Thursday, February 28, 2008

Panopticon vs. agora

Alan Moore has an interesting, but scattered, post on Communities Dominate Brands about the question of accountability. He argues that since the 17th century, modern society has been moving from "we" to "I,"  with the result being that we look to uniformed authority figures for leadership instead of taking collective responsibility. He sees digital communities as something of a corrective:

In this context it is interesting that the digital world is literally running towards social connections, social communications, belonging and communing together. We are driving the technology to this end. And that is why I describe the guff about web/mobile/business 2.0 as in fact a We Media for We Species.

He contrasts digital community -- in which collective responsibility is reintroduced and required -- to the "database state," in which digital tools are used to consolidate responsibility and control further in the hands of the government. I've discussed this phenomenon in previous blog posts, in terms of the "panopticon" of centralized monitoring vs. the "agora" of collective monitoring and opprobrium. But I think Moore underestimates the horrors of the agora, which can rival those of the panopticon.

Communities Dominate Brands: Accountability and the modern state

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