Kicks Condor

#culture

I use three main tags on this blog:

  • hypertext: linking, the Web, the future of it all.

  • garage: art and creation, tinkering, zines and books, kind of a junk drawer—sorry!

  • elementary: schooling for young kids.

04 Apr 2019

Reply: Decentralizing Culture

h0p3

What do you think decentralizing power really means? We have to empathically give a shit about each other’s stories. […] My point of contention is not with the preservation of the underground (which I applaud) but a world in which the centralization of power is maintained through automation and dark UX so profound we can’t escape it.

You’re always asking me to clear up my terms—and I never do—but I’ll ask anyway: what do you mean by ‘power’? And what do you mean by ‘decentralizing power’? Because my first stab is that you’re talking about getting us back to local governments, tribes or something. The term ‘power’ gets bandied about—it’s the person with the money to hire, the person who radios the tanks when to roll in and when to back out, it’s the person with the megaphone.

I’m not really keyed in on ‘power’—I don’t see it as a kind of natural element. Seems more like it gets used to say: this, this is evil.

How to decentralize power? In a world of billions? Answering these questions is way beyond me. My wavelength is watching ‘humanity’—are we holding on to the transcendent ‘divinity’/‘shittiness’ of being human? Can we see this humanity in each other and at least allow the recognition of another human being to dawn on our faces?

I like to think of it as an ‘antimisanthrophic’ effort to at least establish a baseline sympathy or pity or some kind of comfort with our other peoples. Being a person is rough—we have no idea what’s going on here. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? (Perhaps I don’t take ‘power’ seriously enough. If none of us did—would it still be ‘power’?)

I will continue to argue for radical decentralization and worldclass p2p filtering. That is the only out, and the window may be closing. It can’t just be done by hand. We go down if the masses do.

Gah, I’m not convinced that technology has any answers! We can’t make some elaborate mousetrap that will enforce the life we want to live.

Of course, I’m not sure humans have any answers either! But I will say that talking to you and your family is the best technology I’ve encountered in a decade. Sure, I’m reliant on a sturdy free-enough technology that gets our words passed around. And those words are our plain humanity on the wire.

I am worried about some perhaps difficult to justify originality+authenticity moves, but the underground is not more real to me conceptually (though it can be more valid or valuable in the dialectic). I only care about “making it your own” insofar as it is justified to the particulars of your context. The Beautiful is not the overriding reason, but insofar as all other obligations are met, it is the last deciding force. The necessity of preserving freespeech and decentralizing power (including memetic distribution) comes long before The Beautiful though.

You’re not being cryptic—I just think sometimes your compression level is turned up on thoughts like these. I also have to add that I DO appreciate pop culture—I actually think it’s one of the most promising religions or symbolic systems we’ve ever developed. (And it’s REALLY tempting to demonize it, because it’s backup by capitalism—though I think that most people can appreciate the value of the engine—most people seem to agree that artists should be paid.)

Anyway, I don’t think mainstream culture is necessarily any less original or authentic than the underground. I just think that mainstream culture has become imbalanced—it has really captivated everyone this time, and fewer people seem to know how to escape it—which is the purpose of an ‘underground’, to me, and, of course, this is all just my perception.

I think—I think what happened was that, in the previous decade, the Internet gave the underground a tremendous breath of air. You basically had a network that was all underground—and I don’t just mean some kind of hip, stylized underground—I mean that, before the corporations figured out how to milk it, you would search for ‘donuts’ and be at someone’s uncle’s website.

There was no hunting around for rare vinyl or out-of-print Borges novels any more—the whole ‘underground’ world had doorways now. The underground became the mainstream culture and, yeah, we lost an actual underground. And I think there was a kind of crisis of overwhelm that mainstream culture had become so wide—like, “we need robots to sift through all of this.” There was a time when Twitter first came out that people were joking that it was just a bunch of people posting updates that they’re shitting right now. And now we just post those updates, no shame.

What, you want I should call you a selfish nihilist, a brainwashed individualist, an all-too-convenient emotivist, a shallow aesthete, a vapid internalist, a dark-triadic relativist, a deflecting anti-realist, a gas-lighting interlocutor, an actual waste of potential, and a gutless, wallowing, purposely purposeless sissy who hatlessly lacks the integrity to take the existential risk of committing themselves to an identity: i.e., the shadow of my enemy?

