[Air-L] the case for critical commons

jeremy hunsinger jhuns at vt.edu
Fri Jan 22 12:04:06 PST 2010

> One can argue if this video is funny or distasteful - these are unnecessary moral discussions, but one thing is for sure: the clip is unintelligent.

I'm actually pretty sure here.... that it is intelligent, and that your analysis was again grossly far from the text as understood as within a defined meme and set of cultural references for that meme.  

The clip has nothing to do with Nazi's or evil or censorship.   The meme is playing purely off the emotional portrayals.  This is pretty common in memes, emotions play a significant part of the text.  I'm sure that if someone had done the same thing with unicorns or narwals or football players or really anything expressing the same emotional depth and the same emotional plot (which to me reads as classically greek emotions from a classical tragedy), you'd have a similar meme, but they didn't, the communities in question took to this clip.    It is the reproduction and reconstruction of those meanings in relation to the emotions that make this work.   Memes frequently rely less on the symbolic nature of the whole text, than on a specific aspect of that text and its understanding/appropriation by a small community.   glancing over the myriad of offers on youtube for this particularly meme, it should be pretty obvious as to what the form, context and reference is supposed to be.   When we read this meme, we have to read it sort of like we read an academic paper, there is a form, there are references, there is a genre, there are things in it that are there for a purpose and things in it to serve the form, but not everything in an academic paper is part of the conversation, neither is everything in this meme.  You can reference it, if that works for you and you can provide the backing to support your analysis, don't get me wrong.   Similarly people mis-cite academic papers all the time, including claiming a paper says something when it does not, because they did not understand the whole of the paper because they misplaced it in its referents/context.  That happens, and I'd say focussing on the Nazi's here is sort of like saying, the paper relies on habermas's concept of legitimation, when it is actually referencing lyotard's concept of paralogy, not the same. 

Rarely does any part of this meme rely on nazi's or evil, and one could say if you look at enough of them, that to rely on the nazi or evil metaphor misses the point, much like analyzing the language in German misses the point.  Communication is also not the point, nor is the mode of communication, web 2.0, or anything else really the main thing here.  

The point is to attach emotion to text, now whether this text does that effectively or not, we can debate.  However, the appropriation of the meme to make the point to the population that it was attempting to reach, which is clearly not all of AoIR, but perhaps a significant group within it, 

Now, as to the judgement of intelligence.   I'd actually want to see an argument about that... 

Granted, I'm not saying you should like it, like what it uses, or anything.  I'm just saying... we should be careful in our portrayals of what it is, and what it is not.   

Jeremy Hunsinger
Center for Digital Discourse and Culture
Virginia Tech
Information Ethics Fellow, Center for Information Policy Research, School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Whoever ceases to be a student has never been a student.
-George Iles

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