Tara Brabazon: The Rice-A-Roni Paradox

Can a person use Wikipedia, Google and every other social and digital tool out there and still be critical of it? I guess I am partly one of those born before 1980 whom Clay Shirky writes about (p. 303 of 2008 hardcover edition Here Comes Everybody):

One reason many of the stories in this book seem to be populated with young people is that those of us born before 1980 remember a time before any tools supported group communications well. For us, no matter how deeply we immerse ourselves in a new technology, it will always have a certain provisional quality.  -Shirky

That is closely the vantage point I am at: the doubting user who doesn’t see online status updates as a birthright.

In researching for a future Wikipedia post, I came across a critic of Google and Wikipedia that doesn’t strike the same cord as anti-Wiki or anti-Google crowd, I’ve come across.  Tara Brabazon doesn’t take the kind of evil empire approach that makes mountains out of molehills but she does take a exception to Google and Wikipedia becoming the default position for young scholars in-training and particularly on Clay Shirky’s book regarding accessibility and, ‘his assumption that “we” can learn about technology from technology.’  She is no anti-social media demogogue.  Her credentials include: Professor of Media at the University of Brighton, United Kingdom, Visiting Professor at Edge Hill’s SOLSTICE CETL, Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA), Director of the Popular Culture Collective and Programme Leader of the Master of Arts in Creative Media.

Below is video of Brabazon talking about her recent book: The University of Google

From Product Description

Information is no longer for social good, but for sale.Tara Brabazon argues that this information fetish has been profoundly damaging to our learning institutions and to the ambitions of our students and educators. In “The University of Google”, she projects a defiant and passionate vision of education as a pathway to renewal, where research is based on searching and students are on a journey through knowledge, rather than consumers in the shopping centre of cheap ideas.Angry, humorous and practical in equal measure, “The University of Google” is based on real teaching experience and on years of engaged and sometimes exasperated reflection on it.

So not anti-social media, just against social media technology replacing the role of teachers.  Her critique of Here Comes Everybody is something that I’ve thought about but have never written about here.

They are shielded through the flawed assumption that if more “people” (and as a visitor to Second Life, I use this word advisedly …) are involved in doing “something” then it becomes important. When we were at high school, this was called mob rule. Now it is called social networking.  . . Older citizens, the poor, the illiterate and the socially excluded are invisible in Shirky’s “everybody”. Once more, the US, and occasionally the UK, is “the world” in the world wide web. The hypothesis is clear: the internet/web/Web 2.0 changed “everything”. The question remains: for whom?

I think she makes some valid points, and merely to assume that those indirectly affected by social media are some how a part of it (as a sole commenter of the post does), is in my opinion careless.  If information is power, and access to information is necessary to gain power, inaccess is connected to powerlessness.  The irony of this is that I was ready to buy up one of 10 books by Mrs. Brabazon, but found that they were too expensive for me to purchase.  I understand that a writer has got to eat, but does that mean that the price of admission is more risotto than rice-A-roni?


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3 responses to “Tara Brabazon: The Rice-A-Roni Paradox

  1. Pingback: Response#10-First experience editing Wikipedia « Media Indigest

  2. Pingback: Response#11- N is for Namibia « Media Indigest

  3. Pingback: White Bread Should Be Used Sparingly (Response Blog) « Txtwin2's Blog

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