CODEC had its latest research seminar on Friday 4th November with Lynne Blair, Senior Lecturer in Computing from Lancaster University sharing with us part of her own research in “Values in Social Media”. It was a great session with some exploration of the concept of values and also the complications of values and practices.
Key to what Lynne was saying was a quote from C.S.Lewis’s Abolition of Man:
It is the magician’s bargain: give up our soul, get power in return. But once our souls, that is, ourselves, have been given up, the power thus conferred will not belong to us. We shall in fact be the slaves and puppets of that to which we have given our souls. It is in Man’s power to treat himself as a mere `natural object’ and his own judgements of value as raw material for scientific manipulation to alter at will.
In other words, how aware are we of the subconscious yielding of power to the technological. A lot of this is being discussed at the moment by Heidi Campbell and then also in work Vicky Beeching is writing (forthcoming) and also some exploration which I am doing with Haptic Theology (forthcoming). It’s a key issue and not all of us agree – which is a brilliant place to be.
Lynne referred to Matrix Unloaded at the end of the seminar and queried whether some of us are so engaged in the machine world that we need prophets to come and remind us of what the issues really are – some of us so enmeshed with technology that we need a-technological prophets to alter us to our own latent cyborgisation. That is a good good good reminder for each of us enmeshed in social media as well as in technological gadgetry.
At the end, Lynne proposed three axes/pivot points for values in social media: physicality, integrity and sustainability.
Here’s the video of the seminar – not brilliant quality but its something and I’m hoping to add the powerpoint anyway…
Lynne and I had a great conversation after the seminar and we hope that in 2012-2013 we can run a collaborative research project at St John’s in partnership with Lancaster University looking at this area. We hope Lynne will be a Visiting Fellow to St John’s and we’ll be able to bring in some researchers to look into this area of work. We’ll clearly need to bring quite a few people into this conversation…so we’ll make it as horizontal, web 2,0 and open as we possibly can!