefers an assemblage of good copies over a single bad original. The international resistance against the efforts of the media publishing, recording and distributing industries to defend the copyrights of their materials is a good example of a phenomenon that is tied in with bricolage as the legitimate way of doing things in today’s emerging digital culture. Again I must emphasize how bricolage has its roots in mid- to late 20th century developments in for instance the arts and sciences. Examples of people openly embracing the identity of a bricoleur can be found from popular music to postmodern philosopy. In music, bricolage is applied by artists in all genres, from a mainstream artist like David Bowie changing faces every four years or so to a marginal band like black metallers Dimmu Borgir from Norway mixing classical music, pop melodies, extreme hard rock music with a highly decorative band image reminiscent of the days of Kiss and Alice Cooper. Another excellent example of a late 20th century celebration of bricolage is the popularity of disk-jockeys who mix, cut, edit and re-assemble bits and pieces of music to shape new soundscapes fueling parties and raves all over the world. In philosophy we find the bricoleur embraced by pragmatism’s leading philosopher Richard Rorty from the United States, while online the ultimate bricoleurs are the individual webloggers of the world with their daily musings, linkdumps and ramblings.

Bricolage plays an important role in the realm of politics and political citizenship, as although people may recognize Left from Right, Progressive from Conservative or for example Democrat from Republican, they also experience problems when having to identify themselves (as voters) exclusively or explicitly with a single side. People assemble political positions on just about everything rather than follow the guidelines of a single party program or political ideology. As Anthony Giddens has argued, today we are immersed in our highly personal life politics - another building block the individualized society - through which the multiple private and public spheres we (assume we) belong to get meaning. Those meanings are not necessary consistent, nor are our convictions implicitly rational and deliberate. The bricoleur-citizen identifies with many issues, images and symbols before (or, heaven forbid, after) voting or enacting some other kind of civic engagement.

On the World Wide Web bricolage is evident in the ways in which we click, publish and link our way online. Chandler (1998) applies bricolage in a textual analysis of personal Home Pages: especially in a virtual medium one may reselect and rearrange elements until a pattern emerges which seems to satisfy the contraints of the task and the current purposes of the user. Indeed, no version of the resulting text need be regarded as final - completion may be endlessly deferred in the medium in which everything is always 'under construction'. In (online) journalism bricolage is acknowledged in the common practice of shovelware: the repurposing or windowing of content. Online, journalists re-use and re-distribute edited and otherwise manipulated versions of content originally produced for offline media. News sites generally offer repurposed or aggregated content that was previously produced and used in other media, such as audio and video clips, still image galleries, logos and icons, bits and pieces of written text. When online journalists acknowledge their sources and offer internal or external hyperlinks to a vast array of materials, documents, related stories, archival content, and other sites, they attribute an active bricoleur-identity to their users as they give people a chance to find their own way through the information at hand (Deuze, 2003). Indymedia websites are also a good example of this practice, as IMC sites tend to offer a bewildering array of links to topics, sources (sometimes including Web radio and video), issues and places all over the world. To the average journalist or politician this chaotic, disorganized and seemingly random display and practice of online information is pure horror. How to make sense of it all? What is credible information? Help! Credible and manageable or not: this is the way people behave online (and increasingly offline as well: constantly zapping, browsing, switching and even multitasking between and within different media types, genres and formats).

Digital culture consists of the practices and beliefs of the bricoleur - whose activities should not be confused with boundless freedom and endless creativity, however: The bricoleur’s strategies are constrained not only by pragmatic considerations such as suitability-to-purpose and readiness-to-hand but by the experience and competence of the individual in selecting and using 'appropriate' materials (Chandler, 1998). Again, bricolage as an emerging praxis can be considered to be a principal component of digital culture, as well as an instigator, engine, and accelerator of it.

