“Digital dualists believe that the digital world is “virtual” and the physical world “real.” This bias motivates many of the critiques of sites like Facebook and the rest of the social web and I fundamentally think this digital dualism is a fallacy. Instead, I want to argue that the digital and physical are increasingly meshed, and want to call this opposite perspective that implodes atoms and bits rather than holding them conceptually separate augmented reality.”
“Facebook fixates the present as always a future past. By this I mean that social media users have become always aware of the present as something we can post online that will be consumed by others. Are we becoming so concerned about posting our lives on Facebook that we forget to live our lives in the here-and-now? Think of a time when you took a trip holding a camera in your hand and then think of when you did the same without the camera. The experience is slightly different. We have a different attachment to our present when we are not concerned with documenting.”
“TED attempts to present itself as fresh, cutting edge, and outside the box but often fails to deliver. It’s become the Urban Outfitters of the ideas world, finding “cool” concepts suitable for being packaged and sold to the masses, thereby extinguishing the “cool” in the process. Cutting-edge ideas not carrying the Apple-esque branding are difficult to find.”
“Virality, unlike celebrity, isn’t about exclusivity or personal talent; it’s about moving information continually. Wanting to go viral is not the same as wanting to become famous. Whereas a famous person has become a someone, a viral self is always in process of becoming, always proving itself. But it needs only to be circulating; it doesn’t need to climb.”
“The parts of old novels that we find most boring are also the ones that will tell us the most about the ideological needs of past readers. We find these sections boring because they cater to desires or address ideological confusion we no longer experience, or they spell out ideological propositions we have since come to take for granted. Boring passages represent the world in a way we no longer find necessary or thrilling, but in them we can uncover how to reopen the problems that ideology has come to perhaps too tidily solve. Guided by boredom, we can rediscover precisely what ideology guides us to regard as unworthy of careful attention. (No, don’t pay attention to the everyday mechanics of male supremacy; its boring!)”
“[Dominant] social media has thus far taken a stand, a radical one in my opinion, for a version of identity that is highly categorized and omnipresent, one that forces an ideal of a singular, stable identity that we will continuously have to confront. It is a philosophy that doesn’t capture the real messiness and fluidity of the self, fails to celebrate growth, and is particularly bad for those most socially-vulnerable. I wonder how we can build social media that doesn’t always intensify our own relationship to ourselves by way of identity boxes. I think temporary social media will provide new ways of understanding the social media profile, one that isn’t comprised of life hacked into frozen, quantifiable pieces but instead something more fluid, changing, and alive.”
“Who cares about the sanctity of the “official culture,” which has a class-based interest in restricting that endorsement to a select few? The opportunities it provides and the self-realization that might stem from them are already poisoned from a political point of view. Davis won’t surrender the idea that “official approval matters” and that there is an objective basis for determining “legitimate self-expression.” Such official approval may matter to professional artists, because it is the source of their livelihood, and Davis seems eager to defend the right of a select few to make a living through art. To the rest of us, it is the stifling source of delegitimization. It is a reminder of the concrete reality of that solipsistic, insidery “art world” that Davis is otherwise so eager to see dismantled. Shouldn’t those excluded from the official art world create their own opportunities, according to their own communal standards, pitting their values against those of the official culture, and the social order that supports it, if necessary? Shouldn’t they destroy art to save it?”
“The shirt I’m wearing as I write is a linen shirt I must have bought at Savers for $5. I might have even got it for $2 using the $3-off coupons the company inserted in the University of Arizona schedule of classes and which we would hoard. My thoughts buying it were probably something along the lines of: “Hmmmm. Linen. I can spend five bucks for a linen shirt. If I don’t feel like ironing it afterward I’ll just chuck it.””
“In fact, in the debate about whether rapid and social media really are inherently less deep than other media, there are compelling arguments for and against. Yes, any individual tweet might be superficial, but a stream of tweets from a political confrontation like Tahrir Square, a war zone like Gaza or a list of carefully-selected thinkers makes for a collection of expression that is anything but shallow. Social media is like radio: It all depends on how you tune it.
But even if we grant Chomsky, Carr and the others that social media is less deep and more instantaneous, the important questions then become: Is instant, digital communication less true? Less worthy? Less valuable? Less linguistically creative? Less politically efficacious?
Chomsky, a politically progressive linguist, should know better than to dismiss new forms of language-production that he does not understand as “shallow.” This argument, whether voiced by him or others, risks reducing those who primarily communicate in this way as an “other,” one who is less fully human and capable. This was Foucault’s point: Any claim to knowledge is always a claim to power. We might ask Chomsky today, when digital communications are disqualified as less deep, who benefits?”
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