"the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time..." -- Kerouac

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I'm warning you ...

"There's no crying in blog class."
Tom Hanks

These are just some notes, some talking points for tonight's class.
I want to return to the ideas of Marshall McLuhan who figured a lot of this stuff out before he started rapping and changed his name to Eminem.
Note: Most of the stuff about him and PTC are pasted in from other sources.

McLuhan: One unforeseen consequence of print was the fragmentation of society. McLuhan argued that readers would now read in private, and so be alienated from others. "Printing, a ditto device, confirmed and extended the new visual stress. It created the portable book, which men could read in privacy and in isolation from others" (McLuhan, 1967, p. 50). Interestingly, McLuhan saw electronic media as a return to collective ways of perceiving the world. His "global village" theory posited the ability of electronic media to unify and retribalize the human race. What McLuhan did not live to see, but perhaps foresaw, was the merging of text and electronic mass media in this new media called the Internet.

McLuhan's philosophy "was influenced by the work of the Catholic philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who believed that the use of electricity extends the central nervous system" (Wolf, 1996, p. 125). According to Wolf, "McLuhan's mysticism sometimes led him to hope, as had Teilhard, that electronic civilization would prove a spiritual leap forward and put humankind in closer contact with God" (p. 125). Wolf went on to write that McLuhan later reversed himself, calling the electronic universe, "an unholy impostor,...'a blatant manifestation of the Anti-Christ'" (p. 125).
Chardin coined the term "noosphere" -- an evolving network of human culture, connection, knowledge and interdependence [16]. He saw the earth as a positively evolving organism

most of this is from a wired article:
Teilhard saw the Net coming more than half a century before it arrived. He believed this vast thinking membrane would ultimately coalesce into "the living unity of a single tissue" containing our collective thoughts and experiences. In his magnum opus, The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard wrote, "Is this not like some great body which is being born - with its limbs, its nervous system, its perceptive organs, its memory - the body in fact of that great living Thing which had to come to fulfill the ambitions aroused in the reflective being by the newly acquired consciousness?"
"What Teilhard was saying here can easily be summed up in a few words," says John Perry Barlow. "The point of all evolution up to this stage is the creation of a collective organism of Mind." Marshall McLuhan was drawn to the concept of the noosphere. Teilhard's description of this electromagnetic phenomenon became a touchstone for McLuhan's theories of the global "electric culture." In The Gutenberg Galaxy, McLuhan quotes Teilhard: "What, in fact, do we see happening in the modern paroxysm? It has been stated over and over again. Through the discovery yesterday of the railway, the motor car and the aeroplane, the physical influence of each man, formerly restricted to a few miles, now extends to hundreds of leagues or more. Better still: thanks to the prodigious biological event represented by the discovery of electromagnetic waves, each individual finds himself henceforth (actively and passively) simultaneously present, over land and sea, in every corner of the earth." This simultaneous quality, McLuhan believed, "provides our lives again with a tribal base." But this time around, the tribe comes together on a global playing field. We stand today at the beginning of Teilhard's third phase of evolution, the moment at which the world is covered with the incandescent glow of consciousness. Teilhard characterized this as "evolution becoming conscious of itself." The Net, that great collectivizer of minds, is the primary tool for our emergence into the third phase. "With cyberspace, we are, in effect, hard-wiring the collective consciousness," says Barlow. In introducing the idea of tangential energy - the energy of consciousness - as a primary factor in evolution, Teilhard opened the door for a new level of meaning. The history of the world, he wrote, "would thus appear no longer as an interlocking succession of structural types replacing one another, but as an ascension of inner sap spreading out in a forest of consolidated instincts." This could very well be what the Net is doing - consolidating our instincts - so that consciousness can continue to develop.
these mcluhan headings were selected by a cat named Larry Press

The medium is the message. (7)
we're all over that shit. but MM said media are pretty neutral.
We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us
yo holly, whassup?
As electrically contracted, the globe is no more than a village. (5)
In the electric age we wear all mankind as our skin. (47)
dude, this is truer than he and pierre even KNEW
Each new impact (technology) shifts the ratios among all the senses. (64)
this is interesting -- i mean, what shift is going on here?
A hot medium is one that extends one single sense in "high definition." High definition is the state of being well filled with data. (22)
Departmental sovereignties (in universities) have melted away as rapidly as national sovereignties under conditions of electric speed. (36)
Because: electricity decentralizes: rhetoric isn't something you do in one place, for example?
Instead of saving work, (electrical "labor-saving") devices permit everybody to do his own work. What the nineteenth century had delegated to servants and housemaids we now do for ourselves (footnote 7). (36)
i wasn't that interested in this one. maybe you are
And a technological extension of our bodies designed to alleviate physical stress can bring on psychic stress that may be much worse. (67)
no duh!!!!! and he had never MET Brett
An Indian is the servomechanism of his canoe, as the cowboy of his horse or the executive of his clock. (46)
I don't know. this one just makes me think of the robot on Mystery Science theater
""It is the poets and painters who react instantly to a new medium like radio or TV."
The artist picks up the message of cultural and technological challenge decades before its transforming impact occurs. (65)
i think we saw this
Radio changed the form of the news story as much as it altered the film image in talkies. (53)
The crossings or hybridizations of the media release great new force and energy as by fission or fusion. (48)
The hybrid or the meeting of two media is a moment of truth and revelation from which new form is born. ... The moment of the meeting of media is a moment of freedom and release from the ordinary trance and numbness imposed by them on our senses. (55)
thus endeth stuff from the book of marshall


