Leo Lake on Sat, 6 Apr 2002 15:23:20 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The social life of paper

Felix Stalder presented us with a review of:

> Looking for method in the mess.
> http://www.newyorker.com/printable/?critics/020325crbo_books
> Issue of 2002-03-25
> Posted 2002-03-18

.. and it was a wonderful read.


So, after information has been given a social life, the medium has 
earned one too?

Humans think not only within their heads, but also with their hands, 
feet, and senses. There is nothing really new here. Granting the medium 
the status of a social life has been done already. Situationists for 
example, whether logically or psychologically inclined, have thought 
about this for years and have said similar things in the process.

We have managed to abstract information from their carriers and turned 
it into a substance that can transported over datacommunication lines.
While the borders between information carriers have been made to 
disappear, we have strenghtened the border between information per se 
and the real world. The screen is that border (ok, ok, ok and the 
keyboard and the speakers and the mouse...) and it seriously limits the 
traffic or the interaction between the real and the virtual. Moving real 
humans to the virtual may be too difficult for us here and now, so we 
better think of how to move the virtual into the real. The linear border 
that the screen is, needs to be fractalized, perhaps even broken into a 
fully chaotic set.

We have forgotten to shape the information 'to the measure of men' when 
it has to be handed over to them, accepting the limits of the screen as 
we accept gravity. Interface design has too often meant screen design, 
while it should be the design of a multitude of information-carriers. 
Non-screen design has discretely been moved to dark world of the 
visually handicapped.

Why the hell can't I listen, in my kitchen, to my e-mails using a 
standard PC? My ears are my kingdom. Why are 3-d printers practically 
non-existent? My hands are my best senses. Why can't my computer make 
coffee? My brain needs coffee. Why? Well, some of it my technically be 
too complex, but most of it just does not fit in the screen-mode of 
thinking. Perhaps we need more little appliances. Perhaps we need more 
variations in computer-output and input. I got feet, why can't I use 
them wile working at my pc?

We need to free ourselves from the screen and that requires more than 
just paper, if for no other reason than that there is also a world 
outside office-doors. Heck... even outside the I.M.F...

But, chances are, that in another 10 years a new author will again write 
a book about the forgotten social life of some information carrier. Want 
  to bet that it is paper again?

Most of all we need a (real, not virtual) memory for important things.

E. lake@lake.nl
W. http://www.lake.nl

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