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 http://www.mtviggy.com/articles/get-lost-but-happy-in-jagwar-mas-psych-pop/|
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)