Presented without comment #27

We Are All Human Microphones Now‘ by Richard Kim at The Nation.

There’s something inherently pluralistic about the human mic too; it’s almost impossible to demagogue, to interrupt and shout someone down or to hijack the General Assembly for your own sectarian purposes. That’s clearly been a saving grace of this occupation, as the internecine fights over identity and ideology that usually characterize left formations haven’t corrosively bubbled over into blood feuds there—yet. The human mic is also, of course, an egalitarian instrument, and it exudes solidarity over ego. No doubt, a great frenzy erupts when left gods like Michael Moore or Cornel West descend to speak, but many people only hear their words through the human mic, in the horizontal acoustics of the crowd instead of the electrified intimacy of “amplified sound.” Celebrity, charisma, status, even public-speaking ability—they all just matter less over the human microphone.

Australian Political Blog Roll – A Call for Help‘ by Greg Jericho at Grog’s Gamut.

As some of you would know, I am writing a book for Scribe publishers on social media and politics, policy and journalism. As part of the project I thought it worthwhile trying to come up with a list of all Australian political blogs. Such a thing is actually rather difficult to accomplish. The fleeting and fluid nature of the blogosphere means that many blogs come and go, some will will about politics but then drop it as a topic.

Stories and Games (1): Art‘ by Chris Bateman at iHobo.

Can games be art, and should we care either way? Every culture respects some activities and objects as ‘art’, and grants to these a certain esteem that is entirely apart from their practical uses. Art, as Oscar Wilde suggested, is quite useless, but nonetheless great art, good art, and even interesting art attracts a lot of attention, a lot of praise and criticism, and a lot of money. The question of whether games can be art is usually treated in one of two ways – often by presuming either they must be art (Santiago) or they can’t be art (Ebert). In my book Imaginary Games I take another path: the question of whether games can be art is misguided, because all art is a kind of game. To understand why this is so, there’s no better place to start than looking at the relationship between games and stories.

Morozov probes internet’s role in new democracies’ by Marwa Farag for The Stanford Daily.

Morozov began by introducing two perspectives on technology and social change: instrumentalist and ecological.

He summarized the “not particularly intellectually exciting” instrumentalist argument saying, “It all depends on the people. Technology has no impact in itself and it all depends on the human actors.”

In this perspective, the Internet is a neutral tool, an instrument and an amplifier. Morozov used the examples of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, journalist Malcolm Gladwell and New York University professor Clay Shirky to illustrate this position, posing theoretical questions arguing against the instrumentalist position.

Morozov then moved to describe the ecological position, a position he feels is more accurate.

“I’m much closer towards the ecological camp,” he said. “I think of technology tools as having impact and effects that transcend simple usage.”

“The idea is that [the Internet] is more than a tool: It transforms both the environment where politics is made, those who participate in politics and many other keywords in the vocabulary that we use to think about protest and political change,” he added.

He also cited a FirstPost article on a hashtag that trended on Twitter following the detainment of Egyptian-American journalist Mona El Tahawy in the Egyptian Interior Ministry. The article’s headline claimed that #FreeMona resulted in El Tahawy’s release, but Morozov quoted a line from his book to raise concerns with this view.

“If a tree falls in the forest and everyone tweets about it, it may not be the tweets that moved it,” he joked, going on to explain. “The fact that everyone tweets about it does not mean it was Twitter or a hashtag that resulted in that particular outcome. Certainly it was part of the story; but how important it was is something to be studied, not something to be assumed.”