#MUGABEFALLS: MEMES & SOCIAL [MEDIA] DREAMING

B9FJMFhIEAE921P

“Had to do another lol #Mugabefalls” – Sane Sato (‏@SaneInTransit)

As the #MugabeFalls meme continues to break the internet and our collective ribs with a slew of hilarious images like the one featured above, it may be worthwhile to consider the (subtle?) socio-political role the meme is playing in ongoing cultural conversations online.

Specifically, the #MugabeFalls meme is an attempt by digital natives and global citizens—who would otherwise have largely very little power to effect change—to speak out against Mugabe’s controversial leadership, thus serving as a contemporary portrayal of satire and social commentary on Africa—which has traditionally taken shape in indigenous literature.

To paraphrase—and recontextualize—the words of designers Dunne and Raby in the first chapter of Speculative Thinking, we need to dream new dreams for the twenty-first century as those of the twentieth century rapidly fade. But what role can design social media play?

Perhaps #MugabeFalls is one answer, and yet another example of how visual media can be used to enact power relations, circulate information and ideas, and make meaning.

Advertisements

INTERNET CITIZENSHIP, DEMOCRACY & DISENFRANCHISEMENT IN AN ERA OF GLOBALIZATION

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 2.50.28 AM

What happens when a majority of the people around the world who use the internet have little to no say on its administration and subsequent evolution?

Particularly, in light of the plans to increase Internet access to the two thirds of the world’s population that who currently doesn’t don’t have it, what does Internet democracy and the right to Internet access actually mean?

Does social media activism like Tumblr’s ongoing “It’s Our Internet” campaign actually carry weight? Or, does it merely serve as a ruse that further speaks to the powerlessness of the world’s poor?

Basically, whose internet is it after all?

CREATIVITY IN SOCIAL MEDIA: INSTAGRAM AUCTIONS

Social media as a channel for communication and collaboration is constantly evolving. In particular, savvy digital consumers are always quick to explore new ways to use various social media platforms to meet their individual needs, ultimately creating unique experiences within their online communities. These inventive uses of social media can sometimes inspire ideas for new features and even entirely new platforms.

An example of a creative use of social media I’ve recently come across is by Edmonton-based fine artist Glen Ronald on instagram. In recognition of his relatively strong following on the free photo-sharing program/social network, Ronald has taken advantage of the opportunity to sell his original drawings and paintings to instagram users by intermittently holding auctions right on his profile.

While eBay still exists as the leading online auction website, I would argue that in this particular circumstance instagram provides a much more personal space for Ronald to interact with prospective buyers and fine art enthusiasts alike. In addition, instagram offers an equally (if not more) instant response, since consumer engagement happens in real-time.

Although I doubt that instagram will introduce an auctions feature in the near future, Ronald’s distinctive use of the photo-sharing program certainly raises an important question about the core needs social media users hope to fulfill through their digital experiences. Ultimately, social media platforms (and brands operating in the digital space) that are aware of, and more importantly, remain responsive to these needs will succeed at delivering better digital experiences for consumers.