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robertogreco : dematerialization   4

What We Talk About When We Talk About What We Talk About When We Talk About Making | Quiet Babylon
"This is an era of networked wealth, going to scale, first mover advantage, positive feedback loops, virtuous cycles, high concentration, and high disparity. These are some of the intolerable conditions of the time we call (with subversive hope) Late Capitalism.

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“We.”

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I suspect that much of this essay will make very little sense unless you believe as I do that we are beset by wicked problems exacerbated by networks of sublime scale that have been built on top of millenia of injustice chaotically interacting with good works and hope.



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I do not think it is possible to feel empathy for 7 billion people. I know it is not possible to mourn the ~400,000 souls we lose to death every day on this planet earth. In a city like New York, it is not even reasonable to say Hi to everyone you pass on the street. Forget New York, it wasn’t reasonable to say Hi to everyone I passed at XOXO. There are too many humans. Boundaries must be drawn. Who are our friends, who is in the community, who gets to count. The boundaries can be drawn wider or narrower, and with more or less care. But the starting points of those boundaries are necessarily accidents of history, and history is pretty messed up.

Andy and Andy have been public about their struggles to redraw the boundaries of the community that takes part in XOXO. This year was better, they said, but still too male and still far too white. They are working to do better still if they ever do an XOXO again.

If they do, they will have to carefully consider who gets on stage and work with those people about what they have to say. Because people who make things is a broad remit. The mission of XOXO is an admirable one: to be a place where independent creators can find themselves amongst people like them; to give the participants the feeling that even though independence can be lonely, we are not alone.

But to be sat amongst a community who do not share your concerns is a terribly alienating experience, especially if the speakers on stage are claiming a we for the room that you do not feel. A greater diversity of speakers and a greater diversity of participants means by definition fewer common experiences and a more complicated we.

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Chinese factory workers are not welcome at XOXO. This is a profoundly uncomfortable thing to say because it feels like punching down, but it is true. Chinese factory workers are not independent creators. What inspiration would they find in hearing John Gruber talk about Google Reader’s impact on his business model? What advice would they pull from Anita Sarkeesian describing the conspiracy theories leveled against prominent women on the Internet? What series of completely patronizing assumptions did I make when I wrote those last two questions?

Marketers, brand managers, advertising agencies, and social media gurus are also not welcome at XOXO. This feels less uncomfortable to say because it feels like punching up. Harassers are completely unwelcome and Andy and Andy took public glee in sending them away.

Community design is a tricky thing and the debate about incremental improvement vs radical transformation is far from settled. Figuring out how to ethically exclude people, how to effectively include people, and which intolerable conditions of ambient injustice to accept as given is a wicked problem. Working through it requires care and nuance and vigilance against derailment.

Derailment is when discussion of one issue is diverted into another issue. For example: if someone were to say, We need to work hard to increase the non-white percentage of conference attendees, and someone else said, Yeah, but what about the Chinese workers who make your devices?

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Context collapse is an important way of making sure that marginalized people and issues aren’t allowed to disappear completely and an excellent derailing tactic. Arguing that an issue being raised is a derailment is an excellent derailing tactic.

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A lot of the problems described by people on stage at XOXO would not have been problems if no one on earth should ever be at risk of starvation or lack medical care was not a radical idea. But it is a radical idea and it is not possible to mourn everyone. So boundaries are drawn and communities are constructed which help their members understand what’s possible and not everyone gets to count.

The inability to effectively address all of this is also one of the intolerable conditions of late capitalism."
timmaly  xoxo  latecapitalism  capitalism  supplychains  labor  timcook  apple  disclosure  context  contextcollapse  inclusing  exclusion  canon  derailment  conferences  complexity  boundaries  communitydesign  making  makers  scale  hope  dematerialization 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Why People Really Love Technology: An Interview With Genevieve Bell - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
"There's something in it that you recognize as being a kind of truth. The early ideology of the Internet was about radical transparency, free information, and the sense that the consequences of that would be this sort of massive social upheaval. I sometimes think the more-interesting things are the really mundane, banal things that the Internet and digital technologies are now part of: everything from how we balance our checkbooks to how we arrange our romantic lives to how we insure that there's still a paper that gets delivered to our houses every two weeks. I'm fascinated by that piece. And the ways in which the Internet has become not just part of our romantic lives but also our spiritual and religious ones, and clearly it's part of our political landscape."

"We've been in a decade of dematerialization, all the markers of identity. You and I, when we were younger, knew how to talk about ourselves, to ourselves and others, through physical stuff--music, the books on our shelves…"
society  fear  culture  web  internet  dematerialization  haptics  tactility  japan  robots  3dprinting  geography  intel  genevievebell  alexismadrigal  2012  technology 
december 2012 by robertogreco
The Bourne Infrastructure « Magical Nihilism
"We started talking about the Bourne movies, and how, particularly the first and the last are set in Schengen - a connected, border-less Mitteleurope that can be hacked and accessed and traversed - not without effort, but with determination, stolen vehicles and the right train timetables. Again, the triumph of dematerialisation - but with a twist. Rather than Bond’s private infrastructure expensive cars and toys, Bourne uses public infrastructure as a superpower. A battered watch and an accurate U-Bahn time-table are all he needs for a perfectly-timed, death-defying evasion of the authorities."
mattjones  dematerialization  transit  infrastructure  jamesbond  bourne  film  books 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Who Stole My Volcano? Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dematerialisation of Supervillain Architecture. « Magical Nihilism
"But then in an almost throw-away aside to Adam, he reflected that the modern Bond villain (and he might have added, villains in pop culture in general) is placeless, ubiquitous, mobile. His hidden fortress is in the network, represented only by a briefcase, or perhaps even just a mobile phone. Where’s the fun in that for a production designer? Maybe it’s in the objects. It’s not the pictures that got small, but the places our villains draw they powers from." ... "So - for a “4th generation warfare” supervillain there aren’t even objects for the production designer to create and imbue with personality. The effects and the consequences can be illustrated by the storytelling, but the network and the intent can’t be foreshadowed by environments and objects in the impressionist way that Adam employed to support character and storytelling. But - what about materialising, visualising these invisible networks in order to do so?"

[see also: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2008/11/where_is_my_white_cat_and_my_e.html ]
mattjones  design  culture  infrastructure  nomads  neo-nomads  capitalism  mobility  comics  production  villains  jamesbond  coldwar  movies  architecture  film  network  2008  cityofsound  visualization  storytelling  ubiquitous  ubicomp  mobile  supervillains  dematerialization  unproduct 
november 2008 by robertogreco

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