The Revolution Will Be Tweeted

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Dec 262013

If you are interested in how social media is being used and understood by activists’ movements around the world, then Symon Hill’s book Digital Revolutions is a clear and concise introduction. From #tag activism to the complex political, economic and nationalistic dynamics of the Arab Spring, Hill charts a path through some of the main dilemmas facing political and civic activism in the age of Twitter, Facebook and social media networks. Hill starts by stating that his core principle and conviction is that “liberation comes from below and never from above” (Hill, 2013, p. 15), and that “however much we discuss technology, let’s not do so in a way that leads us to forget the slums in Egypt, the soup kitchens in Greece or the newly present food banks in Britain” (Hill, 2013, p. 26).
Hill isn’t an open-ended optimist, as some of the internet and digital networked society evangelists have a tendency to be. Instead Hill grounds his ideas and his examples in the reality of social change that won’t be won through online media campaigns alone, but only when they turn into popular movements for change. The UK Uncut movement is given prominence in Hill’s account, free from hyperbole and rhetoric. It is good to note how Hill points out that “social media is a tool rather than a cause of social change.” Facebook and Twitter, according to Hill “did not overthrow Ben Ali or Murbarak, any more than the printing press overthrew Charles I” (Hill, 2013, p. 81).
What I was particularly drawn to is Hill’s unequivocal rejection of transactional forms of hierarchy within much of Western social and civic life. According to Hill “we need to appreciate the importance of the rejection of hierarchy” (Hill, 2013, p. 97), and therefore give some thought and energy to thinking through what the alternatives might be. This is something that I am intensely sympathetic with. The challenge, if we accept Hill’s argument and look forward to the emerging forms of social organisation, is how we can prepare people to act as mindful and reflexive citizens who have the skills and the sense of self-awareness and self-confidence that allows them to claim their entitlement to participation in our shared social life?
To understand how networks of peers and co-developers and citizens can gain through collective action for the benefit of the wider community, rather than simply clawing for personal, partial and financial advantage, is a worth challenge for all.
Hill, S. (2013). Digital Revolutions – Activism in the Internet Age. Oxford: New Internationalist Publications.

Fabric Revelations

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Jan 122013

Fabric Music Library

You know how life is full of random connections. Sometimes you go for a long time between connections that are meaningful and which open up your experience into a new dimension. Well, I’ve experienced such a connection today, and while it looks like I’ve clearly missed-the-boat on this one, as it’s been running for some time, I’m blown away with what’s on offer – both visually and musically.

I was given a CD by a friend because we were talking about a mutual respect and like of Disco music over a glass of wine. The CD is from the Fabric series associated with the London nightclub of the same name. Fabric “occupies the renovated space of the Metropolitan Cold Stores. Smithfield Meat Market stands and operates from a site directly opposite.”

The music is associated with the SoundClash variety that brings together different genres from different periods and produces a new, elctro-driven soundscape, including hip hop, breakbeat, dubstep, drum and bass and electro.

Obviously I’ve been away from the metropolis for far too long, because this is something that I should have had an angle on a long time ago. It looks like the back-catalogue of CDs is now on my shopping list.

Olympic Radio Mahem!

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Jul 232012

BBC 5 Live Olympic Coverage

BBC 5 Live is running trails that claim that with the BBC you won’t miss a moment of the London Olympics. With the launch of BBC 5 Live Olympic Extra to supplement the main BBC 5 Live station and 5 Live Extra – as well as all the online content that the BBC is churning out – this is going to be a huge chance for radio to do what it does best. Radio and sports coverage go hand-in-hand, and can often be more exciting than sitting about watching the television pictures, or even sitting in the crowd. It’s all in the commentary, the sense of occasion and the excitement that the presentation teams deliver.

At this Olympics communication and broadcasting technology has moved on. The development of mobile communication links, often via mobile phones, is going to be brought to the fore like never before. Reporters and presenters will be able to link to more events and get into hidden-away places more easily than television can. At large events like this radio’s ability to bring live feeds directly and unobtrusively from the track-side is unrivalled. Plus, you can listen to the radio while you are doing other things. The big screen might be seductive, but you can’t go walking or driving with a television on your back.

I’m going to listen to as much of the Olympics as I can on my portable DAB radio. I’m going to keep some notes about what stands out in this coverage and what lessons we can learn for Radio Production at De Montfort University. After all, this is not only a showcase of great sporting talent, it’s a showcase of broadcasting talent as well. If you have ambitions to be a broadcaster, then I’d recommend that this is a great opportunity to listen and learn.