Monday, 5 March 2007

A response to the responses

It seems that my article posted at has recently been discussed on email lists in the UK, New Zealand, and elsewhere. I am pleased to see, at least, how quickly an online article can get ‘out there’ and start ruffling feathers. I thought I’d wait a few days, whilst these discussions took place, before making a reply.

Taking an overview, there seemed to be three different kinds of response:

(1) ‘We’re doing this thing you call Media Studies 2.0 already, and your 1.0 model is well out of date’

... In which case, good, fine! I am glad that you have changed with the times, and I know my 1.0 model is well out of date, which was the point. Of course there are lots of lovely people out there who are vigorously engaged with our exciting, changing subject matter. However if you look at a lot of college and university reading lists online, or look at recent textbooks, you would be hard pressed to assert that the 1.0 model is no longer taught. This point was confirmed by the larger number of people in the second group, who said something along the lines of:

(2) ‘Eek! Don’t replace the solid traditions and critical expertise of Media Studies with your ephemeral, pointlessly trendy 2.0 stuff’

... The predictable conservative, frightened response. Incidentally, as William Merrin has argued, Media Studies 2.0 would not throw away the insights of the past - of course - but would just need to rework some of the tools, and extend the analysis beyond the familiar. And personally I see Media Studies 2.0 as more interdisciplinary, too, reaching for useful theories across the histories of different fields. (And to defensively demonstrate that I’m not a new-tech philistine - and not as a gratuitous plug (!) - I am obliged to clarify this by mentioning that my new book, for example, makes use of German and French philosophers and sociologists of the 19th and 20th centuries alongside 21st century neuroscience, art and creativity specialists).

(3) ‘Yes, this is a welcome debate’

... Unsurprisingly I was pleased to find that there were a number of other people willing to admit that some changes could not be ignored, and that ‘the internet’ could not be tacked on as an ‘extra’ subject, and that we need to discuss these things and not be too defensive about preserving our own grand traditions.

Finally, of course - as some people observed - the opposition I made between Media Studies 1.0 and 2.0 is artificial, contrived, and designed to provoke argument. Nevertheless, it was interesting, in the various responses, that those people who got worked up about some apparently wrong/unfair aspect of my characterisation of Media Studies mostly managed to demonstrate my point, by using that as an excuse to go over familiar territory again, whilst failing to address the challenge at the heart of the ‘2.0’ manifesto.