Niche and Community Online: Artists' Tactical Media Activities as Pedagogy

Niche and Community Online: Artists' Tactical Media Activities as Pedagogy

Patti Pente (University of Alberta, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9461-3.ch059
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Abstract

This chapter addresses ethical aspects of digital life by analyzing the idea of niche community from two approaches: through the lens of the inoperable community as theorized by Jean-Luc Nancy (1991, 2000) and through artistic interventionist practices that dig deeply into normative assumptions of neoliberalism, which have been carried online. It considers the nature of digital citizenship by examining creative activities facilitated by DIY (Do-It-Yourself) culture and tactical media intervention. These activities disrupt standard social conventions, and as forms of pedagogy, educators might engage with students about constructive social change within the global potential of digital communication. While stronger connections between formal learning environments and social networking activities are appropriate, the author critiques some of the underlying economic influences on the user/member so that the educational, psychological, and behavioral nature of niche online communities can be considered in light of disruptive artistic activities and subjectivity supported by Nancy's philosophy.
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Pedagogy And Niche Online Communities

Niche, derived from the Latin word nidus, meaning nest, suggests a safe place to grow. Ideally, the nature of a niche online community is nurturing; in such relations, we, as members who have similar interests, feel confident and secure in our assumptions that we control who we are and what we do online. Niches are specific to the member’s interests, and satisfaction comes from the educative relationship that develops from the local sharing of knowledge. This style of informal learning is motivationally powerful; therefore, educational institutions have much to benefit from this actor-driven arrangement. In order to foster a rich educational experience through online curricular designs, educators can learn from this model. By incorporating such activities into structured online learning environments, the gap between formal and informal learning can be reduced. This is desirable so that a more holistic platform is established for students who creatively produce their learning within social networking sites. It also opens opportunities for schools to be involved in significant ways in issues of digital citizenship and social change.

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