"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Time to take a stand

First: and excerpt from Stephanie 2004, and I don't know if she has changed much since (although she does have a presence on Facebook, so maybe she has changed)
Community Solutions: Stephanie Mills Presentation:

"I've got to say upfront, I now have a computer. Somebody gave me a laptop. And it's holding down a stack of papers very nicely. But I am kind of like this Rip van Winkle type, because I left San Francisco and the world of offices in 1984, and I just went to Michigan and kept on being a writer the way I knew how. I corresponded. I write letters and use stamps and the telephone, and that kind of thing, and I noticed over the years that addresses of organizations no longer tell me where they are. And I don't think that's trivial. It's very important to me to know something tangible about the folks I'm engaged with. What part of Turtle Island do you live in? What qualities inform your experience? Gary Snyder is a wonderful author on the subject of the nuances of place, and he says, "what kind of boots do you wear in December?" Those aren't negligible matters, really. In some ways, I guess one of the threats of technology is just to make matter a big sort of box of raw material rather than this or this soil, or this carving, or this foodstuff, it all can become generic and available to be transformed and turned into a product and sold."

The question I pose is : how far to take Luddite-ism?
Why stop with computers, let's drop the telephone, and maybe question the postal service. After all, how do your letters move from point A to point B?

I may agree on local-centrism for some things, but not all.
I will buy my iPhone, manufactured in China, but will stick to local, pasture raised chicken - a non-fungible product. You cannot buy a local chicken from China - by definition.

Technology, esp. the internet is a liberating technology.
Stephanie again:
"I've begun teaching recently and discovered that people do their research on the Internet. And it's like, there's a realm of information out there. So I'm immediately thrust into a position of global ignorance by the fact of the World Wide Web, because if I don't know what's on the Web, I don't know anything really, or I don't know most things.

That's sort of a radical monopoly, in a sense. It sort of sets a new standard of what it means to be knowledgeable and well-informed. However, good Luddite that I am, I find that the value of face-to-face contact hasn't been completely supplanted. The personal networks that can operate by chance encounters, people sending reprints in the mail, the whole sort of goddess network, is still working fine, but at a different scale, at a more, for me, manageable scale. I guess – thinking about the Web – I don't really want to know everything that's on the Web. I would be happy to know adequately the life cycle of the slime mold."

Let's close libraries, because they contain too much information.

When I first had access to the family car (another piece of technology) I could (and did) go to the Michigan State University Library and cruised he isles.

I could chase ideas up and down the stacks.

Today, I can do the same at "light speed"

If I'm curious about a topic, a tid-bid of history or culture, I can access it in a few moments.

From the trivia of a movie I might be watching (technology again) to recalling a city in Siberia when geo-tagging photos I've digitized (that damn technology yet again)

I can share thoughts with friends and associates regardless of time of day (few want a call from me at 3AM, but I can post an email), I can video chat with grandchildren half a continent away, soon with family overseas.

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