Unhip Manifestos: Blog Mission Statement

10 02 2010

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that this blog was designed for a class. Specifically, it was designed for a University of Iowa class colloquially known as “Online Journalism,” course code 019:138:001. And because this blog is an endeavor that I am being evaluated on both academically and professionally, there are certain arbitrary criterion that I must fulfill.

Two of these criterion are as follows: my blog’s content has to have a semi-consistent theme, and I have to write 50 blog posts by semester’s end. Frankly, I found this revelation worrisome in the beginning. I don’t think I have fifty interesting things to say about any one topic.

Ultimately, I chose the concepts of “media democracy” and “cultural re-appropriation” as the topics I would cover. The savvier among you will realize that those are simply buzzwords, and mostly meaningless to anyone with a healthy social life.In this post, I hope to demystify some of the obtuse language I intend on using here at Unhipster. Hopefully, I’ll also clarify the overall mission statement of my blog, so I don’t feel the need to justify why a particular topic discussed on Unhipster is relevant to my overall body of work.

With no further ado, let’s take a look at some of the phrases I enjoy using. I’ve made many of them up myself, and I distort the standard definitions of others. English is a dynamic language. Deal with it.

  • Media Democracy–  Media democracy is a term that describes the way that ordinary people are able to create news, media, and art. It means taking away a certain portion of the control that huge media corporations have over what type of content is produced, and handing it over to an untrained Joe Sixpack. Technology is a huge factor in considering media democracy. Technological developments give regular people an increased level of creative control. YouTube, for instance, features a wide variety of media that was clearly created by some idiot 12-year old and his laptop’s on-board camera. This example proves that media democracy is not an unmitigated good.
  • Crowdsourcing– Crowdsourcing is a process where (often commercial) goals are achieved through the use of an anonymous crowd. In one hilarious example the State of Texas has placed live, streaming feed of the Mexican border on the internet, allowing people with an internet hookup to play Junior Border Patrol, minus the pay. In a way, it can be seen as a subversion of media democracy. Crowdsourcing uses a person’s individual ability to further an institutional goal.
  • Guerrilla Creativity– Guerrilla creativity, as I define it, is a creativity in the face of social hurdles. Guerrilla creativity is usually illegal, immoral, and really fun. It often takes the form of thumbing your nose at copyright law, breaking social rules, vandalization, and pranksterism. Interesting examples include the GYBO musical mashup forums, and the fantastic Billboard Liberation Front.
  • Interactivity- Interactivity is a the ability of a media product (i.e. this blog) to respond to the feedback of the media consumer (i.e. you). Interactivity allows the you to manipulate the medium, but it also allows the medium to manipulate you. If you want a look at technology, society, and interactivity that will scare the pants off you, I suggest none other than Mark Andrejevic’s iSpy. Professor Andrejevic is welcome in my underground paranoia bunker any day.
  • Cultural Recycling- Cultural recycling is an umbrella term for using reusing old ideas. The homage, the remake, the trope, the cliché, the re-imagining, and the rip-off all fall under this category. There’s a whole lot of diversity here, ranging from terrible Turkish remakes of Star Trek, to George A. Romero using the resonant cultural image of the zombie to make artistic statements on consumerism.
  • Art via Re-appropriation– Art via Re-appropriation is a particularly noteworthy form of cultural recycling, where one person’s work of art gets used as a tool by another artist. Often, it serves to subvert or comment on the original objet d’art. Take the famous painting of Mona Lisa with a mustache by Dadaist artist/weirdo Marcel Duchamp. Some mashups on GYBO are also good examples.

I hope that cleared stuff up. I also hope it was entertaining. But I have my doubts on both fronts.

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