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  • 1. Dr Rebekka Kill Head of School, Art Architecture and Design Leeds Metropolitan UniversityFacebook is like disco, and Twitter is like punk.
  • 2. In this “talk”
  • 3. I’m not going to talk
  • 4. … at all.
  • 5. This is a story of obsession
  • 6. and of music.
  • 7. I used to live a double life
  • 8. I had two careers that Ideliberately kept separate.
  • 9. I was worried that, if I came clean…
  • 10. it would be a disaster bothpersonally and professionally.
  • 11. By day I was
  • 12. …an art lecturer
  • 13. By night…
  • 14. a nightclub DJ.
  • 15. *whispers* nightclub DJs don’t talk btw
  • 16. Eventually, I became frustrated with theduality of my life, after a decade I was tired of burning the candle at both ends and I decided it was time to confess all…
  • 17. I began to make art about music
  • 18. In 2007 I did a performance workthat involved playing 7inch records
  • 19. for 24 hours
  • 20. in ‘approximate’ alphabetical order.
  • 21. I started at 9am on a Saturdaymorning with The 5th Dimension Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In
  • 22. I ended with…
  • 23. Yazoo Don’t Go, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Rockers toSwallow, The Young Knives The Decision, Yazz StandUp For Your Love Rights and The Zutons Oh Stacey.
  • 24. …at 9am on a Sunday morning.
  • 25. Over 500 7inch singles in 24 hours.
  • 26. I am obsessed with music
  • 27. totally obsessed.
  • 28. It all started in 1977
  • 29. In 1977 I was old enough to be allowed to stay up to watch Top of the Pops.
  • 30. In 1978 my mum went to university, at Portsmouth Poly, and over the nextthree years I attended all of the-end-of- term all day discos.
  • 31. So, from ‘78-’81, three times ayear, I danced for 12 hours in thestudents’ union, I watched Top of the Pops religiously and...
  • 32. I listened to my tiny transistor Frosties radio (I’d found it in a charity shop) and this began my obsession.
  • 33. 1981 was a turning point
  • 34. I had enough pocket money, and enough freedom, to go to Woolworths and buy records.
  • 35. I started collecting
  • 36. So, what’s all this got to do with social media?
  • 37. Well, at the beginning of this formative period, in PortsmouthPoly Students’ Union, I developed a love for both punk and disco…
  • 38. …it was almost like there was apunk-me and a disco-me, and this schizophrenia has continued throughout my life.
  • 39. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be Donna Summer
  • 40. or Siouxsie
  • 41. … deep down I really wanted to be Debbie Harry
  • 42. I love disco and I love punkand post-punk was a kind of happy resolution.
  • 43. In this “talk” I wanted to work out if there are similarities
  • 44. …between my two obsessions: music and social media.
  • 45. Is Facebook like disco?
  • 46. - rapidly subsumed into the mainstream- commercial- perceived as politically apathetic
  • 47. And is Twitter like punk?
  • 48. - unsentimental- political- shouty
  • 49. I’ll think a little more about punk and disco first.
  • 50. Richard Dyer wrote his paper In Defense of Disco in 1979
  • 51. He argued against the characterisation of disco as ‘capitalist music’
  • 52. …by saying that all music is inherently capitalist.
  • 53. And he also spoke in defence of the‘ambivalently, ambiguously, contradictorily – positive qualities of disco’
  • 54. For Dyer, the three keycharacteristics of disco are:- eroticism romanticism materialism
  • 55. Central to this is a desire to escape themundanity of life, the culture of work, of the office, of the boring job.
  • 56. ‘Disco is part of the wider to and fro between work and leisure, alienation andescape, boredom and enjoyment that we are so accustomed to (and which Saturday Night Fever plugs into so effectively)’
  • 57. ‘disco can’t change the world or makethe revolution. No art can do that, and it’s pointless to expect it to.’
  • 58. A lot has been written about Punk
  • 59. Simon Frith’s article Post-punk Blues, published in MarxismToday, is nostalgic about the ‘heyday of political pop’ in the late 70s.
  • 60. Frith states that ‘pop music has failed, then, torealise the political fantasies that were piled on punk’.
  • 61. ‘Punk failed to change the waypopular music worked because it isin capitalist practice impossible to construct an alternative…’
  • 62. He goes on, ‘The tragedy of punk wasnot that it ‘failed’ to change pop but that so many people thought that it could’
  • 63. In his essay Listening to Punk, written in 1985, David Laingstresses that an important legacy ofpunk was the introduction into lyrics of vernacular language.
