Toward a New Future of “Whatever”

Here is the video from my recent talk at the Personal Democracy Forum at Jazz at Lincoln Center. About 10 minutes of it is a minor update (rehash) of An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube, but the rest is new. The gathering may have been the highest concentration of amazingly creative and concerned global citizens I have ever been around. Hallway conversations were different than your typical conversations. Instead of lots of people saying, “You know, somebody should … ” there were lots of people saying, “So I did this, this, and this, and now I’m working on doing this, this, and this and we should collaborate … ” In other words, it was a bunch of people blessed with what I once heard Yochai Benkler and Henry Jenkins call “critical optimism.” Nobody there was blindly optimistic, thinking technology was going to make everything better. They were all continually trying to figure out where we are, where we might be going, and the possible downsides and dangers of new technologies so we can use the new technologies to serve human purposes. In other words, it was my kind of crowd.

Wesch

Associate professor of cultural anthropology. Ed Traceur. Hacker. Car-free.

You may also like...

51 Responses

  1. rip says:

    Congratulations! What a great combination of entertainment and enlightenment. I enjoyed your presentation very much.

  2. Albert Born says:

    Great presentation! So many fresh insights are revealed here and I want to share it with others in my social networks. But I can’t find the social bookmarks…Thanks a lot!

  3. I really enjoyed this presentation a lot when I was up at PDF. I was a philosophy major in college, so I loved that you used Taylor’s book – I used to quote it in papers, and it even made its way into my thesis. Overall, I thought it was the best presentation of the conference.

    I did have one issue with it though – the generational theory you presented, presumably from “Generation Me,” is pretty faulty. I recommend “Millennial Makeover” as a corrective – in addition to making it more accurate, I think this will actually fit better with the arc of the story you tell. Of course, as a Millennial myself I may be biased, but I know the authors and they really know their stuff.

    Thanks again for the presentation, and I’m glad the video’s up – I’ll pass it around.

    -Dan

  4. Alan Stucky says:

    Mike,

    As always, another great presentation. Being a good Kansas boy I must thank you for single-handedly making Kansas the coolest state in the union. But then again, I’m not really one to judge “cool”.

    The question/thought that I would be interested in your thoughts on is how faith/religion/spirituality plays into this new culture, is shaped by technology, shapes the technological landscape, and is dealt with in general by these new online social worlds.

    The reason that I ask is that I am a pastor working in south central Kansas. The last couple of years I have been involved in some rather pointed discussions relating to the intersection of faith and technology, primarily the effect of the latter on the former. We’ve primarily engaged the work of Albert Borgmann but have also done work with the field in general. There is more to be said, but that might be saved for a later discussion.

    On observation that I would add to the larger discussion is the impact of social media on the culture of rural communities. On one hand, many are still quite traditional and, quite frankly, isolated from the “outside” world. On the other hand, the internet is providing ways for people to interact with the “outside” world in very immediate ways. Perhaps this is one of the side effects of context collapse. In anycase, it’s creating some very interesting situations in which worldviews that typically have stayed relatively separate are colliding in sometimes significant ways.

    alan

  5. Alex Reid says:

    Thanks Michael. A thoughtful presentation. I’m going to show it to my students this fall. I was interested in your use of the concept of “whatever,” particularly in the context of identity. Giorgio Agamben’s The Coming Community takes up the idea of whatever in a complex way that is related to what you’re going here. You might find it useful.

  6. @ Alex Reid – Agreed. Agamben hints at this idea at the end of Homo Sacer as well, though just very briefly. I think he’s talking about “whatever” in a somewhat different way than Michael invokes at the end of the talk, but the idea of “whatever” as a response to biopolitical control and fragmentation is definitely relevant.

  7. Bill Guinee says:

    Another exciting and interesting video. Thank you and thanks for the introduction to Neil Postman.

  8. Prof Wesch says:

    @Alex and Dan, Thanks for the tip. I’ll pick up Agamben asap. I read a bit online and think his ideas of “whatever being” may a great way to merge the “whatever” pieces of this piece with the more phenomenological self-awareness pieces. I’m excited to read more.

    @Alan, that’s where I’m hoping to go with this in the Fall since I will be teaching Religion In Culture. I’m especially interested in working with my students to study religious change as a change in the cultural perceptions or personal understandings of the self and its relation to the divine/sacred (however that might be conceptualized across different cultures). We’ll spend most of the semester digging into the past and other cultures, but our final project will be focused on contemporary Kansas, probably using college students as the core study population (maybe even using each other as the core population so we can always have easy access to our research subjects). Let me know if you have any ideas about what we should read or a particular direction you think we should consider taking this.

  9. Mzmacky says:

    Very nice. I’ll be sharing this with my high school students to get their responses. We did an activity in my class fashioned after the thought experiments on http://www.signtific.org/ where students would imagine and discuss the positive outcomes and the dark outcomes of a particular technology. It was a great project. I can see this topic being discussed in the same way. Thank you for your work.

