recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : exclusivity   8

After Authenticity
"Meanwhile, years of semantic slippage had happened without me noticing. Suddenly the surging interest in fashion, the dad hats, the stupid pin companies, the lack of sellouts, it all made sense. Authenticity has expanded to the point that people don’t even believe in it anymore. And why should we? Our friends work at SSENSE, they work at Need Supply. They are starting dystopian lifestyle brands. Should we judge them for just getting by? A Generation-Z-focused trend report I read last year clumsily posed that “the concept of authenticity is increasingly deemed inauthentic.” It goes further than that. What we are witnessing is the disappearance of authenticity as a cultural need altogether.

Under authenticity, the value of a thing decreases as the number of people to whom it is meaningful increases. This is clearly no longer the case. Take memes for example. “Meme” circa 2005 meant lolcats, the Y U NO guy and grimy neckbeards on 4chan. Within 10 years “meme” transitioned from this one specific subculture to a generic medium in which collective participation is seen as amplifying rather than detracting from value.

In a strange turn of events, the mass media technologies built out during the heady authenticity days have had a huge part in facilitating this new mass media culture. The hashtag, like, upvote, and retweet are UX patterns that systematize endorsement and quantify shared value. The meme stock market jokers are more right than they know; memes are information commodities. But unlike indie music 10 years ago the value of a meme is based on its publicly shared recognition. From mix CDs to nationwide Spotify playlists. With information effortlessly transferable at zero marginal cost and social platforms that blast content to the top of everyone’s feed, it’s difficult to for an ethics based on scarcity to sustain itself.

K-HOLE and Box1824 captured the new landscape in their breakthrough 2014 report “Youth Mode.” They described an era of “mass indie” where the search for meaning is premised on differentiation and uniqueness, and proposed a solution in “Normcore.” Humorously, nearly everyone mistook Normcore for being about bland fashion choices rather than the greater cultural shift toward accepting shared meanings. It turns out that the aesthetics of authenticity-less culture are less about acting basic and more about playing up the genericness of the commodity as an aesthetic category. LOT2046’s delightfully industrial-supply-chain-default aesthetics are the most beautiful and powerful rendering of this. But almost everyone is capitalizing on the same basic trend, from Vetements and Virgil Abloh (enormous logos placed for visibility in Instagram photos are now the norm in fashion) to the horribly corporate Brandless. Even the names of boring basics companies like “Common Threads” and “Universal Standard” reflect the the popularity of genericness, writes Alanna Okunn at Racked. Put it this way: Supreme bricks can only sell in an era where it’s totally fine to like commodities.

Crucially, this doesn’t mean that people don’t continue to seek individuation. As I’ve argued elsewhere exclusivity is fundamental to any meaning-amplifying strategy. Nor is this to delegitimize some of the recognizable advancements popularized alongside the first wave of mass authenticity aesthetics. Farmer’s markets, the permaculture movement, and the trend of supporting local businesses are valuable cultural innovations and are here to stay.

Nevertheless, now that authenticity is obsolete it’s become difficult to remember why we were suspicious of brands and commodities to begin with. Maintaining criticality is a fundamental challenge in this new era of trust. Unfortunately, much of what we know about being critical is based on authenticity ethics. Carles blamed the Contemporary Conformist phenomenon on a culture industry hard-set on mining “youth culture dollars.” This very common yet extraordinarily reductive argument, which makes out commodity capitalism to be an all-powerful, intrinsically evil force, is typical of authenticity believers. It assumes a one-way influence of a brand’s actions on consumers, as do the field of semiotics and the hopeless, authenticity-craving philosophies of Baudrillard and Debord.

Yet now, as Dena Yago says, “you can like both Dimes and Doritos, sincerely and without irony.” If we no longer see brands and commodity capitalism as something to be resisted, we need more nuanced forms of critique that address how brands participate in society as creators and collaborators with real agency. Interest in working with brands, creating brands, and being brands is at an all-time high. Brands and commodities therefore need to be considered and critiqued on the basis of the specific cultural and economic contributions they make to society. People co-create their identities with brands just as they do with religions, communities, and other other systems of meaning. This constructivist view is incompatible with popular forms of postmodern critique but it also opens up new critical opportunities. We live in a time where brands are expected to not just reflect our values but act on them. Trust in business can no longer be based on visual signals of authenticity, only on proof of work."
tobyshorin  2018  authenticity  culture  anthropology  hispters  sellouts  sellingout  commercialism  kanyewest  yeezy  yeezysupply  consumerism  commercialization  commodification  personalbranding  branding  capitalism  shepardfairey  obeygiant  tourism  sarahperry  identity  critique  ethics  mainstream  rjaymagill  popculture  aesthetics  commentary  conformism  scale  scalability  venkateshrao  premiummediocre  brooklyn  airbnb  wework  local  handmade  artisinal  economics  toms  redwings  davidmuggleton  josephpine  jamesgilmore  exclusivity  denayago  systems  sytemsofmeaning  meaning  commodities  k-hole 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Knowledge sharing: The solution to hunger, disease and bad art — Medium
"When David Runkles chose his Master’s thesis topic, he didn’t know that his research would force him to track down a researcher in the war-torn Sudan, navigate complex academic institutions and their arcane policies, and eventually turn to crime. Which is great, because had he known, the world would have missed out on this.

