[iDC] The wrong kind of youth and distributed capitalism

juha huuskonen juhuu at juhuu.nu
Wed Jan 3 13:36:49 EST 2007

Related to Trebor's posting - 

Last summer at an Aula event in Helsinki, Danah Boyd gave
an interesting presentation about the challenges that young
people have with managing their online identities... You can
find the 8-min videoclip here:

Also more at http://www.danah.org
'My research focuses on how people negotiate a presentation of self to unknown audiences in mediated contexts. In particular, my dissertation is looking at how youth engage with digital publics like MySpace, LiveJournal, Xanga and YouTube. I am interested in how the architectural differences between physical and digital publics affect sociality, identity and culture.'

Her Master's thesis 'Faceted Id/entity: Managing representation in a digital world'


----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Michel Bauwens 
  To: IDC list 
  Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007 6:13 AM
  Subject: Re: [iDC] The wrong kind of youth and distributed capitalism


  This is a great posting, and I wonder if I could republish it in my own blog, as an appeal for participation literacy? Do let me know.

  I mostly agree with what you said, though perhaps I would to stress the following points, which I think are actually implied as a subtext (see your dual account of Amazon). 

  I think that a too stringent duality between the interests of users, and the netarchical capitalists (http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Netarchical_Capitalism ) who both enable and exploit participatory platforms, like Amazon, would be counterproductive.

  People who do participate in such platforms get a lot of value out of it, they are not just being exploited. If you write a review for Amazon, you contribute to the collective intelligence of the system, and you profit from that. Furthermore, it is part of your identity, and you get reputation value, as expressed by that youngster. 

  On a deeper level, socially, we are less and less in a pure situation of workers/consumers that are exploited by an external force, but rather, we move in and out of situations, consuming one day, created user content the other; working in peer production one day, as free lancer the other day, as employee the third. 

  Hence, what works best I think is to show the dual nature of those platforms, that they are both useful, and harmful, that the owners/organizers are both acting in our interest (because it is what they live from) and in their own, and that an awareness of the difference is crucial, and that they are not powerless against such abuses. And of course, the awareness that they can also create their own platforms, and avoid these dependencies altogether. (see http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=736)

  Like with environmental education, where it has been shown that while direct participation in nature increases critical awareness, purely critical approaches actually made youth cynical and apathetic. 

  So we should go 'with them' and their peer ethics, rather than teach from the outside.

  Don't we all use all kinds of 'corporate' tools, after all they are useful, allow sharing and participation, give all kinds of value, and furthermore, it is also 'where the people and their attention' is, so that worldchangers would be ill advised to isolate themselves amongst smaller but purer in-crowd projects? 


  On 1/3/07, Trebor Scholz <trebor at thing.net> wrote: 
    I agree with Brian that youth should not be looked at as a prime example to be imitated or as a solace for our own bad habits. However, at the same time it is absurd to claim
    that today's kids are just the "wrong (uncritical) kind of youth." 

    [The phrase "the wrong kind of snow" goes back to a statement by British Rail's Director of Operations Terry Worrall, who stated on 11 February 1991 that "we are having
    particular problems with the type of snow".] 

    Youth needs to be educated and what that means changes frequently. Today, informal "peer education" plays an increasingly important role. Finding your way around
    participatory cultures is crucial for professional life in the "creative industries," for citizenship, and for personal growth. This literacy needs to be taught and right now many 
    relevant skills are mainly taught outside of institutions of learning. Kids are not born with a better ability to cope with information overload (like a sixth finger to text faster).
    Teenagers don't have dual processor brains. Some of them are more fearless and playful in their encounters with technology partially because they grew up with networked 

    However, if you don't know how to deal with the constant influx of music, videos, software, email, friends on IM, and blogs and wikis and MySpace posts (now also available
    for life on the go), then you will be simply drown in a swamp of data. Your attention will be so diffuse that you can't follow through with a concentrated, long-term project. It 
    will also be hard for you to be present with another person, to actually "meet" them.

    We need an ethics of participation! That's part of  participation literacy. Do I let myself being taken advantage of by those who pull the strings behind sociable environments? 
    "Why would I not help out Amazon.com by writing book reviews for them (?), they sold great books to me." I heard this puzzling logic from a young student. I paid and
    therefore, in return, I give my labor away for free. (It's of course more complex than that as arguably  these reviews serve the public as well.) Another example: 

    In mid-December at the LeWeb 3 conference in Paris a disconcerting project was launched: YAADZ. To the realm of viral video and guerrilla marketing you can now add this
    site that offers "video advertisement by the people who watch them." YOU AD[Z]. Somebody who loves Reebok shoes can now create their own video ad and upload it too. 
    And it's free. They don't even have to pay for giving their immaterial labor away for free.

    Critical participation literacy will make kids aware that projects like this exemplify the self-exploiting hell of distributed capitalism. (Many of them lack totally this criticality.) 
    They have no hesitation to "outsource" their photo memories to Yahoo (Flickr) or to leave all their daily life traces with Rupert Murdoch (MySpace). The ethics of participation
    need to be taught.

    In a recent survey that I conducted, a participant (age 18) stated that she wears MySpace and YouTube like clothes. "They are an extension of my identity," she said. If social 
    networking sites are an expression of identity, then we need to teach a critical awareness of the environments in which kids hang out online. Students may be aware that it is
    uncool to wear Abercrombie & Fitch but they don't hesitate to trust MySpace with their life. (Abercrombie & Fitch was accused of discrimination against minority employees-- 
    2004 lawsuit Gonzalez v. Abercrombie & Fitch).

    My argument is clearly against continuous partial attention. In my opinion cpa is caused by information overload and the vertigo of choice that comes with it. To shape their 
    own vision, to follow their own life direction (not remote controlled by the carrots of distributed capitalism) youth needs to learn--

    to filter,

    to judge information sources,

    to play,

    to experiment, 

    to collaborate with others,

    to be critically aware of the ethics of participation,

    to master cooperative tools and instruments
    -this includes simple email skills
    < http://mleddy.blogspot.com/2005/01/how-to-e-mail-professor.html>

    and to meaningfully distribute their ideas (create platforms).

    It's not the wrong kind of youth, it's merely youth that needs to be educated. 


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  The P2P Foundation researches, documents and promotes peer to peer alternatives.

  Wiki and Encyclopedia, at http://p2pfoundation.net; Blog, at http://blog.p2pfoundation.net; Newsletter, at http://integralvisioning.org/index.php?topic=p2p 

  Basic essay at http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=499; interview at http://poynder.blogspot.com/2006/09/p2p-very-core-of-world-to-come.html; video interview, at http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2006/09/29/network_collaboration_peer_to_peer.htm 


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