Kicks Condor

#diversity

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.

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….

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20 Aug 2018

Reply: Diversity on Micro.Blog

Vega

From my point of view, M.B’s diversity challenge comes out of Indieweb’s own priorities and values. Decentralization, independence, tech-centrality, building your own bespoke blog/website with home-grown/open-source tools… to me, these values originate from a particular paradigm and method of engaging with the world. This paradigm is itself shaped by the wider culture. To put it in reductionist and stereotypical terms, the “self-made” webmaster who builds a self-contained website, independent of the centralized aggregate (and by extension, The Man), using home-grown tools, falls very much in line with the values of the American Dream.

“To put it in reductionist and stereotypical terms, the ‘self-made’ webmaster who builds a self-contained website […] falls very much in line with the values of the American Dream.”

This entire essay is very insightful—and your whole blog has a whimsical and determined air that has me punching my ‘subscribe’ button several times to make sure it does the job.

One question I wonder: while I think the self-made entrepreneur has got to be synonymous with imperialist America—couldn’t the independent autodidact, operating apart from corporate interests, be a modern type of vanguard for the dispossessed? I feel like the Instagram influencer is more a direct descendant of The American Dream; the bespoke blog a piece of the underground press—particularly in 2018, when they have become ancient machinery.

As Chris quotes:

I write it myself, edit it myself, censor it myself, publish it myself, distribute it myself, and spend jail time for it myself.

— Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovsky, 1942

Perhaps the difference is that the Indieweb has had an “every person for themselves” kind of ethic. There are those who DIY and there are those who GTFO. Whereas underground presses functioned collaboratively. And maybe M.B could be an underground press if it had an editor and it sought out its sources. It feels more like a Lions Club, some casual martinis and a snapshot of the dwindling sun.

I hope that’s no condemnation. I think the underground presses had their coffee houses, which gave you a place to bump into co-conspirators.

But it’s the editor thing that I keep bumping up against on this Web—that we do need more editors, more librarians, more collaboration. We haven’t quite figured out how to organize in structures that benefit, well, all of us. That means starting with the lowest tier. If the library can make a way for books to land in the hands of prisoners, refugees, the poor—then those books can make it anywhere.

And I think this spiritual cause exists in the Indieweb when I see notes like those on Brid.gy’s FAQ entry “How much does it cost?”

Nothing! We have great day jobs, and Bridgy is small, so thanks to App Engine, it doesn’t cost much to run. We don’t need donations, promise.

I feel to inspire readers that might fall across this post—those who can fashion things and who can throw themselves into rebuilding the Web (as if it were Dresden)—to take up this same spiritual cause. To make a generous piece of this crucial public engine. (I realize that this sounds terrifically technopiliac and loathsome, maybe even in a shameful ‘tech bro’ way, but this technology is here, right here, fucking everywhere else too it turns out—so let’s try to find our way, shall we?)

I do think the Indieweb has the glimmer of real answers. But it’s a massive undertaking. But that’s okay—real answers are too.

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PLUNDER THE ARCHIVES

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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.

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