  10. Interesting combination of amusing, touching, and deep.
    For one thing, it’s a more insightful use of McLuhan than most of what I’ve seen in the past fifteen years, providing some context for the buzzphrases.
    And it addresses quite directly a perceived need (across “generations”) to get involved in social change.
    A few years ago, there was an interesting discussion about individualism and solidarity among younger people in a Télé-Québec show called «Méchant contraste». Some scholars were comparing the brand political engagement by young Québécois to that of their Baby Boomer parents. The individualistic tendency of current youths was acknowledged but it was also associated with a relatively new form of solidarity. Something of the opposite of the flock mentality. This show was produced a relatively short time after a major student strike.
    In a way, the move from representative democracy to participatory democracy goes hand-in-hand with the move from large group identity (the “tribe,” the “Nation,” the “generation,” the “party”…) to more self-focused identities. According to several models, the disengagement most people notice has to do with formal political institutions of representative democracy, not with disengagement from social politics.
    As Vernon Bogdanor has it: “the age of the mass political party is over”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00kpw9j#synopsis
    Teenagers and young adults may be at the forefront of this move away from the institutions of the nationalist era, but the change is probably deeper than a mere generation gap.

  11. I enjoyed both your Introduction to You Tube presentation and The Machine Us video. I may share both with faculty at my high school in KC. As a school administrator it still amazes me how often technology is limited in the educational learning environment. You are one of the most technologically advanced educators at the post-secondary level that I have met in all my years as a student. Keep up the good work!

  12. Alan Stucky says:

    @Prof Wesch

    In terms the shifting nature of the church (this is specifically related to Christianity, although flows out into other religions as well) there is a lot of discussion about large scale sweeping shifts, specifically relating to post-modernity. (I realize that that’s a bit of a complicated term but it’ll have to do for now). It’s mostly related to the breakdown of absolute Truth (capital T) into relative truth. There is a fair bit up upheaval and change going on in most denominations regarding this cultural shift. Phylis Tickle has a good concise overview of the 500 year cycle that the church is undergoing in “The Great Emergence”. I would tie the emergence of post-modernity, or at least the speed up of it in recent years, to the advent of communication technology. In the same way that Modernity (foundationalism and objectivity, primarily) were made possible by the printing press, the awareness of the relative nature of our cultures of origin brought on by mass communication technology has allowed for the rise of relativism. Within the N. American Christian world there are some interesting responses to post-modernity. The two most interesting to me are the Emergent Church and New Monasticism. Both kinds of renewal movements but New Monasticism would be more critical of the push of technology that the EC would be. Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, Stuart Murray would all provide some interesting stuff to look at, at least from a Christian perspective.

    Connection to others who are different than us brings about both a critical view of our own culture of origin but also allows for blending and mashing of belief systems. The form of technology (youtube and other sites) still has simultaneous connecting and individualizing effects that you’ve dealt with before. Religiously, this allows for people to connect like never before but still remain at a distance. Some denominations (Mennonites, Amish, Church of the Brethren and other Anabaptists) hold a very high view of the gathered body of believers, not only for worship but also for accountability to each other. The distance that online media creates complicates the ability for individual believers to be in true community. My critique is that while churches with a low level of commitment have existed for a while, the digital form has given rise to things like multi-site churches where the preacher is piped in via video to multiple locations and people gathering in second life to watch video from a real life live service being piped into second life. It brings up questions like, what does digital communion mean, what does it mean to spend time in a monastery in Second Life, and what is the connection between the physical body and the experience of God and how does context collapse effect it? It would also be worth asking the question of how certain versions of theology are reinforced by certain cultural shifts. There are some denominations that have always had a very individualistic understanding of theology and faith, but how does the individualistic nature of social media fuel that particular theological understanding?

    In terms of the impact of the internet on rural life, I think the most important thing to look at is context collapse. What does it mean for young people to suddenly have access to ideas and people who may often expose them to radically different ideas than the often closed communities that they inhabit?

    Other resources… Albert Borgmann has been influential in my thought in the last couple of years. The book “Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life” is the core of his work. Most everything else builds off of that. While he names a lot of the issues, he also starts to provide a critique and possible ways to resist the flow of technology. You might have already engaged some of his stuff though.

    So those are my two cents. I would love to talk with you more sometime. I might even be able to come up your way if you’re interested. (digital contact is do-able, but I still prefer face to face) I’ve used a fair bit of religious language up above, which I’m perfectly willing to acknowledge is relative to my perspective both as a Christian and an Anabaptist, but I hope it was helpful anyway. I also have more thoughts on post-modernity, specifically in that the absolute relativism that has come to be known as “post-modern” really is more “hyper-modern”. True post-modernity is more about recognizing the relativism but still trying to build some larger meaning out of it. Anyway, I hope that helps. Since you’re the admin on this blog, hopefully you’ve got access to my email, if not let me know.

    Alan Stucky

  13. Prof Wesch says:

    Fascinating stuff, Alan. I have become increasingly interested in the emerging church lately, especially as it has become more controversial with a wider number of people. It seems to put a name to the type of Christianity I see more and more of here on campus, though I don’t think very many students use (or even know) the term “emerging.” There also seems to be a backlash in the works (see “Why we’re not emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be”). I have not read Borgmann, but I’ll read some of his stuff soon. You have certainly named many of the issues we would like to address in our study this semester. I’ll try to keep you posted as the semester proceeds.

  14. John Bishop says:

    Hi Mike.

    That was really good presentation (both form & content). I usually don’t watch anything over 3 minutes on YouTube, and I watched the whole thing.

