Reflections on the Post, Part 2

Gate keepers are virtually nonexistent and twitter can distribute to the entire world the voice of a person who was completely anonymous and powerless yesterday.  Some are tangential, like the decrease of words per page in printed materials (often replaced by photos or graphics, but also

  • A new set of questions about who owns rights to information
  • a blurring of the lines betwween truth https://www.google.com/search?q=comic+sans+sucks
  • The rising ubiquity of graphic design in all things
  • A strange generational gap around font choice and perception of some rather controversial ones (e.g. comic sans).

 

But another interesting result or correlative change has been the fact that in a sublimated-information world, we exist in such multicultural environments that the kind of virtue signalling and membership-indicative behaviors which previously indicated fairly reliable information about a person’s relationship to a group are in no way universal.

For example: tattoos. Once only appropriate for sailors, bikers, convicts, and others whose lives were disconnected from mainstream, white, middle class America, tattoos no longer reliably represent rebellion.  In fact, they do not reliably represent anything, having been embraced by nerd cultures, sports, hipsters, celebrities, business people, and many others.

How then, does a person learn to operate in a world where symbols may mean things entirely different than they may have a few years ago, or something which is opposite what you were taught?

This arose from a conversation with a friend who is currently trying to negotiate with two carpenters.  The first is a paperwork-heavy, detail oriented approach to planning and creating the estimate.  The second is a relationship focused, creative planner who forgets to return phone calls, but charges less and to be honest, does more beautiful work.

She and I got into quite an argument about whether the failure to return phone calls or produce incredibly detailed paper work reflected on his ability to be a superior contractor or not.  I know the second guy really well, and to be perfectly honest, would put my life in his hands any day of the week. PLUS, his work is exceptional.  But, yeah, he requires a little more energy because he will not step in and project manage your construction for you.

Seems unrelated doesn’t it? but in the middle of the conversation, I realized something:  There was a time when it was generally true that: the accuracy rate of details can identify how much a business person cares about me and my accounts.

To some extent, that’s still true.  Being on time, that matters.  Getting names spelled correctly? Every time.  But when information travels without any hindrance of  printing, editing, and reviews, typos get through, and they do not represent the same kind of failure to attend to something real.

What does this really mean?

Honestly, I think it means we need to relearn how to communicate.

Reflections on The Post, (1 of 3)

First, The Post is terrific, extremely relevant, and as well acted as you’d expect from the likes of Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Bradley Whitford.

One scene has been haunting me since I watched the film. There were several shots of the printing process: not merely the newspapers flying down a conveyor, but also the man sitting at a keyboard, typing, to place each physical letter block for the press into place into line.  All together, these would become the block of letters which make up a story, which is fit into the place on a page to be literally pressed into ink and onto paper.

Yeah, you say, so what? I have seen printing presses before.  But in this case, the words were actual objects.  The maguffin of the entire movie (to bend a trope a little) literally was two filing boxes full of thousands of papers of documents.  That information would not be shared or known if those physical objects had remained where they belonged.

We do not live in that reality anymore.  Google was founded on September 4, 1998. Twenty years later, the idea that information can be contained to a physical transmission feels like historic science fiction.

This transition, in which information not simply moves faster than the human body but also is replicated a million times without significant energy or time per copy, will be as radical as that of the printing press.  I am sure that historian have a name of this sublimation of information, but I prefer sublimation.

For non-nerds out there, sublimation is the term used when a solid evaporates directly into vapor/gas without becoming a liquid in between. The molecules detach from a rigid structure, and become tiny enough to float, fill a space, and seep through the tiniest of openings.

Doesn’t that sound like information in our modern day? We can share without the limitations of the structures we first used to learn the information. A thousand different internet based channels permit that information to fill every empty space, and information, once confined to methods which required significant time and energy per copy is no longer confined to a single structure or container.

Once upon a time, newspapers required time to print. Each copy required paper, ink, energy, and distribution.  Now, the editor says, “ready,” and that article can be in the hands of thousands (millions) of people within seconds, or minutes if your cell reception isn’t great.

What was it really like to live in a world where answers were not at your finger tips? How does one’s understanding of multicultural living shift when it was truly possible to live without experiencing other people or cultures, not even in television?

No conclusions here, just a question to contemplate.  What implications and results do you see from this true revolution of information changes?

Unfiltered: who broke gender?

