Week 10: Steven Wheeler – Response to Viewings

Rather than return to a question like technical literacy that I’ve already articulated ad nauseam, I thought it might be more interesting to discuss some of the ethical considerations circling around Hakim Bey’s concept of Temporary Autonomous Zones, or T.A.Z.s for short.  Described them as provisional enclaves against the powers that be that are “dissolved before they can be repressed or coopted” (Gere, 2008)  As Gere remarks in Digital Culture, the Web itself can be seen as a giant, somewhat paradoxical macro-T.A.Z. in that, at least for the present, it’s here to stay.

The question, going forward, is there anything we can do to make sure that the Web retains its current, special status?  Publications such as Wired and The Atlantic have already put out pieces heralding the end of the Web as we know it.  While a good part of me wants to believe their prognosis is premature, another, more pessimistic side also thinks that transitioning from a browser-based Internet, where many companies operate, to an App-based one, where there are currently only three real players, doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.  As Jenkins, Ford, and Green mention in the closing chapters of Spreadable Media, Apple “curates what is made available in the App Store bbsed on what aligns with its own perceived market interests (2013, p. 245).  Microsoft’s track record is also far from stellar, and while Google’s Android platform is open source, they’ve been making subtle adjustments to it to make it less so.

Maybe this question is one best addressed to futurists like Ray Kurzweil, but what do you think?  Will we be able to maintain the Web as one of Bey’s Zones, or will we need to make a new one?

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