    Is it time to write OH WHAT ANOTHER BLOW…?

    I went back to the village in Nepal this Spring, showed HIMALAYAN HERDERS again, and we tried to deal with leaving photo collections in the village. Everyone said to put them on the web. A week after I got home, I found all of HIMALAYAN HERDERS on YouTube (in 8 parts) put up by a villager. It was irritating at first, since I still have a basement full of DVDs, but his “about” paragraph said it was a really important film about the true way the village used to be. And i thought- what better compliment for an ethnographic film that to be pirated by the subjects of the film.

    all the best

    John Bishop

  15. Prof Wesch says:

    Hi John,
    Yes, I have been thinking of writing something like Oh what another blow …
    It is great to see Himalayan Herders up on YouTube, and great that a villager posted it originally. I’m sure many of my students (and other students around the world) will be finding it and using it now that it is more readily available.
    Thanks for stopping by our little corner of the web!
    ~ Mike

  16. Seth Galitzer says:

    I have to say, every time I hear some pundit gushing about the latest in “social networking” sites, my gut reaction is, “Who cares?” Then I watch one of your talks or videos and say, “Oh, that’s why people do this stuff.” It very nearly inspires me to put up my vlog about “nothing” because there might be the remote chance that what I have to say could resonate with someone. Because the answer to “Why?” is “Why not?”

    Something else I think you might enjoy, because it ties into using the Web as a “human” place for coming together, is the Playing For Change project (http://www.playingforchange.com). Being a musician, this resonated very strongly with me. Every couple of weeks they publish a new video, and now have a touring group featuring some of the musicians.

    Thanks for your continued insight into the wild and wooly web.

    Seth

  17. Jeff Pierce says:

    Mike, I rediscovered your work at the perfect time, right when I have decided to have a go at being more active online

    I have a question for you. Is the phenomenon of “context collapse” more pronounced for vlogs than for other forms of social media? Because it seems to me that there is a much bigger difference between talking to your computer in a room by yourself and talking on a phone or face to face versus writing an email or a letter and maintaining a blog. In other words, the loss of context is so much more important for speech than it is for written text. People have kept journals and diaries for centuries. But it is (generally speaking) the eccentric who regularly talk to their mirror.

    Thanks for sharing your work!

    Cheers,

    -jeff

  18. Jorge Raedo says:

    Congratulations Michael!

    We love your speechs and videos about internet community. They are optimistic and enlightening.

    Best from Barcelona (Spain)

    Jorge Raedo
    “What is Architecture?”

  19. Bonney M says:

    Awesome presentation and I forwarded along the link to your site to a number of friends.

    I’m curious as to whether it was a conscious or unconscious occurrence on your part that the presentation contains a very limited amount of non-European/Anglican faces, voices, or hands?

    While your pool of students to choose from may be limited by a variety of factors, Youtube and certainly the internet is not. Even in MadV’s clips, there were seemingly few diverse ‘hands’ for such a worldly message.

    Would we say then that digital ethnography is as representative of ‘world wide web’ culture as we think? Or does it represent, perhaps reinforce, the increasing division of wealth (and thus resources) in the world? Do we see this changing anytime soon?

  20. Youssef says:

    I was at your talk at EdUI 2009 and when you touched about this subject all i could think of is this song:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz7_3n7xyDg

    this was really popular when it came out overseas, not sure if it was known in the US or not (wasn’t here at the time).

    just thought i would share :)

  21. pubcc says:

    It`s great, thank you !!

  22. AKfour seven says:

    I stand here today humbled by the task before dofus kamas, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our cheap dofus kamas. I thank President dofus for his service to buy dofus kamas, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

  23. Stealth Blue says:

    Dear Mike,

    I have thoroughly enjoyed much of what you have posted up on this site. If I had plans to go to K-State I would most certainly look into joining your class. It is a shame that this course is not offered at other schools as well.
    Having looked at much of your material, I am now finding myself wondering if I should create a Vlog myself. It would be an interesting experiment, as all of your students have discovered. It is an intriguing subject matter that you teach. There are so many changes, some are easy to see, many are not easy to see. Some are good, some are bad, others are indifferent. Sometimes I find that I challenge myself with trying to incorporate only the good changes into my life while avoiding the negative changes. I don’t want to loose my real life to the virtual life, yet I also want, and frankly need, the benefits of using the internet and several of it’s various functions.
    I look forward to your future works with great anticipation.

  24. Alan Stucky says:

    Hey mike,

    just curious is how the semesters class on religions and the internet is going. Hope all is well.

    Alan Stucky

  25. Interesting presentation. Mander’s classic “Four Arguments For The Elimination of Television” springs to mind, which as I recall re-minds us that questions about technology are only truly asked & answerable outside technology itself. (But where is ‘outside’ – the Matrix? – to be found today?)

    As Audre Lorde correctly states, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” The thing is though, perhaps the ‘master’ is and always was the ‘final illusion’ at the unhappy & aggressive heart of all our worldly suffering – the ‘Self’.. an intrinsically Malignant User Illusion..

    -Why is it I can never seem to ‘switch off’ or ‘unplug’… is it perhaps that this would eventually (that is, from the very outset) imply switching off ‘Self’ itself??

    That is: “Internet” as (troubled, networking-process) metaphor for “Me”.