The part that actually got me here is the ‘shallow aesthete’ because it’s dead on—I think that I am on the prowl for this guy, but he’s out all the time, spray painting little soap bubbles on people’s suitcases.

I don’t think the point of a personal website is so much to design something pretty and ‘authentic’ (wtf?) or even ‘cool’. I think of it just as having a ‘home’—which seems eminently human to me—as opposed to ‘mechanical’ or ‘hive-minded’, such as being another tweet, lost in the feed.

While I hope for technologies like Dat (and have always loved peer-to-peer since the days of Freenet and Gnutella), the technology is so far from being adequate as to seem impossible at times. So, I’m quite happy getting anyone I can back into personal websites and wikis. Lately I’ve been thinking that ensuring a myriad of ISPs is a lot more important than peer-to-peer.

This post accepts webmentions. Do you have the URL to your post?

You may also leave an anonymous comment. All comments are moderated.

03 Apr 2019

Reply: Flooding the Culture

Soraya Roberts

I read an article this weekend that I didn’t see being shared anywhere. You had to scroll down the Times pretty far to find it; it was in the arts section and it was about a group of black artists who were suddenly being recognized in their 70s and 80s. It was a frustrating read, a sort of too-little-too-late scenario because, sure, it’s always nice to get half a million dollars for your work, but where was the money when you were actually producing the work, while supporting a family and paying a mortgage, with many decades of life ahead of you?

Averting our gaze from mainstream culture—cAN It bE DoNE?

Hahah, wow—it’s funny because I find this article to be a similar kind of frustrating read. A good read—perhaps like the Times article was for her—but very frustrating. I wonder: is acceptance by mainstream culture really seen as the ultimate, final, crucial reward?

(Particularly now that we live in an age where it’s clear that the previous generation of cultural winners—be it Jimi Hendrix or Harper Lee—is rapidly fading away, to be replaced by YouTubers, video game streamers, YA writers, reality stars. Isn’t the mainstream culture going to be very ruthless in its war for canonization?)

I mean I love the author’s ultimate point: here, I won’t summarize it, let’s just get into it.

We need a mass realization that pulls us out of this flooding culture. That is: the acknowledgment by powerful organizations that we do in fact engage more with original stories—it’s a fact, look it up—that lasting conversations do not come out of Twitter trends, and that diversity means diversity—more that is different, not more of the same differences. As one curator told the Times in the piece about older black artists getting their due, “There has been a whole parallel universe that existed that people had not tapped into.” Tap into it.

As h0p3 would say: preach it! Tap into it.

But the author spends the entire piece looking away from the underground—scrutinizing the fucking New York Times to show us the way, looking at the top 20 shows on Netflix, stats on buying habits on Amazon. If the concern is that our culture is spending all of their time on Netflix, Amazon and the Times—well, so is this article.

So when we go to ‘tap into it’—what is it? Where is this ‘parallel universe’ we’re looking for? Where does this culture go to look for it? Is it on Amazon and Twitter somewhere? Are we supposed to continue using Netflix and Google—but somehow spend our time on the back alleys of those services?

Is this a request to leave alone the front page of the New York Times and start with the back page? (So much simpler to turn to the back page of the corporeal printed Times than to do so online.)

Clearly, the article decries the entire makeup of these systems:

Per CJR, these algorithms are “taste-reflectors,” meaning they don’t affect taste the way critics do but simply reinforce your palate; there is little discovery here.

And how much discovery can there be, really, with the same critics occupying the same space?

Yesss! So go outside those neatly ordered corporate-approved spaces, yeah?

Let’s return to that final tap into it! paragraph. The phrase I want to look at is here: “the acknowledgement by powerful organizations.” Wait—so the tap into it! is meant… for them??

Are you asking the powerful organizations to—go outside themselves? Why? So they can continue to show us what’s legitimate? Because they are the authorities on what shit is actually cool?

