February 02, 2010

Quite simply… if you use the Internet in any form or fashion, this article is a must read. Unfortunately, for many readers, the article by an innovator in the field of electronic experience is only available after a subscription if you want to read it online, so I feel compelled to share one of the more moving passages.

In the previous post today, I pasted a passage that sufficiently illustrated the point of Mark Shapiro’s article, but in this case I feel terrible only quoting one. This whole article is rich with information and foresight and if you can please read it.

“If you want to know what’s really going on in a society or ideology, follow the money. If money is flowing to advertising instead of to musicians, journalists, and artists, then a society is more concerned with manipulation than with truth or beauty. If content is worthless, then people will start to become empty-headed and contentless. The combination of hive mind and advertising has resulted in a new kind of social contract. The basic idea of this contract is that authors, journalists, musicians, and artists are encouraged to treat the fruits of their intellects and imaginations as fragments to be given without pay to the hive mind. Reciprocity takes the form of self-promotion. Culture is to become precisely nothing but advertising.”

The Serfdom of Crowds, Jared Lanier, Harper’s Magazine, 2010

This article is just fantastic, touching upon the dizzying prospects of technology, somehow managing to incorporate Artificial Intelligence and even Transhumanism into social networks and ‘Personal Reductionism.’ However, the real story is the worry about society as a whole, not the forfeiting of personal identity.

Communication technology has almost every form of print media shaking in its boots, and as they (media institutions) scramble for revenue, they often lose sight of the service they are supposed to provide. A worry is, if we, society, rely upon crowd sourcing we could be shortchanging ourselves, and in the end hurting ourselves.

Lanier finishes his piece talking about what people foresaw as a lull between Generation X and those that would be raised with exciting access to the Internet:

“But we were not passing through a momentary calm. We had, rather, entered a persistent somnolence, and I have come to believe that we will escape it only when we kill the hive.”

What an exceptional sentiment. The furiously persistent advertising, thrust in our faces around every corner, can at times emulate an Orwellian evil. Big Brother could be analogous to the advertising world. I wonder who the “Plebs” are, as even some of the most talented musicians, journalists and artists seem to either be co-opted or excommunicated from the Social Contract.

Please, read this article if you can.

Categories: General News