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VIEWS: 38 PAGES: 39

  • pg 1
									      New Identities, New Societies, New Religions?

Charles Ess
Professor MSO (med særlige opgaver), (2009 – 2012)
Institut for Informations- og Medievidenskab
Århus Universitet

<imvce@hum.au.dk>
<charles.ess@gmail.com>
Backgrounds -                   Computation /
                             “computational turn”
                                                              Communication
                                                               theory / history
                                                              McLuhan-Kondor
  Philosophy
    Information                   SELF / IDENTITY                 New Media /
    ethics  privacy              // COMMUNITY?                  Digital Media
                                       vis-à-vis
    Political                         Mediated                       Computer-
    philosophy –                  Communication?                       Mediated
    modern liberal             [Cultures / cultural           Communication
                                  perspectives                         empirical
    democracy
                              Phenomenology                             research
                               Embodiment
    Phenomenology                                                        - privacy
                                 Virtue ethics]
                                                                      -democracy
                                                                            online
Warning! Kantian transcendental
                                                               - religion online /
unity of apperception at work …
                                                                   online religion
              Comparative Philosophy / Religious Studies
                (Abrahamic Religions, Confucian thought,
                Buddhist traditions, Indigenous traditions)
                                                                               2
Backgrounds -




           work in progress:
           co-editor (with May Thorseth, NTNU), Trust
           and Virtual Worlds: Contemporary
           Perspectives (Peter Lang, 2010);‟
           Co-editor (with Pauline Cheong, Peter Fischer-
           Nielsen, Stefan Gelfgren), Church and New
           Media (proposed)                                 3
                             Overview …
1. A theoretical framework for analyzing computer-mediated
   communication (CMC): McLuhan-Eisenstein-Innis-Ong +
   Baron (2008) / Kondor (2009)
 Correlation between prevailing communication technology and sense of
 self / selves // identity / identities
 Shift from modern / atomistic / autonomous individual to relational,
 “smeared-out” self.

2. Empirical turn – predictions fulfilled!(?)
A. Privacy and democracy: fading hopes?
B. Contemporary religious institutions and the renegotiation of authority
   online.


3. Concluding remarks: future selves? future societies? future
  religions?                                                                4
I. Communication theory: “classic” Innis-Eisenstein-McLuhan-Ong /
contemporary - N. Baron (2008), Z. Kondor (2009): from orality, literacy
and print to the secondary orality/literacy of cyberspace

orality                   relational selves              (non-democratic)
                          inextricably interwoven
                          with community
(orality)-literacy        relational selves /             (authoritarian /
                          reflective / rational        hierarchical regimes)
                          selfhood
(orality/literacy)-       “atomic” individual –        modern liberal state
print                     Cartesian mind vs. body /    / democratic polity
                          Kantian autonomy
secondary orality of      networked individual /                ???
electronic media /        relational – “smeared out”
cyberspace?               self

 key questions:
1) what sort of self / selves emerges in correlation with secondary orality?
2) ethical / political possibilities of such selves?
                                                                               5
I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor
orality – (pre-agricultural): repetition (rhyme) and
  performance (song, dance as “technologies of memory” –
  e.g. The Iliad, The Odyssey) – cf. Baron, 185

literacy – (agricultural) writing / texts
rise of critical thinking, logic, natural science – PreSocratic
   philosophy  (Socrates – still “purely” oral?), Plato, Aristotle
(cf. Baron, 195f.)
 rise of reflective self – e.g., as fostered through diaries,
   letters as “technologies of the self” (1st ct. Rome –
   Foucault; Baron 195)


                                                                      6
 I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor
print – Protestant Reformation
 Scientific “Revolution”
 rise of modern nation-state and liberal democracies …
 the analytical-systemic view of Newtonian mechanics as applied to
 all aspects of life (including markets / capitalism as now separate
 from ethical / political / religious spheres of life – McLuhan)
 Lutheranism 101: sola scriptura – the individual + his (her) Bible…
 (as standardized, “fixed” by print)

 modern conception of “the individual” as a “psychic atom” radically
   distinct from Others, esp. Cartesian dualism
   (Kantian autonomy as perhaps more
     community-oriented)
 Henry Rosement, Jr. – “the peach-pit self”
(cf. Baron, 186ff.)                                                7
 I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor

secondary orality of electronic media (Ong):
the culture of secondary orality reintroduces the immediacy
  of oral communication,
brings sound and gesture back into the human sensorium,
  and
changes written text from something that is fixed and
  unchangeable to something malleable, or as Richard
  Lanham puts it, “volatile and interactive” (1993, 73, in
  O‟Leary & Brasher, 1996).

