David Mandl on Wed, 3 Feb 2010 12:56:53 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Blues in the American salon: "Digital Nation": What has the Internet done to us?

On Feb 2, 2010, at 8:49 AM, Geert Lovink wrote:

> (Hi, where does this collective tiredness come from? Can someone
> explain this? Is it the winter? Depressed politics? Cold turkey
> post- Xmas feelings? Agreed, the weather is bad. Obama sucks. And
> the iPad is yet another disappointment. The 'I told you so attitude'
> doesn't bring much, I guess. Is it the great influence of Jaron
> Lanier on the American psyche? You tell me. Ciao, Geert)
> "Digital Nation": What has the Internet done to us?
> We're Googling ourselves stupid. Even tech guru Douglas Rushkoff has
> regrets. PBS investigates our Information Age
> By Heather Havrilesky

Hi Geert--

I don't see anything that new here. I'm actually surprised to see that
this is such a recent piece (and that was in Salon, which usually has
pretty decent writing) because it's so cliche-filled. As Nettimers
know well, there were people who were always much too enthusiastic
about the net and technoculture (a la the original Wired magazine),
and after grossly overhyping all of this on the way up, they're now
being drama queens *again* on the way down. So they get two big waves
of stories where there was barely one to begin with.

> we could write stuff about Burning Man and rock climbing, and people
> would pay us for it! We could learn HTML or (gasp) become middle
> managers!
> The "big idea" guys, high on more than the Internets, called big
> meetings so they could rhapsodize on creating virtual communities
> and breaking down traditional Western phallocentric patriarchies and
> enabling subcultures to reach out and robustly interface with like-
> minded hives.

I don't know who she's talking about here. I don't think I know anyone
who rhapsodized about creating virtual communities and robustly
interfacing with like-minded hives. My life isn't ruined now that I
can't do those things (if in fact I can't), because they sounded kind
of silly in the first place.

> My bosses at Suck.com, meanwhile, accurately predicted that the Web
> would soon become something between a gigantic mall catering to the
> lowest common denominator

As did many many other people (including people on Nettime, of
course), but it's more impressive to mention Suck.com (and they
weren't exactly the most vocal critics of all this, anyway).

> Even Sherry Turkle, director of MIT's Initiative on Technology and
> Self, confesses that a plugged-in state doesn't necessarily make her
> life more satisfying or more productive. "I've been busy all day,
> and I haven't thought about anything hard," Turkle says. "I mean,
> the point of it is to be our most creative selves, not to distract
> ourselves to death."

Shocking! And very hip--now that the mainstream has more or less
accepted the techno-fetishism these people were selling, the coolest
possible thing to do is say, "Yawn, how terribly boring all this is."



Dave Mandl
Web: http://www.wfmu.org/~davem
Twitter: http://twitter.com/dmandl

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