Wk 7: Power & Economy

iLecture: Michelle Wilson

Community – definition is really broad, depends on your POV and from where you stand academically. Community is a grouping of people who understand or ‘imagine’ themselves as such. Licklider predicted that communities would be formed by common interest and not geography. Hillery Jr noticed there were 94 definitions in sociology alone and they only seemed to share 3 traits, the rest were entirely different.

All early communities were textual, on BB, MUDS and MOOs. On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. The internet gives you anonymity. You were not judged on your looks, you were judged on your online persona via text. However, these days you are not anonymous – due to ip tracking software and how it’s important sometimes to actually verify who you are.

Went from anonymity to branding and shouting out who you are are, and is related to cultivation and presentation of identity. ID understanding who you are, how you present but also how you are seen by others.

power: to make something happen/to prevent something from happening. power is when A can make B do something that B wouldn’t normally do. Knowledge shapes the decisions we make. (Foucault). Social power is persuasion, norms, expectations, exclusion and resistance. Virtual communities are not entirely online. Internet is used to strengthen communities, both face to face as well as online. Technical power is coding, access, surveillance and hacking. how you can access a site, what you are permitted to do on a site. how much info is being collected?

economy is often linked to power – karl marx said that a way to satisfy their needs or desires, the ways those needs are met has led to different modes of production. Users are taking control of web 2.0, making the content, unsettling standard models and economies. Produce, trade and acquire gift, monetary and social and cultural capital. Buying and selling online.

Facebook Example: susan boyle example. there’s a viral video trend leads to enormous advertising potential. this is the economic part of it, but also the viral part of it is the power and community. also discusses her identity and how she said she wouldn’t change her look because that’s her identity and yet she has (due to pressures?). church singer from a tiny town creates a global exposure. media feed it, invested in story and build view base and advertisers. fans create a persona and community and identify with her.

  • community: share social info
  • identity: presentation of self and others
  • economy: ads, user numbers, friends
  • power: access, information, gathering, data mining.

not quite the worst lecture EVER!


Brendan Gilbert et al., ‘Web Content/Social Networking,’ Blog, Corporate Power in New Media, May 14, 2008. Archived by WebCite.

This student blog states, “People’s barriers are down and they fail to realize the extent to which corporations affect their online behaviour”. How true is this statement?

I think it depends on the demographic of the people you are referring to, along with their social status, their education, their net-familiarity, their experience. I do think this is a very generalised statement. However, on the whole I do agree people tend to ‘ignore the terms of service’ of a site and blindly click on the I accept button.

Please do these after or during your reading:

Individual: Power operates in many ways on the Internet, let’s take one example, that of Internet access, to discuss power:

  1. are there limits to when, what (sites), how much, and where you access the Internet?
  2. How can you transgress those limits and what are the possible consequences?
  3. Is it possible to lose your access and what are the ways this might happen?

Internet access is available to people at homes, offices, wirelessly at ever Mcdonalds store, via their mobile phones, in supermarkets and via internet kiosks. You can access the Web at all of these locations provided you have the necessary equipment and can use them for as long as you have the provision to pay for them (broadband connection, dongle fees, mobile phone plan etc). You can use them for as long as your plan permits (some will charge excess data fees, some speed limit you).

You can piggyback on other people’s wireless connections sometimes. You can always purchase a secondary account (either desktop, wireless or mobile) to supplement your need for more.

You can lose your access if you are caught doing something that breaks your terms of service, if somebody removes the cables that allow your connection, your equipment breaks or you have no money to continue to pay for it.

How do economic relationships conflict with or support existing power structures through the Internet? Choose an example from either online dating or online music and discuss on the discussion boards

I really didn’t understand this question at all, so I have no idea how to answer it. I’m hoping to see other examples of answers by other students and use that as a basis for comprehending this.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s