Benkler, in his book The Wealth of Networks, talks about a battle occuring today over how we make information, knowledge and culture betwen nonmarket interests vs the established industrial information economy. The consequence of this battle may be dramatic and long lasting. As Benkler says,
“How these battles turn out over the next decade or so will likely have a significant effect on how we come to know what is going on in the world we occupy, and to what extent and in what forms we will be able – as autonomous individuals, as citizens, and as participants in cultures and communities – to affect how we and others see the world as it is and as it might be.”
I think this quote nicely captures some of the key aspects of symblic power being contested today through issues like copyright, domain name cybersquatting, etc. That is, the new stakeholders (prosumers, produsers, pro-ams, user-generated content, etc) are challenging the current hierarchy of media production and distribution. One of the implications is that it may give voice to Couldry’s concerns about making explicit the self-appointed power of mainstream commercial media players (the newspapers, current affairs TV shows, etc) the right to frame and define issues and the world around us (particularly that which we don’t have any first-hand knowledge of).
I particularly like the last part of the quote: “how we and others see the world as it is and as it might be.” As it is, and how it might be. Realistic, but still optimistic and maybe a little idealistic.
Are there recent examples of this battle and how it shows the world as it is and might be? The favourite I’ve found recently was the manga/steam punk/state library mash-up I was involved with last year, check out the great photos