Monday, August 01, 2005

Floating in a postmodern disquiet and looking toward the good in cybernetic global optimism

We are just starting up a new book discussion group and going through Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire, a great book.

We are on the first chapter which begins to deal with a couple modern perspectives, The postmodern disquiet and Cybernetic Global Optimism.

I was re-reading the first chapter while listening to Green Day's new album American Idiot, a great album also.

They both deal with the Postmodern Disquiet as it invades, and permeates the postmodern person and those disillusioned with the American myth that has not come true as promised. The book begins to deal with the "Empire" and show what the Globalization and Captalism of is really after.

"Globalization isn't just an aggressive stage in the history of capitalism. It is a religious movement of previously unheard-of proportions. Progress is its underlying myth, unlimited economic growth its foundational faith, the shopping mall (physical or online) its place of worship, consumerism its overriding image, "I'll have a Big Mac and fries" its ritual of initiation, and global domination its ultimate goal"(1)
"globalization wants more than your pocketbook, it wants your soul" (2)
Its this "Empire" that we call by another name that hides its presence from us, its power over us and intertwines its goals with our dreams. Or to quote a wise kung fu hacker,
"It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you to the truth. What truth? That you are a slave, born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind."(3)
But there is an optimism subverted within this globalization. The technology that gives us hope is the same technology that will feed the machine of the Empire. But the hope is still there, and I believe it still provides something to hope toward.

I believe two things will happen within the next 5-10 years as this cybernetic hope of technology progresses. First is The Long Tail (4) (Read this article if you haven't, its amazing) which details that any product/content will be available at any time to anyone anywhere. As the technology progresses it will be economically viable to produce/store/sell any and all content at any time to anyone anywhere.

The second doesn't have a singular term that I know of yet, but its this same technology that allows people to create/produce content/products/services and allows them to be more than just consumers that fuel the Empire's machine. Its this democratization of content/media the ability to let the news/content/music/art be from the people, by the people, for the people with no notion of heavy branding, icons, monitization, etc. As you look back on the 10 years(5) that made up the beginning of the internet you can see what the hopes, beliefs, fears would be of this "new thing" called the internet. Some where right, some where wrong, most had no idea. No one could have imaged we'd be where we are today 10 years ago. What about in 20-30-40 years... Who knows? Who can dream that far? Who can dream that big?

The amazing thing about these two trends is that they will happen simultaneously, and work off of the same technology and same momentum. They both point toward different goals and work toward different directions, but it will be the feedback loops inherent within each that drive both of them simultaneously.

This gives me hope. This makes believe technology can provide some hope in the future if its imagined toward something good. This makes me want to create, to produce, to build, to inspire and be inspired. If there is hope for the future, there is power in today.


I'll close with some lyrics from Jesus of Suburbia from Green Day's American Idiot Album

Everyone is so full of sh--
Burn and raised by hypocrites
Hearts recycled but never saved
From the cradle to the grave
We are the kids of war and peace
From Anaheim to the middle east
We are the stories and disciples
Of the Jesus of Suburbia
Land of make believe
And it don't believe in me

Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire, pg 30
(2) Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire, pg 29
(3) The Matrix, Morpheus
(4) The Long Tail, Chris Anderson, Wired Magazine
(5) We Are the Web, Kevin Kelly, Wired Magazine

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