Category Archives: technology

Clay Shirky

Web philosophy is an idiom devoid of objective, impersonal thinking. In 2008, the Columbia Review of Journalism interviewed a man named Clay Shirky about the pitfalls of modern Luddism and the meaning of information overload. Shirky teaches interactive telecommunications at NYU and wrote a book about social media called Here Comes Everybody. In the CRJ interview, Shirky said things like ‘I’m just so impatient with the argument that the world should be slowed down to help people who aren’t smart enough to understand what’s going on.’ This is the message net-obsessed people always deliever; the condescending phrase most uttered by frothing New Media advocates is ‘You just don’t get it.’ The truth of the matter is that Clay Shirky must argue that the Internet is having a positive effect – it’s the only reason he’s publicly essential. Prior to 1996, no one wanted to interview Clay Shirky about anything.

—Chuck Klosterman, “Fail”

Your House Is Burning

To start announcing your own preferences for old values when your world is collapsing and everything is changing at a furious pitch: this is not the act of a serious person. It is frivolous, fatuous. If you were to knock on the door of one of these critics and say ‘Sir, there are flames leaping out of your roof, your house is burning,’ under these conditions he would then say to you, ‘That’s a very interesting point of view. Personally, I couldn’t disagree with you more.’

That’s all these critics are saying. Their house is burning and they’re saying, ‘Don’t you have any sense of values, simply telling people about fire when you should be thinking about the serious content, the noble works of the mind?’

—Marshall McLuhan on his new media-phobic critics

(Via Jay Rosen.)

Cf. The Exact Opposite Is True

All Technologies Are Faustian Bargins

(Via Nick Wooster.)

You Are the Product

Most people would say ‘we’re the users, and the product is advertising.’ But in fact the advertisers are the users and you are the product. They say their goal is to gather all the knowledge in the world in one place, but really their goal is to gather all of the people in the world and sell them.

Don Norman on Google

(Via Michael Leddy.)



Related reading: Neil Strauss’s “The Insidious Evils of ‘Like’ Culture.”

Underseas Cables in 1901

Further reading.


A Salve on Our Communal Doubt

Technology acts as a salve on our communal doubt. ‘Will they like me?’ ‘Will I be accepted?’ ‘Are my teeth white enough?’ ‘Buy this and you’re OK!’ Can you imagine Picasso asking, ‘Will they like this painting?’ Or Van Gogh saying, ‘Will they understand what I’m doing?’ Those guys were like, ‘Fuck you, I got something to do. I have an idea. I don’t care what you think. Thick paint, you don’t like it? Then get the fuck out of here!’

—Melvin Sokolsky, Wraparound Magazine 1.4 (2004): 16.