Micro Politics concerns itself with the lateral collaboration across new media platforms. Increasingly we’re seeing these open collaborative spaces in new media challenge the traditional hierarchy of creative practice and distribution that has been pretty strictly adhered to for a significant amount of time. These communication revolutions challenge the ways in which we interact and share content with each other, and thus read to something of an economic revolution where those who had previously been ‘gatekeepers’ of content and discourse find themselves resituated in the media landscape. Jeremy Rifkin delves into this idea of change by discussing how great economic revolutions in history work. He suggests that they’re based on a change in energy distribution, and that such changes like the dawn of centralised electrical power for instance “result in profound transformations in society”.
In this case electricity and the development of increasingly complicated internet networks has led to interconnected networks of communities and people who can share their creativity and whatever else they like really. Michael Bauwens establishes this idea of open design communities that “outcooperate and outcompete” single corporations. He poses that the political concerns of corporations and business are currently extremely focused upon the eventual scarcity and depletion of resources. Open design communities however are based on principles of renewal and it ends up naturally designing itself for sustainability rather than for its planned obsolescence. New ideas and content are continually filtering around, being shared and built upon mostly because they’re built on what Bauwens calls “sustainable designs”. I wasn’t 100% sure what he meant by this term but I took it to mean that the ideas could be freely transformed, creative-commons style where you have someone say upload a song and then you modify it or build upon it in some way. Thus creating a sustainable always fresh product that is still recollective of what it once was. Of course with the new media platforms of sharing though things like torrents and dropbox style storage systems they don’t necessarily have to be commercial business products, this was just the example Bauwen’s used to illustrate these new sharing principles.
I was trawling through ways of relating this stuff to some more specific examples to help make sense of it all and was extremely drawn to the the sharing of 3D printing schematics and the resulting ecosystems of sharing and creative influence that has sprung up in that little community. Not a lot of people have 3D printers because of the price point but those who do have been incredibly tempted by the ability to print whatever they like, so long as there’s a plan for it. One of the most popular sites for sharing is Thingiverse which has tonnes of different things to print. Meanwhile communities have sprung up in already existant subcultures like the piracy community where ‘physiables’ schematics based on user generated and blatantly copied commercial material are shared freely. Tested did a really interesting article on what this new sharing and exchange in the 3D printing community meant for the communities and businesses based around the 3D model and tabletop gaming industries. Typically, minatures from these companies can be quite pricy, yet sharing of the schematics for user copied versions of copyrighted designs has now become common practice. So there are new issues with copyright laws which don’t apply to physical objects in the traditional sense because of patents. The writer Alex Castle gets most interesting however when he talks about how people could literally invent their own games and worlds now and have these free figures be shared around the world. Then, eventually these games would replace the mainstream, corporation controlled ones.
How amazing a thought is that? That’s really what consideration of micro politics is all about, or at least partially. It’s a consideration of how the dichotomy between content owners and creators is changing towards a flatter structure that everyone has a say in, not just some guys in suits at the top of the pile.