The really modern world, living along zombies

Something i found quite inspiring this morning in my daily blog browsing, a report from Momus, sitting in a discussion about the library of the future, thinking about the internet, empathy, us as bodies, as souls.

Basically, my argument was that, while I appreciate the internet, I can’t forget McLuhan’s idea that the medium is the message. I worry that our windows on the world are getting increasingly ephemeral, and that each one of them is just a series of circular, self-legitimizing metaphors. While I appreciate the net and especially Google’s ability to answer just about any question we have, it’s the (largely unseen) framings that come with our current metaphor set — the proscenium arch of the computer screen — that disturb me. Imagine a cat or a rabbit watching you surf the internet: your body is rigid, you crane towards this small square of white light. For the rabbit, you’re being very stupid and boring. The rabbit knows the important stuff is eating and shitting and running around. While we have bodies, we still live in the material world, and that’s the basic bottom line. This may, of course, be a critique of culture in general. But if we ask what a more embodied culture would be like, we ought to remember Eno’s idea that “the basic unit of cultural currency is empathy”.

And about his way to describe Cory Doctorow, incredibly bright, connected on the web as a post-human zombie, disconnected as an autistic node, something i quite recognize around me. People sitting immersed INTO their computers, completely missing the NOW, their life, the environment around them.

Cory is an odd man. Incredibly bright, he seems to have the multitasking skills of Shotoku Taichi: throughout the meeting, rather than interact with the other people around the table, he tapped away on his laptop, updating Boing Boing or sifting restlessly through images on File Pile. The man has the worst case of ADD I’ve ever seen; a geek so bright he’s become an idiot. His speeches on copyright were super-well-informed, but came across like set pieces he’d delivered many times before at similar events.

Believe me i love the web, but before all i love humans. The web should be a tool for us to better communicate, express and understand each other – not to create living zombies.

Author: m-c

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  1. Wow. Ceci fait écho à un texte sur lequel je viens de tomber.
    http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2001/08/VIRILIO/15446

    “Par nature insatisfaite de sa condition, l’humanité veut croire aux promesses de la technique. Mais lorsque celle-ci se déploie, l’imposture de l’immédiateté et l’illusion de la proximité apparaissent au grand jour, privant les êtres humains de rapports plus riches avec eux-mêmes et avec les autres.” – Paul Virilio

    Il est curieux qu’au début de son texte, l’auteur nous rapelle la phrase célèbre de McLuhan mais qu’à la toute fin, il semble la mettre de coté: ” The web should be a tool for us to better communicate, express and understand each other…” C’est exactement ce que fait le Web justement. Et c’est justement en s’en servant que la réalité se modifie et que “se déploie, l’imposture de l’immédiateté et l’illusion de la proximité […], privant les êtres humains de rapports plus riches avec eux-mêmes et avec les autres.”

    Nous ne pouvons malheureusement pas dépasser le web, c’est-à-dire atteindre un niveau supérieur de communication. Le web c’est l’achèvement de la communication (sa fin). Il faut reconnaître la part de négativité du web comme technique. Il faut cesser d’être nostalgique d’un temps où le web n’existait pas (où même la communication, comme domaine de recherche scientifique n’existait pas encore) et alors permettait d’autres rapports entre les gens. “The medium is the message” a ce sens là. On ne peut pas faire passer un message avant le medium, le medium aura toujours l’avantage sur le message.

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