Week 8 Discussion


– Summaries

DIY Media: A Contextual Background and Some Contemporary Themes

What is DIY (do-it-yourself) Media? According to this excerpt it is: 

Comprised digital entertainment and expressive media-animation, live action video, music video, music, spoken voice tracks, other artistic works-produced by everyday people to meet their own goals and expectations (Lankshear, Knobel).

The purpose of this text is to better understand the wide variety of do-it-yourself new media and how it works. DIY exemplifies the idea of being dependent on one’s own abilities to complete a task; thus, saving money, having the satisfaction of creating something new, and being able to make something based on one’s preferences. This text analyzes the different types of DIY media and briefly describes the elements of each. Another aspect discusses several terms, which apply to all forms of DIY niches. Several main topics of the article include: affinity spaces, practice, and participation. One must have a clear understanding of these topics in order to pursue any and all DIY media.diy

In today’s society, a common aspect of digital media is establishing an identity. People do this across the entire spectrum of social media. For example, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter each require the user to create a profile; and the act of creating this profile has become inherent in the lives of many. However, identity cannot be further established unless one becomes an active participant in how his/her identity is portrayed. In other words, one can take the initiative in changing media by participating in affinity spaces. Affinity spaces are defined as, “highly generative environments, from which new aesthetic experiments and innovations emerge” (Jenkins). Therefore, affinity spaces can be understood as different categories of media, which people associate themselves with due to an avid amount of participation. The constant participation of DIY media creators only furthers their understanding of media. The article depicts the majority of these creators as young people; the main goal of this text is to explain several characteristics of DIY media to older generations. Furthermore, the text will assist in connecting the older generations to the young people utilizing DIY media.

Why You Need Digital Know-How – Why We All Need It, Howard Rheingold

Rheingold says that the future of our society’s digital culture depends on how well we learn to use the media that has “infiltrated, amplified, distracted, enriched, and complicated our lives.” This type of learning is not something that happens automatically or naturally. It requires thinking about what you’re doing and the reasoning behind your actions rather than just going with the flow. He goes on to say that “this know-how [Rheingold is referring to the mindful use of digital media], from the art of growing social capital in virtual communities to the craft of cultivating wiki collaboration, might determine whether life online will drive us to distraction, or augment and broaden our minds.” Rheingold means that those who know how media works will be able to display more control over their fates. We are in an era where the “shape of the social, economic, political and mental infosphere” that emerges from our current media and technology can still be influenced by the actions of populations and communities who are well-versed in how our media works. He compares our society to that from five centuries ago where the spread of reading skills expanded overall collective intelligence.

Rheingold introduces five literacies that he says can change our world: attention, participation, collaboration, the critical consumption of information and network smarts. He says when people learn these skills, than healthy “economies, politics, societies and cultures” can emerge. If people do not learn these skills than we may subject ourselves to “torrents of misinformation, disinformation, advertising, spam, porn, noise and trivia.” We see these literacies a lot through our experiences on the Web – for example, we have to pay attention to see when sources are reliable  and because of “collective knowledge,” a plethora of virtual communities exist that allow for participation and collaboration to take place. These moments are made possible through the understanding of networks and learning how to take advantage of them. Knowledge of networks also allow one to protect themselves (ex. knowing how change privacy settings). Ultimately Rheingold says “critical thinking about media practices has become an essential, learnable mental skill.”

– Discussion Questions –

  1. In what ways do you think a widespread understanding of DIY media would assist society as a whole?
  2. Rheingold introduces five literacies – attention, participation, collaboration, the critical consumption of information and network smarts. Can you recall a moment in your life where you have had to apply one of these skills in order to have a better understanding of how a certain aspect of media works? If so, describe that moment and describe how it can be used to support Rheingold’s argument that if people learn these literacies, healthy “economies, politics, societies and cultures” can emerge.

– Main Ideas –

  • DIY Media: A Contextual Background and Some Contemporary Themes
    • The different ways people participate in DIY Media
    • How DIY Media is changing the way we learn
    • The transition of DIY tasks over time
  • Why You Need Digital Know-How – Why We All Need It, Howard Rheingold
    • Importance of being mindful when using technology or media
    • The fact that these are new things – there is no established set of rules or guidelines

– Ideas from Class Discussion –

  • practice—not just repetition but the concept, in terms of media
    • media engagement is socio-cultural practice
    • socially recognized ways within a culture of using tools and knowledge
    • insider perspective, a sense of affinity spaces, technical skill
    • practice is more than doing something over and over again, it is a way of immersing yourself in something, joining a “community of practice”
  • affinity spaces
    • critical reading skills
      • get a sense of what’s good in a certain kind of space and what’s not
      • takes time to build up a literacy, once you have it it becomes second nature so that you don’t even realize it’s a literacy anymore (ex. Twitter)
      • all affinity spaces haver their own sense of literacies that you have to jump in and develop
  • DIY media
    • qualities
      • user redistributed (Henry Jenkins—spreadable, not sticky)
      • remixable
      • participatory
      • easily mobilized
      • generative (inspire people to make more things out of it)
    • DIY culture enables non specialist participation as tools and knowledge become more accessible
    • DIY ethic and values—being self reliant, much more broad, an effort to keep traditional arts alive in the face of industrialization and mass production
      • ex. Etsy vs. store
    • DIY aesthetic—moved from folksy, crafty, doilies, duct tape to something that is practiced in a space, irreverent, professionalized

– Additional Readings –

“Adolescents’ DIY Media as New Literacies”

Social Media and Social Change: How Young People Are Tapping Into Change” – Ravi Kumar


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