This was written in response to someone claiming that white men are angry because feminism  oppresses them.  The original Facebook post included a link to the book The War Against Boys.  Which is claiming that all this pro women stuff is terrible for the “innate” characteristics of masculinity (thereby, terrible for all “men”) …

 

I really respect your concern for how we are raising boys, and the damage that is done by much of modern society. I am not going to pretend that all women’s rights advocates or movements are the same, or prefect. But I cannot fail to defend a movement which permits me to hold a job, have a credit card, grow up in the 80s never reprimanded for playing with Legos, reduced hugely the social shame about choosing a single life, made space for my love of women, and opened the doors to talk about how we as culture teach men to suffer silently, act as providers without back up, and deny themselves of person expression if it is certain colors (pink) or mannerisms (lisps, twirled, etc) .

But when a favorite child is no longer treated with special privilege, it IS going to feel mean, unfair, even persecutory. It makes no sense to blame the other child for that feeling of loss.

Perhaps if we look at why schools demand so much sitting of small children (underfunding -> lack of supervision or lack of playground is real), maybe we can challenge the economic system which squeezes most humans into terrible positions so we will provide compliant labor in exchange for food and shelter.

But to blame the ones who were once told their endless labor of childcare, housekeeping, and interpersonal comfort did not render them worthy of a vote, a credit report, inheritance, (or more recently that they don’t know valuable leadership skills or aren’t qualified for public leadership) does not really sit well.

If you’re not already engaged in it, may I suggest that the disciplines and methods of systemic power analysis would really be interesting for you?

Unfiltered – Why Regulations

This is the first of a new category of posts I’m going to share: Rants on Facebook which should be longer and more thought out, but which are cathartic to me.  I’ll call these “Unfiltered & Unedited.”

Government regulations exist to balance the playing field between an individual of negligible net wealth, or net work of even 1 million, and a BILLION dollar corporation. The fact that the wealthy have (again) corrupted the system beyond all recognition does not mean regulations are bad. It means we need reform, transparency, and objective experts (i.e. listen to the freaking CBO).

Stop pretending that a-greed centered system will result in anything other and exploitation. That was always their lie to placate the consciences of the politicians they were buying.

19 years later

I was not in school on May 20, 1999.    I was – literally – on the other side of the world, in Kenya. But I knew something was wrong.

I have never been able to explain it, but I had a nightmare.  I do not get nightmares. My sister has nightmares.  But I sleep usually without dreaming, and when I do dream, they tend to be innocuous, random, and pleasant.  But that night.

I dreamed that my classmates (I remember which ones, but it seems creepy to name them without their permission) were in the library with a gun and a bottle of vodka.  They knew these were dangerous things. They were careful with them, but there they were.

I can remember the library perfectly, for it was not the school library, but Rockdale County’s very pretty Nancy Guinn Memorial, with pink brick and a beautiful awning over the entrance.  Inside the windows and lights create a very airy, comfortable space. In my dream, it was daylight, but with deep dark shadows, elongated with unnaturally strong contrast.

In my dream, no adult came and took away the dangerous things. They went about blithely unaware.

In real life that morning, a young man was shooting up my high school, as seems to be common nineteen years later.   Heritage High School, May 20, 1999.

In my dream, not much happened, no one was hurt.  But it was clear that my classmates were in danger. The people I dreamed of were far from my closest friends.  But they were important to me nonetheless, and something was wrong for them.  The dream had no resolution, simply a lingering sense that people I cared for were not ok.

When I woke up, I shared with my friends the strange dream.  Coincidentally, I called home that evening. I asked and my dad lied to me, told me that nothing was wrong, nothing going on.  He thought there was no reason to worry me.

I learned about the shooting more than a week later, in line to board during my layover in London.  The person in front of me knew some mutual friends and assumed I had heard of the shooting.  He asked if I had known anyone who was hurt, and I fell apart.  I’ve always appreciated the fact that he knew no deaths happened that morning.

No one died at Heritage High School on May 20, 1999.  One girl was hit, but a very thick book reduced the bullets impact enough to save her life.  I went back to school my senior year, and very little had changed. No metal detectors.  In fact, the biggest news was about a syphilis epidemic which had ravaged the county a few years prior.

But I’ve always remembered that dream.  That impossible bridge over 7,900+ miles from where the incident happened and my perhaps coincidental dream.  If it was coincidence, well, that’s possible.

Sometimes, it feels like I never woke up from that dream.

Let’s end it.