As a student at the London School of Economics, David had access to more research than he could possibly read in a lifetime. But the research he needed — the work of famed famine researcher Alex de Waal — had been lost while de Waal was working in Sudan, in the thick of the nation’s bloody civil war. Only a partial copy of the data was left, locked inside Oxford’s Bodleian, a formidable labyrinth of library prestige. In an email exchange from across the ocean, de Waal requested that if David was somehow able to get his hands on the data, would he please send over a copy. De Waal himself did not have access to his own work.

A two hour bus ride, an arduous process for approval to enter and several hours of searching later, David was able to find a portion of the research he needed. But the library had a strict copying policy (no more than 5 percent of any single work could be photocopied) and strict rules about removing any research from its fortified walls. Which left David, a previously upstanding citizen, no choice but to smuggle in a pen scanner, an illicit device that he used to scan the entire work while hunkered down in a dark corner, stealing the work for the author one page at a time.

There had to be a better system.

In response to this absurdity, David later started bulb — a publishing network for knowledge (and where I now work). And this is the problem we are trying to solve: how do you give everyone in the world a place to publish and find knowledge?

Why is the best information the hardest (and sometimes most expensive) to get?

Every year, millions of hours of research and an untold amount of data is compiled into papers and filed away into a university library, where access is limited and chances that it will ever get looked at again become slim and grow slimmer with time. It’s privileged information reserved for the privileged.

That’s actually the positive spin on things. Even more work gets lost forever, stored or thrown away by those whose thesis/research/writing, while potentially valuable, won’t make it into a journal or other publication for one reason or another, and let’s be real here, who is going to take the time to design a website for self-publishing and then pay $10/month to keep it up? Maybe a very small number. Another small number might start a blog but soon realize that their academic work doesn’t fit into a diary-style, chronological structure unless you publish it backwards. Neither of these options have any actual audience included except the one the author builds, and someone dedicated to their work isn’t going to take the time to learn content marketing to do so. And good for you, scientists, please do stay focused on curing cancer, not on SEO, for the love of pete.

This lost work doesn’t just hurt other students who may be able to reference, build upon or solve a problem with it (think Minecraft), but we all lose out collectively because we don’t utilize everyone’s knowledge or give everyone with some unique insight a voice. The people whose voices get heard the least tend to be the least powerful, but that doesn’t necessarily make their knowledge any less valuable, so our knowledge network itself is poorer for it.

So not everyone can participate in our collective knowledge network because we don’t have a good system for storing and sharing the information we do have. This is not just limiting but devastating."



"Despite an internet structured for inclusivity, the apps we most frequently use and the business models that support them typically aren’t. It’s much easier to create an app for an exclusive market because you can sell it immediately — making the creation of exclusive apps more profitable, faster and therefore sustainable. But selling a knowledge sharing platform to an exclusive market doesn’t tackle the goal: to keep knowledge from being stored and siloed and to do it in a way that encourages more people to contribute. A true knowledge-sharing network cannot sell exclusivity because exclusivity would ruin it.

So getting more people to publish what they know is not only better for those of us who, like me, are trying to make a profitable business in UGCN land — it’s better for the world at large. The more people you invite to participate in the network the better the network is and the better the world is for it. Just like pool parties!

