Newmedia on Tue, 14 May 2013 20:16:29 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Jaron lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class

> Let's get to work on this.

Great idea!  
But, before you roll up your sleeves, if you want to have any useful  ideas 
on the structure of labor (and leisure and consumption) then you must  
begin with a CRASH effort to understand the impact of *digital* technology on  
the economy.
Are you prepared to do that?  You and what ARMY? <g>
Economists -- including the "heterodox" ones -- uniformly treat technology  
as an "externality."  That means there is no place in their models or  
narratives for fundamental technological change.  
When I asked the editor of Real World Economics Review last year if he had  
*ever* (in 10+ years) had any articles submitted to him about these basic  
relationships his answer was "No, why don't you submit one?"
When I asked a fellow I know who sees most of the grant requests for new  
economic research if he has seen *any* applications to study this his answer  
was, "Not one -- all we're seeing now are people who are interested in  
studying complexity."
Sociologists convinced themselves 40 years ago that it would be better to  
be "constuctivist" instead of "operational" and have steadfastly clung to 
the  CONDEMNATION of anyone who proposes a primary role for technology as 
being a  "determinist" -- including on this list.
Recently a group (mostly in the UK) have launched a sub-field called  
"Digital Anthropology" with a book of that name.  From what I can tell,  their 
work is interesting but its still doing anthropology *about* activities  that 
occur when using digital stuff (therefore attracting companies who make  
that stuff) -- not FLIPPING the inquiry to ask how digital technology should  
drive a reexamination of anthropology itself.
Before the rise of "post-modern" social science in the 1970s, there was a  
very lively discussion about what technology was doing to the economy and  
society.  Post-Vietnam that discussion *stopped* and has not been revived  
What was once called post-industrial -- which is in fact what is going on  
not "over-devlopment," making it *unexplored* territory for those who  try 
to understand industrial economics -- then became "late-stage  capitalism" or 
"neo-liberalism," which *deliberately* obscures what is happening  and 
recasts the discussion in terms of a "political" framework that ensures  nobody 
has a clue about what is really happening.  
Addressing the fundamental issues got "re-framed" out of consideration by  
*euphemisms* . . . !!

Jaron (who I know pretty well) is a very clever guy who has the  benefit of 
NOT being any of these things.  Yes, he's a musician but, more  
importantly, what he says he just "makes up"  (i.e. rarely footnotes and mostly has no 
collaborators) and he  doesn't care what some *profession* has insisted is 
the proper "method."   Good for him.
So, is he going to be taken "seriously"?  No.  He is mostly being  treated 
as an oddity who, because he comes from the Sili-Valley tech industry (a  
point he highlights repeatedly in his book) gets attention for being  
"anti-technology."  And, he's not alone in the category of what many are  calling 
(inaccurately) "neo-luddites."
MAN bites DOG (i.e. Internet destroyed the middle class) . . . reads the  
If you want to "get to work" on the problem of a disappearing middle-class  
(which, as an *industrial* artifact should be *expected* to "disappear" 
when the  economy shifts to post-industrial) then you'd better explore the 
factors that  are driving the tectonic shifts in the economy.  Are you (or 
anyone else)  ready to do that?  
Or, would you prefer to talk about 3D printing and a revival of  
(industrial) manufacturing . . . ?? <g>
Recently, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen published their "The New Digital  
Age," in which they argue that we now live in two *civilizations* -- one  
"physical" and the other "virtual."  So what are the economic, social and  
psychological implications of living in two very DIFFERENT worlds?  Any  takers?

I've written a review (unpublished) of the book that focuses on this  
question but I've watched/read a dozen interviews/reviews and NONE of them have  
dealt with this at all.  It seems to go right "over" their heads.
The name of this list is NETTIME.  The implication is that there is  
something *different* about living in NET time, as opposed to other sorts of  
"time" -- but what are they?
Who has the *courage* to tackle these questions? Without doing this, all  
the calls to "get to work" will be just more impassioned chatter and  
breast-pounding . . . !!
Mark Stahlman
Brooklyn NY

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