[Cf. “the fluid word” as much more the construction of “communities of interpretation”
   (including previously fragmented, marginalized ones – GLBTq / neo-Nazi hate
   groups)

                                                                                   8
I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor

 And/or: “secondary literacy”? –
 …an epoch that is characterized by the rationality of literacy,
 but which allows for multimodal enhancement due to changes in
   communications technology.
 Now there is no need to constantly translate or encode
   experiences and ideas into verbal, and thus propositional,
   structures. This possibility increasingly opens the floor to the
   idea of perceptual and motor processes which do not need
   permanent conceptual supplementation (though sometimes
   conceptual apparatuses might facilitate responses).
  embodiment (keep in mind …)
 Zsuzsanna Kondor, “Communication and the Metaphysics of Practice: Sellarsian Ethics
   Revisited,” in Kristóf Nyíri (ed.), Engagement and Exposure: Mobile communication and
   the Ethics of Social Networking, 179-187. Vienna: Passagen Verlag, 2009. P. 180

                                                                                      9
 I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor

Nota Bene:
At stake in these considerations are not simply the artifacts or
   objects conveyed by a medium:
If anything, there are more books – and texts (SMS, FB, Twitter,
   Blogs, etc.) – than ever.

Rather, at stake here are the skills and practices afforded by
 each medium – some of which are explicit, articulate, teachable –
 some of which may belong to the more tacit dimensions of how we
 learn to engage and communicate in our world as embodied
 beings…

And again: what sort(s) of self / selves // identity / identities are
  fostered by these skills and practices?
                                                                       10
 I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor
Consider: reading and writing in Literacy-Print vs. reading and writing in
  “the age of fast text” (Baron)
Handwriting – even when aided by the “new efficiency” of cursive writing (1st
  ct. Rome) – requires time:
                          Reading is fast, but handwriting is slow – it retards
                          thought‟s due process, it consumes scupperfuls of
                          time, it pushes every competing utterance away –
                          and that is its great virtue, in fact, over mere
                          underlining, and even over an efficient laptop
                          retyping of the passage: for in those secret
                          interclausal tracts of cleared thought-space … new
                          quiet racemes will emerge from among the paving
                          stones and foam greenly up in places they never
                          otherwise would have prospered.
                          -- Nicholson Baker, who “copies out passages
                          longhand when he wants to understand or reflect
                          upon the words of others” (Baron 2008, 197)           11
 I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor
More broadly, since Erasmus, there is the recognition
/ emphasis in Western traditions that writing out
important quotations from others, e.g., in a
“Commonplace Book”, is part of how one thereby
forms one‟s mind / self:

Erasmus … proposed that individuals could
strengthen their minds through guided use of the
written word. In his manual On Copia of Words and
Ideas, Erasmus counseled young men to read the
works of great (inevitably dead) writers and then copy
out important passages into a commonplace book,
following an older medieval tradition. These
passages were to be organized into conceptual
categories, committed to memory, and then
incorporated through paraphrase into the young
man‟s own thinking and writing. …
                                                                       12
 I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor
… The Renaissance commonplace movement, of which Erasmus was the
  best-known proponent, thrived up into the nineteenth century, with a
  gentleman‟s commonplace book serving both as a vehicle for and a
  chronicle of his intellectual development. The initial scribal act was a
  necessary component in this stepwise development in the life of the
  mind.
Baron 2008, 196f.
        (Commonplace book image from:
  http://cg.scs.carleton.ca/~luc/Commonplace
              Book-PlimptonMs276-
             England16thCentury.jpg)



(Cf. Puritan / Protestant emphasis on solitary reading of the Bible, reflection
  / interpretation as central to the formation and fostering of one‟s spiritual
  development.)
                                                                             13
 I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor
And: as scholars know well:
It is through the various techniques we have developed – underlining,
    marginalia, re-reading the same (fixed, stable) text, developing and
    defending interpretations through the hermeneutical circle (thereby
    engaging logic, argument, critical analysis, etc.) – of “of coming to grips”
    with the extensive texts made available in articles and books
that we develop careful and defensible understandings of important texts,
    furthering both our own (self) understanding and, though dialogue and
    exchange, that of others.

         Again, key question …what sort of self/selves / sense of
        identity/identities is fostered through these practices and
        techniques, as afforded via literacy-print as modalities of
        communication?