This vision for a fixed and functioning knowledge network has to be a global one because we are living in a global world (welcome to 1999). And while I admit a global knowledge network that values everyone’s voice may not be the panacea for every world problem, it has truly amazing potential to connect valuable information with those that need it most. This is not a one-way info street from developed country to developing (and if you think that’s the case you missed the point). Being able to share and distribute quality information across cultural, racial, socio economic and other silos is crucial to allow that knowledge to reach its full , applicable potential and until a network that allows for this is realized, we’ll continue to see knowledge die in the hands of those that no longer see use for it — hands often carrying $15,000 library cards."
maggieshafer  clivethompson  davidrunkles  alexdewaal  sudan  research  access  accessibility  inclusivity  exclusivity  information  knowledge  libraries  internet  web  sharing  silos  penicillin  ernestduchesne  alexanderfleming  inclusion 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Virtues of Promiscuity — CODE | WORDS: Technology and Theory in the Museum — Medium
"Museums would do well to learn a thing or two from Jansen, and focus more on the creating and spreading the “digital DNA” of our shared cultural heritage and less on controlling access to those assets. This is a call to be both more promiscuous and more discriminating in what we share and how. I know that sounds contradictory, but bear with me.

Museums’ current survival strategy is not unlike those of creatures that have evolved on remote islands. We have gotten very good at passing on one model of “museum” from generation to generation. We may have developed elaborate plumage and interesting displays, but these mask the underlying sameness of the idea we pass on. As long as the larger ecosystem evolved slowly, museums could adapt and keep pace. The global internet has shattered that isolation for good, and in the new ecosystem our current reproductive specialization will not continue to serve us well. Insularity — the tendency to look inward, ignore the larger world and produce institutions that are increasingly self-referential, self-pleasing, and obscure to the billions of potential museumgoers — is a strategy for extinction.

For Jansen, encouraging others to build on his idea of Strandbeests is a reproductive and evolutionary strategy. His best hope for the survival of his creations beyond his lifetime is to let them loose for others to tinker with. Survival (and further evolution) lies in spread. Cynthia Coburn gave a fascinating talk at the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning conference in 2014 on scale and spread. If you’re at all interested in dissemination of ideas, it’s worth reading. One thing that struck me from her talk and the paper from which it was distilled are that we tend to be imprecise about what we mean when we talk about “doing more!” Unpacking that, Coburn finds that there are “fundamentally different ways of conceptualizing the goals or outcomes of scale. We identify four: adoption, replication, adaptation, and reinvention.” For this essay, I’m most interested in the fourth outcome. This way of thinking about spread Coburn describes as, “the result of a process whereby local actors use ideas, practices, or tools as a jumping-off point for innovation.”"



"Promiscuity connects museums to maker communities. Community interaction and knowledge sharing are often mediated through networked technologies, with websites and social media tools forming the basis of knowledge repositories and a central channel for information sharing and exchange of ideas, and focused through social meetings in shared spaces such as hackspaces.

This latest eruption of interest in self-guided learning and doing has a long, distinguished lineage. Computer hobbyists, ham radio enthusiasts, and even the model railroad enthusiasts at the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT, who gave us the modern meaning of “hacking” could claim to be “makers.” They were all communities of interest who came together to explore their passions and help each other out. The difference this time is the spread that the Internet makes possible. The 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire drew a crowd of 120,000 attendees over a weekend. “Making” with a capital M is now a firmly established subculture, and part of a growing economic sector.

Promiscuity allows museums to be participatory culture advocates. Henry Jenkins may have coined the term “participatory culture” in 2005, but the idea of a world where individuals are producers of culture, instead of just passive consumers, has been around a long time. I’ve got a dog-eared paper that I’ve toted around for years with a quote from the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihályi which reads, “Creating culture is always more rewarding than consuming it.” As someone who’s worked the cultural/creative sector my whole life, I know the truth of this statement. What might the world look like if we not only preserved and exhibited examples of human creative expression but also more actively encouraged that creative impulse in everyone we serve?

This kind of digital promiscuity also nicely aligns museums with the Open Culture movement. “Open” is already on track to supplant “participatory” as buzzword of the year, with good reason. The proliferation of groups supporting and encouraging openness in the cultural/creative sector is impressive. Wikimedia, Creative Commons, the Open Knowledge Foundation, free software advocates, open-source software advocates: the list gets longer all the time."



"The promiscuous spread of digital assets is a key factor in delivering on museums’ missions to educate, inform, stimulate, and enrich the lives of the people of the planet we live on. Merete Sanderhoff, in the excellent Sharing is Caring lays it out clearly,"
“Digital resources should be set free to form commons — a cultural quarry where users across the world can seek out and find building blaocks for their own personal learning.”

The more we sow these seeds of culture and the more effective we are at seeing those seeds take root, the more likely museums are to see cultural ideas persevere in the constantly-changing world.

