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Authorship, Authority and Authenticity

2016-03-21 in Uncategorized

I think many people place a great deal of trust in print. Pages of printed text, published between a hardcover binding, with impressive dustcovers screaming out exclusive elucidation to be had for the mere inconvenience of a small price to pay for the luxury great revelations and fantastic knowledge.

While some might say this seems far-fetched, I myself am often prodded to publish my writing. Why should I?

I know no one who would pay for it. I think most of my readers are not so attached to pulp brain dumps. They are more inclined to simply register my point of view and then move on. The so-called “rest of the world” — those with a fetish for tomes of printed words — are far less inclined to follow my reasoning, abstractions, descriptions of immaterial nature, philosophy, and similar assorted amusements. The vast majority desire a plot, a story line, good storytellers capable of awesome storytelling.

I can’t — or perhaps simply refuse to — get from here to there. My world is a static zero-sum game. There is little action, almost no surprise, the narrative is as dead as a doornail.

Even worse: I expect you to think. You are supposed to come up with ideas, make plans, engage in collaborative efforts. It’s all a huge PAIN.

Why bother?

The real world is usually not a very big page-turner. Reality is what avid readers attempt to escape… rather than embrace. Our eco-system is dirt cheap and mundane, not awe-inspiring.

Yet in my humble opinion this is a rather limited world-view. From my perspective, both the future as well as the past are fictional stories that need to be „filled in“ with concrete details. We are moving through time and space, we see various intersections up ahead, we can steer this way or that way. We can close in and move together or we can go our own ways and drift apart… – to a degree.

Anyone who thinks they are self-made is only deluding themselves. You are the product of your own choices, decisions and circumstances (and also the choices, decisions and circumstances of all other things and beings). Each and every one of us are embedded in our very own context – every now and then our contexts may overlap a little. We can sieze the day every day, and every day we act upon our glimpses of opportunities we turn tomorrow’s possibilities into today’s realities. Every moment, we create our own lives from the pallette of fictions at our immediate disposal. We are constantly reaching out to grab them and bring them into the present.

We can either keep our stories to ourselves or we can share them with each other. In our authenticity, we enable ourselves and others to grow and we thereby also become co-participants of shared experiences, we engage in collaborative storytelling, we help each other to build the real world together and we also help each other realize the dreams and goals we envision for ourselves and others alike.

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Data Consumers vs. Data Producers: Every Outspoken Expression is a Social Act

2015-09-13 in Uncategorized

As people who follow my writing on other forums probably know very well, I often post more theoretical / abstract articles on one of my personal blogs which I set up for my own personal opinions (see e.g. “Delusions of Grandeur“). Here, I intend to be more “practically” oriented — and in particular towards an audience without much experience with respect to online media.

This weekend I took part in a sporting event, and as is quite common at such events the group (all adult males) also socialized quite a bit afterwards. There was one moment in particular that I wish to focus on right now. One father mentioned that his son, after returning from a summer camp, had over 6000 notifications on some app on his smartphone… and he shook his head at how much time is being wasted on these “social media” applications. I neither agree nor disagree with what he said, but I noticed something I find absolutely fascinating. Almost all the other men who agreed with this man did so without really adding any nuance to the conversation — and I find that particularly noteworthy. In other words, all who raised their voice did so mainly in order to join the group of like-minded… more so than in order to make a new observation or unique statement themselves.

After thinking about this for some time now, I have come to the following conclusion. Very often — no: I would indeed venture to say it is always the case that when we express some opinion, we do so primarily in order to state our wish to belong to some group. We declare our territory, our pledge of allegiance, and thereby each of our expressions should be seen as a social act. It is a declaration of intent: We seek to be a part of a community. Although the similarity between the actions of the fathers and their children seemed to completely escape these parents, there is indeed something different about the two cases.

The fathers who voiced their opinions stood before me in flesh and blood. I could see the frustration and exasperation in their eyes, their voices carried nuances of engagement technology startups can only dream of. Notifications on smartphone apps, in contrast, are not expressions of individuals per se — they are little more than tiny micro-publications made by some Silicon Valley company. The group affiliation the children are engaging in is one of servitude: they submit their expressions to some corporate entity which they hope will publish this content on their behalf. Indeed: Many people use such proxies in order to preserve their anonymity, and many of these anonymous users could easily be classified as trolls. In this vein, such inauthenticity might also be linked to mobbing, bullying and other at least questionable types of engagement.

We can hardly blame naive children for such inauthenticity — especially if we are not telling them how engagement might be considered as more authentic (as I have alluded to above). I myself have long ago developed “authenticity guidelines” for use in online settings. Above and beyond that, we might also bring to attention the degree to which more inauthenticretard media” websites exist in order to satisfy consumer and/or “selfie” attitudes — and also the degree to which their profits (or at least their profit motives) are based on the exploitation of their subordinate users.

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How to Tell Whether Someone on the Internet is a Real Person / Human / Not a Dog

2015-08-01 in Uncategorized

There’s a saying that goes something like “on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog”. Well, IMHO there is a way to know when someone is not a dog. This is something I wrote about a while ago in a little piece I called “Authenticity Guidelines“. I was reminded of it today in part because David Weinberger wrote a post about something I consider related — he called it “Restoring the Network of Bloggers“.

Many people (apparently including David Weinberger) continue to consider a site to represent a person. Personally, I feel it represents something more like a title. In my opinion, a page title is subordinate to a site title much in the same way that a chapter title is subordinate to a book title… and the author of any online web site (be it a blog or whatever other kind of website) is the site’s registrant (and/or owner and/or admin).

The easiest way to tell if they are a real person (or whether they are a corporate entity or whatever) is to look at the “whois” entry for that site (this is the online equivalent to the property owner being registered in a town or city’s land records). If the entry is not bogus, then the person behind the site is most probably not a dog.

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Monica Lewinsky’s “The Price of Shame” TED Talk is Really About the Price of Inauthenticity

2015-03-25 in Uncategorized

Several people have shared the latest Monica Lewinsky video on Facebook, so I decided to watch it. While the topic is important, Ms. Lewinsky’s lack of authenticity makes her come across as bogus, as shilling for clickbait-based advertising campaigns.

Ms. Lewinsky has shared her story in many “mainstream” publications (such as Vanity Fair, Forbes, Twitter and now also TED)… but she has not yet published her story herself.

In her latest presentation, she states:

it’s time: time to stop tip-toeing around my past; time to stop living a life of opprobrium; and time to take back my narrative.

Again: While it is commendable that Ms. Lewinsky uses 50-Cent vocabulary, she really should deliver what she so strongly advocates: To take back her narrative.

To do that, she needs to publish her ideas herself. She should stop submitting them to other publishers who will only use them as clickbait to sell advertisements.

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