Over the past 250 years, as the industrial revolution progressed and was then superseded by the modern technological age, an epistemological crisis began to fester and grow quietly in the shadows. Our ability to obtain, disseminate, and – most importantly – apply knowledge, has been severely hindered by our industrial and technological success and our response to that success. We have achieved great feats with little or no perceived negative ramifications, thus establishing a false sense of stability in ourselves, our place in the natural order, and the way in which we process and use knowledge. Our ability to shoot for the moon – literally – meant that we presumed we could do no wrong. A precarious place to be to be sure.
And, as the decades rolled on, each continual success served to confirm our superiority over all – even the truth was manipulated. Responsibility fell to the way side. And, if a negative ramification presented itself, we quickly waved it away with the simple justification that the world and everything within it was ours to do with as we wish, and profiting from it was a natural act. Our birthright. It never occurred to us that building an economy based primarily upon a single finite resource – oil – would some day place our entire civilization at great risk of collapse.
Adolfo Doring‘s excellent documentary Blind Spot, contains an interview with Jason Bradford, who explains this epistemological issue very succinctly and eloquently as it relates to our inability to see reality and deal with the responsibility of our massively consumptive society.
We have lost the ability to deal with the concept of responsibility in a proper manner both as individuals and as a society. It’s quite important because lack of responsibility, and its consequence of not confronting reality, leads to the inability to solve complex problems and establish consistent ethical boundaries. Both are the cornerstones of a successful society. A society that is unable to deal with important issues responsibly, and use that knowledge to its advantage in a way that is beneficial to a majority of its citizens is a society that will die. We see the results today in the current culture war. Everyone senses that something is wrong, we simply can’t agree on the truth. It’s as if we’re entrenched in a form of madness.
Which brings us to Charlie Sheen.
As the mass media exploits and the public gorges itself on the ever-unfolding tragic life of actor Charlie Sheen, it has become apparent that Sheen is a practitioner of this epistemological disconnect. So is the mass media. They are by no means alone in this endeavor. It’s widespread. We are all in some way or another, practitioners of the epistemological disconnect from responsibility.
We now face the challenge of rebuilding how we think, how we acquire knowledge and information, and how we apply that knowledge. It is, as Douglas Rushkoff has said, a new renaissance.
Glenn Beck is one cynical and desperate dude. The upcoming “Restoring Honor” rally at Lincoln Memorial is meant to re-brand the sullied and racist image of the Tea Party into the rainbow coalition just in time for the fall election. But, Beck’s decision to blatantly ride on the coat tails of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement is nothing except a badly orchestrated and cynical effort to co-opt the gravitas of MLK and the rights movement in order to replace the glaring lack of it in the Tea Party movement. They are that desperate.
It gets even better though. From the Atlanta Constitution-Journal:
On the air, Beck has asked attendees not to bring signs or come in anger, but to come in a peaceful spirit akin to the one espoused by King. “Don’t bring your signs,” he said on TV. “Bring your hearts … bring your open minds.”
Not bring signs? It’s a rally! Of course you bring signs! But, Beck is obviously concerned. It’s an admission that something went astray last time. He’s worried the same thing may occur this time. The Tea Party 9/12 rally last year was a smörgåsbord of racism and allusions to racist themes. Some examples for historical context:
The Tea Bag Party faithful brushed the documented claims of racism off as untrue, even in the face of the photographic and video evidence. Perhaps they simply can not see the racism. Perhaps they don’t want to see it. But, America knows what it saw.
To be clear, I’m not saying all Tea Baggers are racist. Yet, it can’t be denied that there is a strong racist element within the Tea Party ranks, and that a great deal of the motivation behind the entire platform (such as is is) is of a nativist, racist, hateful and eliminationist nature. Historically, fear, hate and racism have been great allies. And, they continue to be such. The Tea Party is the current day Nativist party, a modern version of the Know-Nothings. The platforms and ideas espoused are practically identical. No one disuptes that the Know-Nothings were a racist and eliminationist movement. The question remains who will claim the mantle of leadership of the Tea Party. Who will speak out against the racism?
