Clusters that Circulate Culture — Filling Out the Ecosystem Metaphors?

[wikilike_img src=|url=|align=thumb tcenter|caption=clusters that circulate culture. rather than top down/bottom up hierarchies, how about using idioms that are about circulation?|width=500]

After the Yochai Benkler talk at the Annenberg Center for Communication I was thinking about different architectures, idioms and metaphors to describe the circulation of culture that was not hierarchical and not an architecture that predisposed one to ethically challenging responses, like..big business shapes culture and defiance doesn’t work (resistance is futile, we’ll all probably end up wearing Gap and we may as well get used to it..)

For what should be fairly obvious reasons, that sort of top-down architecture doesn’t work very well for either explicating how culture circulates, or as importantly (these are the deep stakes) creating sustainable/habitable near-future imaginaries. That is, giving one (culture agents) a set of tools, resources, language, idioms, material instruments, means to make things, a decent HowTo guide and some FAQs – all of what one needs to imagine the world being otherwise and having the gumption and motivation to muster that world into existence. Although the bottom-up architecture/argument/explication is more empowering in that it gives a voice to individual culture agents/hustlers of culture, it does not adequately read or make legible the heavy duty power dynamics in the hierarchy.

Thinking about, now, clusters/clouds, not hierarchies, of cultural production/circulation. Clouds of non-commercial production, some commercial production, and vectors by which these clusters/clouds circulate meaning, drift apart, gather bits from encounters and bumps, through their own motility (sorry how that’ll change..) dissipate, lie in wait, evaporate and re-circulate in revived (retro’d) form.

Mimi, Yochai Benkler, Kazys and Adrienne and all the others at the dinner table deserve credit for discussing this.

Somewhere between the corporate tectonics (from gr. tekton — create and destroy; epic; intractable; out of human scale; seeingly incorrigible) and the bottom-up circulation/production of culture 2.0 is likely a more heterogenous geometry containing clouds that vector the dynamics of culture between and amongst all those (pretty much everyone who is a social being) who fab their social lives. Clusters of culture rather than hierarchies. Business practices are only one form of social practice, and no one practice can possibly determine another with such authority and certainty that either the bottom-up or the top-down hierarchical architecture holds up to strenuous argument.

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