[to be continued]

Indymedia, Journalism, and Digital Culture (part 4)

Continuing ICA paper, #4 (two installments to go)


Distantiation is a concept that has a determined pre-internet meaning and existence. The way I would like to use it here stems from cinema studies (and takes its cue from Louis Althusser), and can be understood as a manipulation of the dominant way of doing or understanding things in order to juxtapose, challenge or even subvert the mainstream. On a societal level distantiation manifests itself as hyperindividualization or the extreme fragmentation of contemporary society into personal public spheres within which we only talk to and with ourselves. Such individualization is considered to be a particular feature of the gradual (and structurally incomplete) transition from industrial to information societies in elective democracies around the world. This global shift to individualized societies has been described by Zygmunt Bauman as an inevitable development, as he concludes: the way individual people define individually their individual problems and try to tackle them deploying individual skills and resources is the sole remaining 'public issue' and the sole object of 'public interest' (2000: 72). This means that digital culture can be characterized by the distantiation of the individual from society. This trend is also articulated in the disconnection-participation concept as discussed before, specifically with reference to the co-constituent rise of DIY culture, voluntarist civic engagement and self-righteous media citizenship. Such fragmentation of publics is countered by a recogniztion of Marshall McLuhan's global village or Manual Castells' network society as expressions of our sense of place and identity - especially embraced by multinational mass media corporations in their efforts to bring the globe to our doorstep via satellite news feeds and global news networks customized to regional particularities, adding emphasis to the global nature of local problems and vice versa (Merrill & De Beer, 2004).

We at once belong to ourselves and nothing but ourselves (and this is indeed what consumer culture seems to reinforce), as do we belong to the world in general and thus to everyone else. In the political-economical lingo of globalization: no one is outside anymore. At the same time, our immersement in the global village does not mean we all become the same, nor that an universal identity is likely to emerge. As Zizek (1998) critically points out: what is effectively threatened by globalization is not the cosa nostra (our private secret way of life from which others are excluded, which others want to steal from us), but its exact opposite: universality itself in its eminently political dimension. In this sense, globalization and individualization keep everything and everyone firmly in place and thus constitute each other across time and space. The parallel notions of place and time can be distantiated in that these concepts have become more flexible in a digital, mobile, always-online network society. What are meaningful properties of close and recent in a global economy, or indeed in a network society? Can there be a centralized or dominant system governing our understanding of real-time telepresence? It seems time and place have become arenas of continuous contention, and are increasingly open for all to define. In terms of digital culture it makes sense to look at some of the most successful online applications for everyday individual use - of which weblogs and the various ways in which these are redistributed are an excellent example. Mortensen and Walker (2002: 267-8) opt that blogs encourage a feeling of time, in that on weblogs posts are arranged chronologically, determined by the time of thinking. Weblogs are considered to be more similar to the way we think and act in everyday life - which can be typified by the paradox between inconsistency and chronology - than for example the kind of narrative offered through newspapers or broadcast newscasts - functioning on the basis of (patterned) selectivity and linearity. Indeed, if anything, webloggers define what they do as more or less similar to journalism, but consider their personal voice, subjective style and perhaps un-professional petit-narratives to be of added value, and they feel this sets them apart from the news media (Neuberger, 2004). In fact, webloggers tend to do what they do in distantiation from what journalists do, while at the same time adopting some of journalisms' peculiar strategies and techniques (Lasica, 2001). The same rationale can be said to apply for oppositional media in general, and online alternative media in particular (Eliasoph, 1988; Platon & Deuze, 2003).

The discussion on whether blogging can or should be considered a form of journalism and whether journalists should become bloggers is alive and well on the Web and in some the literature (Lasica, 2001; Rosen, 2004; Glaser, 2004). In a discussion piece in the Online Journalism Review (of September 24, 2002) column writer Dan Gillmore is quoted as claiming: Weblogs are certainly part of the process that adds up to journalism. I'm talking about the trend of do-it-yourself journalism. We think of journalism in terms of this late 20th Century model of mass media, where gatekeepers gather news from sources and send it out to readers [...] There's this blurring of lines and I don't know where it's going to come out, but I do know that something major is going on that is bringing journalism from the top down and the bottom up. Here, Gillmore connects the emergence of a DIY culture with relatively new kinds of journalism as well as with the signaled trend towards ever-increasing individualization. In the same piece, journalist Paul Andrews implicitly addresses the relationship between participatory media, journalism, and distantiation: A new style of journalism, based on a 'raw feed' directly from the source, is emerging. Journalists testing the new waters are bound to wreak havoc on institutionalized media. If blogging - and Indymedia can be considered to be an example of a oppositional news-oriented group weblog - in some ways is a subversion of the mainstream institutionalized media approach to news, its practice also builds on a long tradition of alternative media, as well as so-called citizen's media based on communication, dialogue and conversation within certain communities. In pre-Web times the popularity of such media - or in terms of distantiation the increasing impopularity of mainstream corporate media - has been embraced by parts of the news industry, adopting the techniques and strategies of so-called public or civic journalism - a movement emerging during the late 1980s (Rosen, 1999). As defined by pundits, public journalism has two prime goals: one is making news organizations listen more closely to their audiences, and two: making news organisations play more active roles in their communities (Merrit, 1995). At the core of this argument seems to be a normative assumption that in order for journalism to survive into the 21st century, participation should be embraced over detachment. Although this does tie in with the cultural importance of participation as discussed earlier in this essay, it must be noted that the popularity of participatory forms of journalism can at least in part be explained by the fact that these run counter to what institutionalized media traditionally offer. As former CNN-reporter Rebecca McKinnon writes: the blog has emerged as an effective vehicle for alternative citizen-journalism, from time to time effectively 'hacking' the mainstream media's spin-cycle and bringing important news to public attention (2004). Heikki Heikkila and Risto Kunelius (2002) suggest the popularity of such dialogical types of journalism can be explained by the failure of mainstream serious journalism to address the experiences of people in a meaningful way. What is important for my argument here is the interconnectedness of distantiation, Indymedia, journalism and digital culture.

