First, consider how the political action we’ve been following at the Occupy Wall Street rallies this semester relates to the organizational power of social media and the internet. Remember to articulate the difference between a one-to-many and a many-to-many broadcast medium: it will be useful to return to readings from earlier in the semester and refer to Buchanan’s Nexus or Castell’s history of the internet in order to include a working definition of distributed networks and the underlying technology of the internet. Then, consider Ian Bogost’s, Jane McGonigal’s or Sherry Turkle’s ideas about the importance of play in learning—these might also be useful articles to quote and discuss.
Second, bring some of the big ideas from this course together and try to answer this question: Can we read the recreational use of social networking tools or events like flash mobs as a form of playful practice for political action? You can use Allan Kaprow’s definition of a Happening to help in this paper. (But remember to note the date of his discussion: 1961 and well before the internet of today!) You can also use Gabriella Coleman’s articles on Anonymous as great sources to discuss that group as a smaller example of this larger phenomenon. Think about how Anonymous moved from the more playful (but still serious) protests of Scientology and “pranking” to the more politically and socially charged Occupy Wall Street events happening around the country today. You might also look at articles on the role of social networks and the internet in Arab Spring revolutions. Feel free to bring in an outside source for this assignment.