    Feeling cool & philosophical, with just a dash of ontological
    Henry Swanson

    Check it out: “Technological evolution is leading to something new: a worldwide, interlocked, monolithic, technical-political web of unprecedented negative proportions” – Jerry Mander

  26. Chris Daniel says:

    Hello,
    I would like to congratulate you on preparing an outstanding presentation and sharing it here. It is informative, and entertaining and I have never seen such a brilliant effort on internet community.

  27. Hi Mike, I really enjoyed your presentation. Excellent style.
    As an artist who works with engagement + is interested in social inclusion and social capital it has given me great food for thought.
    Your talk throws the context of all this Web 2 communication into sharp relief for me. How is this new language and communication experienced and developed culturally not just for commerce and entertainment but for improving the quality of our lives.
    Web 2.0 creates new platforms for open innovation + creativity + self expression + marketing. But will it translate into more?
    Then and only then will we stop amusing ourselves to death and activate our personal power.
    I will be sharing the video with others and I am looking forward to discovering more about your work. Thanks. Regards Roisin

  28. seh says:

    This video is definitely inspired by yours :)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KThyfeV01X4

  29. Anne-Marie Armstrong says:

    It worked for me, I definitely have more insights about myself. Hope that my students in Spring Semester will get to view this. Thanks

  30. ana says:

    Que buena conferencia, le dan a uno ganas de seguir profundizando en el tema de la etnografía digital y tiene partes esperanzadoras de que a traves de lo digital todavia queda mucha humanidad.
    No soy muy buena escribiendo en ingles, pero hice mi mejor esfuerzo para entender todo lo dicho, incluso recurri a traducir ciertas frases que no entendia.
    Muchas gracias por su información

  31. anonymous says:

    that’s exactly the way of the US culture, just careless and pointless entertainment is the new god, that’s why US would wither away while Europe and China would continue the technology and science of the new world

  32. Jasmine says:

    Loved your post.

    Have you heard of the Shaytards, by any chance? This guy has mastered the art of using Youtube to present his life to the world. The have over 80 million total upload views. Fascinating stuff.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/SHAYTARDS#p/u

  33. Expert-biz says:

    It has long been searching for similar information on the Internet, and found only you.

  34. Unbelievable message at the end in terms of transforming the word “Whatever” and how our engagement changing goes with that…Incredible. I will be watching this several times to ingrain some of the thinking.

  35. If in the past, or mass society to be known was necessary to be presenter to television, nowadays, we believe that to be “alive” individuals have to be present on the network.

    In the Web 2.0 generation the use of their tools enables collaboration, sharing of knowledge, access to training and information quickly.

    It creates virtual communities of learning, where all participants can make their contributions. But collaborative work requires the acquisition of new skills in the technology plan, the communication plan (know how to communicate with ICT without knowing the interlocutors) and in terms of personal attitudes (flexibility, patience, adaptability, respect for others). Learning collaboratively is demanding and requires skills of independence, openness and commitment to others, communication, negotiating and organizing work.

    The school is becoming more receptive to technologies where the concept of open educational resources is more developed.

    These resources, in the overwhelming majority of cases, results from the contributions made by many individuals and is licensed under certain conditions may be changing without violating the copyright.

    The learning process focuses on students and the teacher is just a mediator of it. But at the knowledge necessary to perform the function of teacher attendance addition to teaching the skills needed in the network that makes their role becomes more complex with new challenges that emphasize interaction and collaborative knowledge building. The teacher can no longer be only specialist content will also be expert in learning processes, strategy, research and information in generating and maintaining a pedagogical relationship supported by a form of asynchronous communication.

    In today’s society, the encyclopedic knowledge lost its importance, what matters is know-how.

    Furthermore, informal learning plays a very important role in the pursuit of lifelong learning.

    It is our belief that learning, using web 2.0 tools, requires a major overhaul of education systems, schools, teachers and students.

    In short, Web 2.0 tools, when used in education, calling for collaboration, cooperation and solidarity between individuals promoting group dynamics.

    Lisbon, May 26, 2010

    Grupo 2

  36. Dear Michael Wesch,

    I’m posting a comment to your interesting video that was written in a group work by the students that are attending the Masters in Elearning Pedagogy of Open University in Portugal (www.univ-ab.pt).

    I’d like to inform you that if you decide to answer us, it will be posted in the discussion forum of our virtual class.

    Best regards,
    Marco

    Here’s our comment:

    The new technologies and the various online services are allowing people to join each other to build this knowledge that can compete with the content done by experts with scientific authority. The world discusses all together this information, participates in a network. It is a good example to show how education needs to have a social function and to realize that, after all, we are products and producers of cyberculture. This virtual world or network mediates communications between people who no longer need to be in the same place to interact and create the knowledge they are interested in.

    So there is a new culture because we are changing and it’s the machine (the new environment interaction) that is shaping us (Marshal McLuthan). But people are not reacting to this? Where goes the new generation that grew up with the “machine” (new media)? Wesch points out that students seem wishing not to be committed to this new culture, and talks about the impact that new technologies had on young people in the last 30 years.

