Friday, 2 August 2013

Friday Five: Internet Individuality

Jaron Lanier
 Today's post is brought to you by 'You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto' by Jaron Lanier. I have just finished reading this book and my mind is reeling. Lanier is a respected Internet visionary, a gifted computer scientist, and an expert on virtual reality. He is disappointed that the limitless power of the Internet has not been used to reach its exciting potential and has instead been harnessed by homogenous conglomerates or, as he refers to them, 'lords of the clouds'.

Rather than experimentation and creativity, he fears the hive mindset of Internet users encourages mediocrity and degrades personal interaction. But he is not entirely negative - he is a product of the e-generation himself. He suggests some ways we can individually encourage original thought and personality as an antidote to endless mashups of other people's popular culture.

5 Ways you can 'be a person instead of a source of fragments to be exploited by others': 
  1. 'Don't post anonymously unless you really might be in danger.'
  2. 'If you put effort into Wikipedia articles, put even more effort into using your personal voice and expression outside of the wiki to help attract people who don't yet realise that they are interested in the topics you contributed to.'
  3. 'Create a website that expresses something about who you are that won't fit into the template available to you on a social networking site.'
  4. 'Write a blog post that took weeks of reflection before you heard the inner voice that needed to come out.'
  5. 'Innovate in order to find a way to describe your internal state instead of trivial external events, to avoid the creeping danger of believing that objectively described events define you, as they would define a machine.'


blurooferika said...

Sounds like a very intriguing book, Kate. I'd be interested to now if he does the TED talks series.

I reacted particularly to your description of ways to avoid "endless mashups of other people's popular culture." My boys, of course, love to devour whatever's new and popular on YouTube, etc. (and the dangers therein warrant a whole other offline discussion) and so much of what they see is just other people's take on whatever has become popular, ie. endless spoofs on Gangnam Style or the silly Harlem Shake dance phenomena.

Yes, we had spoofs and copycat videos for example, in our day but because information wasn't spread instantaneously, it took a while to disseminate and if they were lame (a la Weird Al Yankovic) we ignored them and looked for something else cool and different.

Today, my kids are watching and emulating other people emulating the celebrities. I think the whole process reduces the effort/time/thought put into creating something new and original. Or am I overreacting to the crap that little boys find entertaining?

Kate Blackhurst said...

Hey Erika,

I believe he does do the TED talks. I can throroughly recommend the book - there's a lot to think about in there.

I know there is nothing new under the sun and we have long bemoaned remakes of films or cover versions of songs, but it seems to me there is very little originality these days and barely any credit given to the creator of the concept. So much is derivative. But maybe we're just getting old and intolerant - it's so difficult to tell, isn't it? But it's great for discussion!

Kate x