  • 64. He states that, ‘It was up to punkrock to introduce ‘fuck’ and the rest wholesale to popular music.
  • 65. Laing finishes with the construct ofthe ‘punk listener’. The punk listener has two key qualities…
  • 66. 1. the expectation of challenginglistening i.e. potential forshock, acceptance of avant-gardeelements.2. the ‘punk listener’s enjoyment ofother listeners’ discomfort and trauma.
  • 67. I have a new obsession; inflected by my obsession with music.
  • 68. Entangled with my academic life.
  • 69. Social media
  • 70. If we look at the history of social media sites using the model of music history we can see some interesting parallels.
  • 71. Facebook: It’s a kind of universal, it’saccessible, the right hand bar makesus aware of its links to consumerism. The kids love it.
  • 72. Twitter, on the other hand, is the place of intellectuals and bloggers, and the middle classes, the angry voices, the politics, the high(er) brow.
  • 73. Twitter’s commercialism is harder to find. Attempts to be explicit about this, togenuinely use Twitter for selling, generally fail.
  • 74. We can use the music history analogy to look backwards in time too
  • 75. If Facebook is like disco, and Twitter is like punk, then…
  • 76. maybe MySpace was the 60s and Second Life was prog– overblown, over complex and now …over.
  • 77. I post the same updates onFacebook and Twitter. But they get very different responses.
  • 78. What gets Facebook going…
  • 79. jokes, puns and funny stuff
  • 80. Cool stuff
  • 81. events
  • 82. And lots
  • 83. and lots of…
  • 84. kittens, holiday photos andpictures of people’s children…
  • 85. So far, so disco?
  • 86. But…
  • 87. Facebook also likes…
  • 88. politics
  • 89. OK, OK, it’s presented in a particular way, for a particular audience, but it’s still politics…
  • 90. In many ways this strengthens theargument that Facebook is like disco.
  • 91. From the outside, at first glance, itseems apolitical, infantilising, but…
  • 92. …in Dyer’s In Defense of Disco one of hiskey arguments was that disco was highly influential in terms of the politics of gender, LGBT, class and race issues.
  • 93. Facebook is also very active here.
  • 94. Although I will admit that Facebook is relatively “light”.
  • 95. There are also occasionally some good examples of intelligent debate...
  • 96. For example, I posted this on both Facebook and Twitter:
  • 97. “I actually hate opera. Opera, poetry and jazz. Theyre all about 90% pointless.”
  • 98. Twitter didn’t respond.But Facebook went crazy.
  • 99. “Agreed. But that 10% that is awesome kind of makes it worth it... almost.”
  • 100. “Pointless is a bit harsh just cos you dont likeem... Found myself accidentally diggin John Coltrane the other day.... Me!!! Jazz! I was highly surprised! as you can imagine! :D”
  • 101. I must protest at your insistence ofpointlessness. Perhaps another description?;By that benchmark you would have to acceptit if someone said 90% of all art or academic research is pointless.... xx
  • 102. “Philistine! - Jazz is nice, Opera is a vision in sound and Poetry is life”
  • 103. ”? Pointless..... ?”
  • 104. “I think saying 90% of something that has involved a great amount of creative energy is valid, whetheryou like the results of the creative process is anothermatter but to render it pointless is quite insulting to the creative process itself. Im not picking an argument, Im just surprised at your statement, coming from you! “
  • 105. “Opera is exclusive, jazz is indulgent, but POETRY! come on... poetry is ace -democratic, accessible, world-changing...”
  • 106. “And scratching records is abetter art form? Wow. Couldnt disagree more. Without poetry, there would be no music.”
  • 107. “I would have thought someone in your position would have an appreciation for all art forms? Strange...”
  • 108. “I know - but honestly, can anyone have a genuine appreciation for ALL artforms - including the mediocre -say, amateur watercolour, Olly Murs, Bernard Manning, Millsand Boon, etc. Whats more, unpick the notion of pointless and perhaps it means it may be appreciated by some, but it makes no point i.e. it is inherently conservative and apolitical - which is why she is 100% wrong about poetry - which is perhaps the most political artform as it emanates from and impacts upon language itself...”
