The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture

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In The Digital Age, by Astra Taylor, presents two significant views that Taylor argues against the debate of how social media takes effect in the work of social production. The first view of position is the techno-optimist view which illustrates a positive view and can also be described as the Utopian view for technology and social production. The notion of free culture is for the techno-optimist view which is represented through social media openness that creates an equalized social ground given through Facebook, Twitter, and plenty more sites that are free and easily accessible.

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This view believes in only the best in what technology brings to social production, even if that means minimizing human interactions. On the other hand, techno-skeptic is the dystonia view on social media where technology use is not at all beneficial but taking over humans in the sense of cognitive thinking and face-to-face human interactions. This techno-skeptic view is negative towards the acceptance of technological production in which is believed to take over authoritative figures and claims to take away human creativity; cognitive thinking by controlling human actions. Given both of these views, Taylor argues otherwise and challenges the techno-optimist view emphasizing that this view is wrong and the total opposite of reality.

Similar to this, Taylor claims that the techno-skeptic view is missing the bigger picture of this issue. Insisting that these views are false, Taylor claims that the internet has created a controlled cultural democracy through the adaptation of users and consumers in a way that corresponds to how it makes us think and act.

The author’s notion is that if society really wanted to change who’s in control between the people of society or the technology itself, it is possible to make changes and control who is in control over the other. In Chapter 1, “A Peasant’s Kingdom,” Taylor illustrates the debate with the relationship between market and technology as well as the conflict of free marketing individualism and centralized authority in three terms. The first term is the debate between openness of social production. Due to technological marketing, the techno-optimist view claim that we are active producers rather than passive consumers indicating the benefit of openness presented from technological social production through free equalized website.

On the other hand, the techno-skeptic view is against the open social web platforms due to loss of direct middleman that consists in the lost of indirect human interactions. According to the techno-optimist belief of benefit from no need of a middleman in social production due to already having fast digital transactions and the techno-skeptic’s view on the need of middleman for greater human productivity, Taylor’s appoints this issue otherwise. Taylor suggests that through the second term of sharecropping, there is actually no openness in social production but rather an arrangement that influences winners and losers on an assumed equalized ground. Given this,

Taylor does not agree with the third term of disintermediation which is the reduction of the middle man; the person who arranges deals between 2 people because the middleman is still there and is needed to authorize although it may not seem digitally possible. The techno-skeptic view argues otherwise where there should not even be an openness of social platforms, any digital sharecropping, and disintermediation due to negative consequences like loss of cognitive thinking and lack of money production. Unlike this negative view, the techno-optimist view the positively in equilibrium in which increases social media culture through the accessibility of social communication, easily digital sharecropping, and the accessibility of disintermediation.

In this first chapter, Taylor claims that due to the openness of social production not being reality, digital sharecropping which is the concept of building your business on someone else’s property like digital sales that are marketed freely online is wrong where disintermediation is not even accessible due to human authoritative figures that are actually doing the job.

In chapter three of The People’s Platform, “What We Want,” Taylor showcases the debate as she emphasizes the effects on what technology has on journalism due to what we want as the 2.0 people which are digital natives. A self-proclaimed internet triumphalist, Jeff Jarvis is for the techno-optimist view in this chapter where he believes in the greatness of society-centered web contents. According to Jarvis, “We no longer need companies, institutions, or government to organize us,” emphasizing that authoritative figures are irrelevant and not essential to this user-generated culture. The techno-optimist view of the future of journalism is that due to equalized user-generated social platforms, the people will set the news to what they want to hear. As society centered where people constantly share information, this view claims the elimination of authoritative figures and how they are no longer needed. On the other hand, the techno-optimist view insist that we do seriously need authoritative figures because of the production of cognitive problems.

This view is created due to the techno-optimist’s view that news papers becomes irrelevant because we all are news makers. From this, the techno-skeptic view issues the cognitive misconception here that are making people not think and consume properly like how the techno-skeptic thinks. Given these oppositional views, Taylor argues for a functional democracy where leaders are need to be kept in check by seeing more journalism that protects journalists as a job and profession indicating the need of financial accountability towards journalists. She insists on non-profit driven professions by first keeping account the authoritative figures so journalists can be seen for their work as a way of motivation and to enhance the sense of importance and credible information.

In chapter four of The People’s Platform, “Unequal Uptake,” Taylor showcases the central debate as she insists on inequality within social production platforms counterarguing the techno-optimist view on equality. There are many ways in which taylor indicates the inequality shown. First, Taylor Expresses how gender inequality is shown in the techno-optimist’s equalized platform due to the unacceptance of real world gender fields carrying over to the online world coededly. Men are more likely to have more followers than women online creating favoritism towards males socially technological because character differences and stereotypes between males and females are highly effective online. Men are known to be more confident, smarter and just simply better than females making females having to work more than men to prove their equality according to Taylor’s claim.

Despite Taylor’s point-of-view, the techno-optimist view indicates that the internet makes everyone equal through a leveled playing field. Another inequality that Taylor indicates is through class and race. She believes that not everyone has the same type of access through hardware differences where this access can only be an opportunity through the need of time and knowledge. Contradicting this indication, the techno-optimist view asserts openness as a way to show that there are opportunities simply through all race and class because equalized platforms are free and of no charge. Finally, Taylor claims the inequality of popularity through the inequality of influence. Music, Youtube, Nexflix, these are all ways of influence because the tailor your feed which means you create failors for yourself indicating that if you are popular you will stay popular and if you’re not, you are going to stay that way. Unlike the techno-optimists belief that physical appearance does not matter on social platforms and the belief of disintermediation, Taylor’s point is that there is indeed a competing ground in social production through social media.

Given this cultural criticism, my feelings of this issue on inequality is mixed. I do support Taylor’s position that there is a competing ground that takes effect on social production, but I find the techno-optimists view to be equally persuasive. Although both positions are understandable, it is interesting that the techno-skeptic view do not present its position in this chapter. Given from Tayor claim the inequality of sexist trolling, she is right that this is indeed an inequality issue because this is what many people face on social website, but she on more dubious ground when she claims that you tailor your feds when clearly women do not create failure but is already presumed as less than a man.

From this, I believe that although Taylor is correct on the concept that there is a competing ground, most of the time, failure is not created by you but by others. In conclusion, though I concede the claim of competing ground argued by Taylor, I still insist that there is an equalized ground insisted by the techno-optimist group. Although most social media sites may be free, it does not mean it is actually an equalized platform but a competition for social productivity and attention seekers. Despite social media being perceived as a compatible platform according to Taylor, it can also be perceived as an equalized platform from the idea that there is freedom of opinion and post where anyone can state their opinions freely online. Given this, social media has a great impact on social production to a certain extent through what social media is used for and how society uses it to either make us greater or to change us.

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The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power And Culture. (2019, Dec 28). Retrieved from