What change has social media brought about that we as writers of culture should be concerned with? I wanted to take this opportunity to explore posts and writings by Amanda Grace Sikaraskie, Suey Park and Danah Boyd.
Amanda Grace Sikaraskie
Sikaraskie writes “Social media shifts the role of authority from being vested solely in a historical cultural domain, such as the museum or the university history department, to being shared with a community- or user-generated body of information that is critiqued within the community” We can begin to question whether that authority of a cultural writer should have ever existed. This wall created by an elitist notion now has the opportunity to collapse. Sikarskie further explains how the cultural history domain looks now that a community can actively participate with it.
For one, there is an easier process for those that would like to contribute to an area of study. Sikaraskie uses historical quilt making as an example. In this situation, readers contribute their own analysis and ideas. In one case a mistake of authenticity is caught by an amature historian. In this scenario, Sikaraskie acts as a curator of the topic. This sort of user input possibly existed in the past through letters written to journals or newspapers. Technology has now formalized this process, made it accessible to more people, made it transparent and made it instantaneous. From hailing a cab, to ordering a pizza we have seen technology shake up every industry in some way, now it is our turn.
Suey Park insists there is no way to decide what goes viral and what does not. It is determined by the invisible hand of the community. She goes on to say how companies would love to know the formula if it existed, which it does not.
This piece can serve as a warning to cultural writers who have expectations to the reaction they will receive for a piece. Just like there is little way for Coke or Pepsi to control a social media response, the same holds true for academic writing. We hear often that something on-line has developed a life of its own, or gone viral. Cultural writers a group that is not used to being in the limelight. Cultural writers also must make a decision if they are silent observers or political activists.
I am not sure if I totally agree with Danah Boyd’s premise that race is divided by social media sites, at least as a permanent condition. I am more interested in the related idea that there are a lot of dead links out there. What yesterday could have been a high tech digital humanities project, now can be filled with antiquated technology and broken links.