It must be eery to be Michael Castells, watching the world unfold just as he predicted. And @Jeff, it must have been excruciating sitting on these readings while we discussed OWS.
The entire time I was reading Communication: Power and Counter-Power in the Networked Society I was completely impressed with how perceptive Castells’ theory of the workings of conter-power is shaped by mass self-communication. Castells totally pulls a Heideger when he suggests “the technology of self-communication is also the product of our culture.” Our culture, which “emphasizes individual autonomy” has created a social construction in which we can all express our opinions as individuals. He explains that “the more an individual has a project of autonomy (personal, professional, socio-political, communicative), the more she uses the Internet. And in a time sequence, the more he/she uses the Internet, the more autonomous she becomes vis-à-vis societal rules and institutions.” By which I would like to believe he means: The more of our cognitive surplus that we use doing the projects that we care about the less persuaded we become by societal rules and institutions until we become Anarchist.
(sorry, that just felt really good to write and y’all know how much time I spend on the internet working on My projects of autonomy)
In all seriousness though I think Castells’ conclusion:
“ social movements escaped their confinement in the fragmented space of places and seized the global space of flows, while not virtualizing themselves to death, keeping their local experience and the landing sites of their struggle as the material foundation of their ultimate goal: the restoration of meaning in the new space/time of our existence, made of both flows, places and their interaction. That is building networks of meaning in opposition to networks of instrumentality.”
illustrates, with frightening accuracy, the OWS movement which are now taking place all over the world. As it began online idea of an uprising was spread by the “content creators” of the “digital melting pot” and was able to spread largely due to mass self-communication tools. An interesting twist on Schradie’s point in The Digital Production Gap is that while the movement was not spread by a full democratic spectrum as she suggests (and the movement was originally criticized for not being inclusive) it found a way to build bridges of communication (i.e. Mike Checks, General Assemblies, and the use of Wiki’s to present information which are shared on the streets as well as online) which strive to create a democratic structure. And just as Castells predicted we’re seeing policing of this communication space in regards to this movement as well. Yahoo suppressing emails who’s subjects were tagged “occupy wall st” Twitter not trending any of the hashtags relating to OWS in America and misinformation being spread by saboteurs etc. And now that the movement has been going on for over a month we are seeing a wide variety of contributors from all education levels and walks of life participating in a melting pot of decent both online and off becoming more autonomous as we become vis-à-vis to societal rules and institutions that have kept us from our struggle to free our collective minds.