    Through the use of the word “whatever” at different times, it’s clear how young people aren’t always revolutionary, and that this behavior was also transferred to the Internet through many creations that can be seen today as “ridiculous.” Although it was invented a “language” to be used on the Internet, as phenomenon of innovation and creativity, the “machine” itself is unable to change the attitude of young people. Here is a very important perspective to understand the impact of Internet in the lives of young people and if they’re ready to take a commitment.

    For instance, through a camcorder the youth think existing on the Internet, that people online will know them this way – but who or how many will? The truth is that youth are making a version of themselves on Internet, assuming a “simulacrum” of what they actually are. While wishing to be part of “be global” (appearing on Youtube, having a Facebook profile), this may not be the network they’re interested in building. What today’s young people want is to let the world know their thoughts and concerns, in short that they exist.

    For them, the Internet is a great way to gather those who speak the same voice online. This is the case of the online movement who writes a word or message in the palm of the hand and shows it to the camera, by simply posting it on Youtube. I may coclude that the “machine” dictates indeed the way we communicate online with each other. Are these the questions – the new communication – that Wesch wants youth to ask?

  37. Joaquim Pinto - Groupe 2 says:

    If in the past, or mass society to be known was necessary to be presenter to television, nowadays, we believe that to be “alive” individuals have to be present on the network.

    In the Web 2.0 generation the use of their tools enables collaboration, sharing of knowledge, access to training and information quickly.

    It creates virtual communities of learning, where all participants can make their contributions. But collaborative work requires the acquisition of new skills in the technology plan, the communication plan (know how to communicate with ICT without knowing the interlocutors) and in terms of personal attitudes (flexibility, patience, adaptability, respect for others). Learning collaboratively is demanding and requires skills of independence, openness and commitment to others, communication, negotiating and organizing work.

    The school is becoming more receptive to technologies where the concept of open educational resources is more developed.

    These resources, in the overwhelming majority of cases, results from the contributions made by many individuals and is licensed under certain conditions may be changing without violating the copyright.

    The learning process focuses on students and the teacher is just a mediator of it. But at the knowledge necessary to perform the function of teacher attendance addition to teaching the skills needed in the network that makes their role becomes more complex with new challenges that emphasize interaction and collaborative knowledge building. The teacher can no longer be only specialist content will also be expert in learning processes, strategy, research and information in generating and maintaining a pedagogical relationship supported by a form of asynchronous communication.

    In today’s society, the encyclopedic knowledge lost its importance, what matters is know-how.

    Furthermore, informal learning plays a very important role in the pursuit of lifelong learning.

    It is our belief that learning, using web 2.0 tools, requires a major overhaul of education systems, schools, teachers and students.

    In short, Web 2.0 tools, when used in education, calling for collaboration, cooperation and solidarity between individuals promoting group dynamics.

    Lisbon, May 26, 2010

    Groupe 2

  38. Isabel Manteigas says:

    We are a group of students of the Master of Elearning Pedagogy , at the Universidade Aberta, in Portugal, and we had the opportunity to watch the video “The Machine is (Changing) Us: YouTube and the Politics of Authenticity” when we studied the changes caused in education by the new network society.
    We consider Mike Wesch’s speech presented in this video very interesting. In this video, Mike Wesch says that the vast majority of information watched on YouTube is purposeless, but, in fact, there is a large amount of time focused on such information. With this on our minds, we may conclude that the contents aren’t more important than the format in which they appear.
    We can compare teaching methods with old format of debates, as does Mike Wesch on this video, where a spokesman had an hour to explain his point of view and the other counter-argued for the next hour. Currently, this solution is obsolete, if taken in consideration the speed of information transmission.
    The same perspective is valid in what concerns Education: if a teacher lectures for an all hour with no interaction, it is more likely to end up alone in the classroom or with all the students in deep sleep. Education should monitor the changes and if we now have the means to make knowledge acquisition more attractive and dynamic, we must use them in order to increase the teaching quality.
    In a way, Wesch shows that network society makes us individualistic and that it isolates us, since we are not writing for one person but to a computer and we are not looking to a person but a webcam. It is just us and the machine.
    However, the communicative potential of the Web has been exploited to overcome this isolation. Wesch’s YouTube examples demonstrates us precisely that. If someone makes a challenge on the web, there are immediately several answers in chain in an attempt to contact others. And, ultimately, learning comes down to this: contacting others and learning from them.
    The connection established is fundamental to the development of an individual living in a society. The network allows us to establish such links, creating networks of knowledge, suppressing distances, allowing students to increase their intellectual capital and taking part of the future generation that said “I care. Let’s do whatever it takes… by whatever means necessary”.
    Indeed, watching this video allowed us to have a very significant debate in our learning group.

