last night I went and had a good dig into the blog led by Dr. Michael Wesch
I was intrigued initially by his amazing films first sparked by The machine is Us/ing us
This topic is widely discussed on his blog posting. Wesch writes
In face-to-face communication events we carefully assess the context of the interaction in order to decide how we will act, what we will say, and how we might try to construct and present ourselves. As Erving Goffman has demonstrated, we continuously and often unconsciously take note of the physical surroundings, the people present, and the overall tone and temper of the scene among many other things (1959). As social beings, we have become remarkably adept at sizing up such situations, often performing herculean social calculations almost unconsciously in the micro-second gaps of conversation or even occasionally in a more conscious and deliberate manner even as the conversation continues to buzz along. When engaged in social interaction, a person is not only evaluating the situation, but also his own self and how it fits into the situation. Such evaluation is necessary for the person to engage in the conversation effectively.
Wesch then moves onto our increasing relationship with the webcam
Through it we can reach out to a next door neighbor or across the world ? to people we love, people we want to love, or people we don?t even know ? to share something deep or something trivial, something serious or something funny, to strive for fame or to simply connect. That seemingly innocuous and insignificant glass dot is the eyes of the world and the future.
and narrowing in on his theme of context collapse,
The problem is not lack of context. It is context collapse: an infinite number of contexts collapsing upon one another into that single moment of recording. The images, actions, and words captured by the lens at any moment can be transported to anywhere on the planet and preserved (the performer must assume) for all time. The little glass lens becomes the gateway to a blackhole sucking all of time and space ? virtually all possible contexts ? in upon itself.
As we have often written here, without context there can be no meaning and without meaning there can be no meaningful communication.
Howard Rheingold writes
The vast repository of information available online has changed forever our certainty about authority.
As such, the locus of responsibility for determining the accuracy of texts has shifted from the publisher to the reader.
So, the ability to be critical, and to ask the right questions is a key skill in terms of media literacy
And this is exactly what Wesch and his students are doing. In fact, reflecting on this as I sit in a Cambridge coffee shop – the depth of the discussion, and the comprehension of the needs of identity in relation to context and meaning is profound and necessary.
And what has that got to do with marketing and comunication? Well – it has everything to do with it.
Because this is the world of No Straight Lines – this world that Wesch describes so beautifully and and engagingly is not linear, process driven or structured in any form that we can recognise. Its – grassroots and immediate, with time and place playing no role at all.
I also mused on the use of language that Wesch describes in his Library of Congress presentation. Of course we have the those that fear our culture and language is being torn asunder.
Yet – on the other hand its a great leveller. Language and accent are deeply intertwined with otherness and class and therefore belonging.
This evolving democratisation of languages are signifyers of sameness – Crossing points if you will towards mutual understanding.
The rush into trying to make sense of social media within the framework of commercial marketing activity requires a deep understanding of the subject from a multiple perspectives viewpoint. The lens is Kaleidoscopic. Hence my interest in Wesch and his students and they way they are being taught.
Using the tools that have become ubiquitous to Generation C suggests much in the way we could be working and making stuff.
The discussion on the comments to Context Collapse is rich in terms of the ideas it explores. And I would suggest that marketers that want to understand how to really use the concepts of Engagement Marketing get a handle on such topics.
I still see a very real disconnect on what inventory is generated as commercial communication in this world of Flows.