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Social media and socio analysis - BETA


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  • 1. BETA  version  Social  media  and  socio-­‐analysis  David  Patman    Abstract    This  paper  discusses  the  proliferation  of  online  social  media  (Facebook,  YouTube,  Wikipedia,  etc),  its  implications  for  group  relations,  and  for  the  psychoanalytic  study  of  group  and  organisational  life.    Internet  social  theorist  Clay  Shirky  argues  that  the  emergence  of  online  social  media  has  drastically   reduced   the   barriers   to   participation   in   group   endeavours,   enabling   the   achievement   of   sophisticated,   collective   action   outside   of  formal  organisations  and  institutions.    From  a  socio-­‐analytic  perspective,  however,  organisations  also  fulfil  a  second  function:  that  of  containing  the  anxiety  of  members.    Drawing  on  socio-­‐analytic   theory   and   case   examples,   the   paper   will   argue   that   the   threat   posed   to   the   existence   of   organisational   and   institutional  structures  is  also  a  challenge  to  the  effectiveness  of  their  embedded  social  defences  against  anxiety.  As  a  result,  there  is  likely  to  be  conscious  and/or  unconscious  resistance  to  the  introduction  of  social  media  and  other  Web  2.0  tools  within  organisations  and  other  social  systems  which  are  based  on  traditional  hierarchical  models.      The   paper   also   explores   the   work   of   media   theorist   Marshall   McLuhan   about   connections   between   communications   technology   and   society.    McLuhan  suggests  that  cultures  in  which  authority,  institutions,  knowledge  and  experience  have  become  fragmented  and  distributed  through  the  dominance  of  the  printed  word,  tend  to  become  re-­‐integrated  as  instantaneous  electronic  communication  proliferates.  For  example,  private  experience  becomes  re-­‐publicized,  while  the  hierarchical  social  systems  which  support  the  concept  of  both  social  and  emotional  privacy  are  ‘re-­‐tribalized’  in  an  emerging  ‘global  village’.    The  paper  concludes  that  socio-­‐analytic  principles  offer  a  highly  relevant  conceptual  framework  for  the  investigation  of  new  kinds  of  groups  and  communities  which  are  emerging  at  ever  more  rapid  pace  in  an  increasingly  connected  world.    However,  it  also  cautions  that  the  discipline  of  socio-­‐analysis,   which   has   its   origins   in   the   study   of   traditional   organisational   forms,   will   itself   need   regeneration   through   continued  engagement  with  and  learning  from  the  experience  of  online  social  media.      1.  Suitable  for  work?    This   paper   discusses   the   proliferation   of   online   social   media   applications,   its   implications   for   organisations,   and   for  the  psychoanalytic  study  of  organisational  life.    By  ‘social  media’  I  mean  applications  which  allow  people  to  share  information   and   interact   with   each   other   via   electronic   networks   such   as   the   internet.     Popular   social   media  applications   run   by   corporations   include   Facebook,   Twitter,   YouTube,   Flickr   and   Myspace,   but   there   are   also  individually   created   blogs   and   discussion   forums,   plus   email   and   instant   messaging   in   this,   where   these   enable  group   communication.     I   would   also   include   collaborative   knowledge   creating   applications   such   as   Wikipedia,  virtual   worlds  such  as  Second  Life,   multi-­‐player  online  games  such  as  World  of  Warcraft,  and  private  software  used  by  organisations,  such  as  Yammer.      Social   media   applications   like   these   have   of   course   become   very   popular   in   recent   years,   with   more   than   550  million  people  on  Facebook,  65  million  tweets  posted  on  Twitter  each  day,  and  2  billion  video  views  each  day  on  YouTube1.     Social   media   advocates   have   been   quick   to   promote   the   benefits   of   social   media   to   organisations,   both  as  a  method  for  marketing  and  as  a  means  to  improve  productivity.    Social  media  marketing  has  quickly  taken  off,  with   firms   developing   their   own   Facebook   and   Twitter   accounts,   YouTube   campaigns,   and   crowd-­‐sourcing  programs.      In  marketing,  social  media  is  typically  regarded  as  a  tool  for  reaching  particular  audiences,  gathering  demographic  information,   and   engaging   targeted   consumers   in   ‘conversations’   which   will   hopefully   promote   brand   awareness  and  consumer  loyalty.  That  is,  social  media  is  regarded  and  used  in  the  same  way  as  the  same  as  any  other  medium  –   as   a   means   to   get   information   about   a   product   from   the   producer   to   consumers   who   are   most   likely   to   buy.    However,  despite  its  growing  popularity,  there  has  been  no  clear  demonstration  of  the  success  of  social  media  over                                                                                                                                      1     1  
  • 2. BETA  version  other   forms   of   marketing,   and   indeed   some   commentators   see   social   media   campaigns   as   somewhat   tokenistic,   or  even  potentially  damaging  to  a  brand.    There  is  some  evidence  that  firms  who  employ  social  media  marketing  by,  for   example,   placing   banner   ads   on   Facebook   pages,   or   creating   Twitter   accounts   to   follow   consumers,   are  perceived   to   be   unwelcome   intrusions   into   private   social   space   in   a   similar   way   to   telemarketing   calls   or   electronic  spam.     There   is   also   an   anxiety   that   personal   details   shared   with   large   social   media   hosts   such   as   Facebook   and  Google  will  be  sold  for  marketing  purposes.    While  the  jury  is  still  out  on  the  value  of  social  media  as  a  marketing  tool,  social  media  has  struggled  as  a  technique  for   increasing   productivity.     Primarily,   social   media   is   perceived   as   useful   for   enabling   communication   and  collaboration  between  teams  within  an  organisation,  but  also  with  organisational  stakeholders  who  may  be  outside  the  boundaries  of  the  organisation,  such  as  clients.    Yet  implementation  of  social  media  as  a  productivity  tool  has  also   been   problematic,   with   adoption   either   remaining   low   or   being   taken   up   in   ways   which   are   perceived   as  contrary  to  the  wellbeing  of  the  organization.    For  example,  a  Gartner  report  released  earlier  this  year  noted  that  social  media  disrupts  the  long-­‐standing   rules   of  business  in  many  ways  and  proposes  seven  critical  questions  that  businesses  should  consider  before  developing  a  social  media  strategy.    Reducing  complex  problems  to  seven  critical  questions  is  perhaps  typical  of  the  mainstream  management  consultant  approach,  but  the  accompanying  press  release  is  interesting:     Social   media   offers   tempting   opportunities   to   interact   with   employees,   business   partners,   customers,   prospects   and   a   whole   host   of   anonymous   participants   on   the   social   Web,"   said   Carol   Rozwell,   vice   president   and   distinguished   analyst   at   Gartner.   "However,   those   who   participate   in   social   media   need   guidance  from  their  employer  about  the  rules,  responsibilities,  norms  and  behaviours  expected  of  them,   and  these  topics  are  commonly  covered  in  the  social  media  policy2.    This   dilemma,   of   wanting   to   reap   the   benefits   of   social   media,   but   simultaneously   seeking   to   minimise   any  collateral  damage  resulting  from  ‘inappropriate’  use  by  employees,  is  particularly  acute  in  government.      Social   media,   and   ‘e-­‐Government’   services   more   generally,   offers   the   possibility   of   providing   greater   access   to  government   services   and   involving   citizens   more   closely   in   the   formulation   of   policy.     The   Obama   administration  enthusiastically  embraced  the  possibility  for  greater  citizen  involvement  in  public  policy  development  through  the  establishment   of   online   forums   for   consultation   about   health   care   and   other   social   issues.     The   Australian  government,   more   cautiously,   has   signalled   its   intention   to   embrace   the   democratizing   potential   of   Web   2.0  technologies   through   the   development   of   a   policy   Gov   2.0.     My   organisation,   a   federal   government  communications  regulator,  is  seeking  to  be  a  leader  in  the  use  of  social  media  tools  to  promote  public  consultation  in  Australia,  emulating  the  FCCs  Reboot  initiative  in  the  US.    Nevertheless   it   is   fair   to   say   that   the   success   of   such   initiatives   has   so   far   been,   at   best,   qualified,   with   limited  interaction   from   citizens.   An   early   attempt   at   online   consultation   by   the   Australian   Department   of   Broadband,  Communications   and   the   Digital   Economy   concerning   the   future   directions   of   digital   media   used   an   online  discussion  forum.    However,  this  first  opening  up  to  citizens  was  swamped  by  angry  responses  to  the  governments  proposed  internet  filtering  laws,  but  very  little  else  of  relevance  or  value  to  the  topic.    A  paper  by  Cliff  Lampe  et  al  discusses  what  the  authors  describe  as  inherent  barriers  to  the  use  of  social  media  for  public  policy  informatics,  based   on   a   case   study   of   a   Michigan   government   service   providers   use   of   social   media   for   consultation   with   its  constituents.    The  providers  management  was  hoping  to  use  an  online  discussion  forum  as  a  replacement  for  the  surveys  used  in  previous  years  to  conduct  a  needs  assessment  of  constituents  who  may  be  eligible  for  educational  assistance.  A  sophisticated   communication   strategy   and   online   application   was   developed   but   the   provider   found   that  interaction   was   very   low   -­‐   so   low   that   it   did   not   meet   the   requirements   of   the   central   agency   funding   the   provider.    As  a  result,  the  provider  opted  to  return  to  the  written  survey  method.                                                                                                                                      2     2  
  • 3. BETA  version    The  study  offered  a  number  of  explanations  for  the  failure  of  the  project,  including  that:     • Audiences  were  not  the  right  match  for  social  media.   • The  organization  had  a  hard  time,  outside  of  a  small  group  of  champions,  in  thinking  about  new  audiences.   • The  organization,  outside  of  the  project  champions,  had  low  motivation  to  participate.   • The  software  was  too  hard  to  use  for  users  not  familiar  with  social  media.   • The  timeframe  mattered.   • The  task  may  not  have  been  a  good  fit  for  social  media.      The  last  point  is  perhaps  the  key.    As  Lampe  et  al  argue,     The  tools  of  social  media  depend  on  interactivity  and  user  contribution.  While  crowd-­‐sourcing  feedback  on   community   development   priorities   could   work   in   that   framework,   it   could   be   that   the   specific   goals   of   generating  data  for  a  needs  assessment  were  too  specific  for  a  social  media  project.  Goals  like  increasing   interaction,   fostering   new   connections,   and   encouraging   stakeholder   contribution   are   all   goals   aligned   with  the  features  of  social  media.  However,  the  nature  of  social  media  is  grassroots  interaction  between   users,   with   the   organization   only   acting   as   another   type   of   user   in   these   cases.   Simply   broadcasting   messages   [as   the   case   study   application   did],   not   responding   to   contributions   of   stakeholders,   over-­‐ prescribing  topics  and  overly  specific  goals  may  all  hinder  the  success  of  social  media  projects  in  the  public   sector.      So,   despite   its   massive   popularity   and   increasing   permeation   of   our   lives,   there   appears   to   be   something   about  social   media   which   does   not   fit   easily   within   an   organizational   context,   as   least   in   the   sense   of   traditional  organizations.     What   is   it   about   social   media   –   and   indeed   about   organizations   –   that   generates   this  incompatibility?    Organizing  without  organizations    In  Clay  Shirky’s  book  Here  Comes  Everybody:  The  Power  of  Organizing  Without  Organizations,  he  argues  that  the  emergence  of  social  media  has  drastically  reduced  the  barriers  to  participation  in  group  endeavours,  enabling  the  achievement  of  sophisticated,  collective  action  without  the  need  for  formal  organisations  and  institutions.    Shirkys   book   charts   the   rapid   growth   of   the   use   of   social   media,   its   social   impact,   and   explores   reasons   for   its  popularity.    Although  Shirky  does  not  explicitly  reference  any  psychological  theory  of  motivation,  like  Bion  (whom  he  references)  he  regards  humans  as  group  animals,  with  an  innate  inclination  toward  group  interaction  and  work,  limited  only  by  physical/technical  restraints  on  communication  and  association  between  individuals.      Drawing  on  economist  Ronald  Coases  concept  of  transaction  costs  described  in  his  1936  article  The  Nature  of  the  Firm,  Shirky  argues  that  hierarchical  organisations  emerged  as  the  most  efficient  method  for  the  coordination  of  large-­‐scale  collective  action,  given  the  costs  of  communication  and  coordination  between  large  numbers  of  people.    The  rise  of  the  internet  and  social  media  applications,  he  asserts,  has  reduced  such  costs  to  the  point  at  which,  in  some   cases,   organisations   and   institutions   are   no   longer   the   most   efficient   means   for   achieving   collective   work.    Instead,   social   media   applications   allow   near-­‐instant   low-­‐cost   communication   and   information-­‐sharing   which  facilitate  large-­‐scale  group  action  without  the  need  for  formal  organizational  structure.    Shirky  cites  a  number  of  examples  in  which  social  media  have  played  a  central  role  in  organising  collective  action:  retrieving  a  stolen  mobile  phone,  co-­‐ordinating  flash  mob  protests,  providing  forum  for  special  interest  groups  to  connect   with   each   other,   development   of   information   resources   through   Wikipedia,   among   others.     There   are  many   other   recent   examples:   building   political   awareness   and   coordinating   protest   action   in   Egypt   and   Libya,     3  