                                                                               14
 I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor
(recent philosophy – feminism / environmentalism / Floridi)

From the perspective of computer-mediated communication:


… the rise of networked communications, already in “Web 1.0”
 is affiliated with the emergence of “the networked individual”

a self that utilizes CMC technologies to sustain both weak- and
  strong-ties, using these to reinforce and enhance real-world
  f2f relationships (Wellman & Haythorntwaite 2002)



                                                                       15
 I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor
And with “Web 2.0”?
( greater) interactivity – Social Network Sites, “Pro/sumers,” etc
 more seamless interweaving between offline and online worlds
 1990s distinction between “real” and “virtual” is no longer seen to be
   meaningful (Consalvo & Ess 2010)
Global diffusion, especially via mobile devices – “second wave” of
   internet/web diffusion / accessibility, especially in the developing world
    currently, 24% of world‟s population interconnected
    ever greater cross-cultural encounters online

 Consequences for our sense of self/selves?

From Turkle‟s (in)famous postmodern identity play in MUDs and MOOs to
  …
                                                                                16
 I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor
Goffman and the relational self:

According to Goffman, we take on specific characters to please our current
  audience: we adapt to social situations and perform according to
  common expectations of the roles we embody (Goffman, [1959] 1990).
  These expectations differ according to interactional contexts; e.g.
  a social, career-minded, family person embodies different roles in
  front of her/his children, spouse, friends, and colleagues. In
  everyday social situations we are consequently deliberately conscious of
  matching our presentations of self to expectations of the roles we
  embody. (Lüders 2010, 457)

 Revised in order to fit electronically mediated forms of communication
 …

                                                                        17
 I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor
CMC & Goffman:
Studies of self-performance and socialization are commonly situated within a
  context emphasizing the structures and features of network societies,
  arguing that modern Western societies have experienced the
  emergence of limited purpose, loose relationships, more fluid, yet
  meaningful social networks (Benkler, 2006, p. 357).
Instead of depending on locally embedded, thick, and stable relations (such
  as indicated by Tönnies’ (1955) concept of Gemeinschaft), individuals in
  network societies are “more dependent on their own combination of
  strong and weak ties” (Benkler, 2006, p. 362); people navigate
  complex networks according to needs (Benkler, 2006, p. 362;
  Rheingold, 2002) and purposes of socialization, collaboration, and
  sense of belonging (Wellman, 2002).

Cf. the relational self as described by Ames and Rosemont in Confucian
  thought …
                                                                          18
 I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor
Cf. the relational self as described by Ames and
  Rosemont in Confucian thought …
   …ren is one’s entire person: one’s cultivated
     cognitive, aesthetic, moral, and religious
     sensibilities as they are expressed in one’s
     ritualized roles and relationships.
    It is one’s “field of selves,” the sum of significant
    relationships, that constitute one as a resolutely social
    person. Ren is not only mental, but physical as well: one’s
    posture and comportment, gestures and bodily
    communication (Ames and Rosemont 1998, 49: emphasis
    added, CE).
    Ames and Rosemont translate xin as “heart-and-mind,” to make the
    point that “…there are no altogether disembodied thoughts for
    Confucius, nor any raw feelings altogether lacking (what in English
                                                                              19
    would be called) ‘cognitive content.’” (1998, 56 – emphasis added, CE).
    So – consider the phenomenology of a contemporary networked
      – relational self in the age of “fast text” (Baron 2008)?

    Twitter /
     tweets                                                                                                                                   SMS




     Email …                                                                                                                              Phone call (?)


         FB status /
         update
                                                                                                                                          YouTube upload

                  Chat


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/41/First_Gold_Beam-Beam_Collision_Events_at_RHIC_at_100_100_GeV_c_per_beam_recorded_by_STAR.jpg/400px-
First_Gold_Beam-Beam_Collision_Events_at_RHIC_at_100_100_GeV_c_per_beam_recorded_by_STAR.jpg

                                                                                                                                                               20
I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron-Kondor
What hermeneutics and other practices are fostered,
afforded by such media?

Cf. the average text production of a U.S. adolescent – 80 a day;
texts are usually short and ephemeral – rather literal, utilitarian, not
requiring much effort at interpretation (that would defeat their
purpose) …
“I don‟t like having the obligation to answer an email – I much prefer to
more or less swim in the information stream [of FB, Twitter, etc.] …”

vis-à-vis dwelling with a complex and difficult text, fixed in print, etc.?

What virtues do such media foster?
Cf. Vallor 2009: patience and perseverance are required for friendship,
cross-cultural communication – vs. impatience with having to read texts that
are too long, etc. Cf. Baron 2008
                                                                            21
 I. Communication theory: Innis-Eisenstein- McLuhan-Ong-Baron

Hence:
the shift from literacy-print to secondary literacy/orality is a shift from
  an entire cluster of practices, affordances, “literacies” virtues, and
  hermeneutics to another ,
– and with it, it seems, the sort of self/selves / sense of
  identity/identities affiliated with each.