i told you this was performance

i think i can explain why this, via kottke, is relevant:

Great profile by Michael Lewis of Mike Leach, Texas Tech's football coach. Leach "believes that both failure and success slow players down, unless they will themselves not to slow down." 'When they fail, they become frustrated. When they have success, they want to become the thinking-man's football team.'" Must-read article if you're even a casual football fan. Here's another article on Leach from the SJ Merc.Update: Steven Levitt and the Freakonomist commenters weigh in on Lewis' article. (thx, michael) #

Pangiuseppe said...
I'm with you. I'd go a little further into the positive, though, and applaud what a great, populist open marketplace of thoughts and opinions and art expressions and lonely-heart connections the blogospher can be, and is. Requires a good bit of patient sifting, but there is almost always something worth discovering every time I sit down and get sucked into a couple hours of this! - Joe

rashmi sinha
Since I cannot remember what other blogs I saw, let me just talk about Metafilter. It was fascinating that so many people with different voices, and opinions could be in the same space and loosely coordinate to find "the best of the Web". I think it was through Metafilter that I came across many of the early individual blogs.
The more I read blogs, the more fascinated I was by the writing style — the informal, honest writing in the first person voice. In academia, you get used to reading and writing a certain way. Its more formal, jargony, mostly not in the first person voice. I had never really got the hang of academic writing. In fact, that was one of things I did not like about academia. The personal voice on blogs appealed to me so much more. It allowed the story to come through.
It's not mainstream, and most people aren't reading blogs yet. But race car driving, farming and espressos aren't mainstream either, and all matter to our culture.
I don't see blogging as a medium. In fact, I don't see the Net or the Web as media, either. Rather they are places, or spaces, where people gather to do business, to talk, and to make culture. Just like we do in real-world markets.
There are serious metaphorical reasons for this description. The fact that we understand everything metaphorically is what makes the matter serious.
Folks in Hollywood, broadcasting and publishing conceive their goods as "content" that moves through pipes that run from producers to consumers. It's a top-down few-to-many conceptualization, which, if applied to the Net, allow it to be regulated severely by the big media's lobbyists and puppet legislators.
By conceiving the Net as a place, a commons, something you go "on" rather than "through," we can save it from draconian regulation and preserve it as an environment where speech and markets are equally free.
So if blogging isn't a medium, what is it?
A practice. Specifically, a personal practice of journalism in the literal sense of that word. Every blog is a journal. The number of blogs, which keeps going up (now in the millions), is redefining journalism rapidly, and unavoidably.
Blogs are real voices of real people. Applied by business, they leave the marketers of the world out of a job. You can't job out your own voice. You can't leave it up to some department.

First of all, I don't think weblogs are a transitory media phase. I think they're here to stay, because the Internet is here to stay. I think blogs are an inevitable outgrowth of the Internet. They've become a valuable way for people to connect with each other, and to hear what individuals have to say. We might not always call them blogs, and their format and the tools used to create them will undoubtedly evolve.
Looking back to the past, blogs have a lot in common with the political pamphleteering of the American Revolutionary War era. Back then, people who owned the presses (or who were good buddies with printers) were the ones who got their opinions published. People would echo and debate each other via pamphlets. It was expensive and relatively inefficient compare to blogs, but the idea was the same. Dan Bricklin said it all best in 2001: -- there, he was talking about "personal Web sites," but everything he said rings even more true for blogs.
Here's the thing -- despite the way most traditional mass media downplay the concept and importance of opinionated, self-published, amateur blogs, people do want to know what other people think. We've all been punditized and marketed within an inch of our intellectual lives via mass media. We've all been controlled by information gatekeepers more than we probably care to admit.


At 10:49 AM, Blogger Nile said...

Ummm, will this be on the final exam?

At 7:13 PM, Blogger coturnix said...

Ha, I was not aware of that passage by Searls, but I was writing about blogs as "spaces", almost physical spaces, when I wrote about carnivals and such before. I belive that is a good way to think.


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