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Castells brings up some interesting points of communication/bodies, free speech, and social revolution. Although he doesn’t dive deeper into these questions, maybe we can answer them with some of the material we have learned for this course:

1. on communication and the body:

“Communication is the process of sharing meaning through the exchange of information” (6)

Currently, I’m very interested how communication relates to education and the exchange of ideas. Castles places emphasis on the importance of physical space in the social movements:

“the occupation of public space was essential to make the movement visible…” (119)

Demands for specific black and latino bodies in the Brown faculty make me question what is the role of specific bodies in relation to communication on a college campus. Visibility seems to change the dynamic of discussion. I wish Castells had elaborated a bit more on this.

On the other hand, the U.S. government seems to be prepared to meet the demands of free college education through online universities (a cheaper option than physical college). What is the importance of physical bodies in the exchange of ideas? Maybe we can dramatically question the meaning of our existence at university in class.

2. on free speech:

The crux of these social movements seems to be the government prioritizing financial institutions/ gains over welfare and the inclusion of decisions of the people. While there is an obvious need for social programs, many of our readings operate under the assumption that all people have (in theory/ essentially) the equal right to opinion (everyone’s individual construction of truth is equal). Does the people’s outrage stem from their opinions being devalued? Why/ why not could their outrage be warranted? Maybe this relates to the arguments of free speech on college campuses today. I particularly liked Castell’s inclusion of the successful student movement of Chile (explained on page 237), because it’s one of the few examples of social movements still visible today because of the inclusion (and valuing) of citizen’s voices in the government.

3. on social revolution:

On another note, I found the spread of the networked social revolution extremely important to understanding social revolution today. Castells explains that a crucial preexisting condition “for [these] revolts was the existence of an Internet culture, made up of bloggers, social networks, and cyberactivism” (27).

A very important debate going on in my country, Nicaragua, is the construction of basically what is the new Panama Canal. It’s closer tot he United states (so it’s a cheaper option to send goods) and is projected to be wider and deeper than the Panama Canal (fits larger boats, also less cost because less boats). Here’s a short vice documentary covering the situation.

 

 

In short, the construction of the Canal threatens to displace many people and farms, and poses a huge ecological threat: lake Nicaragua is the largest reserve of water in Central America. Perhaps this situation is just a big deal to me, but Castells’ quote reminds me how important the Internet is in organizing social movements. Cell-phones play one of the most major roles in the development of internet culture (they are compact, can use anywhere). Nicaragua had the lowest mobile penetration rate in 2010, but there has been a dramatic increse in communication over the past 5 years:

“Despite the country’s gaping digital divide, the number of Facebook users in Nicaragua last year jumped from 150,000 to 700,000. That means nearly one in eight Nicaraguans is regularly posting status updates—an impressive jump in online activity for a country that just five years ago had less than 5% of its population connected to the Internet.” (http://nicaraguadispatch.com/2012/04/nicaragua-closing-digital-divide/)

Maybe this spike in online activity will allow for voices to be heard in the decisions of the Canal.

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