  • 4. BETA  version  keeping   in   touch   with   rescuers   in   the   New   Zealand   and   Japanese   earthquakes,   exposing   political   hypocrisy   and  corruption   via   WikiLeaks.     This   group   action   would   not   have   been   possible   prior   to   the   development   and  proliferation  of  social  media.    In  terms  of  traditional  organizations,  as  Shirky  points  out,  the  potential  value  of  social  media  is  its  ability  to  bridge  communication   barriers   between   geographically,   culturally   and   hierarchically   distant   people.   However,   the   very  thing  that  provides  the  creative  potential  of  social  media,  its  openness,  is  also  what  is  perceived  by  management  as  most  risky  for  organisations.    The  risk  of  employees  communicating  directly  with  a  CEO,  or  key  stakeholders,  or  the  public,  is  felt  to  be  potentially  disastrous,  and  as  the  Gartner  recommendations  suggest,  the  defensive  response  is  to  establish  rules  for  how  social  media  may  be  used.    A  response  that,  in  effect,  drastically  limits  the  scope  of  communication  offered  by  social  media  to  that  which  is  controlled  by  the  company.    Taking  Shirky’s  view  to  the  extreme,  any  task  that  was  previously  fulfilled  by  an  organization  should,  in  theory,  be  able  to  be  more  efficiently  achieved  by  social  media  -­‐  although  is  difficult  to  see  how  certain  tasks  which  require  collective  action,  for  example,  smelting  copper  or  performing  heart  surgery,  could  be  completed  using  social  media  alone.  Shirky’s  answer  might  be  that  the  right  social  media  application  has  not  yet  been  invented.    Shirky  is  not  an  advocate   for   un-­‐organization,   however,   he   simply   regards   traditional   organizational   structures   as   sub-­‐optimal   in  societies  which  include  coordination  of  tasks  through  social  media  as  an  alternative.    However,  while  organizational  forms  have  certainly  evolved,  with  less  hierarchical  structures,  more  discrete  work  packages   managed   as   projects,   arguably   greater   labour   force   flexibility,   it   currently   appears   that   the   traditional  bureaucratic  form  will  be  with  us  a  while  longer.    If  anything,  it  is  in  the  broader  industries  and  institutions  where  change  appears  to  be  most  visible.    For  example,  communications  industries  such  the  print  media,  book  publishing,  TV  and  radio  broadcasting,  cinema,  music  production  and  distribution  business  –  which  are  in  direct  competition  with   social   media   are   seriously   threatened.     But   the   role   and   activities   of   public   institutions   responsible   for  education,  health,  defence,  the  law,  government  and  social  welfare  also  seem  to  be  in  crisis,  or  at  least  in  flux.    In   fact,   social   media   appears   to   have   generated   a   new   set   of   social   problems   for   society   in   general,   as   well   as  organizations.     The   agency   for   which   I   work   -­‐   the   Australian   Communications   and   Media   Authority   -­‐   has  responsibility   for   dealing   with   some   of   these   perceived   risks,   including   what   is   known   as   ‘cybersafety’:   the  protection   of   children   from   offensive   or   disturbing   content   on   the   internet,   from   online   stalkers   who   may   be  attempting  to  contact  them  via  social  media,  and  from  online  bullying  from  classmates  through  social  media.    The  issue   of   ‘sexting’   –   in   which   children   or   young   people   voluntarily   or   unwittingly   expose   themselves   in   sexualised  images  or  text  sent  via  SMS  to  an  unknown  and  potentially  large  audience  –  also  falls  into  this  category.    Earlier  this  year,   a   young   woman   cadet   at   the   Australian   Defence   Force   Academy   reported   that   video   images   of   her   having  consensual   sex   with   another   cadet   had   been   transmitted   via   Skype   to   a   number   of   male   cadets   without   her  knowledge.    Despite  years  of  bastardisation  and  abuse  of  young  men  and  women  in  the  Defence  forces,  for  some  reason   it   has   been   this   event   which   has   alarmed   the   government   into   taking   the   unprecedented   step   of   publicly  rebuking  Army  chiefs  and  initiating  a  series  of  public  inquiries.    It   seems   that   the   issue   of   what   is,   and   should   be,   public   and   what   is,   and   should   be,   private   lies   at   the   heart   of  questions   and   anxieties   about   social   media.   Social   media   has   the   potential   to   publicise   what   is   normally   held  private,   something   that   is   experienced   as   dangerous,   not   least   by   organizations.     The   psycho-­‐analytic   study   of  organizations  offers  a  useful  way  to  understand  why  traditional  organizational  forms  persist,  even  as  broader  social  changes  appear,  as  Shirky  argues,  to  make  them  increasingly  irrelevant.    3.  Social  media  and  socio-­‐analysis    The   psycho-­‐analytic   study   of   organizations,   which   I   refer   to   as   ‘socio-­‐analysis’,   reveals   that   organizations   (and  institutions)   fulfil   not   one   but   three   tasks:   firstly,   the   task   which   can   be   consciously   agreed   by   members   and  stakeholders,  and  which  may  be  characterised  as  the  purpose  or  mission  –  what  Gordon  Lawrence  has  referred  to  as   the   ‘normative   primary   task’.     There   may   be   some   differences   between   members   about   what   this   task   is,   or     4  
  • 5. BETA  version  should   be   –   the   ‘existential   primary   task’   in   Lawrence’s   terms   -­‐   and   this   can   lead   to   difficulties   within   the  organization,   particularly   if   it   is   different   to   the   normative   primary   task.     Nevertheless,   both   kinds   of   task   are  available  for  conscious  awareness  and  reflection.    It  is  the  third  task  -­‐  the  ‘phenomenal  primary  task’  -­‐  that  can  explain  the  persistence  of  what  would  appear  to  be  irrelevant  organizational  forms.    Lawrence  characterises  this  task  as  being  outside  of  the  conscious  awareness  of  the   members   of   an   organization   and   only   visible   only   through   what   can   be   inferred   from   their   behaviour.     The  phenomenal  primary  task  is  concerned  with  containing  the  anxiety  associated  with  the  first  two,  and  can  manifest  though   organizational   culture,   informal   work   practices,   shared   values   and   assumptions,   leadership   styles   as   well   as  in   the   formal   procedures,   processes,   technologies   and   structures   of   the   organization3.     In   this   sense,   the  organization  can  be  regarded  as  a  ‘socio-­‐technical  system’  and  changes  to  these  organisational  ‘technologies’  can  therefore   impact   on   the   organization’s   capacity   to   achieve   its   phenomenal   primary   task.     That   is,   the   kind   of  changes   to   an   organization’s   means   of   communication   and   organizational   processes   which   are   entailed   by   the  introduction  of  social  media,  are  likely  to  disturb  its  ability  to  contain  anxiety  and  are  therefore  likely  to  be  resisted  at  all  levels.    Phenomena   such   as   these   have   been   well   documented   in   the   socio-­‐analytic   literature   about   organizational   change  and   its   effects   on   social   defences,   from   both   a   psychodynamic   (Jaques   and   Menzies)   and   socio-­‐technical  perspective   (Trist   and   Bamforth).     Interventions   have   taken   place   mainly   at   the   organizational   and   group   level,   and  have  focused  on  working  with  the  unconscious  dynamics  at  work  within  the  particular  organizational  system.    Such  interventions  have  not  necessarily  engaged  with  changes  in  the  broader  social  context,  and  the  relationship  of  the  organization  to  the  society  in  which  it  exists.    An  exception  is  the  work  of  Miller  and  Rice  on  ‘open  systems’  theory,  which   is   concerned   with   management   of   the   relationship   between   an   organization   and   its   environment   in   the  service  of  the  organization’s  primary  task.    It  is  the  function  of  management  to  monitor  changes  in  the  environment  and   to   adjust   boundary   processes   in   order   to   accommodate   them   so   as   to   ensure   the   continuing   relevance   and  survival  of  the  organization.    The  proliferation  of  social  media  arguably  represents  a  major  change  in  the  external  environment   of   most   organizations,   and   indeed   in   the   internal   environment   as   organizations   seek   to   implement  social  media  tools  to  increase  productivity.    How   then   has   socio-­‐analysis   engaged   with   the   emergence   of   social   media   and   its   impact   on   organizations,   and  society  in  general?    Theoretical  engagement  has  taken  two  forms,  broadly  speaking:     1. Engagement  from  a  classical  psychoanalytic  perspective,  e.g.  regarding  the  experience  of  social  media  as   located  purely  in  the  individual   2. Engagement  from  a  group  relations  perspective,  e.g.  regarding  the  experience  of  social  media  as  located  in   the  group,  particularly  the  large  group    3.1  The  internet  regression  The   classically   psychoanalytic   view   of   the   experience   of   social   media   is   encapsulated   by   Norman   Holland   in   his  article   ‘The   Internet   Regression’,   first   published   via   Robert   Young’s   online   Free   Associations   forum   in   19954.    Holland  analysed  the  behaviour  of  users  of  the  newly  popular  online  bulletin  boards  and  theorised  that  the  internet  offers  a  place  in  which  primitive  drives  of  aggression,  sex  and  can  be  expressed  in  relative  safety,  without  the  ‘real  world’   consequences.     He   cites   as   examples   the   prevalence   of   aggressive   ‘flaming’   and   the   tendency   for   sexual  innuendo   and   flirting   which   seems   to   occur   on   blogs   with   greater   frequency   than   in   real   life.     He   also   suggests   that  the   ‘openness’   and   generosity   which   has   characterised   some   online   endeavours   (such   as   the   creation   of   ‘open’  software   and   freeware)   represents   a   form   of   regression   to   an   idealized   state.     Holland   welcomes   this   regressive  property   of   the   internet   for   its   potential   to   encourage   creative   play   and   experimentation   with   identity,   echoing  Sherry  Turkle’s  arguments  in  her  book  The  Second  Self,  about  the  relationship  between  humans  and  computers.                                                                                                                                        3  Jaques  and  Menzies  have  described  these  collectively  as  ‘social  defence  systems’  4  http://www.human-­‐­‐associations/holland.html     5  
