Media Theory for the 21st Century

March 12, 2008

Notes from Final Discussion

Filed under: Discussion — dfratini @ 12:46 am
Tags: , ,

Here are the notes from the final discussion at a word document.Notes from Final Discussion

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  1. Playing Attention

    What do new media have to do with capitalism?

    The more I think about it, the more John’s point about attention-as-currency in the global information economy seems central to unfolding this question. We “job” by attending to certain things (tasks, data streams, conventions) rather than others (email, the Drudge Report, Text Twist). We “leisure” by consuming eight hours of media per day. We both pay and play with our eyes and our clicks.

    With the swarms of information at our fingertips, the micro-decisions we make with our cursors add up to huge profits and losses. They have material effects. Perhaps, then, we need an ethics or politics of attention? This is part of what Benjamin’s work, as a whole, seems to point toward. Such an ethics would mean an attention to what we are attending to as well as to what we are producing. It would been an ecologically-savvy ethics. Jacob’s points about expertise would form one side of this ecological awareness; a constant questioning of our own output would be the other.

    Rachel Blau DuPlessis: “There’s only one real, gut-level sincerity: that as readers we need only what absolutely had to be written, that as writers we must write only what absolutely has to be written. The question–Does this need to be written?–is an ethical one.”

    To be more specific: If “pay attention” is the interpellation by which we are constituted as subjects and prosumers in the post-Fordist economy, perhaps tweaking that command provides a sort of rallying cry. Maybe “play attention” becomes a useful mantra in the era of pervasive gaming, distraction, and hyper-attention? Or is that too easy? The addition of a vertical stroke is not enough, clearly, but it does seem to encapsulate many of the resistant activisms we’ve discussed in class, from Fuller to The Exploit, from Crary’s daydreaming to Zach’s queering of standard objects.

    Each of these workers deploys a different mode of expertise. The productive disciplinarity that Harmony mentioned, then, becomes part of a larger project of maintaining fidelity in our attentions and distractions. A fidelity of attention. A fidelity determined not by pay but by gut-level play becomes a crucial step toward resisting dissolution-and-recombination into frictionless assemblages.

    Play careful attention.

    Comment by jeremysc — March 13, 2008 @ 3:39 am | Reply


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