DIY revisited

I was lucky enough to land a co-author gig on a chapter that is part of this cool MacArthur digital media and learning initiative, and did a little work on the latest draft of the chapter this week. Among other things. Here’s the chapter blurb:

This chapter focuses on contestation over cultural products associated with youth culture, using research on social movements, culture, and technology. We argue that conflict over who controls cultural products is an important form of civic engagement and we explore these conflicts using data on electronic petitions related to youth culture.

One of the things that Jenn and I consider — and that turns out to be a theme of the volume, tackled in a number of interesting ways — is a new kind of relationship between consumers and producers that emerges when there is the capability to do more stuff (“more stuff” broadly defined, of course) with cultural goods. Entirely coincidentally, I also came across this old blog entry of mine on DIY culture, this week. It turns out I’ve been thinking of this stuff for years, now, though the earlier entry was from a different perspective: Whereas this chapter considers the remaking of existing cultural stuff, I had previously wondered about what we might make of commercial platforms for DIY products, like flickr, blog software, and the like? I thought at the time about the effects of consumers producing large amounts of DIY stuff that essentially became the property of the platform on which they built it.

Somewhere in there is some material that would be cool to explore further. But right now, all I can think of is a bad Yakov joke, and I assume that somebody already beat me to it: “In Web 2.0, content owns you!”

Doesn't look new to me

I’ve spent the last handful of days going to and from Newark, New Jersey (There’s a story there that involves trying to plan a large gathering in Manhattan on United Nations Opening Day, the conclusion of which was ending up in Newark), for a workshop and meeting regarding a volume I’m contributing to. The volume (on online and digitally-facilitated civic engagement) is part of a series sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation and has introduced me to some really interesting scholars, as well as given me lots to think about. The chapter I’m co-authoring uses online entertainment-related petitioning to explore some “movement society” arguments and a few ideas about cultural contestation. The whole MacArthur series is specifically about implications of digital media for youth, so we also try to think about the ways, if any, that online forms of contentious activity might be particularly relevant to or formative of young peoples’ politics. It’s fascinating project to be a part of. (More discussion coming, as our chapter firms up and moves from beta to production.) Now for some travel errata:

“Sterile area”

If the area where I bought it was really “sterile,” they’d let me bring that mocha on the plane with me.


Next time I travel, I’ll down less coffee and more vitamin C. Seems like every time I get on a plane these days, I deplane with a cold.

Heavy rotation

Travel usually means lots of iPod time. Between a few flights and some long days driving to Phoenix and back, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve logged a lot of tracks to In heavy rotation right now are:

  • Marah: If you Didn’t Laugh, You’d Cry is a super album. Especially good are “The Hustle”, “Walt Whitman Bridge”, and “Dishwasher’s Dream.” (That last one, in particular, has this furiously dreamy sound that gets me every time.)
  • Teddy Morgan: Morgan was based in Tucson for a while and became a local favorite, mixing (alt-)country, rock, rockabilly. Put on a killer live show. Then he went to Nashville and started playing sessions and producing for everybody back in Tucson. Morgan has a Myspace page with a few tracks, including a striking demo of “Thousand Miles” (from his album Freight). It’s a little lo-fi, but it has a great feel.
  • Richard Buckner: Hard to classify. But good. His new Meadow is reviewed over here by Cheezeball. (No cheeze whatsoever, they say.) His Dents and Shells has some great tracks: “Firsts” and “Straight” are personal standouts. Buckner also has a cool album with John Langford that genuinely rocks out from time to time. It has to, with a title like Sir Dark Invader vs The Fanglord.
  • Bob Dylan: Heather at Fuel for Friends put together a sweet, sweet set of tracks based on a recent Rolling Stone profile of Bob Dylan. One song I hadn’t heard before, “Sign On The Window,” features Dylan murmuring about moving to Utah, building a cabin, finding a woman, and catching lots of rainbow trout. Sounds like a plan.

About, the short version

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