  • 6. BETA  version  However,   like   Turkle,   Holland   also   sees   a   negative   side   to   this   relationship   manifesting   in   addiction   and  dependence,  as  the  boundary  between  person  and  machine  becomes  blurred:  ‘In  short,  when  communicating  on  the  Internet,  we  set  up  a  relationship  with  other  people  in  which  the  people  get  less  human  and  the  machine  gets  more   human.’     This   occurs   partly   because   the   internet   (at   that   time)   enabled   only   simple   text-­‐based  communications   whose   very   lack   of   verbal   or   visual   cues,   according   to   Holland,   provided   perfect   sites   for  transference.   Holland’s   final   paragraph   is   notable   for   its   accurate,   if  somewhat   cynical,   prediction   about   the   future  internet:     Those   who   dont   see   it   that   way,   however,   can   take   comfort.   The   Internet   regression   is   also   temporary.   Todays  Internetting  will  change,  maybe  even  by  the  time  you  read  this.  A  huge  influx  of  unskilled  users  is   coming   onto   the   Internet,   people   who   lack   the   cheery   openness   that   a   hacker   like   Alex   expresses.   The   technology  too  will  change.  Real  Soon  Now  (as  the  computer  magazines  say),  we  will  be  able  to  replace   todays  "plain  text"  with  digitized  voices.  Real  Soon  Now,  we  will  be  able  to  have  pictures  of  speaker  and   hearer.  Real  Soon  Now,  computer  technology  will  restore  to  the  Internet  the  physical  cues  of  face  to  face   talk.  Too  bad,  say  I.  The  Internet  Regression  has  been-­‐still  is-­‐fun.    However   Holland’s   use   of   individual   drive   theory   can   only   encompass   the   nature   of   the   relationship   between  person   and   machine,   whether   this   is   pathological   or   not.     While   this   made   sense   for   Turkle’s   pre-­‐internet   theory   of  human-­‐computer   relationships,   Holland   ends   up   neglecting   the   very   thing   that   is   most   distinctive   about   the  internet:  its  ‘socio-­‐ability’,  its  capacity  to  provide  connections.    Turkle   has   been   a   central   thinker   in   the   psychoanalytically   informed   view   of   the   internet.     Her   second   book   Life   On  the   Screen:   Identity   in   the   Age   of   the   Internet,   published   in   1995,   suggests   that   participation   in   ‘virtual   worlds’   such  as  multi-­‐user  online  games  and  Second  Life  can  be  psychologically  therapeutic  through  their  encouragement  of  play  and  experimentation  with  alternative  virtual  identities.    Turkle  also  explores  the  effects  of  ‘social  robots’:  machines  or  programs  which  are  capable  of  interacting  with  humans  in  life-­‐like  ways.    This   discussion   is   further   developed   in   Turkle’s   third   book,   2010’s   Alone   Together:   Why   we   expect   more   from  technology  and  less  from  each  other,  in  which  she  argues  that  social  machines,  such  as  electronic  pets  and  robots  which   care   for   the   elderly,   are   increasingly   becoming   substitutes   for   authentic   social   experience   with   ‘real’   people.    Use   of   social   media   applications   is   also   characterised   in   this   way,   with   SMS   texting,   Twitter   and   Facebook   regarded  as   tools   which   promise   intimacy,   but   in   reality   serve   to   keep   people   separated.     She   repeatedly   emphasises   the  ‘tethered’  nature  of  people’s  relationship  with  the  internet,  which  is  ‘always  on’,  implying  an  insidious  dependence  on  electronic  communication  such  as  SMS  texting  and  Facebook,  particularly  by  young  people.    Like   Holland,   however,   Turkle   places   the   individual,   and   the   degree   to   which   they   are   able   to   achieve  psychologically   healthy   states   (such   as   authenticity   and   ‘real’   intimacy),   at   the   centre   of   her   analysis.     She   does   not  conceptualise  the  internet  as  a  social  phenomenon,  but  instead  concentrates  on  what  appears  to  be  an  increasingly  pathological   relationship   between   individual   people   and   their   internet-­‐enabled   devices,   whether   this   be  smartphone,  or  computer  –  a  theme  which  may  be  traced  back  to  her  first  book,  1984’s  The  Second  Self.  3.2  The  internet  as  (very)  large  group  An  alternative  psychoanalytic  perspective  on  the  internet  which  has  emerged  more  recently  is  group-­‐oriented.    In  contrast   to   Holland,   Haim   Weinberg   has   argued   that   the   experience   of   the   internet   is   akin   to   that   of   the   large  group.    Like  Holland,  Weinberg  has  also  based  his  theory  on  a  study  of  the  behaviour  of  members  of  a  discussion  forum.    This  is  strange  given  that,  unlike  Holland,  Weinberg  is  writing  in  an  environment  in  which  the  internet  has  become   accessible   to   a   wider   public   and   allows   much   more   media-­‐rich   interactions   through   applications   such   as  Facebook  and  Twitter.    Nevertheless,  it  is  interesting  to  note  that  Weinberg  arrives  at  very  different  interpretations  of  internet  phenomena  than  Holland  or  Turkle.    Weinberg’s  view  is  that  the  vast  number  of  users  and  connections  which  comprise  the  internet  generate  a  sense  of  incomprehensible  vastness  that  generates  anxiety  in  any  online  ‘group’.    This  is  dealt  with  in  various  ways  which  will   be   familiar   to   members   of   a   large   study   group.     Weinberg   also   observes   that,   unlike   in   a   large   study   group,     6  
  • 7. BETA  version  there   is   a   tendency   to   idealise   the   leader  –   where   the   leader   is   conceptualised   as   the   group   moderator   or   provider  of  technical  support.    Yet   is   it   valid   to   conceptualise   an   online   discussion   forum   as   a   ‘large’   group  in   the   sense   envisaged   by   Turquet?     No  one   is   connected   to   the   whole   internet,   and   indeed   Shirky   argues   that   the   internet   actually   consists   of   many   ‘small  groups’,  which  are  linked  by  individual  users  who  may  be  members  of  many  groups.    But  are  these  small  groups  really  groups  in  the  sense  intended  by,  for  example,  Bion?    Entities   such   as   Facebook   and   MySpace   are   known   as   social   networks   within   which   friends   (in   social   network  parlance)  link  to  each  other.    Groups  of  like-­‐minded  users  -­‐  not  necessarily  friends  -­‐  can,  and  frequently  do,  self-­‐organise  within  such  networks.    Contributors  to  Wikipedia  and  other  collaborative  forums  are  often  referred  to  as  members  of  communities.    Users  of  Twitter  choose  to  follow  other  users,  while  users  accrue  connections  on  the  professional   networking   site   LinkedIn.     Platforms   such   as   YouTube,   Flickr   and   blogging   sites   enable   users   to  creatively  share  ideas  and  resources  in  the  form  of  text,  image,  audio  and  video  files.    The   terminology   and,   to   some   extent,   the   concepts   -­‐   groups,   communities,   friends,   followers,   sharing,   networks,  connections,  collaboration  -­‐  are  familiar  to  socio-­‐analysts.    Yet,  do  they  really  mean  the  same  thing?    For  example,  members  of  a  Facebook  group  may  never  have  met  in  person,  and  the  group  size  can  be  variable  and  extremely  large.  A  rapidly  emerging  trend  is  the  participation  in  social  media  groups  via  mobile  technologies,  such  as  smart  phones   and   broadband-­‐enabled   laptops.     So   a   user   might   be   in   a   different   geographic   location   each   time   they  participate  in  a  group.    Or  indeed,  might  be  literally  on  the  move  as  they  do  so.    Similarly,   the   question   of   time   for   interaction   between   users   of   online   social   networks   is   quite   different   to   in-­‐person  interaction.    Certainly  it  is  possible  to  have  a  real-­‐time  online  conversation  with  people  using  chat-­‐room  functionality,   but   the   bulk   of   interaction   about   particular   topics   takes   place   over   days,   weeks   and   even   longer,  often  across  different  international  time  zones.    The  duration  of  groups  themselves  is  also  rather  fluid  -­‐  it  is  hard  to  know  when  they  have  started  and  when  they  have  finished.    For  example,  does  the  group  start  once  it  has  been  announced  by  its  creators,  or  once  members  link  to  it,  or  when  the  first  comment  is  made?    Does  the  group  finish  when   has   the   last   comment   has   been   made?     If   so,   how   do   members   know   when   the   last   comment   has   been  made?    In  the  case  where  group  members  retain  their  links  to  the  group  even  if  there  has  been  no  recent  activity  does  the  group  still  exist?    If   group   time   is   an   elusive   concept,   it   is   not   always   clear   what   the   task   of   a   particular   social   entity   is   –   or,   in   Bion’s  phrase,  what  work  it  is  meeting  to  do.    The  work  of  the  Wikipedia  community,  for  instance,  is  fairly  clear  -­‐  to  build  an  online  repository  of  knowledge  -­‐  but  what  is  the  task  of  Twitter?    Nevertheless,  as  Shirky  demonstrates,  social  networks  do  work  which  has  an  impact  in  the  physical  world:  they  are  not  just  virtual  basic  assumption  groups,  to  paraphrase  Bion.    For  example,  in  Melbourne,  the  Save  The  Tote  group  did  indeed  help  to  save  The  Tote  and  did  achieve   changes   to   the   licensing   laws   through   the   coordination   of   protests   and   provision   of   a   site   for  communication  with  supporters  and  the  media.    So,  is  it  really  meaningful  -­‐  or  indeed  useful  -­‐  to  apply  socio-­‐analytic  principles  in  an  experiential  sense  when  the  traditional   boundaries   of   time,   task   and   territory   are   so   fluid?     How,   for   example,   can   one   consult   to   an   online  group?  3.3  Virtual  socio-­‐analysis?  Robert   Young   described   a   very   early   attempt   to   conduct   a   ‘group   relations’   type   event   on   the   internet,  commencing  in  1994  and  known  as  NETDYNAMICS.    His  reported  experience  of  the  event,  and  events  that  occurred  around  it,  are  interesting  from  both  an  individual  and  large  group  perspective.    Young  reported  that  members  felt  the  attempt  to  reproduce  a  study  group  online  was  a  failure.    He  said:     I  experienced  it  as  a  closed  group  with  its  own  rhetoric,  referring  to  interactions  and  issues  which  I  could   not  get  into.  All  the  other  groups  to  which  I  belonged  (fifty-­‐four  of  them)  were  based  on  issues  or  tasks,   e.g.,  psychoanalysis  or  psychotherapy  or  the  administration  of  forums  or  the  use  of  software.  This  one  had     7  
  • 8. BETA  version   only  itself  as  an  object  of  study.  I  found  myself  in  the  unusual  position  of  ‘lurker’,  the  term  for  someone   who  reads  the  postings  but  never  sends  any  or  many  to  the  forum.  In  fact,  most  people  on  most  forums  do   not   join   in   very   often,   and   many   do   not   do   so   at   all.   They   lurk   and   are   suspected   of   voyeurism.   My   response  to  a  large  group,  e.g.,  the  large  group  at  a  group  relations  conference,  is  usually  not  to  keep  my   head   down   but   -­‐   as   if   threatened   by   drowning   -­‐   to   seek   to   encompass   the   whole   by   intervening,   a   version   of  swimming  like  mad.  In  this  case,  I  just  couldn’t.  I  couldn’t  even  individuate  the  different  voices  on  the   forum.5    After  some  debate  about  the  success  or  otherwise  of  the  forum,  it  membership  were  shocked  to  discover  that  its  founder  and  ‘leader’  had  taken  his  own  life.    Following  his  death,  details  of  a  lonely  and  alienated  life  emerged  via  the   forum,   along   with   hitherto   unrevealed   information   about   recent   job   loss   and   relationship   breakdown.     It  seemed  that  the  founder  had  chosen  to  edit  parts  of  his  life,  leaving  members  with  the  feeling  that  they  had  not  ‘known’   him,   even   though   he   had   been   an   active   contributor   to   the   forum.     According   to   Young,   forum   discussions  appeared  to  reorganize  around  themes  of  mourning  and  guilt  for  not  having  known  or  being  able  to  prevent  the  death  of  the  founder.    Although  Young  did  not  make  this  interpretation,  it  appears  as  though  the  tragic  death  of  the  NETDYNAMICS  founder  may  have  allowed  forum  members  to  finally  discover  a  task  which  enabled  them  to  connect  with  each  other;  eg.  around  their  own  experiences  of,  and  feelings  about,  suicide.    I   participated   in   a   recent   attempt   to   conduct   an   online   socio-­‐analytic   activity   using   social   media   which   used   a  somewhat  similar  discussion  forum  platform  to  NETDYNAMICS.    The  event  was  titled  a  ‘Virtual  Large  Study  Group’  (VLSG)   with   the   task   being   to   study   the   behaviour   of   the   group.     It   took   place   over   a   number   of   weeks   using   a  discussion  board  format  in  which  participants  could  post  text  (and  other  media),  and  respond  to  the  text  of  others.    The  posts  appeared  in  sequential  order  in  a  linear  fashion.    There  were  three  consultants  and  no  information  about  the  number  or  names  of  participants  was  given  to  members.    All  posts  were  removed  from  view  at  the  close  of  the  event.     I   cannot   recall   the   task   of   the   VLSG,   but   I   think   it   would   be   fair   to   say   that   the   aim   was   to   study   the  behaviour  of  a  large  group  using  social  media,  rather  than  attempting  to  study  social  media  using  a  large  group.    My  experience  of  the  VLSG  was,  unsurprisingly  perhaps,  quite  different  to  any  large  study  group  I  have  participated  in.    However,  this  was  not  just  because  most  of  the  communication  was  conducted  via  quite  lengthy  text  posts,  or  because   there   was   little   ‘real   time’   dialogue   between   members.     The   major   difference   was   not   the   absence   of  boundaries,   but   that   the   time   and   ‘territory’   boundaries   did   not   seem   appropriate   to   the   task.     I   am   thinking   about  ‘territory’   boundaries   simultaneously   as   both   the   physical   location   from   which   I   participated   in   the   VLSG   (which  varied)   and   the  architecture   of  the  application  being  used.     At   no   point   did   I   feel   like   a   member   of   a   group,   large   or  small,   and   the   sense   of   ‘connectedness’   I   normally   associate   with   group   membership.     It   was   as   if   I   was   floating  between  a  number  of  disconnected  statements,  rather  than  becoming  immersed  in  a  conversation.    The  experience  of  being  in  the  VLSG  was  dispersed  across  and  mixed  in  with  other  activities  in  my  life:  making  dinner,  preparing  for  bed,  having  breakfast,  travelling  to  and  from  work.    Occasionally,  I  used  my  smartphone  to  interact  with  the  VLSG,  meaning  that  I  was  physically  present  with  people  other  than  members  of  the  VLSG.    It  seemed  to  me  that,  as  with  Young’s  experience  of  NETDYNAMICS,  the  attempt  to  conduct  a  large  study  group  using  social  media  did  not  really  work  as  intended:  the  consultants  were  unable  to  hold  boundaries  in  the  way  that  is  possible  when  members  are  gathered  together  in  the  same  room.    At  times  I  had  the  impression  that  we  were  all  trying  to  behave  as  if  we  were  present  in  a  large  study  group,  making  the  kinds  of  observations  and  interpretations  that  are  familiar  to  large  study  group  participants,  although  this  didn’t  fit  the  reality  of  my  experience.    It  was  as  though  there  was  an  assumption  being  made  that  the  ‘virtual  world’  is  simply  a  reflection  of  the  ‘real  world’,  and  that  thinking  and  behaviour  employed  in  the  latter  can  be  directly  transplanted  into  the  latter;  for  example,  that  text   posts   were   somehow   the   equivalent   of   speech,   that   contributing   to   an   online   discussion   forum   using   a  smartphone  is  equivalent  to  sitting  a  room  with  participants.    As  I  will  discuss  later  in  the  paper,  part  of  the  issue  may  be  the  ready  acceptance  of  the  common  assumption  that  a  ‘virtual  world’  exists  separately  from  a  ‘real  world’.                                                                                                                                        5  http://human-­‐       8  