Distantiation can be countered by a return to (or, as some say: a retreat into) tradition, where tradition can be seen as the perceived safety or sense of security in sameness, similarity, routines, and deeply entrenched patterns of organization. This notion becomes visible through the increasing problematization of the inevitable by-products of globalization: worldwide migration, resistant social movements (aka: freedom fighters or terrorists), popular consumer culture, and the displacement of labor. But this is just one way of interpreting distantiation dialectically. The examples I have used to discuss distantiation in the context of digital culture vis-a-vis media, journalism, and weblogging also show that distantiation does not necessarily mean different from, or in radical opposition to, the mainstream or dominant ways of doing things. Public journalism is still very much an institutional journalism; group weblogs are most definitely based on consensual ethical behavior (Netiquette) and journalistic quality principles (such as authority, legitimacy, and credibility); Indymedia websites are maintained and sometimes edited, filtered or content-wise managed by so-called editorial collectives where processes of decision-making evolve quite similar to those in the average corporate newsroom (Schudson, 1999; Matheson, 2003; Platon & Deuze, 2003). Distantiation in digital culture perhaps means being deeply immersed in the sytem while at the same time attributing legitimacy and credibililty to a self-definition of working against or outside of the system. Seen as such, I am interested in the ways in which participation and distantiation as somehow mutually exclusive or even self-contradictory aspects of digital culture are sustained and developed over time by people in everyday life, and particularly by people involved in and affected by news media. If participation and distantiation are key concepts in digital culture, how do people recognize each other as such, attribute quality and legitimacy to their actions, and what is different about media production and consumption in a digital culture, rather than a print, visual or information culture? For now, my answer refers to a third principal component of digital culture: bricolage.

[to be continued...]

Indymedia, Journalism, and Digital Culture (part 3)

Continuing ICA paper, #3


In a time when political scientists become internationally famous by claiming that the social capital of society is in decline because American people do not participate in league bowling as much as they used to (Putnam, 1999), it may be counter-intuitive to claim that a more engaged and participatory culture is emerging. Yet that is exactly what is going on if one looks at the field of media. Ever since the mid-20th century so-called alternative media have flourished and in some cases even gained mass acceptance and popularity (Atton, 2001). I am talking about pirate radio stations, small-scale print magazines (often originating in less-than-affluent social contexts such as squatters and the homeless), local newspapers and radio stations, since the 1980s community-based Bulletin Board Systems and Usenet newsgroups on internet, and later on a wide range of genres on the Web such as community portal sites, group weblogs, voluntary news services, and so on. The level of participation within the media system has increased throughout the years; perhaps people stopped bowling in order to have more time to go online, build low-tech short-wave transmission stations, or to establish citizen's media? Rodriguez (2004) explicitly connects participation as a defining principle of digital culture with the emergence of Indymedia (or IMC: Independent Media Centers): From the beginning, the IMC was not thought as a communication centre where information products were designed for the un-informed majorities, but more as a hub of exchange, dialogue, and articulation to be used by all. Yet this is not just an aspect of alternative or citizen's media – participation as a principal component of contemporary culture has also been established and acknowledged in the mainstream media, with (also from the late 20th century) functions like newspaper ombudsmen and reader representatives becoming an accepted part of newsroom organization, at the same time when journalists, scholars and media critics alike increasingly call for journalism to become more responsible, responsive and transparent (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2001). In digital culture, participation and journalism meet in different ways, leading some industry observers to claim that journalism must prepare itself for an upcoming era of participatory news, as Dale Peskin (2002) predicts it: [n]ews evolves into collaborative, a participatory activity. Everyone is a journalist, or can be. Peer-to-peer news will eclipse business-to-consumer news.

