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    nmw 20:43:33 on 2016/11/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , actualization, , , , , , , , , , , interaction, , , , , marketplaces, , , self-actualization, , , , , social network, social networks, , virtual   

    For some, we get lost in media 

    I opened up a copy of the New York Times today, and in an empty space within an article, there was a blurb that reads

    Social networks put individuals at the center of their own media universes

    — I am not even sure I understand what that is supposed to mean. Let alone the notion of a plurality of universes, the idea that media are not between people but rather like belly buttons for individuals to discover themselves within … I just find it mind-boggling. Then again, according to the surrounding words in the article next to this message, social media are depicted as breeding grounds for “fake news”, as cesspools for propagating mythical stories, for manipulating large populations of suckers into following this or that social media expert, leader, salesman or whatever.

    “Social” is seen as the big mistake, the errant sidetrack from the collapsing foundations of journalism. Four words seem hidden somewhere in between the lines: I told you so. Naive and forlorn like Dorothy in a dizzying whirlwind, individuals end up as victims of lever-pulling hackers, clowns and con-artists. Social media transport hoaxes and fairy tales, yet they are also instruments targeted at novice users, training wheels to guide their first steps in the cyber-landscape. The virtual world is both for the light-hearted at the same time that it’s a wide field of thin ice. Throughout this portrayal, the real world is not embodied in media. Instead, real-world people with real-world addresses exist behind real-world mastheads printed on real-world paper. They carry real-world business cards, not fake virtual URLs.

    Real-world buildings, with real-world street addresses, real-world telephones and such media are the physical conduits for real-world relationships. In contrast (so the argument), virtual facades evaporate into thin air as soon as a video screen is turned off.

    This contrast might be all good and fine, except that it is a lie. None of these things are any more real than the other. Main Street is nothing without the street sign signifying it as such. The reason why we can agree to meet at Main Street is that we both understand it to be Main Street, and this agreement is based on us both understanding how to read street signs. Indeed: we agree on many things, of which such street signs are fine examples. We can also agree on the time of day, to speak the same language, or to answer each other’s questions succinctly and truthfully. Such agreements are crucial for us to help each other reach our goals, whether we hold the same goals in common, or whether each of us is trying to reach our own particular individual goals.

    By reaching our goals, we become not only successful, we also become who we are.  We actually self-actualize our identities. For example: a writer does not simply exist, he or she becomes a writer by writing. A worker becomes a worker by working. A buyer becomes a buyer by buying, a seller becomes a seller by selling, a consumer becomes a consumer by consuming and a producer becomes a producer by producing. As these last examples show, sometimes we can only self-actualize when other conditions are met, and sometimes these conditions also require the engagement of other people. In this sense, reaching our own goals involves a team effort — as, for example, a sale involves the teamwork of both a buyer and a seller.

    Therefore, the real world is not so much a matter of separated individuals as it is the interaction and engagement of individuals with each other in a symbiotic process of self-actualization. We become who we are by interacting with one another. Our goals aren’t distinct and separate, they’re intertwined. We need to think of media as bustling marketplaces for such exchanges to take place, rather than as sterile and inert transport mechanisms. These are not empty tubes simply bridging gaps, they are stages for playing out our roles in real life.

     
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    nmw 15:22:08 on 2015/01/15 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , local search, , , physical, , , , , , topoi, , virtual, , , ,   

    Topics as Locations: Physical Location vs. Virtual Location 

    There are many people who get very excited about local search… — and so do I; but only a very few think about location in a way that could be described as even just remotely similar to the way I think about it.

    For most people, location is a place you go. For work, they go to some kind of business location or some so-called “office space”. The might work shifts at a factory, they might grab something to eat at a coffee shop or corner deli, sleep at home and so on. Most people who get excited about “local search” want to guide suckers into buying something as they move from place to place. I don’t have anything against that idea — it’s just that I don’t find it particularly exciting.

    What I find exciting is being on the same page. Although a big part of that has to do the words and languages we use to communicate with one another, it also important to underscore that words are puzzle pieces — and therefore only small bits of a much greater mosaic. One word alone actually has little or no meaning whatsoever. It is the way a word is used (and the context in which the word is used) that gives it meaning.

