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Over the past 250 years, as the industrial revolution progressed and was then superseded by the modern technological age, an epistemological crisis began to fester and grow quietly in the shadows.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.
Douglas Rushkoff @ SXSW on being a victim of media, an observer or a proactive user. Great stuff. We need to create an environment where media is not accepted at face value but rather is appreciated as the tool that it is… We tend to allow our literacy to be absorbed by technology and immediacy of media in the 21st century. New dialogs need to be created. And, they will.Read More
During the show, Douglas has an interesting conversation with Paul Krassner that touches on how issue oriented satire has changed over time from Lenny Bruce to Jon Stewart, conspiracy theories in the real world and Krassner’s new book Who’s to Say What’s Obscene:Politics, Culture & Comedy in America Today.
Please listen to the entire show. The segment below runs five minutes.
Mp3 file located at Internet ArchiveRead More
A new look which brightens up the space, puts the posts front and center and gets rid of the clutter by placing it in the menu at top. Any thoughts or suggestions, let me know.Read More
A few links worth sharing….
- Truly Free Film: Plea To The New Generation: Embrace Transmedia Storytelling! – Ted Hope links to a great article on the future of film making. The world is changing, the mediascape is changing to be sure, but there are opportunities. It makes me smile knowing kindred spirits are out there!
- Nice article on Yoko Ono, review of her upcoming album…
Douglas Rushkoff on how to take back our world by seeing the current economic crisis as a great opportunity.Read More
Some changes are afoot. The S.N.A.F.U. Principle is being laid to rest and up rises buzz twang. More soon.Read More
So, those of you who have asked about a mobile version of The SNAFU Principle, it should be up and working. Your phone browser should be detected automatically and load a Google Reader version of this site, no graphics and such. Just posts. Pretty cool.Read More
It’s an interesting debate: Is our experience online a cognitive process that is sub par to traditional processes such as reading or speaking?
Nicholas Carr in The Atlantic also addressed the debate, asking the question: “Is Google making us Stoopid?“
For me, as for others, the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind. The advantages of having immediate access to such an incredibly rich store of information are many, and they’ve been widely described and duly applauded. “The perfect recall of silicon memory,” Wired’s Clive Thompson has written, “can be an enormous boon to thinking.” But that boon comes at a price. As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.
What’s important to remember is that media formats are only tools. The internet is only a tool. And, like all new media- written word, printed word, radio, TV- at first there is a predisposition to overly trust all the information conveyed by that media as truthful. It’s on the internet, it must be true, right? And, to be sure, there are those who really do believe this to be the case. The lack of critical literacy is the central issue at hand. It’s no great skill to surf the wave of information that is available to us. The great skill is to know whether that information is true.
If the internet is, as Carr describes “chipping away” at our “capacity for concentration and contemplation” then it becomes necessary to find new ways and manner of regaining that capacity.
Social networking provides a certain amount of this, but not nearly enough IMHO. So much of the “interaction” of online communities is really just restating preset opinions and agendas. Very little
actual discussion of ideas and exploration of concepts and debate occurs.
Many would say that is the exact problem with society in general. Look at the current election process. How much real discussion is going on amongst the rumors and attack ads? Not very much.
So, what’s at work here? Are we simply incapable of being serious about our own cognitive abilities to find solutions via real debate? Are we overly enamored of the junk information like gossip?
What does it mean when a society shuns reality based informatin for fantasy? Is it possible to turn the tide?
Are we too Stoopid to change?
I don’t think so.Read More
Or How I Learned to Stop Listening and Love the Echo
The great promise of the internet was that it would level the information playing field by allowing equal access to all information, and facilitate the production of new information. The relationship between the two would, in theory, allow for a more democratic bottom up approach to solution based innovation. In a nutshell: we are stronger as a group, and the internet will allow us to function at a higher level to solve our problems.
Or so we thought.
The onslaught of investment during the dot com boom of the late 1990′s was rooted in the idea that the internet was a new form of television, and that if we apply those creative, financial and production processes directly, it’ll work. It didn’t, for lots of reasons but mostly because there was no monetary infrastructure for online content and web users didn’t want their MTV on the web, they wanted to connect with others via the web. So, the TV web went away and the social web rose up. And, revenue from ads began to pour in.
It’s important to remember that in 2001 everyone was still wondering how and if Amazon and then Google were going to be profitable. Ad revenue finally kicked in. But, unfortunately it was too late for the web TV movement. Sites such as pop.com and pseudo.com died from lack of revenue before web ads had become viable. It took a few years to figure out how to monetize it, figure out what worked and what didn’t, and for essential tech advances to come into play. (Front loading ads on video, bad idea. Clickable hot spots in video and embedding, good idea. Pop ups, bad idea. Banners and text ads, good idea. Ad sense, good. Subscription, bad.)