A remarkable characteristic of this kind of participation is that its often communal. People working on such efforts generally do it for different reasons, but essentially do it together in groups or even (virtual and/or physical) communities. Translated in terms of journalism this would mean they enjoy a system of multiple authorship and ownership over their media - which Beam (1990) considers to be a defining element of professionalism for journalism. Coupled with the widespread proliferation of computers and internet connections to the home (and to handheld mobile devices), a recognition of this culture of participatory authorship has come from software developers where they have introduced the concept of open design. The most advanced form of this type of design is advocated by the Open Source Movement, based on the principle of shared and collaborative access to and control over software, and using (or rather: tweaking) it to improve the product for the benefit of other users. This perceived necessity of user-participation in product-development and productivity has also been acknowledged in the realms of marketing, management, and even news media (Bar, 2001; Bowman & Willis, 2003; Gillmor, 2004).

Participation has a distinctly political dimension, as it ties in with a shift in the identity of citizens in contemporary elective democracies from a rather passive informed or informational citizenry to a rights-based, cultural and voluntary citizenry. This shift, taking place from the mid-20th century to the early 21st century as for example Hartley (1999), Schudson (1999), and Norris (2001) document, basically entails a notion of citizens who have become increasingly willing and able to voice their concerns and claim their place in society but do so (and often only) whenever they feel their personal (including familial, communal, and sometimes regional or national) interests are at stake. As fas as media go, this means people can be apathic, passive couch potatoes for ninety percent of their time, but become directly engaged participants in some local or global Habermasian public sphere when issues are involved which they have prioritised for themselves (hence my earlier suggestion of a necessary interdependency of participation and disconnection).

Participation as a core element of digital culture also has its roots in an emerging DIY (Do-It-Yourself) culture, particularly flourishing during the 1990s, with people increasingly claiming the right to be heard rather than be spoken to - such as in the case of the traditional mass media broadcasting model - there is even a DIY channel on the US cable television network. Hartley (2002: 75-77) describes how this kind of self-righteous media citizenship also incorporates notions of mutuality, solidarity and interactivity. Interactivity is generally considered to be one of the unique characteristics of networked digital technologies such as internet (Dahlgren, 1996; King, 1998). On the other hand, varying levels of interactivity exist in all media, with online media perhaps featuring the most advanced, multiple way options for interaction. Participation as a meaning-making value has specific internet exponents, for example present in the praxis of individual and collaborative weblogging. Tim Dunlop summarizes how weblogs have political and cultural dimensions, possibly interpellating our understanding of democracy, journalism, and other (exclusive, top-down, elitist) expert systems in society: To some people, weblogs (blogs, as the word is almost universally abbreviated to) are a geek hula-hoop, a fad that will pass once the novelty wears off; a bit of fun, but not something to get too excited about. To others they represent a rebirth of participatory democracy, a new form of journalism, and even the home of the new public intellectuals (2003).

It is tempting to claim people in (Western) democracies have become nothing but complacent consumers hell-bent on shopping and watching reality television, celebrity news or soap operas, if a narrow definition of social capital and civic engagement is used. Yet I would like to argue that today's citizen is more engaged than ever before, even if it is not within the confines of membership-based political parties, civic organizations and amateur bowling-league teams. Participation, not in the least enabled and amplified by the real-time interconnectedness of internet and however voluntaristic, non-linear, and perhaps solely fueled by particular interests is a core aspect of digital culture, and thus of an emerging (global) consciousness. I am not claiming this is good or better than other ways of circulating and producing meaning, but I do feel a sense of participation is what people have come to expect from those aspects of society they wish to engage (cf. perform) in.

[to be continued...]

Indymedia, Journalism, and Digital Culture (part 2)

Continuing ICA paper, #2

Digital culture

It is important to note that a sketch of characteristics common to a culture does not presuppose that all individuals located within that culture behave or act in similar ways. What I do want to suggest however, is that the actions and behaviours of peoples within digital culture can be summarized into a set of common elements, which we can use to study and understand the role of media and journalism in particular. In other words: a digital culture does not imply that everyone is or sooner or later will be online, but it assumes that the increasing computerization and digitalisation of society has consequences on a shared social level, both online as well as offline. I consider these consequences as these manifest \themselves in our current ways of thinking about journalism and internet.

