- Media in Transition 9: Mediating Audiences – MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing
[May 1-3] Audiences, broadly speaking, now include readers, viewers (of exhibits as well as film and television, for instance), players, users (of software as well as libraries), and people who are as busy conversing, writing, and photographing as they are “listening” in classical ways. As much as media change might suggest that we are now beyond audience, new media technologies, systems, and concepts still strive to somehow develop, constitute and assess a wide variety of audiences. | Indeed, “the people formerly known as the audience” (NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen puts it) remain at the center of the media equation. From the textually extrapolated reader to Nielson’s statistically-based profiles, from effects-prone masses to algorithmically generated targets of Google’s AdSense, audiences have been imagined and constructed in myriad ways. In part this reflects the disciplinary specificities of media studies and mass communications. And in part, it bears the traces of shifting media regimes, from centralized mass media to the particularities of today’s social media, or from lone readers to the networked group. Audiences have been produced, regulated, contested, disaggregated and of course, studied. Duped or engaged, passive or active, empowered or surveilled, they remain at the center of the media equation as persistent sites of anxiety, even as we struggle to find new ways to describe ‘them’ and their activities.
Disability at MiT
Disabled Americans today have to negotiate for the kinds of accommodations made for FDR, and the caveat “reasonable accommodation” is built into the law. President Franklin Roosevelt did not have to negotiate. He could summon vast resources of the federal government – money as well as brains – to accomplish the work of disability. And it was accomplished with such thoroughness and efficiency that its scale could be called the Accessibility-Industrial Complex had it been directed toward public accommodations and not solely the needs of a single man. Read FDR and the Hidden Work of Disability [MiT8 2013]
Shepard Fairey claimed that his posterization of a copyrighted AP news photo of Barack Obama was a transformative work protected by the fair use doctrine. In other words, it was a shape-shifter. I claim fair use, too, when I reproduce and transform copyrighted works into media formats that are accessible to me as a blind reader. Read Shape-Shifters in the Fair Use Lab [MiT6 2009]
The social engineers who created a system for licensing beggars in New York never imagined that a blind woman had culture or could make culture. She herself may not have imagined it, either. In the moment when Paul Strand photographed her surreptitiously on the street in 1916, he could not have expected that one day blind photographers would reverse the camera’s gaze. Read Curiosity & The Blind Photographer. [MiT5 2007]
Remix: Danger MouseWill DJ Danger Mouse become the Che Guevara of digital sampling? Consider the case for fair use made by The Grey Album.
Disability As PraxisI am a parent, homeowner, knowledge worker, and person with disabilities. Oppression is not my true word, but praxis is. In Paulo Freire’s transformative work, I find an affirmation deeper than ideology or political activism -- an affirmation of the dynamic role of disability in culture. I believe the daily praxis of making adaptations and negotiating accommodations represents a significant form of cultural production. Read Disability As Praxis.
ADA 20th AnniversaryOn its 20th anniversary, pundits will debate what the Americans with Disabilities Act has accomplished. I still believe what I said in a TV interview after the ADA signing ceremony in 1990. “The ADA will not end disability discrimination overnight. But in a nation governed by the rule of law, getting it in writing is the place to start.” So what is the ADA's legacy? A Generation of Problem-Solvers.