IT Aphorisms

Information-gathering is like consuming mass-produced jelly. Knowledge is the effort of chewing your way through meat from an animal you have laboriously tracked through swamps and forests and then slaughtered yourself.

Because the Spectacle, capitalist consumer society, knows nothing but information consumption, the labour of gaining knowledge in this society is inherently subversive.

Information deals with fragments and bytes. Knowledge deals in wholes and holons. Wisdom’s currency is silence.

The mind can produce a computer but the computer, by definition, can never reproduce the mind and its explicate, the universe. It is ontologically different: it is defined in all its workings by its basic technical structure of 1/0, yes/no, either/or, i.e. by dualism. The structure of the mind/universe, like poetry, is yes-and-no and both/and, i.e. non-dual.

Reading on screen, you quickly skim and scan the surface of information as if the text were an image made of letters floating on the shallows. Reading on paper, you are drawn deeply into the text and, thoroughly immersed, lose yourself as you swim with strong strokes in the complex currents of meaning.

Digitalisation is both potentially democratising and the totalisation of the Spectacle – Capital’s reign of the image – into the very pores of everyday life. Work, i.e. capital accumulation, becomes 24/7.

A computer in every child’s bedroom, a wall-length 3D TV in every living room and the real world dissolves into distraction. This very much suits the powers that be.

Computer screens, like TV screens, inherently hate long arguments. As talking heads are ‘bad (boring) TV’, so reasoning is ‘bad cyberspace’. The medium is the problem, not its contents.

Reasoning takes time, patience, listening. Previously, democracy and reasoning were considered coterminous. This is no longer the case. Where the sound bite and PR media event rule democracy doesn’t.

Not exercised, the muscles of reasoning slacken and atrophy. The new muscles being exercised are those of scanning and shallow reading, twittering and sound biting, image projection and immersion. And, simultaneously, those of globalizing a One World consciousness.

Information technology and the internet are as ambivalent as capitalism, their matrix. Their potentials point towards the post-capitalist utopia of One Humanity, their actuality is crass commercialism and totalised state surveillance.

Only social and cultural revolution can liberate the democratic and anarchist potentials now nascent in anti-and post-capitalist cyber-phenomena like free software, open source, creative commons, wikis.

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~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on January 21, 2012.

One Response to “IT Aphorisms”

  1. All this so-called virtual reality pretends to simplify everything, conflate complexities in much easier forms of information, hence, discouraging a more engaged participation and discussion. Yes, it benefits the powers-that-be, we need to be more critical and subversively discursive in the face of such totalization. after all, this spectacle is something they orchestrate at our expense.

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