[-empyre-] networked self and the netopticon

Heidi May mayh at ecuad.ca
Wed Jan 26 11:57:59 EST 2011

*"As we hand over to next week, we do wonder whether and how  
individual responsibility is altered by being online and what effects  
that has on us all, whether at the hands of panoptic forces or  
not?"(Jon & Alison, Jan 22)*


My interests with the networked self are influenced by Calvin Schrag's  
(1997) "The Self After Postmodernity," in which Schrag explores the  
self in discourse, the self in action, the self in community, and the  
self in transcendence. Although I am fascinated by this continual  
desire we have to connect with and understand the self, I do not  
believe a unitary self exists, however, I am not completely convinced  
that the self is constructed entirely by social forces...which is why,  
I guess, my work overall as a scholar/artist lies in-between the  
phenomenological and constructive, and (schizophrenically, perhaps) in- 
between the areas of art and education. To give you a little  
background about my own multiple selves...As an artist, I work at  
questioning and disrupting our relationships with technology in an  
attempt to think and see something through a different lens. As a  
researcher, I argue for self-reflexivity that is "referential" towards  
our relationships with culture, not just "endogenous" and inward- 
looking (Tim May, 1998). As an educator, I work towards embracing the  
uncertainty of a pedagogy that is guided by a temporal epistemology,  
"a quest for knowledge not based on developing accurate understandings  
of a finished reality but rather, "discovering more and more complex  
and creative ways of interacting with our reality (Osberg, Biesta, and  
Cilliers, 2008, p. 215). A temporal epistemology contrasts a  
representational way of knowing that can often present a divide  
between the world and our knowledge of it - temporal ways of knowing  
are said to allow for emergent knowledge from transactions with out  

My selves are definitely intertwined and I try my best to allow them  
to inform one another, however, sometimes life runs more efficiently  
when I choose to separate the results according to the different  
categories and networks I juggle and work within. I assume many of you  
subscribed to this list can understand these multiple roles we attempt  
to balance within the networks of art, media, and academia. I should  
also add to my list of selves the role of a student, both in the sense  
of being a life-long learner but also in the practical sense of being  
in the third year of a PhD program that straddles between areas of art  
and education..thus, I look to gain some words of wisdom from the rest  
of you. Specific to this week, I wonder, as you navigate your multiple  
selves, what role does the netopticon play in these acts? If the  
'academy' isn't watching you, do you feel the netopticon creates a  
record for them to refer to later? Do these records misrepresent you?  
Do you think about that or is it nothing to be concerned about?

In Simon's introduction to this month's theme, he described how George  
Orwell "evoked a state of perpetual government surveillance designed  
to crush deviation from mandated behaviour, seeking to implant the  
self-governing mechanism within the psyche of the individual."

I invite us to become self-reflective towards our own individual  
relationships with/in the netopticon as it relates to our everyday  
existence as people whom maintain art and teaching practices, yet  
simultaneously partake in ongoing critical exploration of online  
networks. This also connects slightly with the 'Stockholm Syndrome'  
metaphor brought up last week and the dangerous risks of succumbing to  
the Internet through acts of resistance. In what ways do we manage to  
identify ourselves in one social media network vs. another and how  
much thought do we put into this act of self-alteration, or the fact  
that we are indeed participation in a "theatre" of the netopticon? How  
do we incorporate our critical questions of online networking into our  
everyday use of the Internet, and should we insert more self- 
reflexivity into these acts? Do you feel it's possible to disrupt the  
shallow nature of mainstream social media networks (facebook, twitter,  
etc.) with critical acts of questioning? with art? Or do we need to do  
this outside of the netopticon?

- Heidi


May, T. (1998). Reflexivity in the age of reconstructive social  
science. International Journal of 	Social Research Methodology, 1(1),  

Osberg, D., Biesta, G., & Cilliers, P. (2008). From representation to  
emergence: Complexity’s 	challenge to the epistemology of schooling.  
Educational Philosophy and Theory, 40(1), 213-227.

Schrag, Calvin (1997). The Self After Postmodernity. New Haven, CT:  
Yale University Press.

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