Archive for December, 2010

One of the the most significant changes left in the wake of Gutenbergs invention of the printing press and his revolutionizing of print literacy was its equalizing influence. The advent of the printing press was a crucial and causal event that has immense influence on the political indoctrinations that followed i.e DEMOCRACY!

It’s no wonder then when the comparable print revolution of our decade pays homage to it’s grandfather. The print press has also been commonly called ‘movable type’ and today, one of the most popular forms of blog writing software is called, appropriately enough, movable type. It is as if to say the modern day blogger has the same relation as the independent printer of the early modern period. A revolutionary relationship to knowledge and to structures of authority. Both blog and the printing press are opening the mean of production for information to a larger population and hence challenging the monopolies of the 4th estate know as media, and it’s control of out information.

The both of these modes of information engagement required its audience to be able to read. The act of reading, the silent solitary reader, is perhaps the perfect metaphor for modern subjectivity. Reading silently to yourself is a unique media practice for it required you to interact with the information in a more active way. With TV an Radio its easier for the consumer to morph into a receiver but with reading the individual controls the context in which he or she is consuming the information.

Reading empowers us. Reading messages of our kin empowers us. Responding to their messages empowers us. What the printing press and what blog have allowed for us ultimately is for the peoples own written community to evolve, and hence for discourse to have a greater body of opinions to draw from. All of this paves the way for a stronger democracy in which the peoples voice is herd and the media is working truly as the check and balance Edmund Burke intended for it to be when he referred to it as the 4th estate.



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And so are you! I wish this wasn’t the case. It would be nicer to be an Iron Man, but you know what, life doesn’t work like that.

In real life we don’t have time travel and great magnetic fields… (none that i know of)  instead we have capitalism. Capitalism is the context in which most of our ideas steam from. Capitalism is the nature of our contemporary time.

I’ve posted about power structures and their effect on us from a Marxist perspective but today I’m going to move on to examine them from the end of the enlightenment period.

Max Weber, a famous thinker from the end of enlightenment, took a different angle when determining the impact of capitalism. He didn’t see capitalism as just a mode of production but was more focused on how culture played a role. The culture he saw for us was one of instrumental rationalization.

Instrumental rationalization is concerned with the most efficient means to achieve an end.  Opposing this is substantial rationality, which is concerned with the consequences of the ends of an action.

It is through the culture of instrumental rationality that our society has cultivated the habit of hyper efficiency. How efficient something is, is now worth more to us then wether of not it’s meaningful.

Meaning is the root of value for Weber. Your products, or actions, values are derived from their meaning. Meaning is something that makes one course of action more appealing then another based its end, and hence it’s a thought process that requires substantial rationality.

So why don’t we have this substation rationality in our capitalist model? Well, Weber does accredits capitalism to having meaning and substantial rationality in the beginning.

In earlier eras we had clear sources of meaning and a clear end in sight; religion was our meaning and salvation was our end in sight. But then along came a new religious view, that of the protistans and with it came a new set of values, one in which people looked for signs of salvation.

This idea of being destined to salvation or damnation meant that Protestant’s were actively looking for signs of their salvation in their lives. A common sign of salvation was success.  This gave people an incentive to grow their business and achieve success. So initially, capitalism had some substantive rationality behind it, action driven by a value judgement.

Capitalism soon detached its self from the protestants driving force and this meant that the reason behind growing our businesses had left. Soon, the action of growing and ever progressing the businesses efficiency became the value.

The result, in Webers words, is AN IRON CAGE SOCIETY. A society in which we are so caught up in the structure of it that we fail to ask why and to what end we are doing it all for.

Efficiency has come to be an end in itself. This has led to increased bureaucratization in the name of this efficiency. A big structure with everyone doing one little part in it has become the norm. The employee only has control over the small aspects of the big picture and is consequently very limited in the change that they can make.