    Best regards,
    Ana Marmeleira, Emanuel Teixeira, Isabel Manteigas e Manuel Pimentel

  39. Hello, Mike Wesch Teachers, we are a working group of the Master in Pedagogy of E-learning at the Open University – Portugal.
    For unity “Network Society” and through our teacher Antonio Teixeira, we learned of its existence and its excellent work around the Web influence on education and culture worldwide.
    After viewing some of your videos and website, where we put some comments, the result of teamwork, we find its concern to show the world the impacts included in the network society.
    Through videos simple, but highly significant, can show us the changes that occur in this mediated world, making us change social processes breaking the cultural past.
    We realized easily, from the message you want to address. Sure that their students, take delight in having a teacher with this dynamic entrepreneur.
    Sure that we will follow this path that we decided to go.
    We wish you continued excellent work she does.
    Yours sincerely

    ________________________

    If in the past, or mass society to be known was necessary to be presenter to television, nowadays, we believe that to be “alive” individuals have to be present on the network.
    In the Web 2.0 generation the use of their tools enables collaboration, sharing of knowledge, access to training and information quickly.
    It creates virtual communities of learning, where all participants can make their contributions. But collaborative work requires the acquisition of new skills in the technology plan, the communication plan (know how to communicate with ICT without knowing the interlocutors) and in terms of personal attitudes (flexibility, patience, adaptability, respect for others). Learning collaboratively is demanding and requires skills of independence, openness and commitment to others, communication, negotiating and organizing work.
    The school is becoming more receptive to technologies where the concept of open educational resources is more developed.
    These resources, in the overwhelming majority of cases, results from the contributions made by many individuals and is licensed under certain conditions may be changing without violating the copyright.
    The learning process focuses on students and the teacher is just a mediator of it. But at the knowledge necessary to perform the function of teacher attendance addition to teaching the skills needed in the network that makes their role becomes more complex with new challenges that emphasize interaction and collaborative knowledge building. The teacher can no longer be only specialist content will also be expert in learning processes, strategy, research and information in generating and maintaining a pedagogical relationship supported by a form of asynchronous communication.
    In today’s society, the encyclopedic knowledge lost its importance, what matters is know-how.
    Furthermore, informal learning plays a very important role in the pursuit of lifelong learning.
    It is our belief that learning, using web 2.0 tools, requires a major overhaul of education systems, schools, teachers and students.
    In short, Web 2.0 tools, when used in education, calling for collaboration, cooperation and solidarity between individuals promoting group dynamics.

    Lisbon, May 26, 2010

    Ana Torres
    Carla Maria Elías
    Joaquim Pinto
    Nuno Miguel Oliveira
    Tercília Assis

  40. Marina, Paula and Telma says:

    Dear Professor Michael Wesch,

    Here’s the last comment from the group of the Online Master Course on E-Learning Pedagogy at Universidade Averta in Portugal, this time placed correctly.

    In your Youtube presentation on “The Machine is (changing) us: Youtube Culture and the Politics of Authenticity” a very interesting, and joyful perspective is depicted, based on Neil Postman, on the way the media affects our perception and the individual values as well and the way they interact and reflect in our personal evolution. With this presentation, what the author intends is, through internet, to show an alternative to what Postman portrays – and indifferent and incoherent audience.

    Nowadays, as it is presented and pointed out, there is a tendency for our generation to be fragmented and absent and you base this assumption in a study on how users use Youtube, how they see themselves and how they are seen. In this study, the teacher and the students are simultaneously subjects of interaction and attentive watchers. Bearing in mind the use of the media and the net regarding the way we interact and search for the authentic self you mention the “context collapse” and its implications…that is the ability to, thanks to a web, connect anywhere trying to draw a bridge on a sort of self recognition and self-conscious. Nevertheless, if on one side we have “a self-presentation”, on the other the anonymous prevails, although there is room for connection without constraints, which may well bring us to a future with a more active social and political participation.

    Sorry for the inconvenience.

    Thank you for publishing your work and for giving us the opportunity to comment it!

    Marina, Paula and Telma.

  41. Hi, Prof. Wesch

    We are five students of a master degree in E-Learning Pedagogy, in Universidade Aberta, Portugal.

    We analyzed some of your videos and we focused on the following questions: the social function of education in the network society , the recovery of the community dimension of education and its relationship with the notion of self-training.

    This video reflects the way people build an identity for themselves, and how they seek ways of interacting with others, showing a little of themselves in many different forms. People are not talking to others, but for others and these others are unknown. The same happens with blogs and with all forms of communication mediated by Web 2.0 tools.

    Fernando, Margarida, Helena, Denyze and Joaquim

  42. wprobot says:

    A fascinating and thought-provoking presentation!

    I liked your reference to “we shape our tools and our tools shape us.”

    I recently re-watched Joseph Campbell’s ‘Power of Myth’ series with Bill Moyers and he talks about systems utilizing tools: “turning out of nature into your service.” He also warns of becoming consumed by the system and becoming the servant of the system instead of its master.

  43. LCv says:

    I loved Marshall McLuhan’s quote about the replay and recognition. I do wonder if an overload of replay desensitizes us to replays?

  44. Rita Albuquerque says:

    Hello, Prof. Wesch,
    We are students from the Masters’ in e-Learning Pedagogy from the
    Portuguese Open University. Your inspiring videos are, again, the
    object of our study and reflective thinking in the course Networked
    Education and Society. Since you and your students made public the video ‘Web 2.0…The Machine is using Us’, you managed to attract worldwide attention to the traditional classroom practices and to the alternative ways of using student creativity and collaboration for a different model of learning and teaching.

    Your usually short 5 minute videos make distinctive some of the
    possible new ways for learning and focus on the paradigm change, more than in prescription. We certainly appreciated the flow in the meaning of “whatever” you described in Mike Wesch – PdF2009 – The Machine is (Changing) Us, from the “I don’t care” type to the “doing what is needed, whatever the necessary means”.