"Promiscuity is one way to demolish the perception of exclusivity that has dogged museums for longer than I’ve been around. I realize that this virtue is by far the most painful, because it would force us as memory institutions to lay bare lots of things of things we’d rather not have to deal with: legacies of imperialism and colonialism, tensions between indigenous peoples and more recent arrivals. The history of the relations between Native Americans and museums is not the most cordial, at least in part because the perception that some museums are probably hiding things they don’t want tribes to know about is almost impossible to counter. Promiscuity offers a way to end that particular debate.

The “global village” the Internet has created is real, and now it is possible for a museum of any size to have global reach, provided they have anything to share. As Michael Edson pointed out in his introduction to Sharing is Caring, 34% of humanity is now reachable online. That’s 2.4 billion people who might be interested in your content.

One of the most interesting and infuriating changes in attitude that the Web has wrought is the expectation of finding everything. Not being visible online now is the equivalent of not existing."



"Creating digital analogues of our existing museums is a straitjacket that will not serve us well going forward. Making a virtual museum (in addition to sounding hopelessly 90s), regardless of the technology underlying it, fails to take into account the reality of how people consume digital content. They don’t go to museum websites. Jon Voss of HistoryPin made the statement that you have to meet people where they are, not where you wish they were. Museum websites, the traditional place for museums’ online presence, are not those places, so plowing resources into making bigger, swankier ones is a waste of resources that might be deployed in ways that actually reach a global audience."



"Merete Sanderhoff lists three problems this inability to be promiscuous creates:

1. By putting up impediments museums are pushing users away from authoritative sources of information.

2. We are missing out on the the opportunity to become hubs for people. The social gravity that museums could generate is largely unrealized.

3. By not using these new tools that are at our disposal, museums undermine their own raisons d’être."
museums  ideas  theojansen  2014  edrodley  open  openness  openculture  culturecreation  promiscuity  henryjenkins  mihalycsikszentmihalyi  darkmatter  rijksmuseum  cooper-hewitt  measurement  sebchan  kovensmith  michaeledson  visibility  exclusivity  sharing  maretesanderhoff  participatory 
july 2014 by robertogreco
I Drank a Cup of Hot Coffee That Was Overnighted Across the Country - Robinson Meyer - The Atlantic
"Normcore moves away from a coolness that relies on difference to a post-authenticity coolness that opts in to sameness. But instead of appropriating an aestheticized version of the mainstream, it just cops to the situation at hand. To be truly Normcore, you need to understand that there’s no such thing as normal. […]

Normcore seeks the freedom that comes with non-exclusivity. It finds liberation in being nothing special, and realizes that adaptability leads to belonging."

[quote from: http://khole.net/issues/youth-mode/ ]
k-hole  normcore  liberation  freedom  adaptability  flexibility  nomadism  nomads  appropriation  codeswitching  authenticity  mainstream  exclusivity  youth  generations  internet  specialness  openmindedness 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Cities in motion: why Mumbai's new air terminal has gone off the rails | Cities | theguardian.com
"The difference between the two terminuses demonstrates just what's going wrong with Mumbai. After two decades of economic liberalisation, its middle class has been so brainwashed into believing privatisation is the solution for all their problems that the city seems to have forgotten what public actually means. As art historian Rahul D'Souza points out: "Richer residents are quite willing to accept the idea that an art exhibition can be public, even if it can accessed only by people who have bought an international air ticket." This attitude will surely have a profound effect on Mumbai's politics in the near future.

The middle-class aspiration for exclusivity is a jarring disjuncture with the mythology and history of a city that lives the best part of its life in full view of its neighbours, with one of the highest population densities in the world (it packs 22,937 people into each square kilometre, compared to 5,285 people in London). The size of the average Mumbai family is 4.5 people, and the average home size is 10 square metres, so some of their most private moments transpire in the midst of a crowd.

Much of Mumbai's easy urbanity has been forged in the sweaty confines of its public transport system, by far the most extensive in India. In its compartments, people of different castes and communities are forced to share benches and be wedged together in positions of daring intimacy. This is only to be expected when 5,000 commuters are stuffed into trains built to carry 1,800 – a density that the authorities describe as the "super-dense crushload". The commonplace negotiations of the commute – such as the convention of allowing a fourth traveller to sit on a bench built for three, but only on one buttock – force an acknowledgement of other people's needs that characterises Mumbai life.