This, at least, is what the theory predicts …




                                                                         22
II. From theory to empiricism

    A. Privacy and democracy: fading hopes?

    B. The online church vs. the printed Word: contemporary
      religious institutions and the renegotiation of authority
      online.




                                                                  23
II. A. Privacy and democracy: fading hopes?

Privacy: philosophical perspectives, definitions
In an age of “participatory surveillance” (Albrechtslund 2008) – what is „privacy‟
   – and who needs it?

 “core space” (my term) in which one (in Kant‟s terms, as a rational
   autonomy) is able to deliberate, reflect, critique alternatives, and thereby
   freely choose / judge (phronesis) what is to be one‟s own conception of the
   good life, including
      political, religious, career, and other personal choices / commitments (in
         Kantian language, one‟s ends)
and thus
      the appropriate and necessary means for achieving those ends

 Foundational conception of liberal democracies, modern liberal state – cf.
Isaiah Berlin's well-known account of positive freedom/liberty – 1969, 131)
Deborah Johnson‟s account of privacy justifications in the U.S. (2001)
                                                                                     24
II. A. Privacy and democracy: fading hopes?
 Privacy: how far does the networked / relational / “smeared-out”
  self seek to preserve and foster such (modern-liberal-
  autonomous) privacy?

Mixed picture:
On the one hand – increasing interest in preserving individual-style
  privacy by young people, e.g. Pew Report (Lenhart and Madden,
  2007), “Facebook users‟ revolt” against Beacon project …

On the other hand:
    how many of us actually read the terms of service, e.g., for
    Facebook, etc.?
     the rise of our comfort with and pleasure in “big brother” reality
     shows, “participatory / voluntary / lateral” forms of surveillance as
     fostering (pre-modern?) community (Albrechtslund 2008)
                                                                             25
II. A. Privacy and democracy: fading hopes?
general blurring of the earlier boundaries between “public” / “private”
Porte de Choisy, 1st prize winner of the 2007 PocketFilm Festival:
  <http://www.festivalpocketfilms.fr/article.php3?id_article=648>




(Images from David 2009, pp. 81, 83)                                      26
II. A. Privacy and democracy: fading hopes?
Democracy online? Not so much …

  From 1994 to 2009: Habermasian and other forms of deliberative
  democracy online - hopes, successes, failures

  1. Jennifer Stromer-Galley and Alexis Wichowski (2010)
  While online discussion can be useful – for specific purposes and with
  careful design (not always achieved) – no examples can be cited to
  suggest that political conversation achieves the “lofty ideals” of
  Habermasian theory:
  a willingness to hear other perspectives,
  to rationally argue for one‟s own opinions while grounding those
  opinions in sound evidence,
  to aim for identifying problems and solutions that will benefit the
  greater good (Dahlberg, 2001). (Stromer-Galley & Wichowski 2010,
  181)
                                                                       27
II. A. Privacy and democracy: fading hopes?
From 1994 to 2009: Habermasian and other forms of deliberative
   democracy online - hopes, successes, failures
2. Even as modified / amplified by incorporation of feminist emphases
   on the importance and legitimacy of emotion and narrative (i.e.,
   beyond narrowly rational/logical emphases) – e.g., Thorseth, 2008
- hopes for realizing deliberative democracy online are countered by
   the predominance of, e.g.,
“the daily me” (fragmentation),
   problems with “noise” (too many voices, too little time),
   consumer-oriented media consumption, shopping, etc. (Thorseth,
   2009)

 dimming hopes for the Internet as perhaps overcoming “the problem
 of the Public” – the need to improve “the methods and conditions of
 debate, discussion and persuasion” (Dewey 1927, 208, in Thorseth
 2008, 221; cf. Stromer-Galley & Wichowski 2010, 169.)               28
II. B. The online church vs. the printed Word: contemporary
religious institutions and the renegotiation of authority online.
 Especially under Web 2.0,
   greater interactivity between community members as “always on,”
   “smeared-out selves” greater equality between laity and clergy, may
   favor some variants of Protestantism that seek to emphasize
   “community of believers,” greater equality, etc.?
 [Cf. Cheong et al:
 …the Internet contributes to a more participatory process and …
   church leaders are encouraging community building and identity by
   having members construct their own photographs and narratives
   online that reflect members‟ own cognitive frameworks of everyday
   spatial experiences related to the church. Online communication
   in this sense goes beyond the organizational control of both
   religious and geographic facts, since church leaders recognize
   the difficulty of regulating information online. (301; emphasis
   added, CE)
                                                                         29
“Off the map” –
 Ultra-orthodox
rejection of the                Fideism / emotivism
     Internet
                                                      Evangelicals (U.S.)




