Soylent Media

Australian media scholars Kate Crawford and Jean Burgess are two of the best academics on Twitter. This evening Burgess was tweeting about how revealing the mottos of social media sites can be, especially when they undergo changes. She singled out Flickr

Flickr seems to have changed its tagline. From “share your photos, watch the world.” to “share your life in photos.” #movingbackward

and Twitter in particular:

& Twitter has changed its tagline from “Share and discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world.” to “Follow your interests”

I might be wrong, but I think what she’s pointing to is the growing individualism of these lines, which downplay the collaborative, networked (and global) aspects of social media for the many in favour of social media as self-indulgent soapbox for the one.

Insightful already, but then Crawford chimed in with this:

@jeanburgess @ABillionSuns They should all have the same tagline: ‘Made Out of People’. #soylentgreen

Which is devastating insofar as it manages to crystallise a whole (now consolidated) research paradigm that at least since Tzinia Terranova in 2000 has identified the factory-like conditions of new media cultures, which suck the free labour – energies, identities, bank accounts and data – out of the prosuming masses in order to turn massive profits in false democratic spaces of ‘interaction’, or as it might be rendered now, ‘conversation’.

In all, I just thought this small exchange, witnessed late one dreary June afternoon on Twitter, was worth noting, not only for how it shows the beauty and power of the dialectical image in Crawford’s example but also how it argues for something like Twitter, paradoxically, as a space for working against its own logic, formally and socially.

2 thoughts on “Soylent Media

  1. Jean

    Thanks Lawson – you’ve made me think some more about this (and shamed me into actually blogging about it). BTW one more (funny because it’s true) tweet of mine:

    SCORE! on Flickr’s current homepage (without logging in): “Community. Flickr is made of people.” #soylentmedia

  2. Pingback: a (very) short history of social media taglines « creativity/machine

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