Some amazing writing that I just came across:
American Stranger on Culture and Technology
Following on From
Mark K-Punk's article.
When I read writing of this calibre, I am glad the word "amateur" is prominent on the front page here, though I do feel some comfort knowing I am not way off (in terms of what I am thinking about, not how well I write!).
What I have been discussing with my roommate lately mirrors somewhat what is being said in the articles mentioned above, which is that, when we talk about computers taking over, about A.I., our imagination seems to go back to the movies, envisions legions of talking robots, computers with arms, things of this nature. While technology still seems to lack the sort of conscious agency that would make it seem human, and therefore capable of disrupting our perch atop the food chain, perhaps we need to update our own systems, and understand that technology IS developing its own narrative and history, one in which it undermines the grip of traditional culture on our minds by constantly working to "improve" it. I can't quite come up with a good analogy to describe this switch; perhaps the closest is an oversimplified reference to ye olde Marxian concept of base and superstructure. In the same way that Marx saw politics, art, etc., as limited by, really the window dressing of, economic forces, technology is now slowly making itself the fundamental aspect of our cultural exchange, and perhaps only a serious address of technology in and of itself which understands this new role will allow us to find a way out of this predicament.
There needs to be some sort of new language to discuss these issues, because the early battles in this fight, between us older holdovers from "the underground" and the pietists of this new flat and deracinated world, was a loss for our side, for the MP3 and the iPod have added yet another level of alienation to this world in the Marxian sense. Whereas alienation used to (partially) refer to the strained or broken connection between the worker and product, and product and consumer, now there is no product, and the connection, broken, obscured, can never be realized. It is the opposite of a spectre, as there is no haunting, just a positive nothingness.
Artists are now the only people being asked to work for free.
(And what is worse is that probably most of the people driving this technological innovation forward think, on some level, that they are helping. Which leads me to...)
A quick idea to throw out there:
What those of us on the left need to get firmly implanted in our heads, no matter what happens, is that we are to liberals what the hard right is to conservatives and moderates. What we have in common with our backwards, racist half-cousins is simply our desire for ethical and moral solutions to problems. That our imagined solutions are infinitely more just, if only because they are based on more seemingly-universal, and certainly accessible principles of morality as opposed to ones based on religion, is what saves us from being well, evil. And yet, just as the hard right continually does its work here in America to get Republicans elected, only to see their policy goals ignored, we should expect the same thing. The "enemy" is not extremism but complacency, that great mass of moderates, whether liberal or conservative, that see any attempt to claim that individual actions have social ramifications, that choosing A is also choosing not B, as being unnecessarily judgmental.
Which is why I want to say, to all of you TrakRatoMP"DJ"s downloading charts off of Weakport... I could give a fuck if you want to play shitty-sounding shit to the drunken masses but you are putting shops and distributors out of business and creating new monopolies that have fuck all to do with the independent culture you get your credibility from. Fuck off.