The signs above tell the story. Will it happen again? Time will tell.Read More
Not a mob obviously. The term has been tossed around in some cases, accurate in others. It’s like dealing with a bunch of hecklers. And, Al Franken does well. People do want to know the facts. But, it’s so heated out there, as you can see, it’s not easy. There’s a lot of work to be done.Read More
Douglas Rushkoff on how to take back our world by seeing the current economic crisis as a great opportunity.Read More
A few from Starre… my fav Eco chick.
She has a new book out. Get it now. Thank you. Come again.
Finally, go green with Twitter…
Just watch your back. We live in uncertain times. And, I’m not talking about getting blown away by some sicko dip wad while eating your ding dong at the school cafeteria, but that sucks too.Read More
Yes, even a good fiction writer couldn’t make this stuff up.
The simple fact of the matter is: we are better than torture. We are, or at least we once were… The country that held the moral high ground during the Nuremburg trials would not condone torture of enemies. Torture was the tactic of savages, of the evil Japanese Empire, the Nazi’s, the Soviets, the Red Army, the Khymer Rouge…
Not the USA.
Robert Greenwald has a new video, which is directly below.
This shall not stand. Our failure of a president supports torture. We do not. Write to your local press or nearest media outlet and let them know.
Then, get thee over to Condi Must Go and sign the petition.
the fabulous furry freak brothers movie is on the way. love it. one of my all time fav comics. it’ll be stop animation, like Wallace and Gromit. here’s a test trailer:
Spent the weekend really digesting a lot of MLK information… which I’ll be posting throughout the week.
Here’s a nice version of U2’s song Pride (In the name of love) by John Legend.
Speech by Martin Luther King Jr. on the war in Vietnam, but applicable to all war. Timely and timeless.
Note his comments on those who would equate dissent with disloyalty… “a dark day…”.
As noted earlier, the Bush Administration and the FCC are attempting to do an end run on the democratic process in regard to legislative measures concerning media consolidation coming before Congress on December 18, 2007. Bill Moyers Journal did their usual top notch investigative work on this important issue (watch the video) and it’s all heating up rather nicely. What’s it all about? Ralph Bernarado wrote in his post to the Disinformation group on Facebook:
If you think media consolidation doesn’t matter much, just consider this country’s march to the Iraq War. A more diverse media landscape means more voices, more critical thinking, and therefore less groupthink: which is essential to a healthy democracy.
And, that is what is at stake. A healthy democracy.
Writes Josh Nelson:
Rule changes such as the one (FCC Chairman) Martin is proposing are designed to further consolidate media ownership into the hands of the powerful few. Free Press conducted a study which found that while minorities make up 33% of the U.S. population, they make up just 3.26% of all TV station owners. Download the full study as a PDF here.
At the hearing, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said: “The commission always seems to be on the fast break to help big media, but it’s slow as molasses when the topic is the public interest. I will fight against any efforts to short-circuit the process.” Kudos to Commissioner Copps, but if we are going to stop this dangerous deregulation, we are all going to have to fight alongside him.
For more information in his matter, the Center for Public Integrity has a nice study called “Well Connected” that gets down to who owns what and why it’s important. They also have a Media Tracker so you can find out who owns the media that controls the information in your neck of the woods. (You might be surprised.)
Wanna get your hands dirty and make your voice heard? Good.
If you are on Facebook, join the 100,000 by 12/18/07 to Fight Media Consolidation group and get your friends to join.
Contact your elected officials in Congress. The folks at Free Press have a form for that too.
Learn more at Stop Big Media.Read More
Bill McKibben has written an interesting article in The Atlantic on how internet radio trumps satellite radio because internet radio makes local radio global. His point being that community is what people crave, and local community allows people to connect in a way that a disjointed, chaotic or simply programmed (24 hours of music but no talk.) does not.
The web will be the venue of the next media movement, but first it needs to iron out the kinks. It will be community based and the closer it can get to real time, the better. At first, like Facebook and Twitter, the social communities will be random and somewhat disjointed, the result of who is in your address book and using the application too, mixed with connecting via random interest in a plethora of searched words, links and web sites, all brought together by curiosity, the technological newness of the application and the desire to reach out and touch someone.
The process is similar to how AOL chats worked in the mid 90’s.- a new computer, new connection to “cyberspace”, and lots of people just like you, looking to talk. Both ICQ and AOL were great at bringing strangers and friends together, but the common elements that create a lasting and growing community were lacking. It was pretty chaotic. People coming and going, not really getting any farther than idle chit chat, which is pretty much the scene on Twitter and Facebook and My Space. IM’s function in a similar manner, as do text messages.
