Ulises Ali Majias has poked a hole in my thinking about social software. It will take time for me to find a way to put the synapses back together. To quote:
"This is the paradox of social media that has been bothering me lately: an 'empowering' media that provides increased opportunities for communication, education and online participation, but which at the same time further isolates individuals and aggregates them into masses —more prone to control, and by extension more prone to discipline." For example he quotes Deluze (Deleuze, G. (1995). Negotiations, 1972-1990. New York: Columbia University Press.):
"In disciplinary societies you were always starting all over again (as you went from school to barracks, from barracks to factory), while in control societies you never finish anything... school is replaced by continuing education and exams by continuous assessment. It's the surest way of turning education into a business. (1995, p. 179)"
Ulises goes on to surmise that this perspective "puts a sinister spin on 'life-long' learning. The constant student is not one who engages in an ongoing perfection of the self, but one who is constantly assessed according to the performance standards of a service economy. Thanks to distance education, e-learning and technologies such as the Learning Management System (LMS), education becomes something that can be delivered anytime and anywhere, and which —more importantly— can be used to monitor performance throughout the 'learning' career of the individual. Thus, assessment-based education helps reconcile control and discipline in society by helping to effect, in the case of those who fail, a transition from controlled subject to disciplined object."
perhaps I am not the agent of positive change I've thought myself to be. Maybe I'm just an unwitting agent working toward the increased control and discipline of the populace.