  • 9. BETA  version  A  similar  experience  of  meeting  colleagues  in  Second  Life  to  plan  for  Members  Day  of  the  2011  ISPSO  Symposium  was  also  illuminating  in  this  regard.    Unlike  the  VLSG,  all  members  were  participating  at  the  same  time,  although  in  different   international   time   zones,   using   avatars   as   proxies.     The   meeting   took   place   in   a   room   on   the   virtual  campus  of  Fielding  Graduate  University,  with  members  communicating  by  both  voice  and  text-­‐based  chat.    While  the  majority  of  participants  had  experience  of  socio-­‐analytic  thinking,  many  possessed  only  limited  experience  of  Second   Life,   especially   in   relation   to   interacting   with   others.   The   experience   itself   felt   chaotic   initially,   as  participants   discovered   the   various   features   of   the   Second   Life   environment,   and   how   to   control   avatars.     It   was  difficult  to  think,  and  to  connect  with  participants  whom  one  had  not  previously  met  in  physics  life.    Nevertheless,  development   occurred   over   the   course   of   two   meetings,   with   participants   learning   how   to   communicate   and  interact,  and  the  experience  felt  alive  and  playful  in  a  way  that  the  VLSG  had  not.    In  my  view,  this  was  possible  firstly   because   of   the   presence   of   an   experienced   and   enthusiastic   Second   Life   guide,   whose   knowledge  participants   were   able   to   draw   on   as   a   resource   -­‐   a   kind   of   socio-­‐technical   support   as   it   were.     Secondly,  participants  were  emboldened  to  let  go  of  pre-­‐conceptions  about  how  a  socio-­‐analytic  encounter  should  unfold.    I   would   argue   that   any   attempt   to   directly   translate   some   of   the   classic   assumptions   of   group   relations   and  psychodynamic  systems  theory  to  online  (or  virtual)  groups  risks  misunderstanding  the  unique  properties  of  these  new   social   media.     I   am   suggesting   here   that   while   socio-­‐analytic   principles   continue   to   offer   a   important  conceptual  framework  for  the  investigation  of  social  relations,  socio-­‐analytic  methodologies,  based  as  they  are  on  traditional   organisational   forms,   may   themselves   require   regeneration   to   remain   relevant   in   a   ‘digital   society’.    Into  what  forms,  then,  might  regenerated  socio-­‐analytic  methods  evolve  in  a  way  that  is  aware  of  the  properties,  and   also   the   effects,   of   social   media   and   the   electronic   networks   on   which   they   are   hosted?     To   explore   this  question  I  discuss  the  unique  analytical  framework  developed  by  media  theorist  Marshall  McLuhan.    4.  Understanding  social  media    Marshall  McLuhan’s  work  on  media  has  often  been  credited  with  predicting  the  proliferation  and  social  impact  of  the   internet.     Indeed,   he   was   made   ‘patron   saint’   of   hip   IT   magazine   Wired.     Yet   his   major   work   Understanding  Media,  published  in  1964,  more  than  30  years  before  use  of  the  internet  started  to  become  widespread,  focused  primarily   on   the   effects   of   then   then-­‐dominant   electronic   medium:   television.     Although   some   of   the   terms   he  coined,  such  as  ‘the  medium  is  the  message’  and  the  ‘global  village’,  are  still  referenced  today,  it  would  be  fair  to  say  that  his  work  is  not  widely  understood,  even  within  the  field  of  media  and  communications  theory.    McLuhan  sought   to   create   awareness   of   the   effects   of   media   on   society,   particularly   new   media,   and   his   social   theories   have  been   criticized   as   overly   materialistic,   with   some   critics   interpreting   his   work   as   implying   that   social   change   is  ultimately  driven  by  changes  in  communications  technology.    His  ideas  about  the  relationship  between  the  physical  senses,  the   central  nervous  system  and  technology  have  also  been  criticized  as  having  no  scientific  basis  in  biology  or  neurology.    Despite  these  criticisms,  it  seems  difficult  to  argue  with  McLuhan’s  key  point,  which  he  summarizes  as:     The  printing  press,  the  computer,  and  television  are  not  .  .  .  simply  machines  which  convey  information.   They  are  metaphors  through  which  we  conceptualize  reality  in  one  way  or  another.  They  will  classify  the   world   for   us,   sequence   it,   frame   it,   enlarge   it,   reduce   it,   argue   a   case   for   what   it   is   like.   Through   these   media  metaphors,  we  do  not  see  the  world  as  it  is.  We  see  it  as  our  coding  systems  are.  Such  is  the  power   of  the  form  of  information.    Three  of  his  key  concepts  resonate  strongly  with  the  socio-­‐analytic  perspective  and,  I  believe,  help  to  point  the  way  to   new   socio-­‐analytic   methods   that   would   be   in   tune   with   a   society   in   which   electronic   networks   such   as   the  internet  are  increasingly  dominant:     1. Media  extend  consciousness  in  time  and  space   2. The  form  of  media  influence  psychic  and  social  organization  ‘the  medium  is  the  message’   3. Social  dynamics  in  the  electronic  era  assume  the  form  of  a  global  village       9  
  • 10. BETA  version  4.1  Media  as  ‘extensions  of  man’  Communications   media,   for   Marshall   McLuhan,   are   not   simply   mechanisms   for   transmitting   information.   In  addition,  he  contends,  all  media  serve  to  extend  and  amplify  one  or  more  of  the  physical  senses.    Just  as  the  wheel  extends   the   capacity   of   the   foot   to   travel,   the   medium   of   writing   extends   the   sense   of   sight.     Similarly,   just   as  clothes   or   the   walls   of   a   house   extend   the   sense   of   touch,   the   medium   of   speech   extends   the   sense   of   hearing  across   space   and   time.     According   to   McLuhan,   the   stimulation   of   a   particular   sense   dims   the   experience   of   the  others.    He  provides  a  number  of  examples  of  how  dulling  a  particular  sense  can  heighten  awareness  of  the  others,  such  as  how  lowering  the  lighting  in  a  restaurant  and  providing  a  quiet  atmosphere,  dims  the  visual  and  auditory  senses   thereby   heightening   the   senses   of   taste,   smell   and   touch.   The   prominence   of   particular   kinds   of   media  technology   in   a   society,   McLuhan   argues,   will   correlate   with   what   he   calls   its   sensory   balance.     Thus,   there   will   be  certain  societies,  or  cultures,  which  he  describes  as  having  a  visual  emphasis,  others  which  may  have  an  audio-­‐tactile   emphasis   (unfortunately   he   doesnt   specifically   refer   to   cultures   which   could   be   considered   olfactory   or  gustatory).    The  differences  between  visual  and  audio-­‐tactile  cultures,  in  McLuhans  view,  stem  from  the  specific  properties  of  the  dominant  sense  or  senses.    The  difference  between  hearing  and  seeing,  according  to  McLuhan,  is  that  the  ear  is  essentially   non-­‐directional,   and   promotes   feelings   of   immersion   and   intimacy.   The   eye,   by   contrast,   relies   on   a  directional   gaze,   tending   to   distance   the   viewer   from   subject   and   promoting   a   sense   of   separation   of   what   is   in  view   from   what   isnt.   By   way   of   example,   McLuhan   points   to   sense   of   closeness   than   can   be   achieved   via   the   radio  and  the  telephone,  as  contemporary  examples  of  the  feeling  of  ‘intimacy’  he  describes6.    The  ear  perceives  sound  independently   of   the   direction   from   which   it   emanates,   as   opposed   to   the   eyes   which   only   perceive   in   one  direction  at  a  time.        The  immersive  nature  of  sound,  McLuhan  argues,  tends  to  favour  specific  kinds  of  social  experiences  and  relations.    The  first  and  foremost  of  these  is  the  tribe,  in  which  social  meaning  is  provided  by  storytellers,  bards  and  musicians:  the   ‘Tribal   Voice’,   as   McLuhan   terms   it.     In   an   aural   culture,   social   groupings   take   particular   forms   that   permit  verbal   interaction.     The   speech   of   the   tribal   elders   is   the   source   of   authority,   and   history   is   passed   on   through  oral/aural   tradition.     McLuhan   also   regards   the   tribal   form   as   having   a   tactile   quality,   expressed   through   the   media  of  dance,  music  making  and  carving.    The  sense  of  touch,  like  the  sense  of  hearing,  is  also  immersive.    Tribal  life,  for  McLuhan,   is   therefore   close-­‐knit   and   immersive,   with   the   emphasis   on   group   experience   rather   than   on   the  individual.    Individuality  is  conceptualised  as  role  -­‐  that  is,  only  in  relation  to  the  group.    Groups  are  small,  perhaps  organised   in   villages,   and  internally   focused,   with   bodily   functions   performed   in   public,  as   it   were,   although   the  distinction  between  private  and  public  has  little  meaning.    Visual  cultures,  on  the  other  hand,  are  marked  by  the  distinction  between  subject  and  object  -­‐  the  point  of  view,  in   McLuhans   shorthand.     Characteristic   features   are   specialisation,   hierarchy   and   an   emphasis   on   the   individual.    Authority   is   exercised   from   the   centre   to   margin   via   mechanical   media   -­‐   roads,   sea-­‐borne   trade   routes,   and  railways.   The   organising   principle   of   visual   culture   is   hierarchical   and   linear   one   thing   following   another,   the  organising   principle   of   oral-­‐tactile   culture   is   the   mesh   or   mosaic:   everything   at   once.     For   McLuhan,   the   crucial  technologies   which   enable   visual   culture   were   the   invention   of   the   phonetic   alphabet,   followed   by   the  development  of  the  printing  press.    According   to   McLuhan,   the   phonetic   alphabet,   through   its   ability   to   translate   sound   into   sight,   represents   a  seismic  shift  in  the  way  the  world  is  experienced.    Unlike  pictographic  writing  in  which  visual  symbols  correspond  to  set   meanings,   the   phonetic   alphabet   represents   specific   sounds   through   otherwise   meaningless   characters.     It  therefore   allows   the   sound   of   speech   to   be   transmitted   and   reproduced   across   space   and   time   on   tablets   and  parchment.  For  the  first  time  it  was  feasible  for  the  voice  of  the  tribal  leader  or  king  to  be  heard  far  from  their  seat  of   power,   and   roads   were   constructed   to   enable   messengers   to   transmit   orders   and   proclamations.   Thus,   the  advent  of  phonetic  language  allowed  the  authority  of  the  spoken  word  to  be  exercised  as  a  distance,  setting  the  scene  for  the  establishment  of  empires.                                                                                                                                        6  This  may  explain  the  attraction  of  late-­‐night  talk-­‐back  radio  to  lonely  listeners.     10  
