Tonight in class we broached the topic of how media/technology might alter our ways of thinking, searching for and processing information. The notion of 'laterality' was suggested, moving across sources and types of information; I would argue, with reference to the networks of information and discussion concerning the recent social unrest in Greece, that this does indeed seem to be an apt notion.
Moving laterally, across both media types, forms of interaction and genres (not to mention sources) seems to be a significant possibility - and an apparent practice - in perusing the information that circulates among the various networks and resides in the various nodes that constitute my thematically & hypertextually linked locus of interest. To illustrate the variety one could stumble across in a single devoted session:
media types: text (in various forms), still images, image slideshows, video, audio
forms of interaction: relatively passive browsing, reading, looking, watching and listening, commenting, discussing, arguing, disseminating or re-disseminating (sharing or amplifying)
genres: re-desseminated and original-source 'mainstream' print and video content, independently produced 'news'-type accounts (i.e. IndyMedia), statements and manifestoes from Greek and non-Greek sources, various forms of commentary, discussion and argument (trolling and flaming, too), even edited video productions of significant length...with sources ranging from high-powered media conglomerates through independent journalists and political organizations to individual activists and sympathetic (or not-so-sympathetic) observers and commentators.
It seems to me that one major effect of this admixture is the dilution of the authority of 'mainstream' sources as sole carriers of information for those without direct ties to a far-away locale. However, as noted, this dilution is by no means an exclusion of more 'mainstream' sources; in fact, this one a preconception that has taken some adjustment on my part - as I had originally come into this with a notion that 'alternative' or sympathetic radical-left leaning sources would eschew the 'mainstream' content in favour of 'Indy' or 'tactical media' accounts that gave another view. To my surprise, a significant amount of information (at least in the post-December blogging, and occasionally on message-board discussions) that I've stumbled across in these 'alternative' networks is 'mainstream' content, ranging from very sympathetic (e.g. the Observer article I've noted below) to downright fear-mongering (e.g the newsday.com article noted on the 19th).
But the difference is - and this is where 'laterality' comes in - that, even when offered with minimal or no additional commentary (often the case), the 'mainstream' sources are part of a smorgasbord of other genres and sources. An artfully worded lament for Konstantina Kouneva issued by a Greek anarchist collective, info on a 'solidarity for Greek prisoners' event and talk linking the current financial crisis with struggles around the world, some message-board sniping over who's 'really' an anarchist, the text of a flyer circulating in Athens, a standard-prime-time-length documentary featuring montage footage, interviews and narration emphasizing the alienation, hope and anger of some Greek radicals (torrent download available at www.black-tracker.gr/details.php?=260.) All of this tidbits are on relatively equal footing with newsday and the Observer. And that's something different.
One of my initial impressions is that this juxtaposition (or blending?) of genres, sources and types of interaction (perhaps more so than, but undoubtedly in connection with that of different types of media) could be seen to represent a possibility for different 'language-games' (a la Lyotard or Wittgenstein; explicitly impassioned political discourses, 'objective' reporting, poetic renderings or casual commentaries) to be played out in the same big arena, to be uncovered and engaged in the 'lateral' movements of the same individual, to play off against one another in a way that would be unlikely to find much parallel - at least with regard to geographically distant events - even fifteen years ago.
Now, I'm not interested in simply cheerleading here - but this is already a long post, so further reflection awaits another one.