Monday, June 16, 2008

Social Media and Postmodern Poetics

Social Media and Postmodern Poetics

Widely used social media terms such as remixing and remixability are just well coined “tags” for the phenomenon established a long ago in the postmodern poetics. However we name them, there are certain distinctive features embodied in all artistic creations developed within the postmodern frame. The same applies to the postmodern communication theory:

"Working through such modes as appropriation, synthesis, recombination, mutation and generation, postmodern poetics expresses a commitment to the dialogical, social world."
(Conte, Joseph M. Unending Design: the Form of Postmodern Poetry)

In the postmodern poetics, as well as in our social media world, the phenomenon of the author and the institution of authorship have been deconstructed.

Similarly, in the Web-based communications, everyone is a potential author, contributor, and message creator . The concept of a traditional author (or a message creator) is deconstructed and replaced by a collective authorship. The individual as well as an organization cedes control over the communicative process.



User-generated content has become a distinctive feature of new interactive media. As a consequence, the content is not only created by a “collective intelligence,” it is also formed through the network of other contents.

Every digital text refers to many other documents by using a number of links embedded in the text. This hypertextuality (or we can call it "remixability" if you want) results in a fragmented digital text whose meaning co-exists simultaneously within an interconnected system of other texts. The final product is like a palimpsest; it assimilates all other texts that refer to or from it, but still keeps their integrity alive.

Furthermore, message recipients are no longer passive consumers but active participants in content creation. As a consequence, the traditional concept of a reader has been deconstructed as well, since the recipient has become a producer and an active contributor in communication process.

Social media also signifies a transformation of the old two-way communication model and the creation of a new all-way dispersive communication model. This model has been also developed from the poetics of postmodernism. New communication practice incorporates an “all-together” mentality which is why social media means primarily the democratization of communication. Participation, sharing, collaboration, and interactivity are the crucial terms in explaining the nature of new media and its impact on communication.

This postmodern change has only culminated in our times because of the production of the new Web 2.0 tools and applications that have enabled practicing new modes of connections and communications. This is inherent in the two-way communication model and it was advocated long before social media, but social media has made it even more essential.

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