Rules and procedures seem to have taken on a life of their own and formed the bars of our iron cage.

This has led the modes of discourse to being limited by the institutions.

Bureaucratization has been a rational long term profile. It’s one that requires stability and produces stability. This stability is attractive to governments and turns ruling into a very technical process, not very conducive to change.

So the individual can become stuck in the bureaucratized control of life and the powerlessness that comes from working a job more concerned with efficiency then outcome. This life, void of value, is partially responsible for why depression is our number one illness. A nihilistic populous is the after math of a culture driven by instrumental rationality.

What we have in the internet is a domain where personal expression is free from structural constraints of the 20th century and liberated from institutionalized nature of dominate discourse. The internet is a place of possibility for the IRON CAGED employee to escape to on evenings and weekends.

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I really think this dichotomy is applicable to communication, especially on the internet.

SOoooo TRUTH OR DARE?  I know, i know it should probably just be called dare because so few people tell the truth anyways.

BUT did you know that 39% of individuals aged between 9 and 17 believe that information online is always correct! Haha, most people probably aren’t going to believe this now but it’s true my professor had the fact published in his text book ‘Watching YouTube” so it does have some weight behind it.

This statistic really threw me. It made me wonder if the internet is changing peoples levels of critical thinking with regards to reality?

We often mistake our ideas of reality for reality and when you are younger and more naive I can understand how one could fall victim to the fallacy that their own action are telling of a larger trend.

But ultimately this is not the case. The internet although filled with many truths that otherwise would have been silenced (Wikileaks) is also filled with loads of lies.

On the bright side, at least these lies are ours.

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That is a lie. I do. I mean, I would, if I had one.

OHHHHHHHHH the inter web. I’ve said some pretty positive things about thee but tonight I’m going to take a more fault-finding approach.

You see, for all the internet has done to propagate, raise, and rear counter cultural opinions and identities it has also allowed for some less desirable identities to flourish. These less ‘desirable identities’ I just introduced is not going to be my segway into a post about how child porn is bad (CHILD PORN IS BAD) but rather about how individuals past, less desirable identities can come back to bite them in the bum (a fully grown consenting bum).

With blogging, myspace, facebook and twitter words are becoming physical. Our words have staying power whether we like it or not. We are publishing ourselves now and often without the proof reading or the sober second thought our ideas could benefit from and deserve.

This is changing the nature of our reputation. More and more of what we say and what we do is being captured and remembered! What with photos of drunken adventures being posted on facebook and hot headed impulsive tweets on twitter we can no longer console ourselves with the tried and true words “no one will remember this in a week”. For in our current climate, believing that would be living in ultimate denial. People will remember in a week and if they don’t their mini feed on facebook will remember for them.

We are venturing into an age with a new memory, one with no real opportunity to forget!

BUT, so what right? I drink, I smoke, I rat my hair (grease quote) and who cares?   Well ultimately, media theorist would argue, I will. It will be the actor who will be most hindered by these immortal posts and pictures. These past published versions of themselves have the power to constrain their future senses of self.

In the past, our stories about ourselves had the ability to change over time. Our stories could tweak themselves as we too evolved. Then, the good ones would grow with us and the bad ones would never have to be told again! It was a great age those analog years *sigh*.

Today I really do fear for these kids on YouTube though. They’re playing with their identities not only on facebook in front of their “friends” or on twitter in front of their followers but in front of a global audience. On YouTube it’s common to youth confessing and revealing themselves, often in undesirable ways, for a public who will remember, repost, comment and critique. They are globalizing the content of self identity.

And because of this i fear their looking glass self, a self built from what others think of us and how we then amalgamate those opinions into our opinion of self, it’s safe to say, is going to be completely distorted.

Hmmm. Well ‘sillyscreen_name57’, lucky for you we have loads of Universities full of kids getting psych degrees so, if the capitalist supply and demand model holds true, therapy in 2020 will be very reasonable 🙂

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