Tag: rhetoric

The Internet is More than Social Media

I wanted to take a moment to talk about Brian Chen’s article, “The Internet Trolls Have Won. Sorry, There’s Not Much You Can Do.” in the New York Times. It’s an interesting piece for a lot of reasons, and I like a lot of what Brian and Dr. Papacharissi have to say. That said, I have trouble with an approach that accepts the status quo as inevitable; especially, when that acceptance helps to normalizes a reliance on corporate governance as the only possible way to fix the internet and networked communications.

Chen isn’t wrong. His article just appears assumes there is only one option, to continue using and relying on the problematic platforms developed by those corporations and hope they “fix” it for us. They won’t. The Internet trolls have “won” because the corporations that drive modern social media platforms make a ton of money off those trolls (see my Valve discussion) for more on that). Until they stop making money (this is something that Facebook may actually be grappling with) the trolls will win. Of course, they only win on those platforms.

If you rely on those platforms, you’re sunk. So you have …

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Media Overflow

I spend a lot of time in front of a screen. I am betting most of us do.

We’re connected in some really incredible ways to a world of movement and information. The trouble is we have an overload. We know this. We’ve known for a long while, and yet we’re addicted to that same overload.

We’re gluttons for media, we crave input. We are children of the screen. Technology and media companies know exactly how to feed our hunger. They use it to keep drawing us back in, and by god do we keep coming back. Media saturation is our favored drug, and we suck it up wherever we can.

Should we turn it off, then? No. I’m not suggesting we disconnect. Our technology may not be politically neutral, but there are ways to tactically appropriate its power. We need to exploit those ways. Sometimes, indeed many times, this always-on connection can be a benefit. We can act and respond faster. We can connect with one another. We can plan and gather needed information in ways we never could have before. What I am suggesting is that we actually get tactical. We consider our …

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Critique and Action: Post-Critical Reflections

I have been thinking a lot about Latour’s 2004 article, “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern” in Critical Inquiry. In rhetoric and tech comm it is an old article, not yet a venerated ancient text but old enough to be talked about as a historical trend (which raises a whole slew of other questions that can be addressed later). In it Latour talks about the limits and potential danger of critique in, what was then, the coming “post-truth” age.

He wonders if critique and constructivism have helped to usher in that age. Certainly, modern academia has dealt with that accusation for quite some time. By showing how facts and truth are constructed, socially or otherwise, it is suggested that we undermine a universal faith in that truth. We do. We should. Indeed, we are at our best when we are peeling back the veneer of truth and fact to reveal the deeper relationships involved. Yet, it is difficult to believe that critique, alone as it stands, is enough. For Latour, and I tend to agree, critique has its own adherents who take great pleasure in tearing down the social and …

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