Sunday, January 3, 2010


I'm really wondering what I'm doing in an "online" sense now. I have a blog, a twitter account, email, web and *nix powers, but what I have I done with them. More importantly what should I do with them? Rhetorical for the blog of course because here I am...

The most prolific blogger I know (in real life) tends to write about what he was doing in a day, things he's done or will do, thoughts on this or that. Same with most Twitter postings I've bothered to look at. First I'll admit that I haven't tried to read many tweets, but I use Slashdot like Twitter in a sense. But what I am doing? Other than practicing my rhetorical questions? When I try and start a rhythm going with daily posts I tend to write about meta issues, a sort of Sienfeld of blog posts, a blog about thoughts about blogs, endless self referential loops that eventually just peter out. Kind of like modern culture. Huh - talked myself into the mainstream. I'm the everyman, talking about talking about nothing, endless repeats and references. Yes I do get the irony that I am the one seemingly decrying pop culture references. I am the one with a Simpson's or Futurama quote at the ready. I'm not applying morality to the our-culture-is-a-self-referencing-house-of-mirrors, but I can't see it as being entirely wholesome either.

This is the sort of thing that will cause people to rise up and cast of the shackles of their oppressive machines, machines made in their own image, in a kind of Butlerian Jihad... And yet I can't keep from referencing something somewhere. It must be a crutch, a bad habit that I've developed over the years, that if I can't tie something I say to something that's come before it can't be good. That kind of ideology doesn't stand up - it doesn't make logical sense. I would hope that I could one day make something that isn't embedded in what came before - a wholly new thing, a creation I can point to and say "I thought of that. I was the first one and I can prove it." Yes it's wishful thinking, but apparently that helps you live longer. Not sure about stream-of-consciousness writing though. Not many studies there. Don't know too many people that do it, although my sister's boyfriend really does an excellent job with the ol' Facebook status updates. I'm more of a "open the faucet and let's see what comes out" rather than a couple of words slapped together, held only by a tenuous 'now' association... Even my gibberish is getting sloppy now - better move on.

Let's pretend that last paragraph didn't happen (if you didn't skip to here, I can't really take back that last paragraph. You've read it, you can't unread it... And don't bother trying it's too messy). Many have predicted "have and have-nots" future, with some sort of technology separating the two groups. Money used to be the easiest and most visible, but communication and computers has been a popular sci-fi theme in the past. It really seems like it is approaching, although there may be some different ways to classify people. Right now, the vast interconnectedness - searchable interconnectedness - provides tremendous benefits. The "always-on" society isn't really a burden, it's an analogy for humans that can communicate in parallel with what they're doing. Think of Twitter - you shout to the ether every time you start a task. Almost like you're a lawyer making notes in your log book for billing purposes. The act of communicating isn't really an act or effort - it's a side effect. But there are tremendous potential problems. The biggest is with power.

Electricity is the one thing I've been worried about being without for any length of time. It's the fungible energy and it makes all the fun things work. For me those things don't have to be connected to other people but whatever. People (and their homes) are starting to get to the point where they don't work right if there is no power. The techno-haves can't really operate without electricity. Many are helpless when the machines don't work. The article I read about trivia games and the internet become more clear - people don't have to remember things so they won't. If they can look it up online, it's good enough. I know I've said similar things in the past, but the problem is how to evaluate the information. It makes the most sense to put this in a social context.

Let's pretend that you weren't using a computer to find out the answer to a question, you could only talk to people. People who weren't using computers... *sigh* Anyway, you ask the same question, possibly in slightly different ways, and then you gather the responses and come up with an answer. If you are wise, you solicit several answers, hopefully from people you trust, and look for the common answers. The value of the response is based on your trust of the source and your knowledge about them. You can also evaluate the response to the particular question by watching and listening carefully to the answers given. Similarly, if you don't have an internal knowledge core, how can you possibly evaluate answers discovered on the Internet. Simply looking for the most common answer is a perversion of the "wisdom of crowds" idea. Playing games with internet search engine results started shortly after money was mentioned in the context of the internet. The "wisdom of crowds" idea works, much like free market capitalism, in a largely bias free environment.

So? Well, you've read this far (I'm impressed - I only read this far because I'm writing it. I didn't really edit it), so I should tie these threads together. The bias toward technology and always-on-communication can go to far, creating an insulated self-referential world that becomes your entire culture. This would be a "bad thing". Learn to operate without. That is a sentence and I believe it, rotund technoman that I am. Balance is elusive be one should seek it. Balance between operating with and without, connected and not, electricity or no.

Maybe tomorrow the diatribe will be better. Coherent. Brief. Illuminating. Less self-referential (doubtful).

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