At first, the AOL chat rooms that were so popular began to morph into something else. The ability to create your own chat became the popular choice and established AOL created chat areas faded away. But, not all of them. Some of those prefab chat rooms on AOL began to coalesce into more specific communities, and you’d notice that the same 50 to 100 people were now regulars. Like a cyberspace bar.
The binding connection was like minded lives and interests. You could find anything from car talk to conspiracy talk to bondage in the AOL chat area. My hangout was a public chat called Hollywood Tonight, and once the membership became solid, it evolved and moved into the Hollywood Cafe, a place hidden away in a mostly forgotten area of AOL, which meant that it wasn’t really monitored by the AOL police and that you pretty much had to know where it was to find it. So, it was pretty exclusive.
The “HC” was a den of thieves and Cheers all at once- celebrities, producers, agents, writers, directors, crew and wannabes- all hanging out at the wee hours of the morning talking about pretty much everything under the sun, but most especially movies and the biz. And, when you entered (assuming you’d already gone through the ritual verbal hazing for a month or two), a bunch of people knew your name. (Or your screen name actually.) It was the flamiest place on the web and the most fun. But, you had to pay your dues. Everyone knew each other in either the cyber world or the real world or both. And, relationships were tight. The famous mingled with the infamous and the nobodies. The real action was in IM’s of course.
What linked everyone together was their love of the movie and tv industry and networking. People networked for everything- agents, scripts, connections, introductions, cyber sex and in a number of cases, real sex. And, there was even a real world meet up at an LA bar where everyone could actually meet the people they’ve known only through a bemusing screen name. They’d chat about work, and network. It was quite the hot spot. We affectionately referred to ourselves as “the dorks”.
In the end, it was destroyed by the elements that destroy most communities- a deadly combination of outside forces and inside acrimony. Whilst the members of our little community devolved into clique fighting and petty arguments, the little virtual bar we called the Cafe was under assault by the corporation that was AOL. The area that we inhabited was to be discontinued. (The chat room was part of the Hollywood Online area, and it was dismantled when AOL acquired Moviefone.) For awhile we moved into a private chat, but the member limit was too low, and only allowed 30 members at a time, when it wasn’t uncommon for a daily chat to flow to over 50 and the active members on “the dork list” numbered easily over 100. Plus, being a private chat meant that new members couldn’t join unless they were invited and sent a link to the chat by an existing member. So, new blood was cut off. All in all, a deadly combination that doomed the Hollywood Cafe to the dustbin as a place of legendary social interactive networking on the web years before anyone had thought to call it that.
It’s the great example of how AOL pretty much killed itself by eliminating one of the most popular features for a good number of users. They could not see the value in a community of people all congregating in large groups, at the same time, nearly every single night of the week, but especially on weekends and during big industry nights (the Oscar night chats were incredible, especially when it wasn’t uncommon for someone we knew to be there.). It would take another ten years before corporations like AOL would see the value (on their terms, which means collecting information on users) of social networking at its best.
Today, much of the social networking applications are weak substitutes for the intensity that was a good AOL chat room. From sex talk to philosophy, it was all there. But, more importantly, relationships were built and nurtured and destroyed and rebuilt and abandoned and kindled and ignored, new friends found, enemies were made, just like the real world.
The lesson is that in order to foster a strong social community, the sense of place – even a virtual one- has to be solidly established. It’s essential. Not just a location on the web, not just a web page with all of your likes and information on it. Facebook and Twitter are both lively and interesting communities, but that sense of place and of intimacy is not there yet. Information about what you are doing and thinking moves back and forth, but that sense of place isn’t. Even a virtual Cheers is better than the emptiness of open cyberspace. It’s about the people in the space, it’s about the ability to mimic what we do in person- congregate in groups together and talk and hook up. Simply knowing what someone is thinking or doing at any given moment isn’t enough. You have to be able to take it to the next level, to connect on an intimate level and make a friend or an enemy.
Otherwise, it’s all just chit chat, an endless loop of nothing. Like 24 hour all country radio on Sirius or XM satellite. No signposts in the road. Just fence post after fence post after fence post.
I can think of nothing so boring.Read More