In the past four years the reintroduction of “social media” and “social networking” (which was the attraction of AOL back in the mid 90′s) applied in tandem with marketing and ad placement has become all the rage. And, the rush was on to create content to take advantage of this newest “revolution”.
Except, none of the best practices of producing video content that we know work in TV to attract an audience have been put into use. Some of this is due to the over reaction to user created content, and the assumption that low budget and thus low production value would translate into revenue. There was an assumption made by many involved in the web 2.0 movement that simply putting content out there would translate into financial gain if they could get the page hits. Not necessarily true it would appear. It’s a gamble given the rather nebulous manner in which most of the content distributors are handling revenue sharing; one person’s money train is another’s dripping faucet. A verifiable form of revenue sharing and accounting still needs to be set up and agreed upon in order for the big money to spend big money.
Among independent web content producer’s there has been a strong push to attract venture capital, with very little traction because of the lack of dealing with the reality that investors – whether in film, TV, or web – don’t merely want a return on their investment but also to see and understand that they are getting something tangible and valuable for their money. They want a simple value for value exchange. They want to see something great too. And, there seems to be a real lack of understanding of that basic rule by many content producers in the web 2.0 world. The governing rule is: just get it online, who cares what it looks like, people will watch. And, it’s not true.
The problem is so acute that Bill Cammack, an Emmy Award winning editor who knows of what he speaks, works in the web 2.0 area and realizes this is an issue, felt it necessary to video tape a how to shoot video 101 class and post it on his site.
I admire Bill’s patience, he does a nice job of laying out the basics, he has provided a real service, and it shines a light on the central issue that the web production community will have to aim higher in quality of production value and creative ideas if we are going to attract the big money and then begin to also nurture those relationships in the long term. I think that Bill understands this as well.
In the next few years the web landscape could change pretty dramatically. Social networking combined with video and mobile technology is going to create the next information movement. How we use it is the question. I agree with Deborah Schultz on this. We need to do more to make social media more viable, more useful, more informative and more entertaining. And, it begins with the community and the work. We need to be more innovative, more interesting and more professional.
At the moment, I’ve also become a bit disenfranchised with the web 2.0 community because on one hand it loves to play footsy with itself, it functions as a giant echo chamber looped onto itself. And, in some quarters, it’s turned nasty. It also feels way too much like the nascent independent film movement of the early 1990′s. Everyone was running around spending their own money on projects looking for an angel to come down and pave their way to creative and financial bliss. Now, I don’t have a problem with the work, or the dream, but in how it’s done. From two decades of experience what I do know is that the people who succeed are those that work on the craft and create compelling and professional content. It’s a real skill and an art. Forgetting that is deadly. If you endeavor to reach out, and communicate with others with skill, it works and people watch. And, when that occurs, the money follows. And, if you are lucky, a lot of money follows.
And, of course, since it involves money, which has its own pitfalls. By the late 90′s, the indie film industry was overtaken by the
Today, the internet promises to provide a venue to equalize the distribution playing field a bit. But, it is important for web 2.0 producers and filmmakers looking to the web as a distribution model to realize that right now as I write, the big fish in
This is why the professional writers and producers are holding back in getting too deep into the web production world. The money isn’t in place, and the distribution is not in place. Thus, the atmosphere for many in the independent web production world is one of the wild west- no adults, free to do what you want, there’s always a seat at the bar and the drinks are all free. Thing is, you look around and it’s the same faces all looking for the same person: the one who has the wallet to pay for the drink.
There will be a user created world, a semi-professional world, and a professional world in the next web movement. Quality and money will be linked at the hip. A few in the first will make money, a few in the second will make money, and everyone in the third will make money. The big pay days will be there. The others will be seen as necessary to maintain viable communities online.
The interesting show to me would be one that combined those worlds to their greatest advantage. Democracy in action. At least for a little while until the next next web comes along.Read More
A documentary on how the web 2.0 “revolution” is kaput. Old news, but essential watching for those interested in the issue. Will blog on this later.
Was on Sirius Satellite Radio this week, as a guest on The Blog Bunker. Will write about that this weekend, as I’ve been rather busy, but I shall. Promise.Read More
My favorite conservative blooger, Jon Swift has been kind enough to remind me that he reminded Skippy that a bunch of other people are reminding us all that national blogroll amnesty remembrance day is fast upon us. As Skippy notes:
…if we can get as many of the mid-level and lower-trafficked blogs to participate, perhaps we can build an infrastructure of our own to help build the memes of progressive ideals, to counteract the mighty wurlitzer that had dominated the national discourse for so long.
I’ve added all the afore mentioned to my blogroll, and if you aren’t on mine, please just send an e-mail by clicking on the contact link above (don’t be scared away by the no robot site) and I’ll add you to my most illustrious blogroll.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