  • 11. BETA  version   The  phonetic  alphabet  is  a  unique  technology.    There  have  been  many  kinds  of  writing,  pictographic  and   syllabic,   but   there   is   only   one   phonetic   alphabet   in   which   semantically   meaningless   letters   are   used   to   correspond  to  semantically  meaningless  sounds.    This  stark  division  and  parallelism  between  a  visual  and   an   auditory   world   was   both   crude   and   ruthless,   culturally   speaking.     The   phonetically   written   word   sacrifices   worlds   of   meaning   and   perception   that   were   secured   by   forms   like   the   hieroglyph   and   the   Chinese  ideogram.  (p  91)      The  spread  of  the  phonetic  alphabet  corresponded  with  a  stress  on  the  visual,  and  the  primacy  and  authority  of  the  written  (as  opposed  to  spoken)  word.    For  McLuhan,  this  splitting  of  the  visual  from  the  aural  also  prompted  the  splitting   of   subject   from   object,   and   gradually   led   to   specialisation   of   knowledge   and   skills,   of   the   emergence   of  science,  and  eventually  resulting  in  the  emergence  of  the  machine.    This  process  of  specialisation  and  distribution  of   authority   from   centre   to   margin   was   drastically   accelerated   by   the   invention   of   the   ultimate   machine:   the  printing   press.     Indeed,   the   phonetic   alphabet   enables   the   splitting   of   experience   into   unitary   fragments   to   be  reassembled  in  linear  sequences  is  what  made  the  machine  possible:     Only   alphabetic   cultures   have   ever   mastered   connected   lineal   sequences   as   pervasive   forms   of   psychic   social   organization.     The   breaking   up   of   every   kind   of   experience   into   uniform   units   in   order   to   produce   faster   action   and   change   of   form   (applied   knowledge)   has   been   the   secret   of   Western   power   over   man   and  nature  alike.  (p  93)    This   fragmentation   and   ordering   of   experiences   can   be   discerned   in   the   visual   structure   of   organisations,   buildings,  taxonomies  and  genealogies  which  characterise  the  industrial  age.    McLuhan  regards  the  printing  press  as  the  primary  engine  for  the  complete  domination  of  Western  societies  and  their   colonies   by   visual   culture   through   the   dissemination   of   laws,   maps,   architectural   plans,   engineering   drawings,  scientific  treatises,  reference  books,  journals,  newspapers,  political  manifestos,  instruction  manuals,  novels  -­‐  all  of  which  emphasise  in  some  way  the  separation  of  individual  and  society.  Instead  of  what  McLuhan  characterises  as  the  tribal  web  of  kinship  relations,  individuals  become  related  to  each  other  through  nation-­‐states  as  citizens,  or  through  membership  of  firms  and  organisations.        This   visual-­‐mechanical   specialist   culture   is   also   one   in   which   the   dis-­‐eases   of   the   individual   psyche   (hysteria,  neurosis,   anxiety,   stress)   and   of   groups   (alienation,   anomie)   become   possible.     Various   specialist   disciplines   have  developed   to   understand   and   cure   such   conditions:   medicine,   neurology,   psychology,   sociology,   economics,  political  science,  etc.    Yet,  through  their  focus  on  a  single  aspect  of  experience,  grounded  as  they  are  in  machines  and   the   printed   word,   such   disciplines   themselves   express   and   reproduce   the   visual-­‐mechanical   bias   which   gives  rise  to  the  ills  they  seek  to  remedy.    As  McLuhan  suggests:     Our   mechanical   technologies   for   extending   and   separating   the   functions   of   our   physical   beings   have   brought   us   near   to   a   state   of   disintegration   by   putting   us   out   of   touch   with   ourselves.     It   may   very   well   be   that   in   our   conscious   inner   lives   the   interplay   among   our   senses   is   what   constitutes   the   sense   of   touch.     Perhaps  touch  is  not  just  skin  contact  with  things,  but  the  very  life  of  things  in  the  mind?  (p  117)      The   extension   and   separation   of   functions   to   which   McLuhan   refers   might   be   compared   with   the   splitting   and  projection  which  is  described  by  psychoanalytic  theory,  particularly  as  formulated  by  Melanie  Klein.    Rather  than  simply   operating   within   the   individual   psyche,   however,   he   describes   a   splitting   which   occurs   at   the   level   of   groups  and  societies  via  communications  media.    In  my  view,  this  is  an  overlooked  but  important  aspect  of  his  theory:  by  conceptualising  communications  media  as  extensions  of  the  senses  -­‐  which  constitute  the  surface  of  consciousness,  as  it  were  -­‐  he  is  able  to  directly  link  the  inner  life  of  the  mind  with  external  reality.    Although  McLuhan  has  been  labelled   a   materialist,   his   theory   does   not   depend   on   the   assumption   of   a   causal   link   from   technology   to  psychology;  it  would  be  possible  to  argue  that  visual  media  emerge  and  embody  a  kind  of  paranoid-­‐schizoid  social  defence   against   anxiety.     The   significance   of   his   theory   for   the   psychoanalytic   study   of   organisation   is   that   it     11  
  • 12. BETA  version  suggests  communications  media  function  as  containers  of  experience,  and  describes  why  certain  kinds  of  media  are  likely   to   produce   particular   constellations   of   experience.     McLuhans   treatment   of   touch,   referred   to   in   the  previous  quote,  is  central  to  his  understanding  of  the  impact  of  electronic  media  such  as  television  and,  I  will  argue,  the  internet.  4.2  The  medium  is  the  message  Expressing  McLuhans  hypotheses  in  psychoanalytic  terms,  media  technologies  could  be  considered  as  containers  of   experience.     However,   in   McLuhan’s   view,   it   is   not   the   content   of   a   given   medium   which   is   relevant   when  analysing   its   relationship   with   a   society,   but   the   nature   of   the   medium   itself,   and   the   sense   or   senses   it   appeals   to.    It  is  in  this  sense  that  he  means  ‘the  medium  is  the  message’.    McLuhan  gives  the  example  of  the  electric  light  bulb  as   a   pure   medium,   one   which   is   completely   lacking   in   ‘content’.     Electric   light   allowed   new   social   activities   and  relations   to   emerge   through   its   capacity   to   make   the   fact   of   night   almost   irrelevant,   and   by   permitting   much  greater   flexibility   in   the   design   of   buildings.     Interestingly,   according   to   McLuhan,   electric   light   and   other   electric  media,  do  not  just  extend  the  visual  sense,  for  reasons  that  I  will  discuss  below.    This  distinction  between  medium  and  content,  and  the  import  he  assigns  to  the  former,  is  the  crux  of  McLuhan’s  approach.    When  considering  the  impact   of   television,   for   example,   he   explicitly   states   that   the   content   of   TV   programs   has   no   lasting   effect   on  audiences   and   that   it   is   misguided   to   pursue   policies   of   censorship   or   program   classification.     Rather   it   is   the   TV  medium  itself  which  must  be  analysed  for  its  social  effects.    McLuhan’s   assertion   that   the   medium   is   the   message   is   especially   significant,   I   believe,   when   considering   the  effects  of  social  media  applications.    For  it  may  be  the  case  that  Facebook,  Twitter  and  the  other  applications  that  we  think  of  as  ‘social  media’  are  not  media  at  all  (at  least  in  McLuhans  sense),  but  should  instead  be  considered  as  internet  content  -­‐  in  much  the  same  way  that  TV  programs  are  content.    If  so,  this  would  imply  that  any  attempt  to  understand   the   social   implications   of   the   internet   as   a   medium   should   avoid   being   sidetracked   by   analysing   the  features  of  specific  applications  -­‐  its  content  -­‐  and  instead  focus  on  the  nature  of  the  internet  itself.  That  is,  if  we  follow   McLuhan,   it   is   the   impact   of   electronic   technology   on   the   sensory   balance   of   any   given   society   that   is  significant.     This   includes   not   only   the   electronic   connections   between   people   (whether   by   fibre   optic   cables,  copper  telephone  wire,  radio  waves  or,  as  is  usual,  by  some  combination  of  these),  but  how  people  engage  with  those   connections   -­‐   the   user   interface   -­‐   including   not   only   the   ubiquitous   combination   of   computer   screen,  keyboard   and   mouse,   but   also   the   smart-­‐phone   touch-­‐screen   and   other   smart   devices   such   as   smart   meters,  smart  cards,  smart  fridges,  smart  traffic  management  systems,  etc.    There  are  already  devices  which  monitor  health  indicators  and  transmit  this  information  to  carers,  or  computers.    What  then  does  McLuhan  say  about  the  impact  of  electronic  media  on  a  society?    The  electronic  web  For  McLuhan,  the  invention  of  electricity  and  its  application  as  a  form  of  communication  -­‐  from  the  telegraph  and  telephone   onwards   -­‐   administers   a   profound   shock   to   a   culture   dominated   by   the   printed   word,   just   as   the  phonetic  alphabet  and  printing  press  shocks  audio-­‐tactile   tribal   societies.     Electricity   as   a   medium,   as   a   result   of   its  speed  according  to  McLuhan,  does  nothing  less  than  extend  the  central  nervous  system  in  space.    The  process  of  explosion  that  occurs  with  print  culture  -­‐  the  expansion  and  fragmentation  of  authority  from  centre  to  margin  -­‐  is  thereby   reversed   as   events   which   occur   at   temporal   and   spatial   distance   are   experienced   in   the   here   and   now.    Television,  for  example,  brings  the  world  into  ones  living  room,  with  the  resulting  emotions  and  thoughts  occurring  as   if   one   were   there.     The   radio   has   the   power   to   immerse   us   in   a   trance-­‐like   mix   of   talk,   comedy,   news   and   music.    This  disrupts  the  established  order:     One   of   the   most   startling   consequences   of   the   telephone   was   its   introduction   of   a   seamless   web   of   interlaced   patterns   in   management   and   decision-­‐making.     It   is   not   feasible   to   exercise   delegated   authority   by   telephone.     The   pyramidal   structure   of   job-­‐description   and   delegated   powers   cannot   withstand   the   speed  of  the  phone  to  by-­‐pass  all  hierarchical  arrangements,  and  to  involve  people  in  depth  (p  296)      As  a  purely  auditory  medium,  the  telephone  has  a  particular  power  to  disrupt  the  norms  of  visual  print-­‐oriented  culture.     The   telephone   allows   direct   personal   contact   between   superior   and   subordinate,   a   prospect   which   is     12  
  • 13. BETA  version  discomforting  to  both.    As  McLuhan  notes,  The  telephone  is  an  irresistible  intruder  in  time  or  place...In  its  nature  the  telephone  is  an  intensely  personal  form  that  ignores  all  the  claims  of  visual  privacy  prized  by  literate  man  (p  296).    Although  McLuhan  was  writing  prior  to  the  invention  of  the  mobile  phone,  if  anything,  this  disrupting  effect  has  become  even  more  pronounced.        Mosaic  and  matrix  In   contrast   to   the   distributed   linear   formations   that   characterise   visually   oriented   mechanical   cultures,   McLuhan  sees  the  mesh  or  mosaic  as  the  dominant  mode  of  organisation  in  electronic  tribal  cultures.    Citing  the  web  of  dots,   and   now   pixels,   that   make   up   the   television   screen,   McLuhan   argued   that   the   mosaic   form   is   iconic   in   the  sense   that   it   encourages   involvement   and   immersion   -­‐   the   viewer   must   fill   in   the   dots,   as   it   were,   allowing   for  projection  and  deep  engagement  with  the  medium.    He  notes  that  religious  icons  are  always  low-­‐definition  and  suggests   that   the   soft   focus   of   television   offers   a   similarly   magical   experience.     By   contrast,   the   high-­‐definition  mechanical   media   of   photography   and   film   do   not   allow   space   for   involve   viewers,   and   instead   tend   to   isolate  viewers.     Thus,   television   encourages   a   communal   viewing   experience   in   the   family   lounge-­‐room,   whereas   the  cinema  isolates  individual  audience  members,  reducing  each  to  a  visual  gaze.    The  mosaic  form  continues  in  the  pixels  of  the  computer  screen,  although  this  too  is  becoming  more  tactile  with  the   invention   of   touch   screens   and   tablets.     The   layout   of   apps   on   a   smart   phone   takes   a   mosaic   form,   further  elaborating   the   desktop   architecture   of   Windows   which   superseded   the   old   linear   tree   file   structure.     As   it  happened,  the  fist  web  browser  was  named  Mosaic,  with  the  word  deriving  from  the  same  source  as  Muse.    In  ancient   Greece,   the   Muses   are   the   goddesses   who   are   the   sources   of   knowledge,   related   orally   through   poetic  lyrics   and   myths.     In   this   sense,   the   mosaic   form   shares   similarities   with   the   matrix,   which   William   Gibson  celebrated  in  his  novel  Neuromancer:     The  matrix  has  its  roots  in  primitive  arcade  games.  …  Cyberspace.  A  consensual  hallucination  experienced   daily  by  billions  of  legitimate  operators,  in  every  nation,  by  children  being  taught  mathematical  concepts.   …   A   graphic   representation   of   data   abstracted   from   banks   of   every   computer   in   the   human   system.   Unthinkable  complexity.  Lines  of  light  ranged  in  the  nonspace  of  the  mind,  clusters  and  constellations  of   data.  Like  city  lights,  receding.  (p  69)      Shock  and  narcosis  The  implosion  of  the  fragmented,  hierarchical  structures  of  visual  print-­‐oriented  culture  by  the  pressure  of  electric  communication   produces   a   state   that   McLuhan   characterises   as   shock.   The   immediacy   of   electronic  communications  immerses  us  directly  in  the  lives  of  others,  as  if  our  consciousness  is  extended  in  time  and  space  on   a   global   scale.   We   feel   the   emotional   reality   of   a   royal   wedding,   the   death   of   Bin   Laden,   and   the   horror   of  natural  disasters,  because  these  events  are  brought  to  us  immediately  via  electronic  media.    But  electronic  media  also  allows  us  to  experience  cultures  and  ideas  that  are  not  our  own,  making  it  more  difficult  to  keep  in  mind  what  is   me   and   what   is   not   me.     The   resulting   shock   is   experienced   at   both   psychic   and   social   levels,   and   elicits   a  response  of  what  McLuhan,  following  Hans  Selyes  theory  of  the  General  Adaptation  Syndrome  as  a  stress  response  mechanism,  terms  amputation  and  numbing.  The  numbing  effect,  according  to  McLuhan,  is  achieved  through  a  kind   of   narcissistic   narcosis   in   which   we   project/extend   ourselves   into   media,   and   then   amputate/repress   our  awareness  of  the  projection:     The  youth  Narcissus  mistook  his  own  reflection  in  the  water  for  another  person.    This  extension  of  himself   by   mirror   numbed   his   perceptions   until   he   became   the   servomechanism   of   his   own   extended   or   repeated   image.    The  nymph  Echo  tried  to  win  his  love  with  fragments  of  his  own  speech,  but  in  vain.    He  was  numb.   He  had  adapted  to  his  extension  of  himself  and  had  become  a  closed  system.  (p  45)      The   narcissistic   illusion   can   be   observed   in   the   obsession   with   celebrity   which   accompanies   electronic   culture,  whereby   idealised   parts   of   the   self   are   unconsciously   projected   onto   another   person.     That   is,   a   fixation   on   the  celebrity   image   may   be   regarded   as   love   of   self.     The   effect   of   this   is   to   protect   the   self   by   defending   against     13  
  • 14. BETA  version  immersion   in   the   real   lives   of   others,   through   a   kind   of   narcissistic   retreat.     Turkle   identifies   narcissism   as  characteristic   of   the   ways   in   which   she   observes   that   young   people   have   taken   up   electronic   technology.     For  instance,   she   regards   posting   messages   on   Facebook,   tweets   on   Twitter,   and   blogging   in   general   as   a   kind   of  narcissistic  obsession  with  broadcasting  the  self:     Online,   social   networks   instruct   us   to   share   whenever   theres   something   on   our   mind,   no   matter   how   ignorant  or  ill  considered,  and  then  help  us  broadcast  it  to  the  widest  possible  audience.    Every  day  each  of   us  is  bombarded  by  other  peoples  random  thoughts.    We  start  to  see  such  effusions  as  natural.  (p  266)    These   expressions   she   considers   as   cries   for   attention,   resulting   from   a   lack   of   attention   from   parents   who   were  themselves  obsessed  by  electronic  communication:  texting  with  one  hand  while  pushing  the  swing  with  the  other,  as  she  puts  it.  No  doubt  there  is  a  kind  of  ‘secondary  narcissism’  at  work  on  the  internet,  as  social  media  users  seek  to   attract   friends   and   followers,   and   to   share   thoughts,   feelings   and   experiences   online,   which   can   verge   on   the  manic.    Arguably,   though,   Turkle   is   herself   prey   to   the   kind   of   narcissism   described   by   McLuhan.     Separating   what   she  regards   the   sensory   bombardment   and   simulated   intimacy   promoted   by   electronic   communication   with   the  authenticity   and   tranquillity   of   the   real   is   clearly   a   kind   of   amputation/projection.     Her   evocation   of   Thoreaus  idyllic  vision  of  Walden  Pond,  a  natural  place  where  one  can  live  deliberately  and  think  ones  private  thoughts,  as  the   antithesis   of   the   electronic   world   may   be   regarded   as   a   kind   of   splitting   and   projection   -­‐   perhaps   an  understandable   view   for   an   academic.   Turkles   belief   in   objectivity   is   similarly   somewhat   idealised.   She   assumes  that   it   is   possible   to   write   from   an   objective   position   about   the   technological   habits   of   young   people   -­‐   may   of  which   she   seems   to   regard   with   distaste   or   even   horror   -­‐   forgetting   that   she   occupies   the   same   electronically-­‐mediated   world   that   they   do.     One   suspects   that   it   is   Turkle   who   craves   what   she   takes   to   be   the   real   intimacy   she  claims  her  subjects  seek  in  vain.    McLuhan  might  argue  that  Turkle  has  fallen  in  love  with  her  own  unrecognised  projections   -­‐   the   idea   of   the   authentic,   the   real,   the   private,   the   objective   versus   the   subjective   -­‐   all   of   which   he  regards  as  characteristic  of  visual  print  culture.    Games  and  applications  These   separations   of   subject   and   object,   simulated   versus   authentic,   private   versus   public,   also   parallel   the  common   assumption   that   the   real   can   somehow   be   separated   from   the   virtual.     I   would   argue   that   this  separation   is   a   kind   of   defensive   splitting   and   projection   similar   to   the   amputation   and   numbing   McLuhan  describes.   For   McLuhan,   the   question   about   what   is   real   and   what   is   simulated   does   not   arise,   he   is   more  interested   in   the   effects   of   media   on   consciousness.     Simulated   environments   such   as   Second   Life,   and   virtual  reality  games,  exist  in  the  real  world  just  as  much  as  games  like  football  and  cricket.    McLuhan  sees  all  games  as  dramatic  models  of  our  psychological  lives  providing  release  of  particular  tensions.    They  are  collective  and  popular  art   forms   with   strict   conventions   (p   257).     That   is,   games   provide   a   kind   of   holding   environment   in   which   social  anxieties  can  be  worked  through,  by  both  participants  and  spectators.    Games  enable  not  only  play  but  also  inter-­‐play.        I   believe   that   it   is   this   capacity   for   inter-­‐play   which   characterises   social   media   applications.     Facebook,   Twitter,  YouTube,   Second   Life   etc   (and   the   protocols   which   govern   texting   and   other   forms   of   electronic   chat)   consist   of  rules   and   protocols   which   provides   ways   for   users   to   contain   the   anxiety   aroused   by   the   immersive,   all  encompassing  experience  generated  by  electronic  media.    Social  applications  offer  a  kind  of  social  defence  against  the  medium  on  which  they  are  hosted.    The  nature  of  the  defence  may  be  narcissistic  -­‐  a  form  of  narcotic  trance  as  McLuhan  has  argued  -­‐  although  possibly  manic  obsession  would  be  a  more  accurate  description.    The  defence  is  not   however,   a   substitute   for   authenticity,   or   real   intimacy.     Quite   the   opposite,   in   fact:   for   the   immersive   and  depth  participation  which  electronic  communication  fosters  drastically  extends  the  field  of  intimacy.    Mechanical,  print-­‐based   communication   explosively   fragments   the   senses,   so   that   the   public   intimacy   of   oral-­‐tactile   tribal  culture  is  replaced  by  privatised  intimacy  between  two  people.    Electronic  communication  reverses  the  process,  re-­‐integrating  the  senses,  and  placing  people  back  in  touch  with  themselves  and  others  -­‐  but  this  time  on  a  global  scale.     The   implications   of   this   global   village,   as   McLuhan   terms   it,   is   significant   for   how   we   understand   the  changing  nature  of  society  and  its  relationship  to  psychic  experience.     14  
  • 15. BETA  version    4.3  The  global  village  McLuhan  was  writing  prior  to  the  evolution  of  global  electronic  networks  such  as  the  internet  but,  if  anything,  his  references  to  an  emerging  web  of  seamless  communication  and  the  global  village  seem  even  more  appropriate  now.    Boundaries  and  barriers  thrown  up  by  mechanical  media  fade  away  with  electric  media.    In  sensory  terms,  the   counterparts   of   electric   media   are   audio   and   tactile   sensations   -­‐   immersive   senses   that   are   immersive,   as  opposed  to  the  visual  sense  which  is  uni-­‐directional.    What  are  the  social  and  psychological  effects  of  this  shift?    We   saw   that   McLuhan   described   the   response   as   one   of   shock,   and   accompanying   auto-­‐amputation   and  numbing.     I   have   already   suggested   that   these   phenomena   may   be   analogous   to   what   we   might   understand,   in  psychoanalytic   terms,   as   splitting   and   projection.     I   want   to   explore   this   further   with   particular   reference   to   the  concept  of  privacy.    Private  lives  gone  public  One   of   the   central   anxieties   that   have   emerged   in   Western   societies   with   the   global   expansion   of   electronic   is  related   to   the   changing   experience   of   privacy.     Protection   of   personal   information   is   regarded   as   vital   to   avoid  identity   theft,   financial   loss,   and   potential   attacks   from   cyber-­‐bullies   and   stalkers.     Breaches   of   physical   privacy  (e.g.  in  the  practice  of  sexting,  or  through  the  posting  videos  of  sexual,  degrading  or  embarrassing  acts  of  others)  are  met  with  consternation  and  outrage.        The  Australian  Privacy  Forum  has  recently  identified  location-­‐based  services  (LBS)  as  a  source  of  significant  risks  to  privacy7.    LBS  are  enabled  by  the  evolution  of  methods  for  computing  the  location  of  a  computing  device,  include  GPS,  Wifi,  and  triangulation  within  mobile  phone  cells.  Many  LBS  are  proving  attractive  to  users  of  mobile  devices  such  as  smartphones  and  tablets.    However,  in  April  2011,  a  news  story  about  how  Apple  seemed  to  be  collecting  and   storing   the   location   data   of   iPhone   users   brought   the   realisation   that   such   data   was   being   gathered   with   much  greater  intensity,  was  being  retained  longer,  was  being  stored  in  accessible  places,  and  was  being  used  for  more  purposes,  than  consumers  had  previously  realised.      Location  and  tracking  data  is  also  sensitive  for  many  categories  of  people,  such  as  victims  of  domestic  violence,  protected  witnesses,  celebrities,  and  undercover  law  enforcement  operatives.    The  exposure  of  what  is  felt  to  be  the  private  life  of  citizens  is  proscribed  in  Australia  by  the  Privacy  Act.    Protection  of  commercial  and  government  information  is  seen  an  important  to  safeguard  national  security  and  the  financial  viability  of  corporations.    The  release  of  this  kind  of  information  in  the  public  domain,  or  access  by  unauthorised  persons,  is  also  felt  as  persecutory  by  those  with  an  interest  in  keeping  it  secret.  Yet  the  internet  has  also  seen  a  rapid  increase  in  the  distribution  of  private  information  via  personal  blogs,  Facebook,  and  other  social  applications,  and   of   political   platforms   such   as   WikiLeaks.     There   have   been   a   number   of   controversies   recently   involving   the  ability   of   Google   and   Facebook   to   protect   users   privacy.     It   would   be   fair   to   say   that   many   in   Australia   at   least   feel  that   privacy   is   a   natural   right.     However,   recent   research   by   Australia’s   Cooperative   Research   Centre   for   Young  People,   Technology   and   Wellbeing   also   suggests   that   dangers   to   personal   safety   and   privacy   are   managed   more  effectively  by  social  media  users  than  has  been  thought8      The  concept  of  privacy,  from  the  Latin  privatus  -­‐  to  separate  -­‐  is  relatively  new  in  the  West,  and  indeed  remains  unknown   in   some   non-­‐Western   cultures.     It   is   not   directly   translatable   in   Russian   or   Indonesian,   for   example.     It  appears   to   have   emerged   at   around   the   same   time   as   the   invention   of   the   printing   press,   the   development   of  government,  and  the  spread  of  colonial  empires.    It  appears  as  a  spatial  concept,  related  to  physical  boundaries:  e.g.  a  mans  home  is  his  castle,  the  invasion  of  privacy,  and  often  associated  with  private  property  such  as  the  home,  or  the  body  -­‐  something  that  can  be  privately  owned.    I  would  argue  that  the  mind  is  also  conceptualised  as  a   space   of   privacy,   in   which   one   thinks   private   thoughts,   and   that   privacy   describes   a   particular   form   of                                                                                                                                      7­‐1105.html  8     15  