In this context Lev Manovich (2001: 13) introduced the concept of an information culture as constituted through the visual language of the 20th century, incorporating several new ways in which information is presented and consumed, for example via displays in empty spaces like hotel lounges, airports, and shopping malls, the design of information carriers (varying from books to PDAs), and last but not least: computers. According to Manovich all these representations converge as shops are outfitted with computer screens and digital video displays, computers are outfitted for television and movie viewing, and paper, broadcast technologies and computer networks all merge into mobile wireless applications. This has consequences for the way we see and perceive the world around us. After traveling around the world, media historian Mitchell Stephens (1998) signaled the omnipresence of edited, manipulated and tweaked images as meaning-makers in the daily lives of people across the globe. The many scrambled, edited and converged ways in which we produce and consume information worldwide are gradually changing the way people interact and give meaning to their lives, according to such authors. But the emergence of such a manipulated and edited worldview in itself is not so much part of the digital culture I aim to describe here – it is an accelerator or amplifier of digital culture. As Jean Baudrillard foresaw in a famous essay of 1981, a hyperreal world is emerging in an age of simulation, typified by the realization that images seem to bear no relation to reality whatsoever, leading to a corresponding proliferation of second-hand truth (2001 [1981: 173-4). Scholars like Manovich, Stephens, Castells, and Baudrillard all seem to point at the same phenomenon: something is going on in the daily lives of media users worldwide that makes them (us) accept the fact that reality is constructed, assembled and subverted by media, and that the only way to make sense of that mediated world is to adjust our worldview accordingly, which in turn shapes and renews the properties of media. Media are not changing our worldview, but the ways we engage with, make use of, and produce our own media are changing our values and practices and thus are changing our culture. Or, as Douglas Rushkoff reminds us: reality is open source. As screen-based, networked and digital media proliferate and saturate our lives, we reconstitute ourselves as active agents in the process of meaning-making (we are participants); we adopt but at the same time modify and manipulate the consensual way of understanding reality (we engage in distantiation); and we assemble our own particular versions of such reality (we become bricoleurs). It is this process that is central to my synthesis, and which in my mind defines our contemporary yet still emerging digital culture.

Digital culture is by no means only connected to or spawned by the convergence and omnipresence of devices, it is also reproduced by us as our perceptions of reality (or for lack of a better concept: authenticity) are evolving. I see this digital culture as emerging from practices and communicative acts both online and offline, shaping and being shaped by artifacts, arrangements and activities in new and old media (which distinction becomes superfluous as all media are converging). Seen as such, digital culture is an emergent convergence of previous media cultures: print culture (cf. newspapers, books and magazines), visual culture (cf. broadcast media), and information culture (cf. an analog and digital combination of display and research media). This presupposes digital culture carries some or all of the properties of other media cultures, so let me emphasize that I do not claim to have found characteristics unique or particular to digital culture. I would like to suggest that a digital culture has emerged from the mid-20th century onwards, which development accelerated through the widespread global proliferation of internet. The core characteristics of this digital culture can be caught in three concepts, which should be seen as articulated with each other: participation, distantiation, and bricolage. In decribing these concepts, I make use of recent literature on Indymedia, alternative and oppositional media, journalism and globalization. On a side note I have to point out, that each of these elements embodies its own contradiction: with participation comes disconnection, distantiation goes hand-in-hand with tradition, and bricolage is mediated by its opposite: originality. These are not dichotomies, but must be seen as distinctions on a continuum, or as mutual constitutive parts of a whole.

[to be continued...]

Indymedia, Journalism, and Digital Culture (part 1)

Sunday May 30th I will be presenting a paper at the ICA 2004 conference in New Orleans, USA. Over the coming days, I will post (parts of) this paper chronologically - that is, in linear mode - on this blog. Its a 6.000+ words paper, so please bear with me as I experiment with this mode of publishing online. The title of the presentation is: "Indymedia, Journalism, and Digital Culture". Below is the introduction and opening comments.

