other: October 2008 Archives

cyprus twenty video
This post is an other. Regulars to the blog will know that this happens from time to time. You can check out the ratios in the categories section of the sidebar. However, this is of real interest to anyone reading or writing blogs i.e. both of us. 

You see what I did there? Both of us. That was almost like I was actually speaking to you ... that is actually you and not 'the reader'. We're also transcending the blog by talking about it while in it. Now we're one more level 'out' of the onion skin thingy. We are now commenting on blogging by blogging. Re-read the first paragraph - you see, not very out of the ordinary is it? This kind of thing is quite normal to blogging. These ideas used to be called post-modern theory but now people tend to use the prefix 'meta-'. 'Meta-' seems to wind up free-market yuppie right wingers less. To be fair, it's a more versatile expression too and hones in on one part of the theory.

So first up - what is this actually all about?

A group of Silicon Valley based dot com rich types went on a group holiday to Cyprus. This included people from Google and Facebook. They had a big yuppie love fest which was actually nothing particularly bothersome. Here's the catch. They made a lip synch viral video of their trip which shows them living the dream and put it on the net two days before the economy crashed, after which the meaning of the video changed somewhat. Then a bunch of people wrote various opinions on it, including the one that inspired me to write this post.

Here's the video in question on Youtube.
Here's the post I read on Valleywag.com.

And special thanks to Thalia Kwok who, ironically as you will see, linked me over to it via Facebook. The video is embedded in the Valleywag post if Youtube drop it. This post was also semi-inspired by Aric Queen's video diaries and some responses to them.

The Valleywag article discusses if it is the end of Web 2.0 as we know it. The crash is more a banker thing but these people who run the likes of Facebook are very much tied up in it. The holiday house in the video was provided to them by the son of a high powered Wall Street banker. Silicon Valley has taken a huge hit in the downturn. But, never mind that, it was the following quote that got me thinking:

No, the real test is whether this millennial generation will continue posting videos when they don't have splashy trips to celebrate. Will they continue updating friends with every change in their status, when the news isn't that they've gotten hired, launched a company, bought something expensive?


When their buddies can't find work, when their startups run out of money, when they start leaving town en masse, what will they do? Promise to stay Facebook friends?

Next I thought about Thalia's comment that for 'nerds' they didn't look nerdy. Why would they? They are young rich entrepreneurs with backers and family money. Does being able to program a computer make you a nerd. 

Facebook friends. I think we now have quite a few people in the world whose reality has been shaped by online life without being aware of the facades and ideologies that it presents. It also seems to quickly affect our total reality. The Cyprus 20 are geeks. Their businesses are start-ups (sounds like starts from nothing - having no resources or money). RPG gaming equals sitting in front of WoW. Friends are people you read about, and perhaps meet at the odd party. Dancing in a club to a DJ is underground or alternative. Dostoevsky's ghost is going to kill us all. 

Are you, or I, living in Matrix? Are we living a mental meta-life designed to feed into the intellectual vision of the Cyprus 20. They claim to create tools that allow us to input our own lives but that's a tall claim. Are we all familiar with the depth of thought and development that has already been observed by people who live a life of independent thought?

Did you know that pretty much the first recognized English Language Novel was self-referential and 'meta-'  - before itself was even a standard form. Ouch, there goes my mind.

Because, that's what 'meta' is all about isn't it? We, that is Web 2.0 users, are aware. We can choose our lives and beliefs. We can comment on life and contribute to it. Here's the news - people have been doing that for longer than the web has been around. And what's the difference. Isn't it in the ideologies? You can say it's all tools but the tools are used to create communities. We don't bang on about the usefulness of hammers when responding to architecture. Also - if you are choosing your lives and beliefs and living your dreams chiefly online, then you are in the Matrix, in the simple sense.

I don't see the same dynamics than when a group of friends sit face to face and talk out radical issues or tell stories. What about the vast amount of people in the world who don't have a home computer? Are they obsolete? Web 2.0 is not really a tool, it's a community that exists with structures and ideas. Ask yourself, how 'meta-' are you? I like communications and the internet but are you using it or is it using you. If blogging opens up participation and collaboration and that's all wonderful - then that must mean that it was not available in the 'real' world or existing models. Are we taking these ideals away from the desk? If not, let me say again: you - in - meta-matrix. 

I sometimes feel as if a neo-liberal Goebbels is melting our language and telling us we are free as long as we follow a certain model of freedom. Freedom to comment on comments on a live-feed in Facebook is not exactly freedom of action is it? Being part of a certain online community, itself a sub group of the group 'people who have a certain life where they can afford a home with a computer and the net' does not equal enlightenment. Enlightenment is making sense of your situation. Stepping out and looking back in with honesty. 

You see what I did there? I imagined there was a listener, that's you. There I go again! I then took a topic and started to kind of talk it out, exploring ideas and following links. Not really following a plan or trying to structure an argument that must convince, just letting the sparks in my brain spark away. Perhaps my friend in the cafe will ask the occasional question, not to refute or to 'win' but assist me on this interesting road. By the time I got around to this meta-ending I had formed some new ideas and found many roads not yet explored that I would like to travel in the future - freely.

So I ask you, is this the same thing as when you surf around the web? I don't know, I'm not you. That is if you exist outside of this blog.

Simon Pegg in the A.V. Club

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simon pegg
Simon Pegg has just done an interview on The A.V. Club in support of his new movie. Before I go on, you can read the interview in full here.

What surprised me about it, in the best possible way, is that I finally found someone else who understands a basic principal of culture that seems lost on 95% of people I talk to. Not only do people not get it, they fly into defensive, angry tones if you even suggest it. I assume this is because they understand the implications on a subconscious level at least.

So, here's the excerpt in question. Nice one, Simon!

AVC: This is probably a question you're sick of, but according to your Wikipedia entry your undergraduate thesis was on Marxist overview of popular '70s cinema and hegemonic discourses?

SP: Correct.

AVC: Could you give a Cliffs Notes version of what you said in this thesis?

SP: It was mainly about Star Wars and related works. It was mainly saying if you watch a movie that has inherent political messages, even if they're unintentional, and without critically objectifying yourself, you by consent agree with it. So if you have a film which is incredibly misogynistic, and you just watch it and enjoy it, you are a misogynist because you haven't been able to say, "Hey, wait a minute, that's putting forward an idea that women are to be demeaned." So in films like Star Wars and Raiders Of The Lost Ark there are certain social metaphors at work. Bomb-fear. A lot of big-weapon fear. Saying stuff like, say, "Big weapons are fine if you're good, and they're not fine if you're bad." The line, "Don't look at the ark" is a fantastic way of saying, "Just don't worry about stuff and it'll be fine. We have nuclear weapons, but it's none of your business." Also some of the sexual things going on, the gender relationships, the racial stuff that goes on, if you don't pick it out and say, "Hang on a sec. Isn't that saying that black people are stupid?" Then you're being racist by watching that movie. You agree with it.

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This page is a archive of entries in the other category from October 2008.

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