The Mumbai commute, in addition to being compacted, is very long – for some, it could involve a journey of two hours each way. This has given rise to the institution of "train friends", people who travel in a group in the same section of the same compartment every morning, sharing stories of their triumphs and disappointments and even celebrating their birthdays by bringing in sweets for their companions.

Despite the enormous effort they sometimes entail, the accommodations of the commute are barely perceptible to the outsider. Because of the unavoidable press of bodies at peak hours, women travel in separate carriages – but every so often, couples who cannot bear to be parted or a clueless out-of-town pair will blunder into the "general compartment". When this happens, the other men will strain to provide the woman a millimetre or two of space around her, creating a cocoon in which she is magically insulated from the accidental nudge of limbs and torsos.

This isn't to suggest that life on the rails is all smiles and sunshine. As is to be expected on a long, sweaty journey, arguments do break out, mostly over trivial matters involving the placement of a limb or a bag in awkward proximity to a fellow passenger's face. But these exchanges rarely culminate in fisticuffs. The crowd around the belligerents can be counted on to defuse the tension quickly, usually with the remark, "These things happen. You have to adjust".

Sadly, though, the spirit of compromise so evident on the trains is evaporating on the streets outside. To watch Mumbai traffic in motion is to see the ferocious sense of entitlement in which India's moneyed classes have wrapped themselves. Mumbai's vehicles refuse to give way to ambulances, and honk furiously at old people and schoolchildren trying to cross the street. They never stops at zebra crossings, frequently jump red lights, and routinely come down the wrong way on no-entry streets. Because an estimated 60% of cars are driven by chauffers, more than in most other parts of the world, car owners have the fig-leaf of pretending that they aren't responsible for transgressions they actually encourage. And this sense of self-importance is pandered to by the government's budgetary allocations. Though the vast majority of Mumbai residents use the overburdened public transport system to get around, a disproportionate amount of development money has been poured into road projects.

The city has built approximately 60 flyovers and elevated roadways in recent years – facilities that have paradoxically made the congestion on the roads far worse. As incomes expand, traffic is growing at a rate of 9% a year, with an estimated 450 new vehicles being added to Mumbai's narrow streets every day. As a result, peak-hour traffic crawls ahead at an average of 10kmh – less than half the speed clocked by winners of the city's annual marathon. It merely proves the adage so beloved of planners around the world: "Building more roads to prevent traffic congestion is like a fat man loosening his belt to prevent obesity."

The imbalance so apparent between Mumbai's transport system and its airport seem sure to polarise political attitudes in the city even more sharply. The city's middle classes have become so enamoured of their privatised comforts, they are forgetting that great cities get their reputation not from the access-restricted pleasures they afford the few, but the public amenities that are available to all. The chasm between the elite and the working classes has long been the playground for populist politicians, here and elsewhere. But over the last few years, such divisions in Mumbai have literally been reinforced by concrete. Unless this changes, my city will lose the common ground on which to make common cause."
2014  mumbai  publictransportation  publictransit  transportation  privatization  publicspace  cities  urbanism  urban  nareshfernandes  commuting  class  segregation  exclusivity  community 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Against TED – The New Inquiry
"TED is not simply “engaging” & “entertaining” but a specific type of entertainment that is increasingly out of touch & exclusionary.

…appears that whole TED brand induces laughter from many of those skeptical of corporate speak & techno-jargon. At first, I thought I was laughing alone; however, it turns out that lots of other people are equally unimpressed by the current state of TED…I’m not the only one who does not take TED very seriously or worse, views the whole project as suspect…

Perhaps the biggest complaint I heard was that TED smells of corporatism…

So many of the TED talks take on the form of those famous patent medicine tonic cure-all pitches of previous centuries, as though they must convince you not through the content of what’s being said but through the hyper-engaging style of the delivery…

As Mike Bulajewski pointed out in a Tweet, “TED’s ‘revolutionary ideas’ mask capitalism as usual, giving it a narrative of progress and change.”"
technology  alexismadrigal  popularity  exclusionary  exclusivity  bias  ideology  paulcurrion  mikebulajewski  evangelism  delivery  snakeoilsalesmen  2012  epistemology  corporatism  nathanjurgenson  criticism  ted 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Penguin - How Luxury Lost its Lustre
"Once upon a time, luxury was only available to the rarefied/aristocratic world of old money/royalty...wasn't simply a product...was a lifestyle. Today, luxury is different...industry run by corporations that focus on brand-awareness, advertising...profit
luxury  marketing  exclusivity  industry  branding  advertising  brands  walth 
september 2007 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read