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.