         More “conservative”        Institutional             More marginalized /
            / hierarchical         Characteristics              progressive /
                                                                  egalitarian


             Literacy / print       Communication               Secondary orality,
                                     Technologies                 interactivity
                                                                  (“Web 2.0”)
    Roman Catholic                  Danish Folkekirken?

             Text archives,          Characteristic             Audio-visual, chat,
              One-to-many            Uses of New
                                                             “techno-pagans”
                                                                   comments,
             “broadcasting”             Media                   (micro) blogging,
                                                                Social Networking     30
                                 Critical Rationalism
II. B. The online church vs. the printed Word: contemporary
religious institutions and the renegotiation of authority online.
 in the face of the threat of online communication / secondary orality /
    secondary literacy to earlier, more hierarchical, print/literacy based
    forms of selves / authority / community, however …
 emerging practices of
 a) religious leaders learning to utilize and control new media for the
    sake of sustaining, expanding community as now increasingly
    constructed and experienced in online venues

 b) religious leaders thereby re-negotiate, regain some level of
    control, authority, e.g., through acquiring the skills, literacies
    needed to maintain control, presence of the institution in online
    settings …



                                                                             31
II. B. The online church vs. the printed Word: contemporary
religious institutions and the renegotiation of authority online.
 in the face of the threat of online communication / secondary orality /
    secondary literacy to earlier, more hierarchical, print/literacy based
    forms of selves / authority / community, however …


 c) use of appeal to Scripture to resolve disagreements and re-
    establish authority of religious leaders …

  print continues to anchor religious authority in the age of new
  media

  Perhaps Ong was right: secondary orality / secondary
  literacy will emerge as forms of communication that
  supplement / complement literacy-print,
  rather than replace them?                                                  32
III. Concluding remarks: future selves, societies, religions?

Innis-Ong appear to be correct regarding how the self changes
in correlation with new communication technologies

BUT: what will happen regarding
hermeneutical experiences / facilities / virtues affiliated with
literacy-print
vis-à-vis
hermeneutical experiences / facilities / virtues affiliated with
literacy-print ?




                                                                   33
III. Concluding remarks: future selves, societies, religions?

1. Secondary orality as revolutionary replacement of
  literacy/print  loss of modern self (and thus
  democratic state)?

Especially if we hold to a 1990s‟ dualism emphasizing
  “secondary orality” as replacement, not supplement
  to orality / literacy / print (e.g., Barlow 1996) 
will such a networked, “smeared-out” self - while highly
  relational, more fully interwoven with a larger,
  indeed global community - be able to acquire and
  sustain the basic skills and capacities of free
  rationality, deliberation, judgment (phronesis),
  required to justify and sustain viable democratic
                                                                ?
  societies?
                                                                34
III. Concluding remarks: future selves, societies, religions?

 Or … 2: perhaps Ong is right?

   Literacy/print supplemented by secondary orality – and with it, a
   hybrid self emerges that conjoins both
    the modern-private-autonomous self (and with it, the
    democratic state?) – i.e., one still steeped in the
    technologies of literacy and print as a “technology of the
    self” (Foucault) – still capable of using the skills and
    facilities afforded by literacy and print to create and foster
    the self required for modern liberal democracies;

    with                                                             +?
    a (“post-post-modern”) relational/ smeared out self as
    fostered by the technologies of electronic / networked
    media in a secondary orality.
                                                                          35
III. Concluding remarks: future selves, societies, religions?

So what will happen?

1) Will we continue to experience – and largely with
   contentment (“voluntary surveillance”) the loss of individual
   privacy, especially in online environments  shifting
   increasingly in favor of a relational / smeared-out self – one
   that seems to be at odds with the individual autonomy
   required for modern liberal democracy?
(Reminder: general dimming of hopes for realizing democracy
   online in strong forms)




                                                                    36
III. Concluding remarks: future selves, societies, religions?

And/or

2) Reminder: the evidence from religious institutions (East and
  West) – so far – indeed shows Ong was right: literacy-print
  sustains itself alongside the migration into online
  environments.

3) More broadly, the findings of CMC scholarship over the last
   decade support Ong:
Old media rarely die, and humans remain the reference point
   and prototype for technologically mediated communication.
-- Klaus Bruhn Jensen (2010, 44)

                                                                  37
III. Concluding remarks: future selves, societies, religions?

4) There may be “life-phase” / developmental changes over time
  that balance out emphasis on electronic media?




                                                         (Ling 2009, 66)
                                                                       38
Or? (your turn) – thanks!




                            39

								
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