Let me just frame this by saying that I am at the business end of trying to construct a doctoral thesis on the implications for cultural citizenship of vernacular creativity in “new media” contexts. I use radically mixed methods and my concept maps always start with ‘worms-eye’ views. I try to live up to the ethical ideals of cultural studies, participatory action research and the power of specificity and radical contextualisation. I’m doing this in a research context where the speed of innovation is utterly incompatible with any kind of scholarly pace.
Also, I recently got external feedback on a collaborative project that is explicitly designed to mount a grounded, pragmatic critique of some of the ethical implications of “creativity” and “innovation” in particular contexts – something that almost nobody who might actually make use of such an understanding seems to have time to do, because we’re always too busy trying to find the cutting edge. The feedback wasn’t overly negative, but I was gobsmacked to find that it said there was not enough emphasis on the future.
So let’s pretend for a moment that I’m in the business of making naive and idealistic manifestoey statements. This is what I’d want to say about how “new media” talks about itself, and about how new media scholars talk about it:
Old things are as interesting as new ones.
The speed and spectacular novelty of a particular innovation should never be a measure of its value or the basis of its justification. (But I get why they are).
We* need time to explore slow and ethical innovation.
We need more space for quiet voices, more room for thoughtfulness and more recognition of the value of boredom.
We have a lot to learn from the practices of late adopters, as well as those of the thoughtful, the sceptical, and the reluctant. We should watch them. We should listen.
But that’s just between you, me and the choir.
*designers, users, researchers, critics, teachers, students, policy-makers, journalists. you. me.