  • 16. BETA  version  subjectivity   in   which   the   self   is   centred   within   the   boundaries   of   the   individual   person.     Individual   freedom   and  rights   are   felt   as   natural   and   to   be   protected   at   all   costs:   there   is   a   separation   of   self   and   other.     Social   life  consists   of   interactions   between   individual   citizens,   each   having   distinct   public   and   private   selves,   and   coordinated  by  inter-­‐related  positions  within  a  system,  much  like  a  machine.    In  a  sense,  the  splitting  of  private  and  public  life  is  necessary   for   the   machine   to   operate,   since   it   removes   familial   and   tribal   relationships   from   the   public   sphere,  allowing  relationships  based  on  task  specialisation  to  develop.    I  suggest  that  one  function  of  the  organizations  and  institutions  of  a  mechanized  society  (a  visually-­‐oriented  society  in   McLuhans   terms)   is   to   establish   and   reproduce   the   private   self   through   concepts   such   as   privacy,   private  property,   private   citizenship   and   private   opinion   (point   of   view).     The   tendency   of   such   a   society   is   toward  privatization   at   all   levels.     Ideas,   activities   or   social   forces   which   oppose   privatization,   and   encourage   social-­‐ization  (such  as  collectivism,  tribalism,  religion)  are  therefore  experienced  as  persecutory.    Self-­‐improvement  and  self-­‐expression  are  encouraged.  Tribal  allegiances  are  regarded  as  primitive  and  over-­‐written  by  state  boundaries.  Totalitarianism  -­‐  the  subsuming  of  individual  personalities  by  the  will  of  an  all-­‐powerful  leader  -­‐  is  itself  hostile  to  the     printed   word   and   the   individual   thought,   executing   intellectuals   and   burning   books   -­‐   appalling   crimes   for   a  print-­‐oriented   mechanical   culture.     Socialism   and   communism   evoke   paranoia,   intoxicants   which   dissolve   the  boundaries   of   self   are   regarded   as   vices;   sexual   ecstasy   and   religious   communion   is   treated   with   mistrust   or  ridicule.    McLuhan  would  regard  all  these  as  immersive,  associated  with  the  sense  of  touch  and  hearing.    In  a  visual  culture,   nudity,   sensuality   and   touching   itself   can   be   experienced   as   an   invasion   of   privacy   (inappropriate  touching).    Sex  becomes  translated  into  a  mechanical  act  (with  an  emphasis  on  the  visual)  governed  by  the  same  principles   of   efficiency   which   regulate   the   machine   world,   and   machines   themselves   become   eroticized.   The  watchword  of  the  machine  age  might  be  do  not  touch!    Discovery  of  communal  leadership  With   the   advent   of   electronic   media,   the   effectiveness   of   organizational   and   institutional   capacity   to   privatize   is  greatly  reduced.    The  internet  is  felt  to,  and  does  in  fact,  undermine  privacy  and  the  security  of  the  private  self.    As  McLuhan  noted,  electronic  communication  immerses  us  directly  in  the  lives  of  others,  merging  the  public  with  the  private:     Our   electric   extensions   of   ourselves   simply   bypass   space   and   time,   and   create   problems   of   human   involvement  and  organization  for  which  there  is  no  precedent.  (p  114)    The  response,  according  to  McLuhan,  is  narcissistic  -­‐  a  falling  in  love  with  misrecognised  /  repressed  projections  of  the   self   into   the   new   technology.     He   saw   this   as   manifested   in   the   cult   of   celebrity   image,   glamour,   fame   and  shallow   entertainment   which   dominated   popular   culture   at   the   time,   and   reached   its   epitome   in   advertising.     It   is  possible   to   look   at   how   people   take   up   the   new   social   applications   in   this   way   too.     Turkle   has   theorized   that  broadcasting  the  self  via  Facebook,  YouTube,  Twitter  etc  expresses  young  peoples  longing  for  the  attention  only  partly   received   from   parents,   also   distracted   by   the   temptations   of   electronic   media.     An   alternative   hypothesis  might  be  that  what  appears  as  an  obsession  with  publicizing  the  minutiae  of  ones  private  life  as  form  of  projection  and   introjection.     The   parts   of   ones   private   self   are   externalised   into   the   public   domain   (sometimes   in   an   idealized  form)   as   an   avatar,   profile   or   identity,   undergo   some   successful   or   satisfying   transformation,   and   are   then   re-­‐privatized.    Turkles  point  is  that  the  public  domain  in  this  case  (that  is,  the  virtual  world)  does  not  correspond  to  the   real   world,   and   is   only   a   simulation,   so   that   the   reality-­‐sense   does   not   properly   mature   and   remains   in   a  narcissistic  stage  of  development.    I   suggested   earlier   that   to   separate   real   and   virtual   in   this   way   may   itself   be   a   form   of   defensive   splitting   and  projection,   and   I   would   like   to   propose   a   different   hypothesis   to   narcissism.     While   there   may   be   some   form   of  narcissism   at   work,   and   social   applications   may   well   be   continuing   the   privatization   function   which   organizations  and  institutions  have  performed  throughout  the  history  of  visual/machine  society,  there  is  also  a  kind  of  searching  at  play.    I  observe  that  the  users  of  social  applications  are  attempting  to  discover  like  minds,  to  find  a  place  in  the  tribal  mosaic,  as  it  were.    What  usually  links  people  on  social  media  are  common  interests,  tastes  and  styles,  not  common   geography,   nationality,   age   or   occupation.     Shirky   highlights   the   ability   of   the   internet,   and   electronic  community  in  general,  to  promote  the  growth  of  new  kinds  of  community  by  enabling  like-­‐minded  people  to  find     16  
  • 17. BETA  version  each   other   and   stay   in   touch.     He   cites   many   thriving   and   long-­‐lived   online   communities   in   which   members   are  linked  by  what  they  are  into,  their  passions.    This   dynamic   is   most   evident   in   the   way   that   electronic   communication   has   been   so   powerfully   taken   up   in   the  service   of   activism   and   revolution.     Social   applications   in   particular   provide   ways   to   identify   people   who   care   about  a  particular  issue,  provide  them  with  information  and  coordinate  action.    It  is  perhaps  significant  that  while  there  are  organisers,  or  admin,  who  initiate  and  coordinate  social  media  campaigns  and  flash  mobs,  there  are  no  heroic  leader   figures.     Leadership   becomes   distributed   across,   and   held   by   nodes   in   a   network,   rather   than   delegation  through  a  hierarchy,  allowing  it  to  be  taken  up  in  a  genuinely  collaborative  way.    Privacy,  intimacy  and  nostalgia  Privacy,  then,  may  now  be  a  lost  cause.    The  sense  of  interiority  with  which  it  is  associated,  is  associated  also  with  romance,  and  delayed  satisfaction,  as  opposed  to  the  immediacy  brought  by  electronic  communication:  the  love-­‐letter  versus  the  SMS.    Intimacy  and  privacy  are  bound  up  together,  so  that  a  loss  of  privacy  is  experienced  as  a  loss  of  intimacy.    Longing  for  lost  intimacy  may  lie  behind  feelings  of  nostalgia  for  the  pre-­‐electronic  era  -­‐  the  age  of  the  steam  engine,  the  vintage  car,  classic  movies  and  television  dramas  which  celebrate  past  eras.    A  related  trend  that  has  become  visible  in  recent  times  is  an  apparent  regret  at  what  is  felt  to  be  the  loss  of  the  book  form  -­‐  not  for  the  content   of   books,   but   for   the   physical   object   of   the   book   itself.     Publishers   seem   to   be   aware   of   this   trend,   with  book   manufacturing   increasingly   concentrating   on   packaging:   exquisitely   designed,   often   embossed   covers,  containing  beautifully  textured,  often  uncut  pages  transform  contemporary  books  into  sensual  fetish  objects.    This,  of   course,   is   quite   consistent   with   the   idea   that   an   electronic   culture   emphasises   tactile   qualities   over   purely   visual  experience.    Yet,  the  loss  of  privacy  is  not  only  felt  with  regret,  but  sometimes  with  paranoia,  as  Turkle  expresses:     Some  say  [loss  of  privacy]  is  a  nonissue;  they  point  out  that  privacy  is  a  historically  new  idea.    This  is  true.     But   although   historically   new,   privacy   has   well   served   our   modern   notions   of   intimacy   and   democracy.     Without   privacy,   the   borders   of   intimacy   blur.     And,   of   course,   when   all   information   is   collected,   everyone   can  be  turned  into  an  informer  (Turkle,  p  261)    There   is   a   reality   to   this   issue,   of   course:   the   personal   data   collected   and   held   by   companies   such   as   Google,  Facebook   and   Apple   could   be   used   in   ways   not   envisaged   or   intended   by   the   users   of   their   services.     Yet,   the  anxiety  released  by  the  breakdown  of  the  capacity  of  organizations  and  institutions  that  reproduce  the  notion  of  privacy,   make   it   difficult   to   separate   fact   from   fiction.     I   will   suggest   that   this   breakdown   has   led   to   social  applications,  in  some  cases,  have  started  to  provide  new  containers  for  anxiety.    I  believe  that  psychoanalytic  principles  especially  as  these  have  been  applied  to  traditional  organizational  life,  and  how  organizations  can  act  as  containers  for  anxiety,  can  help  us  to  think  through  new  social  dilemmas  such  as  the  breakdown   in   privacy.     Psychoanalysis   has   always   drawn   attention   to   the   interplay   between   private   and   public  selves,   whether   this   is   through   facilitating   the   adjustment   of   the   individual   to   society,   or   through   exploration   of  group  dynamics  and  their  relationship  to  individual  psychological  processes.    In  the  next  section  I  discuss  how  the  psycho-­‐analysis   of   organizations   might   develop   in   a   world   in   which   the   fragmented,   mechanical   institutions   that  separate   and   inter-­‐relate   public   selves   (and   repress   the   private   self)   are   being   increasingly   over-­‐taken   by   the  immersive,  integrated  social  formations  made  possible  by  electronic  communication.    5.  The  psycho-­‐analysis  of  organizations  in  an  electronic  culture    We  have  seen  that  Marshall  McLuhan  identifies  two  forms  of  social  organization:  a  specialist,  distributed  culture,  distinguished   by   its   emphasis   on   the   visual,   hierarchical   and   the   objective   point   of   view,   exemplified   by   the  medium   of   the   printed   word;   and   an   integrated   and   immersive   culture   which   emphasises   the   aural   and   tactile  senses,  and  gives  primacy  to  the  group.    McLuhan  explains  the  shift  between  these  forms  by  reference  to  how  new  communications  media  affect  the  sensory  balance  of  the  society  in  which  they  emerge.     17  
  • 18. BETA  version    McLuhan   described   how   television   and   other   electric   media   such   the   telephone   and   radio   facilitate   depth  participation,   in   contrast   to   mechanical   media   (such   as   printing   and   writing),   which   fragment   experience   and  encourage   specialisation.     It   is   the   nature   of   the   medium   that   is   its   message   -­‐   not   its   content.   In   industrialised  countries   and   cultures,   used   to   a   specialist,   centralised,   linear   and   hierarchical   set   of   social   relations,   the   impact   of  electric   technologies   has   been   to   retribalize   -­‐   to   provide   much   greater   mutual   involvement   of   people   in   each  others  lives.    We  respond  to  the  shock  of  this  implosion  of  emotional  stimuli  conveyed  immediately  and  directly  to   our   central   nervous   system   via   electronic   media   by   a   process   of   amputation   and   numbing;   that   is,   through  unconscious  projection  into  the  content  of  media,  with  which  we  become  narcissistically  enraptured.      Specialised  knowledge  and  distributed,  hierarchical  forms  of  authority  which  developed  with  the  visually  oriented  culture   of   the   printing  press  and  the  machine  no  longer  work  in  the   context  of   electronically   connected   society.     At  the  same  time,  specialist  disciplines  and  techniques  which  focus  exclusively  on  narrow  aspects  of  experience  may  no   longer   offer   useful   ways   to   understand   unified   electronic   society.   What,   then,   is   the   status   of   psychoanalysis  under  such  conditions?        Psychoanalysis   was   born   in   the   late   19th   century:   on   the   cusp   of   fragmented,   mechanical,   visually   oriented   culture  and  the  age  of  electric,  immersive,  tactile  communication.    On  the  one  hand  there  is  the  mark  of  the  visual  in  its  theoretical   emphasis   on   the   literary,   the   scientific   and   above   all   the   individual   ego.     On   the   other   hand,   as   the  talking  cure,  its  practice  is  aware  of  the  interplay  among  the  senses  to  produce  consciousness  -­‐  the  couch,  and  the  technique  of  free  association,  seeks  to  reduce  sensory  input  in  order  to  make  what  is  un-­‐conscious  available.    The  concept   of   the   unconscious   only   becomes   possible   once   electric   communication   has   developed.     For   all   practical  purposes,   the   unconscious   could   not   be   said   to   exist   prior   to   the   invention   of   the   telephone,   except   in   the   sense   of  a   collective   unconscious   which   might   be   used   to   describe   pre-­‐literate   tribal   cultures.     