• Generation Why - Zadie Smith: “But here I fear I am becoming nostalgic. I am dreaming of a Web that caters to a kind of person who no longer exists. A private person, a person who is a mystery, to the world and—which is more important—to herself. Person as mystery: this idea of personhood is certainly changing, perhaps has already changed. Because I find I agree with Zuckerberg: selves evolve.”

idea: how are people different now?

• You Are Not A Gadget - Jaron Lanier: “Different media designs stimulate different potentials in human nature. We shouldn’t seek to make the pack mentality as efficient as possible. We should instead seek to inspire the phenomenon of individual intelligence.”

idea: do we turn into the designs we use?

• The Medium is the Message - Marshall McLuhan: “For the ‘message’ of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs “

idea: the medium is the message! (not the content?)

• Welcome to Airspace / MonoCulture - Kyle Chayka: “You will probably enjoy it. You might think, ‘This is nice, I am comfortable.’ And then you can move on to the next one, only a click away.”

idea: what are effects of mass-produced software on local artifacts?

• The Garden of Forking Memes - Aaron Z. Lewis: “Digital media has done away with the very thing that created our sense of history: imperfect memory. The process of creating a historical narrative (or any story, for that matter) involves discarding an enormous amount of information. It’s like chipping away at a big block of marble until you’re left with a captivating statue. Forgetting is a feature, not a bug ... The internet has undercut these time-tested practices of inter-generational knowledge transfer. It’s like an all-knowing god without any rituals of forgetting or forgiveness.”

idea: how has the Internet warped our sense of time?

• Surveillance Capitalism - Shoshanna Zuboff: “In the future that the surveillance capitalism prepares for us, my will and yours threaten the flow of surveillance revenues. Its aim is not to destroy us but simply to author us and to profit from that authorship. Such means have been imagined in the past, but only now are they feasible. Such means have been rejected in the past, but only now have they been allowed to root. We are ensnared without awareness, shorn of meaningful alternatives for withdrawal, resistance, or protection.”

idea: what becomes of our “right to future tense” and “the will to will” under surveillance capitalism?

• How to Do Nothing - Jenny Odell: “As the body disappears, so too does our ability to empathize. Berardi suggests a link between our senses and our ability to make sense, asking us to “hypothesize the connection between the expansion of the infosphere ... and the crumbling of the sensory membrane that allows human beings to understand that which cannot be verbalized, that which cannot be reduced to codified signs.” In the environment of our online platforms, “that which cannot be verbalized” is figured as excess or incompatible, although every in-person encounter teaches us the importance of nonverbal expressions of the body, not to mention the very matter-of-fact presence of the body in front of me.”

idea: nothing as a form of resistance to the attention economy; sensitivity vs. connectivity in different forms of media & interactions

• Home Screens - Drew Austin: “This was already the perceptual logic of the internet: a nonspatial, atemporal universe in which everything feels always already available for instrumental use, whether we want it to be or not. Before the lockdown, this could manifest as power over information. Now without much physical experience to contextualize it, this feels both overwhelming and insufficient, failing to adequately organize experience or meet our social needs on its own.”

idea: How does the Internet/digital media destroy our sense of physical space?

• Digital Cities vs. Analog Cities - L. M. Sacasas: “We are in the middle of a deep transformation of our political culture, as digital technology is reshaping the human experience at both an individual and a social level. The Internet is not simply a tool with which we do politics well or badly; it has created a new environment that yields a different set of assumptions, principles, and habits from those that ordered American politics in the pre-digital age.”

idea: how have our previous political systems & civil societies been formed by a different sense of time & space, and what does this mean going forward?

the way we live

personhood & technology: takeaways

Annika Dhawan
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