Reterritorialising Social Media: Indigenous People Rise Up – My work-in-progress notes

I’m presenting next week at the University of Woollongong next week at the Reterritorialising Social Media: Indigenous People Rise Up.

I’m still forming my presentation. I’ve done a few presentations about Deadly Bloggers in the past including at the World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education. This time however, I’m pushing myself to move forward. I think my presentation will be framed around one or a series of questions. I don’t have the answers yet.

Here’s where I’m heading so far …

1. Conceptualisations of Social Media
When people ask what is social media it really makes my eye twitch. The term ‘social media’ feels redundant. It’s just the internet. Or is it more than ‘the internet’. It’s just how we do things now. Just as we’re gradually dropping the e from e-commerce (online v/& bricks&mortar is just how we commerce now) and e-learning (it’s just how learning is delivered now – face-to-face supported by online tools), the ‘social’ in media is just how we do the internet now.

But thinking about some of the conceptualisations,

  • Social Media as Personal Communication – it’s how we communicate with each other. Our online and offline relationships are intertwined, it’s not either/or.
  • Social Media as Activist Space – ‘the march’ moves to the screen – the petition, the hashtags. #sosBlakAustralia is a perfect example. But again, it’s not either/or – the online/offline worked together in sync to amplify voices and ideas
  • Social Media as trade route – we network, build relationships, and trade commodities
  • Social Media as critical expression – just like the canvas, is social media the canvas we draw on? or is it the gallery? Or both? I think that Siv Park’s Twitter Yarns probably best transcend any canvas/gallery dichotomy.
2. Bearing Witness

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you”
Maya Angelou

“Bearing witness is a term that, used in psychology, refers to sharing our experiences with others, most notably in the communication to others of traumatic experiences. Bearing witnress is a valuable way to process an experience, to obtain empathy and support, to lighten out emotional load via sharing it with the witness, and to obtain catharsis. Most people bear witness daily, and not only in reaction to traumatic events. We bear witness to one another through our writing, through art, and by verbally simply sharing with others” (Pikiewicz)

I think this ‘bearing witness’ relates to a post I wrote in 2012 Why I blog: No Image Available.

3. Building Legacy 
In 100 years from now, the great artworks of today will still be seen on gallery walls, the great literature will still be read.
In 100 years, Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria will still exist. Gordon Bennett’s Possession Island will still hang on the walls of the NGV. We will still listen to Archie Roach’s Charcoal Lane. These works are archivable, reference-able, findable.
But where are our Twitter and Facebook streams archived? Who will be able to access the archive?
If we don’t build our own spaces (self-hosted/owned), do we really own anything?
4. Is social media a midden?
What if, rather than static works of expression/communication (as in discreet texts), social media expression is like a midden. Over a life-time, interactions from different platforms (in 2015 = Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc) build up over time to form something real and tangible. Each individual shell, discarded months ago, is relatively meaningless, but over decades – a form is created – one with shape, life, and a degree of permanency.
So these are my notes so far. A slide deck will happen next week when I’ve made more sense of it. I feel like I’m lacking theory and it’s killing me. I have no space right now to go and seek it out. It’s times like this I miss the freedom/research imperative/structure of the higher education institution. I’ll let you know how I go.


2 thoughts on “Reterritorialising Social Media: Indigenous People Rise Up – My work-in-progress notes”

  1. I'm really interested in this 'post social media' idea. I'm in a 'post' frame of mind generally – in my field, 'post co-working space', 'post-incubator', 'post-postmodern' and so on. I'm inspired by the idea that a 'post' frame of mind might be informed by (Indigenist) values that spring from what's sometimes categorised as the 'pre' mindset ('pre-modern' etc). The powerful example you provide is 'social media as midden'. I'm still processing that one. Because no, it's not *necessarily* the case that those works of art and literature you mention will always always always be around – there's lots of history that has disappeared, that will never be told, can never be accessed. Women's histories, for example. Anyway, a very fruitful set of ideas. I'd love to see what you finally come up with!

    1. Thanks Michael. You are of course right – not everyone is allowed entry into the 'institution'. Not everyone gets archived. Overall the presentation went well I think. And the midden idea was well received. One idea to keep percolating.

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