    Each context has its own vocabulary — it’s own jargon. Many people consider jargon to be a “negative” term, but I think that is mainly because they are uncomfortable with thinking about language as a context-dependent phenomenon. For example, few people would consider the phrase “I do” to be a very specific jargon term in the context of marriage ceremonies.

    Instead, the vast majority of people prefer a simpleton view that one word has one meaning — regardless of context. These are the kind of people you will reach if you advertise your products and services on a one-size fits all search engine like google.com — and if you do, then this will be the community you choose to interact and “do business” with.

     
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    nmw 12:26:42 on 2014/12/11 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , communism, , , , free market, , , , , , , , , , , virtual, ,   

    Communication, Being a Communal Activity, is Community-Oriented — Is to Share an Act of Communism? 

    Sharing is a confusing concept — on the one hand, shares on Wall Street are perhaps the most iconic symbols of far-right capitalism and libertarian ideals, but on the other hand to share information… to present it to someone, apparently free of charge, to give it away into an unknown void seems somehow infected with the perceived polar opposite of private investment activity: Communism. 8O

    Many years over, I have noticed a very strong ambivalence that people who have been indoctrinated with “free market” ideas hold towards sharing information. Never mind, though, that there is no such thing as a free market anywhere — all economic activity is regulated in some shape or form (otherwise, dinosaurs might not ever have gone extinct). The idealistic fantasies of fanatically patriotic folks, however, have their attention dead-set on whatever style of chauvinism happens to be in fashion today — and they are at least as fickle as the wind.

    Nonetheless, decades of indoctrination and centuries of hellfire and brimstone sermons on the sinfulness of sharing private property have filled a sizable body of literature that would put to shame even the most prolific graffiti artists of our day. Wall-to-wall conformity is the dictum of the day, and any and all nonconformists will please move to the exit to disappear out back. Vast numbers of minds have been reduced into well employed machinery, fed scraps with salt so that they are willing to continue oiling the wheels of production — whether of goods or services doesn’t matter much (but note that services have a wonderful way of leaving little or no trace).

    In the ideologies of capitalism, communism is anathema to the prescribed blueprints for profit. “Happy Together” is an anthem of bohemian peasants living in pre-industrial squalor, not a technologically advanced exclusive, walled-off all-inclusive living arrangement.

    One word that must be avoided at all costs is “environment” — any mention of environmental anything is enough to become an outcast from life in the big tent.

    Yet the moist poignant, though not immediately apparent, paradox is how sharing has fared to become so boldly stitched on the flag of the times — and how the most exclusive of actors will ever be able to remove it (or, at least: themselves from any proximity to it). Publicity was all good and fine when it was built with capitalist printing presses, but now someone seems to have let the cat out of the bag. :|

    Disoriented, capitalists no longer know which way to turn. They continue to push advertising, but it no longer sticks — it is about as effective as putting a slab of butter on top of a hot grill. In the olden days, it was much easier to mesmerize consumers into buying stuff by just dangling it in front of their eyes, time and again, over and over… — it worked like a charm!

    Today, capitalism’s “new and improved” is no longer the stardust it once was — it is just another grain of sand trying to compete in a vast desert of dried up content. Trying to sell virtual oases is not quite as easy as novices might think — unfortunately, you cannot make a big profit on a mirage… especially when yet another mirage is just a click away.

    If only there were a way to sprinkle some authenticity on top of some little piece of this undifferentiated landscape. Authenticity itself is the giant hurdle that capitalism cannot seem to muster. The folklore of capitalism operates behind closed doors, in smoke filled rooms around a poker table. Capitalism’s defining moment is the ultimate bluff, not transparent lucidity.

    Today any capitalist can acquire a string of characters that say “fair” and “honest”, but that alone does not guarantee that they are speaking on the same terms that their audience is searching for. Distributed consumer networks can route around bogus promises in a snap. The lexicon itself is no longer controlled by any single institution — whether in Oxford, whether called Webster,… it just doesn’t matter. The murmur of the crowds quickly drowns out whatever property private corporations might wish to invent.

    If, and only if, capitalism is willing to give up on the notion of proprietary language, then it might have a chance to reap profits within what is essentially a communist system. Trying to build a growth business outside the natural commune of communications is nothing more than an exercise in futility.

     
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