    Your work is, without doubt, a great example of using the tools that
    technology gives us to good use in the rethinking of our collective
    future, as persons, as students and as education practitioners. It brings to mind a sentence from Lévi-Strauss that says: ” the scientist
    is not the person that gives the correct answers, but the one that makes the real questions”. We see you as a scientist that got the real questions right in a time not easy for the educational field, this new
    technological era that baffles us constantly.

    Keep up the good work.
    Manuel J. Matos (Portugal) and Rita Albuquerque (Brasil)

  45. a href="http://www.zhuanshop.com">supra shoes says:

    future, as persons, as students and as education practitioners. It brings to mind a sentence from Lévi-Strauss that says: ” the scientist

  46. Hello Professor Mike Wesch,

    My name is Estela Gomes. I am a student of Masters in Elearning Pedagogy of the Open University in Portugal.

    As part of activities in the course of Education and the Network Society, I carefully analyze some of your work. However, the video “The Machine is (Changing) Us” got my full attention due to its vast content and the different fields of reflection that enables.

    You refer to the term “media ecology” as supported by the observation that the media are not just tools, but are environments; these environments feed on conversations and topics for these, and lead to the consumer through of what is produced by the media, talking and thinking about the issues that are proposed. It is a new way of looking at communication, the media are not the channel of communication, but the mediator – dictate what we say, how and when we provoke cultural changes, affect our interests …
    You quote Mcluran Marshall by saying: “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.”

    Between 1984 and 2011 many changes have taken place … Although in 1984 Neil Postman has spoken of the impact of television and the pressure that had on viewers, influencing communication, cultural conditioning phenomena, today we are in a somewhat different plan. We all express a permanent sense of anonymity, we’re not sure what our role in the community, we feel that we have no voice, nor are we not heard, unless we are seen on television, or in any social network.

    You mentioned the following quote, which is of great interest:
    “What we are encountering is a panicky, and almost hysterical, attempt to escape from the deadly anonymity of modern life … and the prime cause is not vanity … but the craving of people who feel Their personality sinking lower and lower into indistinguishable from the whirl of atoms to be lost in the mass civilization.”

    The current generation is characterized as narcissistic, materialistic, impressionable, and with a latent lack of attention. While the generation of 70′s proved to be highly motivated and well-targeted, we see a generation highly unmotivated, although showing levels of confidence, but lack of targets and expressing disbelief in the next generation.
    At bottom, what we call narcissism, is no more than the search for identity and self recognition, search for the true …increasingly we have seen a very focused way of being and focused on personal achievement, which leads to demotivation and fragmentation – many individuals believe in multiple different things – how do we know what to choose?

    There are no concrete answers to the questions that arise during the discussion but we know that the network is controlled by many personal goals that makes collective actions, allows the formation of communities with a common line of action. These assumptions lead us towards certain conclusions: we know each other through relationships with others and the media enable new forms of relating therefore we may experience new opportunities to relate to our “self”…

    YouTube is a facilitator of observations leading to interesting conclusions from the point of view of the human relationships that sets this digital society: YouTube is a medium par excellence for the creation of communities where the talks are mediated through new concepts of identity that are revealed in the relationships between people. When we meet someone face to face, we are concerned to convey an image that fits in with the personality of another or that can lead to some kind of acceptance; when the party is a camera, the concern will be to shape the image to the format required by thousands who watch us.

    We ourselves can watch us … we changed the whole concept of self recognition … The recognition of “self” exists but with a completely new format. This new form of communication allows the reduction of fears, inhibitions and anxieties; we seek interconnection with others without the constraints of face to face. The media reduces the distance between people, generate new forms of communication and understanding but also provide the right opportunity to culture trivialities…

    How to make best use of the possibilities offered by technology to promote meaningful messages, free of irrelevancies and trivialities? Creating new types of conversations, shaping a new future culture in which the word is used significantly.
    The key message is that we need to rethink our actions as communicators and as citizens of this world; we share the legacy that we leave to future generation…

  47. One of the main ideas that this speech by Michael Wesch draws our attention is the sense that the new media aren´t just tools, but a medium for a new forms of human interactions and behaviors based on a more active voice and opinion about themselves and the society. Quoting Marshall McLuhan: “we shape our tools, and therefore our tools shape us”.

    In fact, this statement can also be associated with the analogy that Michael makes about the use of the term “whatever”, an expression that gains different meanings during the last decades, especially in younger generations (massive consumers of media)
    If the traditional media, like TV and radio, were creating a sense of need to be recognized in society by being present on TV, adding the fact that these media are unidirectional and therefore promoting a passive behavior of consuming information, we are confronted with a generation that is indifferent to the issues of modern society.
    The public opinion is developed and delivered by the TV. People became indifferent and passive. The amount of information and possibilities aren´t important. The indifferent “whatever” is the mainstream behavior.

    But the arise of new forms of media, mainly because of the phenomenon of the Web 2.0, a new kind of behavior has erupted. People started to have mediums to share their opinion and most important, they have opportunity to recognize their self as individuals. In face to face interactions, people tend to filter some aspects of their personality. But when they have the opportunity to express freely their personality, not being judged at moment by other, they develop a sense of “Who I really am?” This is an important mental shift and it has an enormous behavior impact. Now I have a voice, now I can really be me…I care about what I say!
    It’s no longer the indifferent “whatever”! The example given to us by the study for community building on YouTube is an example of this shift. People started to notice that they can have an active voice.
    Michael Wesch has a really optimistic view about the future that can be built by a more participant generation that really cares and want to express their opinion. The individual is no longer passive. We have the ability to:
    “I care. Let’s do whatever it takes…by whatever means it is necessary!”

