Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Social media at Slow Making

One of the consistent themes of the new Craft Movement(s) is the role of digital technology - Web 2.0; net connectivity; social media... the small physical footprint of the technologies (though the environmental and social cost of its manufacture is not discussed and acted upon enough), the ephemeral nature of content matching the whimsy and vigour of much contemporary practice, the role of design software during making.

Handmade Nation which documents the rise of the new design, craft and making cultures in the US has a presence in the US as a film on the indie circuit as well as the book. It also has a Facebook presence with a Facebook page. The Slow Movement is not strongly represented - Slow Food sites tend to be focused on webpages, rather than using social media except as a way to get information about events etc out there. There's also Alastair Fuad-Luke's Slow Design space, originally set up in 2004 which is connected to New York's SlowLab. Both use webpages as their most significant Web presence.

Which brings me to the point of this post - we've set up a Slow Making group on Facebook. I might be completely missing the reason as to why social media forms such as Facebook are so successful but having a Facebook page seems too passive. We hope that people will want to engage with the idea, the processes, share information and perhaps even work toward workshops or an exhibition (real or virtual) or the like. Our hope is that a Facebook group will work to generate that engagement in a way that a Facebook page wont.

Then again, that might be completely wrong. Perhaps using something like Ning might be more appropriate; having a group you have to join. Whilst I agree with Clay Shirky about the potential of cognitive surplus, I suspect a lot of the reason for Facebook's success is that most of the actions and responses we are likely to do are really pretty passive - from Superpoking to even commenting on a friend's status, we're not doing much more than a digital version of raising an eyebrow or waving across a room. Which is fine - but Facebook may not be the right forum for Slow Making.

So let us know what you think, join the group if you're so inclined - theoretically any posts here on the blog should be linked up the wall of the group. And let us know about other social media based groups where ethical and green making, craft and design information and ideas are freely moving about - most of us would have had some connection with the Open Source movement. Is it possible to foster something similiar around Slow Making, or are there virtual spaces we should be connecting into now?



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