Thursday, 15 August 2013

When we think of power, often the first thoughts that arise are negative ones.  Power can be a destructive tool, a manipulator, a disabler and a tyrant. While this can be true, it does not truly encompass the whole essence of the word. Power is not just an authoritarian overlord, nor is it an illusive force only wielded by a few.  Power can be a positive force of change, of acknowledgement and trust.  Power is also relational.  It can be gathered from everywhere and it must be acknowledged in order to exist at all.  In this blog I want to focus on the positive aspects of power...the empowerment of individuals through autonomy and the power achieved through acknowledgement of creativity and freedom of expression.
Sydney Band "Jagwar Ma"- just one of many Soundcloud artists.  Image courtesy of 
The virtual network I chose to lurk around in is Soundcloud - a music sharing platform designed to allow individuals (as well as groups) the opportunity to upload and share music they have created, as well as listen as an observer (like myself!) with fellow music lovers from all around the world.  Allen (2003) suggests that power doesn't necessarily falter at a distance and this is true when it comes to the virtual world of Soundcloud.  In this virtual community, power is very much involved in a push and pull between individuals and almost always in positive ways.  Empowerment is given to musicians whose songs have large numbers of "likes" or "plays" and multiple encouraging comments from fellow artists or listeners. 

In the Turkle (1995) reading, she suggests the idea of virtual panopticon - which is quite a frightening and restrictive idea that could effect our ability to remain expressive and autonomous in the virtual world - but in the virtual reality of Soundcloud, being viewed constantly is the optimal result!  

Want to explore Soundcloud for yourself? Check it out!


T. Petray, lecture, August 5th, 2013.

Allen, J. (2003). Lost Geographies of Power. United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishers. 

Turkle, S. (1995). Life on the Screen: Identity in the age of the internet. New York, USA: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. 

(Over & out - Vivian Davey)


  1. Hey Vivian,

    I was really intrigued reading about that inner workings of Souncloud as it is something I often hear mentioned or reffered too, but have never personally had a look at it. In our week 2 lecture we are told that post-structuralism suggests that power is everywhere. (Petray, 2013)Which from what you have written in your blog I can see that there is power interactions apparent at all levels. I just had one question which is with regards to the power relationship within Soundcloud, whether it is domination, competition or co-operation,(Petray, 2013) and how much power people who may not get many or any 'likes' or 'plays'.

    Petray, T. (2013). BA1002: Our Space: Networks, narratives and the making of place,
    Lecture 2: Power. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved 15 August, 2013 from

  2. Hi Aaron!

    In regards to your question, personally I believe that it truly is a mixture of domination, competition and co-operation. In regards to domination and competition, there is an undercurrent of both in the fact that some artists get thousands of 'likes' or 'plays' and one may feel intimidated by this if for instance, you yourself have received very few 'likes' or 'plays'. Generally though, I find that most people are incredibly supportive of others music and usually only have positive or constructive criticism to give back. There is certainly power-play throughout the site but dynamics of it are generally positive ones.