  • 109. “i see it like this.. you have to develop an appreciation for opera andclassical music, jazz, prose, pop, rock and so on equally.. because withoutsay mozart or mahler or rachmaninov you wouldnt have bizet or puccini -without keats you wouldnt have shelley.. and where would we be without ella or brubeck or queen or the beatles even?.. everything is linked and has evolved to what we have today - a headonistic clash of culturalsounds and rhythms and harmonies that both delight and annoy and yethelp to make.. well.. music.. and without those sounds in my life.. i would consider it to be very dull indeed.”
  • 110. “Ah well. Opinions are likearseholes.... Weve all got one!”
  • 111. And that was just edited highlights.
  • 112. So, what gets Twitter going?
  • 113. I get most of my news and currentaffairs from Twitter. It can work like an RSS feed.
  • 114. It’s a good way to find out about events…
  • 115. and opportunities.
  • 116. Twitter is full of opinion.
  • 117. Especially about BBC Question Time
  • 118. …and Britain’s Got Talent
  • 119. Recently I asked people some questions about Facebook and Twitter…
  • 120. about ethics and banality.
  • 121. Facebook didn’t really respond. It didn’t spark much interest. Twitter on the other hand…
  • 122. “I think banality is underrated. Twittershows me that other peoples lives are as banal as mine...”
  • 123. “ I began it as a micro-blog, still use it for that but the social aspect crept in. “
  • 124. “its the only place I cansimultaneously argue, surmise, joke, network, watch, reach out, laugh, wince and disseminate info.”
  • 125. “Young uns dont seem as keen on Twitter. They might be on it butdont see it as equal to Facebook..? “
  • 126. “People dont seem to edit stuff onFacebook..500 crap holiday photos etc would rather see the six best ones..or even, none!”
  • 127. “personally find Twitter far more engaging than the Blue Site.Stripped down… a bit ADHD tho.Professionally more useful too. “
  • 128. So, Twitter likes talking, and writing about itself but Facebook doesn’t.
  • 129. Twitter is also often hostile towards Facebook.
  • 130. Sound familiar?
  • 131. Think back to the construct of the‘punk listener’ and the expectation of challenging listening.
  • 132. ‘It was up to punk rock to introduce ‘fuck’ and the rest wholesale to popular music.’ - Laing
  • 133. “Twitter allows me to be more sweary”
  • 134. Facebook is a bit like disco
  • 135. and Twitter is a bit like punk…
  • 136. I like disco and Facebook.
  • 137. and I like punk and Twitter.
  • 138. In music, post-punk felt like a good place.
  • 139. It was like punk but more disco-y.
  • 140. What will be post-Twitter?
  • 141. Will it be like Twitter but more Facebook-y?
  • 142. Pinterest is quite Facebook-y
  • 143. But, to me, it feels a bit like a compilation album.
  • 144. Now That’s What I Call…
  • 145. …really nicecushions, cupcakes, ecobuildings, 1920s cinema etc..
  • 146. It’s very pretty; very visual in a world that’s dominated by misspelt words and punctuation errors.
  • 147. It’s all found images and or samples. So, maybe Pinterest is more like early house music?
  • 148. What about Instagram?
  • 149. isn’t it like the Mike Flowers Pops of the social media world?
  • 150. I don’t see anything, new, yet thatwill rival either Facebook or Twitter.
  • 151. But when it comes. I hope it will be the best of both. A hybrid.
  • 152. Unlike my dual obsession with disco and punk
  • 153. this is not a schizophrenic obsession.
  • 154. My statuses are the same.
  • 155. No need to be two different people.
  • 156. The version of me that isengaging with social media
  • 157. is already hybridised.
  • 158. Polyphony is when many distinct voices or points of view exist simultaneously.
  • 159. Facebook and Twitter are polyphonic spaces.
  • 160. In polyphonic texts it is often unclear who the narrator is, this can also shift and change during the course of the text.
  • 161. For Bakhtin unfinalisabilty isembedded in the ‘prose of everyday life’ and the chronotope; the intersection of time and space.
  • 162. Both music and social media are chronotopic.
  • 163. Time is important– whether timeline or beats per minute.
  • 164. But it is where music and social media intersect with space…
  • 165. on the dancefloorand on the internet
  • 166. that they hybridise, and become fully…
  • 167. polyphonic.
  • 168. Thankyou