Late in the third chapter of New Literacies, Lankshear breaks down three forms of the new ethos of the internet: Proprietary, Projective, and Participatory. As a mnemonic device, I will submit these to memory as the “3Ps.” I agree with these classifications as being the “new ethos stuff” of Web 2.0, but I think some of the stuff that makes up the stuff isn't as utopian as we'd like it to be. As Lankshear notes, the 3Ps are “not ‘pure,’ self-contained, or mutually exclusive modes” (2011, p. 85). And I would agree that each is not certainly “pure.” In fact, they can get pretty messy.
Though Lankshear references this particular P lastly, I will refer to it firstly, because I have some familiarity with the participatory culture of the internet. Last semester, in my Games and Learning course, we were assigned the task are participating in an affinity space. Lankshear defines an affinity space as an area that instantiates “participation, collaboration, distribution and dispersion of expertise, and relatedness” (2011, p. 68). I participated in an affinity space in the form of the Skyrim Forums, an online fan-driven discussion board surrounding the video game Skyrim. (To watch the video, follow this link
.) Lankshear makes note of “peripheral” participation, which is how I participated when I was initially “lurking” the Skyrim Forums, until, as Lankshear says, I felt “confident enough to take on more ‘elaborate’ forms” (2011, p. 85).
Back to the first P Lankshear defines, proprietary. Here is where I think this ethos stuff can get messy. Lankshear writes that we as users of online applications like Google, Amazon, Facebook etc. are benefiting from the powerful tools that each provide, while each one of these providers is benefiting from our “value addition.” These value additions would be the data these applications collect and use to retrieve advertising revenue. Most users are okay with this because they value the providers' services much more than are concerned with being tallied. However, there are some cases where users want to have their cake and eat it too.
The “value addition” reminded me of a Radio Lab podcast I critiqued earlier this semester. This podcast was about how Facebook exploits user monitoring and user data to perform social experiments without the users’ knowledge. Facebook’s reasoning for these experiments was they are trying to research and construct online social norms (which contrasted with face-to-face social norms are relatively nonexistent). But, once news got out about the unknown social experiments, users back lashed. Even though users agreed to use Facebook under its Terms and Conditions (we know we all click through those), users did not want act as Facebook’s lab rats. Lankshear noted that some of this reciprocity “might be ‘unfair’ or even ‘exploitative’” (2011, p. 81) and that “users should become aware of the extent to which… they are implicated in proprietary collaborations” (2011, p. 82), yet this is difficult when these proprietary collaborations hidden or done in secret.
Finally, the other P, projective. Part of this ethos stuff is that people want to produce artifacts on the Web for many reasons, whether personal, or to further a purpose on their affinity space, etc. Nevertheless, people have created content and are willing to share this content. This content has also been exploited.
Aggregators, like BuzzFeed or Stitcher Radio, pull content from many different sources, sometimes repackaging them, and then earn advertising revenue for artifacts they did not produce. YouTube users copy and re-upload popular videos and also earn advertising revenue. Some of these actions may qualify under Fair Use and its permissions (commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving, scholarship), however, because content is so difficult to police online, users’ content may be fueling huge advertising profits without return. Television shows like Tosh.0 or @midnight are based on such online content. Most likely they fall under the Fair Use permissions of commentary or parody as comedians make jokes about the content. Still, they seem exploitative, leaving the originality to people willing to provide content for free. (I am a fan of these shows too.)
When I first read about the “ethos of the internet,” it seemed so optimistic. Lankshear first made reference to it in New Literacies on page 29 as being ““more ‘participatory,’ more ‘collaborative,’ and more ‘distributed’” (2011). And early on in Chapter 3, after Lankshear likened the growth of new literacies and its ethos as an ascending paradigm like to the transition from the Modern to Post-Modern paradigms. But after contemplating the 3Ps, I can see that the ethos of the internet can also be cynical, and messy.The War of Art, Pages 61-86
I’ve entered Part 2 of The War of Art called Combating Resistance, Turning Pro. This section of the book coincidentally aligned with Lankshear’s assessment of ascending paradigms. As with a switch from Modernism to Post-Modernism, Pressfield describes the switch from being an amateur and becoming a pro. Last week, Pressfield touched on this comparison
of the amateur and the professional as he defined “Resistance,” and I analyzed these two roles as Discourses. In this section, he digs deeper into the topic, adding more definition to the amateur, as well as its ascending paradigm, the pro.
First, Lankshear notes that when changing a paradigm, “it is more like a transcendence , in which elements of an earlier state of affairs are carried over and reshaped to become parts of new configurations” (2011, p 52). Pressfield carried over the state of misery of Resistance (writer’s block) into the misery of an artist, writing “the artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for Hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation” (2003, p. 68), as well as “He has to love being miserable” (2003, p. 68). In many ways, Pressfield’s embracement of misery this is a more evolved, transcended version of misery than that the misery of writer’s block.
Most of what Pressfield defines between the amateur and the professional would be classified as the human-elements of these Discourses
(beliefs, interpretations, desires, etc.). But, during a paradigm shift, practices can change too, as Lankshear wrote there “obviously, are not just shifts in ideas and beliefs; thy entail changes in practices” (2011, p. 54)
While making his distinctions of the amateur and the professional, Pressfield also makes references to changes in practices. He describes how simply sitting down and beginning the work can bring about some inspiration. Pressfield writes “the mundane physical act of sitting down and starting to work… set in motion a mysterious but infallible sequence of events that would produce inspiration” (2003, p. 64). He also notes that a pro asks for help whereas an amateur thinks he or she can figure it out, writing “he seeks out the most knowledgeable teacher… The student of the game knows the levels of revelation that can unfold” (2003, p. 85).Citations
Lankshear, C. (2011). New Literacies: Concepts and Theories. In New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning (3rd ed., p. 29, 52, 54, 68, 81, 82, 85). New York, New York: Open University Press.
Pressfield, S. (2003). The War of Art: Break through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (p. 64, 68, 85). New York, New York: Grand Central Publishing.