Notes on Tactical Media

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"In contrast to mainstream media, tactical interventions don’t occupy a stable ideological place from which they put forward counter-arguments; they speak in tongues, offering temporary revelations." 
                             - Joanne Richardson

  • Strategy v. Tactics
    • Carl von Clauswitz: early 19th c Prussian general, wrote On War (1832): "strategy as the planning of a whole campaign and tactics as the planning of a single battle." Famously wrote: war is the continuation of politics by other means.
    • Michel de Certeau: French intellectual, wrote The Practice of Everyday Life (1980): strategy is how producers exert power, tactics how consumers resist. City planning v. walking the streets. Detournement.
  • The dream of participatory media
    • Old: few-to-many: newspapers, radio, broadcast TV
      • The problem: corporations controlled the medium and the message
      • Two paradigmatic early 20th century responses: Dada and Constructivism
    • This begat the dream of participatory, many-to-many media
      • Brecht: Radio as an Apparatus of Communication
      • Benjamin: Author as Producer
      • Situationists: Détournement and dérive: cultural highjacking
      • Enzensberger: Constituents of a Theory of the Media
      • Paik: ~"someday every artist will have his own TV channel"
      • Warhol: ~"in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes"
    • New: many-to-many, participatory: Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter
      • Now networks compete with the multitudes
      • Zillions of channels
      • Audience now much more fragmented: everybody can have a channel, but is anybody watching?
  • Does participatory media, as it is unfolding in our lifetimes, have the liberating effect anticipated by the old left (Benjamin et al) and the new left (Paik et al)?
    • Yes: Arab Spring, Occupy
    • No: yet the relentless advance of neoliberal capitalism continues
  • Tactical media
    • A name given to a set of practices and an attempt to theorize those practices
    • A term coined at the dawn of this new era of participatory media
    • Back then, not that many people were making their own media
    • Since then, participatory media has proliferated
    • Now, everybody's doing it
    • How do we distinguish between tactical media and your neighbor's cat video?
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