start ICA paper, #1

In this presentation I aim to connect the proliferation of Independent Media Centres (IMC, or: Indymedia) around the world since the 1999 anti-WTO protests in Seattle to the emergence of a global digital culture, and to the rise and establishment of new forms of participatory journalism. In doing so, I assume Indymedia to be a journalistic platform, as its main functions can be considered to be to serve as a platform for the production and dissemination of (alternative) news and information. Yet it is also a form of participatory user-generated content or we media, as it allows anyone to post and upload files, information, and news generally without an editorial moderation or filtering process (Platon & Deuze, 2003; Bowman & Willis, 2003). In the context of this essay I define digital culture as an emerging set of values, practices and beliefs regarding the way people act and interact within digital and networked media environments in contemporary society. As all media are or soon will be digital, and these electronic media can be considered to be omnipresent or even embedded in everyday life, culture can be seen as both digital, and mediated. In the context of these considerations, I treat Indymedia, journalism and digital culture as social practices of particular wired peoples emerging in societies all over the world, which practices should be seen as mutually constituent.

Leah Lievrouw (2002) urges us to look at our new media surroundings in terms of: [t]he artifacts or devices that enable and extend our abilities to communicate; the communication activities or practices we engage in to develop and use these devices, and the social arrangements or organizations that form around the devices and practices. It is in this recombinant context that my argument for the articulations of digital culture, Indymedia, and journalism can be read. Indymedia should be seen as a loosely organized set of social arrangements developing around the practices and ideals of open publishing and collective non-hierarchical storytelling (Platon & Deuze, 2003). Yet its praxis is also tied into the roles and functions of journalism and alternative news (Hyde, 2002). As a form of alternative journalism it has its roots in radical and oppositional media pre-dating the Web, both in the United States and elsewhere across the globe (Downing, 2001; Atton, 2002). In terms of the open publishing model of Indymedia online where anyone can post messages, news and information to the site without (formal) editorial filtering or intervention, and IMC site functions as a so-called group weblog. According to a much-linked to and IMHO comprehensive definition by Jill Walker (University of Bergen, Norway), a weblog is a frequently updated website consisting of dated entries arranged in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first <> though weblogs are primarily textual, experimentation with sound, images, and videos has resulted in related genres such as photoblogs, videoblogs, and audioblogs <> Most weblogs use links generously <> Many weblogs allow readers to enter their own comments to individual posts (2003). Interestingly, weblogs and more specifically group weblogs have been considered to be quite similar to pirate radio stations of the 1970s and 1980s in that they broadcast unfiltered perspectives legitimized by their existence outside of, or in opposition to, mainstream media corporations (Katz, 1999). Beyond similarities and roots in online and offline genres and structures, Indymedia must also be seen as a phenomenon particular to internet. The 100+ Indymedia sites all over the world are enabled and maintained by the particularities of the World Wide Web and its users/ producers, at once connecting local communities and issues with global ones, manifesting itself both as a particular community tied in to local interests (as different countries, regions or cities each have their own version and interpretation of Indymedia up and running), and as a general brand, easily recognizable as such through its logo and the freely downloadable IMC source code (determining the look and feel of the site all over the world). Jim Hall (2001) places news and journalism online in the social context of a changing information society, where he particularly emphasizes the reciprocal links between news providers and readers (p.25), as one of the features of this new media environment the journalistic profession finds itself in. Using examples such as the role of online information in reporting the Columbina high school killings and the Kosovo crisis in 1999, Hall goes on to suggest that online journalism is both more tied to (small) localities, and has a more global reach than ever before. In doing so, Hall closes the gap between Indymedia and journalism by implicitly referencing to an emerging digital culture within which global/local and producer/consumer distinctions are gradually fading (see for a similar argument Pavlik, 2001).

In this essay I discuss the building blocks of digital culture on the basis of contemporary discussions about journalism, (the politics of) globalization, and alternative media as these pertain to specific internet phenomena such as online journalism, (group) weblogs, and Indymedia. As the basis of this argument I use a by no means exhaustive literature review (see the bibliography of this essay), a series of interviews with online journalists and Indymedia activists across Europe, Australia and the United States between 1999 and 2002 (see: Deuze & Yeshua, 2001; Platon & Deuze, 2003; Deuze, Neuberger & Paulussen, 2004), and my ongoing cross-national research among journalists in general, and about Web-based journalisms in particular (see: Deuze, 2002a, 2002b and 2003). In doing so, I assume that digital culture has emergent properties with roots both in online and offline phenomena, with links to trends and developments pre-dating the World Wide Web, yet at the same having an immediate impact felt all over the world, particularly changing the ways in which we use and giving meaning to the omnipresent media in our daily lives.

[to be continued...]