Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Anarchy in the UK
The ephemeral texts produced in that nexus of popular culture, new technology and literacy are of enduring interest. Web 2.0 voices tend to be un-edited and un-censored, and as a result the texts that are produced are often, in one way or another, contentious. Looking at a YouTube video that has attracted a massive number of views, and an impressive list of comments, I was struck by the passions ignited by a low-grade mash-up of a football pitch incident. The un-regulated stream of comment was perhaps predictable. A public display of taunting, trading insults, and of taking sides - and much of the writing peppered with expletives and derogatory references . Much of it is in the demotic of grafitti - not the chic high-end street art stuff - I mean the raw edged stuff, crude and rude as it is, the material we choose not to photograph and put up on Flickr. I must say I don't find it offensive, but I was troubled, but perhaps not surprised, by the shades of racism and sexism that run through the banter. That made me wonder how we stand as educators in relation to this. I realised that I couldn't subscribe to a total Web 2.0 is wonderful view any more than I could to a ban this rubbish stance. I'm convinced that we need to engage with it, we can't turn our backs on it, pretending it isn't there, or naively accept that everything in the world of popular technoculture has a rosey glow. It's just as it is - a galaxy of practices - but we need to find ways of engaging with it, critiquing it, and harnessing the tools. It's out there, laid bare!