    We have recently started to see some possible demonstrations of this behavior. Social movements have aroused in some countries of the world, expressing their political and social opinion. Some examples of these movements are: The social movements against political regimes in the Middle East (Egypt, Iran, and Syria) all of them organized and fed by the social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and shared with the public through YouTube. In Europe, social movements also gain special attention in Spain, Greece and Portugal. All these social movements were based on political change, and not by those who were members of a political party They were all organized by anonymous group of people that want their rights and opinions to be heard. Once again the new media were the center for organizing, sharing and expressing the opinions of these movements.
    A question that we´d like to ask to Michael and to the rest of the users while commenting on this video is: Are these social movements and demonstrations a true example of the “I care. Let’s do whatever it takes…by whatever means necessary!” supported by the new media?

    Thank you for your attention!
    Hugo Domingos, Filomena Barbosa and Sérgio Lagoa.
    Students of a Master degree in E-Learning Pedagogy, in Universidade Aberta, Portugal.

  48. Alice Brandão says:

    We are a group of students taking an online Master Course on E-Learning Pedagogy at Universidade Aberta, in Portugal. The teacher of Education and Society on the Web assigned us the following task: analyze and publish a post with a comment on your video:

    The machine is (changing) us: you tube cultural and politics of authenticity
    In this excellent video and departing from the Postman book “Amusing ourselves to death”, you let us know how you understand echology as an environment mediated by tools. They tell us when, to whom and how we speak with. It´s important to understand how humankind has arrived here and what characteristics this generation has and specifically to improve the way we teach them. The institution school could no longer be the same we have had since the 19th century, when the teacher and the chalk were the centre of the process. This new media can chance this scenery because it can help them working together in a cooperative and collaborative way, giving them an active role in this process. It´s no longer a one waymedia instead it, it allows us the communication from many-to-many.

    Your works is admirable, because through your films the teacher can rethink their practice in order to encourage the student to work their imagination and use their potential to create new production opportunities and interaction with the world. His videos promote broader thinking about the behavior of the individual from the Network Society and how to use critically the Web 2.0 tool in the classroom, considering the implications of this society. How to promote cooperation among students in pursuit of collective construction of knowledge.

    The way the users interact with the others, change the way we (users) see ourselves, and what stands out from this video leads to a deeply self-reflective way of acting. Rethinking our position on the network, also helps to promote our own capabilities, even if some are hidden from our closest friends and family for social reasons or shyness.
    While searching the communities established on the social networks we find out that people come together for a purpose, a reason or a common goal. Being anonymous not only has the negative side of showing us how feelings like hate or revenge spread out easily, but also shows how beautiful and educational this share can be. The feeling of individual freedom increases our potential to act, participate and be together as one.

    Youtube and other social networks change everyday the “whatever” paradigm. Today we do care, and we do whatever its necessary to change the world that surrounds us, we got the tools on our side, and they can be definitely the step forward for the future!

    Alice, Filomena, Gonçalo and Miguel

  49. 47 Filomena Barbosa says:

    Professor Wesch,

    Your video “The machine is us/ing us” has shown that thanks to the evolution of new technologies and especially to the Web 2.0, we can enhance a wide range of new possibilities of communication, since we have the opportunity to interact and broaden collaboration, to share information as well as knowledge, within an unlimited process.
    Everybody creates a new Web application through the twitter, the flickr, the blogs, the wikis, tag content, and videos. Everybody can produce, can share and can organize information. New ways of interacting emerge rapidly. The one way communication of media is being overcome by many to many ways of communication, allowing people to be connected and exchanging personal, social and cultural information.
    The new generations have grown up and have been surrounded by the new technologies. The arrival and the swift dissemination of digital technology demand a new learning system process, through which the youth are able to find information and create a new more in a more critical and creative way, as technologies are integrated parts of their lives.
    The video “A vision of students today” leads us to the fact that as thinking patterns have changed, it´s high time teachers and educators stopped the old methods and techniques of teaching. They should enable students to have a more significant and challenging learning. In spite of encouraging students to use technology, schools don´t allow them to use it as a natural process of learning. Instead of seizing the huge potential of the new technologies towards more meaningful experiences for the students, teachers still avoid using them in their classes.

    Hugo Domingos, Filomena Barbosa and Sérgio Lagoa.
    Students of a Master degree in E-Learning Pedagogy, in Universidade Aberta, Portugal

  50. Paulo Ferreira - Equipa Omega says:

    Hi, Prof. Wesch.
    We’re posting a comment to your interesting video that was written in a group work by the students that are attending the Masters in Elearning Pedagogy of Open University in Portugal (www.univ-ab.pt).
    This video takes us to the question of reflecting on the changes that the use of technology and the Web has triggered not only in our lives in general, but also on us as individuals. How we relate to each other? As we are transformed by this new way of being and our place in the world? As we see and are seen by others? These are issues underlying video. We left our condition as we integrate individual and community.