Panoptic vs. Synoptic

For long the broadcast media has operated as sole provider of mass information. Public announcements, political campaigns, celebrity gossip, you name it and we’ve always been ‘fed’ by an all controlling ‘Big Brother’. Much like the central idea of Foucault’s panopticism. The systematic ordering and controlling of human populations through subtle and often unseen forces. Audiences for these media, their behaviors structured through the panoptic management of perception.

But with the advent of self generated content, the media landscape is fast changing. The power of information seems to have been diluted. Scholars like TIm Mathesin have argued that the now synoptic relationship of the media and the audience is based on the notion of an consumer agency where private information is consciously bartered for a perceived benefit. The urban ‘synoptic’ provides an exclusive interactivity. Neo-liberalization as it is called brings the shift in class relations.

Looking at the campaign by Cape Times Famous Photos Reimagined as Selfies, it is no longer ‘how fast you get the news’ but ‘how close can you get to the news’. Words like ‘selfie’ didn’t even exist as late as one year ago.  It’s only a matter of time before Oxford decides to include ‘selfie’ and ‘photobomb’ [along with ‘twerking’ but that’s for a later rambling] in the English dictionary. While it’s not uncommon for a language to evolve through times, it is rather interesting to see the reasons behind the evolution.

Is this a shift from the Panoptic to the Synoptic?

Princess KatherineCape_Times_05 cape-times-selfies-2

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