Yet   the   unconscious   as  imagined   by   McLuhan   is   quite   different   to   that   assumed   by   classical   psychoanalysis.     Electronic   communication  extends  awareness    -­‐  the  central  nervous  system  in  McLuhans  words  -­‐  beyond  the  bounds  of  the  psyche  through  projection.     Such   projections   are   defensively   amputated   and   numbed   (repressed),   and   therefore   remain  unconscious  -­‐  and,  for  this  reason,  are  narcissistically  fascinating.    I   would   argue   that   the   location   of   the   object   of   psychoanalysis   -­‐   the   unconscious   -­‐   needs   to   be   reconsidered.    Analysts  such  as  Klein  and  Bion,  and  practitioners  from  the  Tavistock  Institute,  have  located  the  unconscious  within  group  and  organisational  forms:  in  the  basic  assumption  groups  and  social  defence  systems  which  allow  members  to  contain  the  anxiety  associated  with  being  a  member  of  a  group.    In  the  electronic  world,  I  have  suggested,  the  social  applications  and  protocols  which  govern  interaction  between  people  fulfil  a  similar  function.    The  source  of  the  anxiety  in  this  case  is  related  to  the  total  immersion  and  depth  participation  which  electronic  media  stimulate  and   which   overwhelm   the   individual   psyche.     In   this   way,   social   media   applications   may   provide   containing  mechanisms   more   appropriate   to   the   electronic   world   than   the   hierarchical   organisations   which   dominated  mechanical   culture.     Therefore,   I   am   suggesting,   as   well   as   replacing   organisations   as   a   more   efficient   form   of  coordinating   group   activity,   as   Shirky   observes,   social   media   also   offer   a   more   effective   means   for   containing  anxiety.    Psychoanalysis  of  social  media  applications  If   such   is   the   case,   that   social   applications   are   taking   on   the   role   of   organizations,   both   as   social   formations   for  coordinating   work   and   for   containing   anxiety,   it   should   be   possible   to   explore   their   dynamics   using   psycho-­‐analytic  principles.    How  might  this  be  done?    Three  possible  approaches  come  to  mind:     1. Psycho-­‐analytic   concepts   can   be   used   to   analyse   social   applications   (e.g.   the   approach   taken   in   this   paper,   and  by  Turkle,  and  others)   2. Social   applications   could   be   used   as   a   vehicle   to   conduct   traditional   organizational   psycho-­‐analytic   experiential   activities   (e.g.   the   approach   taken   in   the   Virtual   Large   Study   Group   and,   to   an   extent,   the   meetings  in  Second  Life  described  earlier)   3. New   social   applications   can   be   developed   to   explore   the   impact   of   electronic   communication   on   social   dynamics  of  organizations  and  applications.     18  
  • 19. BETA  version      The  first  approach  would  seem  to  be  useful  starting  point  but,  in  a  sense,  is  hampered  by  the  very  nature  of  the  changes   wrought   by   electronic   technology.     The   individual   point   of   view,   and   linear   narrative   analysis,   is   a  superseded  technological  form  in  electronic  cultures  and  therefore  any  attempt  at  scholarly  analysis  of  social  media  would  be  like  using  hieroglyphics  to  describe  the  operation  of  a  combustion  engine.      The  second  approach  which,  as  far  as  I  am  aware,  is  the  extent  to  which  psychoanalytic  practice  has  engaged  with  electronic  communication,  tends  to  overlook  the  specific  features  of  social  application  -­‐  specifically  those  which  are  at  odds  with  psychoanalytic  theory.    As  I  mentioned  earlier,  the  verbal,  immediate  interaction  between  members  of  a  face-­‐to-­‐face   study   group   over   an   hour   long   session   is   likely   to   have   different   dynamics   to   a   series   of   text   posts   on  a  discussion  forum,  and  will  require  different  kinds  of  consultation  in  order  to  make  such  dynamics  visible.    I   tend   to   favour   the   third   possibility   because   it   opens   up   the   opportunity   to   discover   the   nature   of   the   interactions  and  relationships  that  happen  online  by  incorporating  the  technology  that  makes  such  interactions  possible.    This  somewhat  echoes  McLuhans  suggestion  that:     Having  extended  or  translated  our  central  nervous  system  into  the  electromagnetic  technology,  it  is  but  a   further  stage  to  transfer  our  consciousness  into  the  computer  world  as  well.    Then,  at  last,  we  shall  be  able   to  program  consciousness  in  such  wise  that  it  cannot  be  numbed  or  distracted  by  the  Narcissus  illusions  of   the  entertainment  world  that  beset  mankind  when  he  encounters  himself  extended  in  his  own  gimmickry   (p  67)      Developing  a  socio-­‐analytic  app  What  would  the  psychoanalytic  study  of  new  forms  of  organization  –  social  media  -­‐  look  like  in  practice?    Or  more  precisely  what  would  it  look,  feel,  sound,  taste  and  smell  like?  The  kinds  of  intervention  are  still  to  be  discovered,  but  it  may  be  worthwhile  to  keep  the  following  points  in  mind:     • Electronic   communication   is   all-­‐involving   and   immersive,   mobilising   all   senses,   not   just   the   visual.     Therefore   the   socio-­‐analytic   study   of   social   media   would   explore   and   incorporate   multiple   sensory   modalities,  seeking  to  explore  what  a  given  social  formation  feels  and  sounds  like  (and  smells  and  tastes   like),  as  well  as  looks  like.     • Electronic   communication   is   associated   with   the   form   of   the   web   or   mosaic,   and   therefore   forms   of   practice   which   rely   on   matrix   arrangements   are   likely   to   be   more   effective   than   those   which   are   modelled   on  hierarchy.     • Technical   connectivity   does   not   always   encourage   emotional   connectivity,   and   new   socio-­‐analytic   practice   may  be  able  to  assist  people  to  keep  ‘in  touch’  emotionally  as  well  as  technically.    A  related  area  of  enquiry   might   be   the   significance   of   technological   breakdown   (the   glitch)   and   whether   there   is   an   emotional   counterpart.     • New  socio-­‐analytic  practice  would  assist  in  discovering  what  is  collectively  projected  into  the  new  forms  of   social  organization  (such  as  social  media  applications  and  electronic  communication  protocols  like  texting),   and  allowing  this  to  be  recognized  and  changed.       • The   experience   of   thoughts   and   feelings   as   ‘privately   owned’   is   being   undermined   by   electronic   communication   in   a   way   that   produces   anxiety.     The   new   socio-­‐analysis   may   be   able   to   assist   people   to   understand  and  tolerate  this  experience,  and  respond  in  ways  that  are  creative  rather  than  defensive.     • Social  media  applications  cannot  be  made  to  ‘fit’  in  organizations  and  institutions  which  are  structured  in   ways  more  appropriate  to  the  pre-­‐electronic  era.    Organizational  regeneration  will  entail  a  radical  shift  in     19  
  • 20. BETA  version   the   location   of   authority,   a   process   which   is   likely   to   provoke   anxiety   at   all   levels,   but   especially   for   leaders,   as   social   defence   systems   are   disturbed.     New   socio-­‐analytic   practice   may   be   able   to   assist   organizational  leaders  find  and  mobilize  kinds  of  authority,  perhaps  through  the  development  of  matrix-­‐ like  ‘communities  of  practice’.      Perhaps   these   points   could   constitute   design   principles   for   the   development   of   an   internet-­‐based   socio-­‐analytic9  application   or   ‘app’?     I   am   not   able   to   describe   what   a   socio-­‐analytic   app   would   do,   or   how,   but   I   offer   some  examples  which  in  my  view  suggest  places  to  start.    These  examples  use  social  media  and  data-­‐mining  techniques  to  capture  the  thoughts  and  emotions  of  communities  of  internet  users  and  to  present  these  back  to  application  users  in  creative,  moving  and  revealing  ways.        Virtual   choir,   a   synthesis   of   voices   recorded   by   singers   from   all   parts   of   the   world,   recruited   via   Facebook   and   with  individual  parts  uploaded  to  YouTube,  to  create  a  choral  piece  composed  by  Eric  Whitacre.­‐virtual-­‐choir    Listening   Post,   described   by   its   developers   as   ‘an   art   installation   by   Mark   Hansen   and   Ben   Rubin   that   culls   text  fragments   in   real   time   from   thousands   of   unrestricted   Internet   chat   rooms,   bulletin   boards   and   other   public  forums.  The  texts  are  read  (or  sung)  by  a  voice  synthesizer,  and  simultaneously  displayed  across  a  suspended  grid  of  more  than  two  hundred  small  electronic  screens.    Listening  Post  cycles  through  a  series  of  six  movements,  each  a  different  arrangement  of  visual,  aural,  and  musical  elements,  each  with  it’s  own  data  processing  logic.’    ‘Dissociating   the   communication   from   its   conventional   on-­‐screen   presence,   Listening   Post   is   a   visual   and   sonic  response  to  the  content,  magnitude,  and  immediacy  of  virtual  communication.’­‐post/    We   Feel   Fine,   described   by   creators   Jonathan   Harrison   and   Sepandar   Kamvar   as   ‘an   exploration   of   human   emotion  on  a  global  scale.    Every  few  minutes,  the  system  searches  the  worlds  newly  posted  blog  entries  for  occurrences  of  the  phrases  "I  feel"  and  "I  am  feeling".  When  it  finds  such  a  phrase,  it  records  the  full  sentence,  up  to  the  period,  and   identifies   the   "feeling"   expressed   in   that   sentence   (e.g.   sad,   happy,   depressed,   etc.).   Because   blogs   are  structured   in   largely   standard   ways,   the   age,   gender,   and   geographical   location   of   the   author   can   often   be  extracted   and   saved   along   with   the   sentence,   as   can   the   local   weather   conditions   at   the   time   the   sentence   was  written.’     This   data   is   saved   and   visually   represented   back   on   the   internet   in   almost-­‐real   time   in   a   number   of  dynamic  and  interactive  ways.    ‘At   its   core,   We   Feel   Fine   is   an   artwork   authored   by   everyone.   It   will   grow   and   change   as   we   grow   and   change,  reflecting  whats  on  our  blogs,  whats  in  our  hearts,  whats  in  our  minds.  We  hope  it  makes  the  world  seem  a  little  smaller,  and  we  hope  it  helps  people  see  beauty  in  the  everyday  ups  and  downs  of  life.’10    The  Wilderness  Downtown,  an  interactive  short  film  created  with  data  and  images  related  to  the  participant’s  childhood  home,  incorporated  using  images  saved  on  Google  Earth.  Set  to  Arcade  Fires  song  "We  Used  to  Wait,"  the  experience  takes  place  through  choreographed  browser  windows.                                                                                                                                      9  I  use  the  term  socio-­‐analysis  as  defined  by  Bain  to  include  approaches  informed  by  group  relations  and  socio-­‐technical  systems  theory,  as  well  as  psychoanalysis.  10  A  recent  paper  by  the  authors  of  ‘We  Feel  Fine’  indicates  that  the  experience  of  interacting  with  the  application  effects  a  change  in  participants.    See     20  
  • 21. BETA  version  Selected  print  references    (internet-­‐hosted  references  are  given  as  urls  throughout  the  text)    Bion,  W.  R.  Experiences  in  Groups  and  Other  Papers,  London,  Tavistock,  1961.    Coase,  R.  ‘The  nature  of  the  firm’.  Economica.  New  Series,  Vol  4,  Issue  16,  386-­‐405,  1937    Foulkes,  S.H.  The  group  as  matrix  of  the  individuals  mental  life.  Selected  Papers  of  S.H.  Foulkes:  Psychoanalysis  and  Group  Analysis.  (Foulkes  E.  ed)  London,  Karnac,  1990.  Originally  published  in  Group  Analysis  1971;  4:  4–14.      Holland,  N.  The  internet  regression.  Free  Associations    Jaques,  E.  The  changing  culture  of  a  factory.  London,  Tavistock,  1951.    Lampe,  C.  et  al.  Inherent  barriers  to  the  use  of  social  media  for  public  policy  informatics.  The  Innovation  Journal:  The  Public  Sector  Innovation  Journal,  Volume  16(1),  2011,  article  6.    McLuhan,  M.  Understanding  Media.    Routledge    Menzies  Lyth,  I.  The  functioning  of  social  systems  as  a  defence  against  anxiety.  London,  Tavistock  Institute  of  Human  Relations,1970.    Shirky,  C.  Here  Comes  Everybody:  The  Power  of  Organizing  Without  Organization,  London,  Penguin,  2008.    Turkle,  S.    Alone  together:  Why  we  expect  more  from  technology  and  less  from  each  other.    New  York,  Basic  Books,  2011.    Turquet,  P.  Leadership:  The  individual  and  the  group.  The  Large  Group:  Therapy  and  Dynamics.  (Gibbard  G.  et  al.  eds).  San  Francisco  and  London.  Jossey  Bass,  1974.    Weinberg,  H.  The  large  group  in  a  virtual  environment.  The  large  group  revisited:  The  herd,  primal  horde,  crowds  and  masses.  (Schneider,  S.  and  Weinberg,  H.)  London,  Jessica  Kingsley,  2003.    Young,  R.    Psychoanalysis  and/of  the  internet.  Free  Associations  Online:  http://www.human-­‐­‐associations/psaint.html     21