I mean, yes, I’m not dense—the ‘powerful organizations’ are a massive pipeline of fame and currency—and this stuff can be gasoline to an artist. (Lord knows I want Boots Riley to keep it up—dammit, give the man what he needs!) But all of us out here, all us commoners, put together—we’re pure fuel, too. There was a time when it seemed that those very organizations were at the mercy of the buying public, earlier in this century when the entire system shook in fear of ‘disruption’.

And so, it feels like the article is just asking the mainstream to open a little wider, to give out a few more awards here and there, in lip service to the world of underappreciated, wonderful, unknown artists. (Black artists, in her case—but also in mine, because I want my mind blown by cool shit as much as any of you.) And, yeah, okay, maybe the ‘corpypastas’ might just throw us a bone.

However, I love the ‘parallel universe’ she refers to—that’s our unruly, unpredictable Web—an extension of the underground scenes, of the avant-garde, the mixtape traders, the world of the only critics that matter: our little group of friends. Those mixtapes blow up out here first. Out in our parallel universe: all of you out on your little blogs and wikis that I tap into each day. This world exists. It’s here, even if it faces its own doom on some days, in the face of resurgent mainstream culture.

Fuck the NYT, fuck Netflix—I’m reading you folks.

  1. @kicks Great piece - “cool shit” - the mainstream is highly overrated, thank you.

  2. Flooding the Culture
    I love the ‘parallel universe’ she refers to—that’s our unruly, unpredictable Web—an extension of the underground scenes, of the avant-garde, the mixtape traders, the world of the only critics that matter: our little group of friends.

    I love how Kick’s Condor urges us to look beyond the digital Main Street of our times. Every city has it’s Main Street, with the Big Name Brand Stores and shoppingmalls. The place where the tourists go but where any local only wants to go when s/he really needs to. Or at least doesn’t go there when you know it’s overcrowded.

    Every city has their own back alleys. The little streets with mom-and-pop shops, with young entrepeneurs doing wild and exciting stuff with new products and services. You can find local entrepeneurs around town, using local goods and even offer you to pay with local city-bound currencies. Around town there are crative hubs with new bars, new forms of entertainment and new ideas how companies should and could cooperate with each other.

    Every time I visit the latter sort of shops and streets I get excited about the possibilities, diversity and the future of the city as a whole.

    Should I still make the analogy here with the Corporate Web as we know it, the social silo’s we can’t seem to leave and the importance of an open, liberated and freely accessible web? I guess not….

This post accepts webmentions. Do you have the URL to your post?

You may also leave an anonymous comment. All comments are moderated.

21 Mar 2019

I remarked to a friend that alien conspiracies seem to have died down in recent years, while other conspiracies have grown. He said that he felt this was because 20th Century technology was analog—film and tapes could be smudged and warped incidentally, which possibly led to misleading recordings. If there’s anything to this notion, I need to remember to return to it…

This post accepts webmentions. Do you have the URL to your post?

You may also leave an anonymous comment. All comments are moderated.

PLUNDER THE ARCHIVES

This page is also on dat.

MOVING ALONG LET'S SEE MY FAVORITE PLACES I NO LONGER LINK TO ANYTHING THATS VERY FAMOUS

philosopher.life, the 'wiki'/'avatar'/'life' of h0p3. serious rabbithole. k0sh3k. j3d1h. luxb0x.

nathalie lawhead of so many good things, where does one begin. T, U, I.

surfpals: things by j, also joe jenett (of linkport), brad enslen (of indieseek), 'web curios' at imperica.

an eye on: ᛝ ᛝ ᛝ — lucid. jacky.wtf, fogknife, tiv.today, j.greg, box vox, whimsy.space, caesar naples.

indieweb: .xyz, eli, c.rwr, boffosocko.

nostalgia: geocities.institute, bad cmd.

true hackers: ccc.de, fffff.at, voja antonić, cnlohr, esoteric.codes.

chips: zeptobars, scargill, 41j.

dwm, julia, tridactyl these are things you'll want on linux.

neil c very famous but should be a world icon.

the world or cate le bon you pick.

sammyclassicsonicfan the original teen rage adventure.

innovation.isotropic.org probly the best carl chudyk game.

and opinionated gamers for non-chudyk game analysis.

my twitter. my github. minor things.