Blog Theorization: A Cyborg Manifesto

While several of Donna Haraway’s sci-fi references eluded me as I trudged my way through her complex, yet humorous “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,” she raises several arguments relevant to our readings on and practice of blogging.  Haraway’s main contention is that we can use the cyborg, “a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction” (149-50), to “take pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and for responsibility in their construction” (150).  She uses her myth of the cyborg to distance herself, and to encourage fellow feminist and postmodern scholars to distance themselves, from the dominant, patriarchal, and capitalistic culture that create and reinforce Oedipal and Biblical structures.  Because her “cyborg myth is about transgressed boundaries, potent fusions, and dangerous possibilities” (154), she attacks ideas about fundamental and essential identity in order to laud the importance of inserting “revolutionary stand-points, epistemologies” into the world that the “fraying of identities” allows.

Haraway invokes the arguments of feminist and Marxist scholars throughout her work and complicates their ideas of oppositional consciousness, women of color, and radical feminism to insert her own assertions and creates her own framework regarding the construction of “the woman” in the family, workplace, school, clinic-hospital, etc.  Through these references, Haraway practices her own philosophy by reinforcing the fluidity of identity and resisting “the one code that translates all meaning perfectly…the central dogma of phallogocentrism” (176), ultimately credentialing herself as a scholar invested in using the cyborg myth to solve problems.

The arguments raised in “A Cyborg Manifesto” relate to Mayer-Schonberger’s contentions in Delete, especially Haraway’s use of the word, “cyborg,” which combines the animal and machine.  Her employment of cyborgs align with the boundaries between the body and the machine that Mayer-Schonberger discusses.  He argues that since the explosion of new media technology and social networking culture, we, meaning our computers/machines, have lost the ability to forget events, experiences, or daily occurrences in our lives, and now possess perfect memory, a change with both advantageous and detrimental consequences.  Haraway’s essay also relates to Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget, as Lanier, who feels skeptical of virtual social networking, as it renders us “humanless” machines, believes that too much information exchange results in a loss of individuality.  Haraway’s cyborg myth abates that skepticism because it encompasses both the human and machine element in ourselves, and she uses these identities that bleed into each other to exert individual identity and insert into the world revolutionary ideas that challenge the ideals of dominant culture in society.

With biting wit and informed sci-fi references that her discursive prose sometimes obscures, Haraway clearly outlines her investment in the cyborg myth to solve problems that marginalized groups face. By arguing that the duality of human and machine can work to our advantage and revolutionize societal constructions of the “woman” and “family,” Haraway takes on a more optimistic view of the constantly changing human identity than Lanier and Mayer-Schonberger, who at least in some ways fear or feel skeptical about this fluidity.


“Delete” and Facebook

“Deleted” Facebook photos still not deleted

Here is an article on Ars Technica concerning the permanence of photos on Facebook.


Hi guys! Today Jon and I are going to continue our journey toward demystifying the sensation of the blogosphere! We are going to further discuss the role of blogs in politics, as depicted in David D. Perlmutter’s Blogwars. The chapters we’re going to discuss today are based upon Perlmutter’s experiences with political blogs, and his perspective on the impact they’ve made on politics over the years as the phenomenon has continued to grow. Hope you come ready for a great discussion! See you all soon!

blog theorization

More is Different

Hey folks. Today Shoshana and I are presenting on Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody. As a short preface to our presentation, I just want to share with you guys some questions to think about:

How has social media altered the way in which people organize?

How has the scale of social media structurally altered interpersonal communication?

What sorts of previously unavailable organizing and collaboration has social media enabled?

The book organizes largely around the idea that “More is different,” which is a phrase that recurs several times throughout the first six chapters of the book. Shirky proposes that the mass communication which the internet enables isn’t simply a one-on-one conversation on a much larger scale, but rather a fundamentally different type of communication. Social media has collapsed the way we previously understood organizations to function, both in terms of hierarchy and cost. Shirky is primarily invested in exploring the new types of organizing, communication, and actions which are available when the institutional dilemma (the endless quest to keep your profits higher than your cost) is no longer such a dilemma.

