Lesson 1 of social media culture: sociability is not inherent, its produced. All the discourse about naturality of belonging, participation, sociability should be taken as a product, not the starting point. In historical perspective things immediately turn out trickier. One could even say that the current "social turn" (referring to Web 2.0, social media, and all that) is even a bit surprising, understanding how recently crowds were deemed as dangerous, mindless and threatening. The hive mind was more of an index of dangers to democracy (both pre and post WWII). Swarms, human animality of irrational social groupings (the animality in us), collectives and such, were not automatically sources of creativity, hive minds of late capitalist sorts, but articulated together as a threat of Western civilization. Of course, the earliest examples of a much more positive stance towards e.g. emergence were to be found already in the 1910s research into insect worlds; for example the ant researcher's Wheeler's work is exemplary. Yet, the idea of mindless drone animality as represented as late as in the 1950s horror movies was an effective way of framing the non-human in us as dangerous. It seems like there would be a long way from such dangerous animalities to the productive, communicative, distributed animality of social media culture. Its the animality in current high tech media culture -- social media. Naturally Kropotkin knew this already a while ago, and his book from 100 years back Mutual Aid should be a key reference point in any genealogy of social media.
The realization that sociability must be produced and maintained is behind some ideas that try to consolidate possibilities of participation and novel communities; hence, I want to flag the launch of a cross-media platform project to catalyze discussions, a social media tool for academics, activists, etc. I would assume, knowing something about the creators Tania Goryucheva and Eric Kluitenberg's interests. It is planned as a tool to facilitate communication between online and offline communities, and equipped with tools that will probably turn out handy for the critical social media generation; web casting, automated archiving, etc. Might be of good relevance to our starting Network Politics project.
Launch at the De Balie, Amsterdam, September 10, 20.30, and online: www.coolmediators.net .