Shirky divides social media-based action into three categories: sharing, collaborative production, and collective action. Sharing is the simplest action, and occurs when people publish material online for others to see (Shirky uses the photo sharing capabilities of Flickr as an example). Collaborative production, not entirely different than a automobile assembly line, happens when people work together on a common product, as in the case of a wikipedia entry. No one person can take credit for the product of the group, but neither is any one person held accountable for its shortcomings. Collective action, the rarest form of social media-based action, occurs when people bind their identities together to work for a common goal. In this case, each individual is bound to the fate of the group and held accountable for its actions, as in the case of unions.

We’re particularly interested in thinking about the (sometimes tenuous) distinction between these three categories, where our own blogging might fit, and what these three categories teach us about blogging. How do we fit blogging and the comparatively small communities of our own blogs into the organizational framework which Shirky provides?

Along these lines, we are also interested in Shirky’s deployment of the word “audience.” He seems to use audience only to refer to a large group of people, and in his fourth chapter, suggests that many smaller blogs don’t have audiences at all, but rather a group of friends that read and discuss them. Is this necessarily a fair assessment of “audience,” and how does such a limited understanding of audience limit Shirky’s argument?

Does Shirky’s argument make any room for accountability on the internet, or does accountability/responsibility dissolve with traditional models of organization?

Finally, we’re interested in several of the dichotomies that Shirky draws (public/private, professional/amateur, audience/writer). Do these distinctions have any use within Shirky’s argument? Does social media dissolve these categories, or does it simply complicate our relationship to them (and also their relationship to each other)?

See you guys in class today!

Will and Shoshana


Edited for a short and deeply embarrassing title mistake.

Sorry, Charlie.

I found this blog very funny and satirical in nature. One post in particular was concerning Charlie Sheen, who has seen a lot of face time in the media recently. The tag line for this post was, “Warning: Parents hide your kids but not necessarily your wives.” Charlie Sheen has been saying a lot of ridiculous things lately and it was interesting the way this blog used those quotes that came straight from his mouth, and associated with different comical well-crafted cakes. For instance, Charlie said, “I’ve got tiger blood, man.” And the blog posted a picture of these little cakes with what looks like drizzled strawberry syrup all over them and wrote underneath it, I hear it tastes like strawberries. I would like to write a post similar to this in connecting funny images with the topic for my own blog, which is macho movies. Instead of just writing about a movie I’ve seen I want to add some humor to my posts.

A Not-So-Professional Review

So as this guy is pretty much my favorite movie blogger, it’s no surprise that he’s the one I’m posting on here.  The guy’s name is Vince and he runs the website  The site is a movie-news site, but he takes it really lightly and sprinkles in his humor to most of it — and I love it.  I think he’s a terrific writer (I believe he has a Master’s from NYU) and he’s really great at getting his humor across.

For those of you who don’t know, my site is me reviewing bad movie from this list over at IMDb.  So for the post I wanted to stand out, I chose Vince’s review of this Brazilian movie he saw at Sundance.  It’s fitting for a few reasons, the main one being that he’s completely upfront that the review is hyperbolic and not that professional, but he doesn’t care.  He really loved the movie and wrote about it as such.  I think that all movie reviews should be like this, and not the pretentious metaphor contest it really is, but le sigh, what am I to do about it.

Anyway, here’s the post (BAM), and I hope you enjoy it like I did.


PS, I’m pretty sick and will not be in class today.  Try not to have too much fun without me.

I’ve Got the To-Do Blues is a post from Oh My Words where Abigail explains that she doesn’t have enough to do to write a to-do list. Readers can relate to the subject because everyone has to-do list even if they don’t write it down. She engages the audience, but at the same time the post is structure. She incorporates pictures that connect with the subject and makes reading easier. This is important because it is web writing. Besides children books, books are expected to be all text, but the difference between a book is that a book as a certain amount of text that fits on a page. A web post on the other hand can be as long as you want it. Her post is not incredibly long, but if there were no pictures, it would look boring.

Her writing is structure and not just her random thoughts. She begins with the subject and then ends with an analysis; she feels like she doesn’t have a life. She compares her present moment where the most she has to do is the laundry to the past when she was a student and always busy. Having a structure helps readers to follow the topic and keeps readers in tune to the main point. Stream of conscious can be confusing when reading, although, it would make sense to the writer. The structure makes the piece tidier and easy to understand.