Posts Tagged ‘media’
Notes on Sloterdijk’s Philosophy of Plural Spherology in the Context of Technological Politics Studies.
In 2009 Boom Publishers published the long-waited-for Dutch translation of Peter Sloterdijk’s Sphären lll. Schäume – Plurale Sphärologie. I was anxious to read it. Spheres lll, as I would call the book in English is the third book of the ‘Foam trilogy’, Sloterdijk’s opus magnum and treat to our understanding of humanity, communities and ‘being there’. For me, Sloterdijk’s writings have become and object to think with in terms of media, technology and culture. The trilogy has a straight forward set up Book l, micro spheres named Blasen (bubbles), book ll, macro spheres named Globen and book lll Plural Spherology named Schaum (Foam). That is the conceptual set up of the trilogy in which we must understand that the three levels of spheres cannot do without each other.
Spheres, or better Spherology is about people and space. It is, as Peter Sloterdijk (whom I shall refer to in this text as PS) calls it a ‘Chronolatery in Space’, a border-transcendent movement, say traffic, in which capital (value creation such as economical, social, democratic and cultural values) is generated. PS wrote “If you are in the world, you are always in a sphere”. And this is exactly the issue when trying to understand what and how new media is effecting our lives and consequently, the regulation of it. Regulation not necessarily means formal law-prescription and enforcement. It may also refer to functional operating systems in which people can participate and feel part of the group, protocol perhaps. Regulation in that sense can be regarded as a projection of security – belonging – and PS’s words lead us, as the projection of security, to the feeling of Immunity, as an individual but also as a group and even further, grander communities (cities, countries, the world). It is, as PS calls it, a creational attempt of the System, the sphere that holds groups together. Immunity systems (foam bubbles) can be regarded as a projection of security. Way back in time, the tribe was the sphere of immunity and togetherness was the metaphysical unity to guard us. Once Christian theology appeared, the human factor disappeared in favor of the appearance of God who now symbolized immunity through unity. Along with fascism and communism, religion is an attempt to create macro systems, in terms of Spherology called Globen (globes). In line with this logic, PS now coins capitalism as the most important macro sphere or Globe.
Apart from eruditely feeding the reader with a sheer endless list of coherent examples of his spherological realism, PS uses the metaphor of foam to illustrate the pluralism and varieties of communal behaviour when peoples live close to each other and the closer we live together, the more and the smaller the bubbles become; a multi-room society, from Globen; foam bubbles on a macro scale like countries or cities to the level of intimate tiny bubbles as representation of our smallest immunity, our room.
In all cases there are communities (clubs, schools, friends) that all form these bubbles and provide resilience thus offering possibilities of resistance to totalization of society. According to PS, this is positive human behavior. But, imperative signals from outside our modern intimate spheres influence us. They do so through media. Ideas, thoughts, whishes can all be misused in macro spheres and may, eventually trickle down to the micro spheres of our individual existence. This is for instance exactly what happens in advertising. On the other hand, there is dynamics in the foam and according to PS this is because we are non-conformists; we do not want to be as the whole, the group, community. We want to be unique. Yet in the strictest fashion of philosophy Sloterdijk states that, on the other hand again, we do imitate each other at the same time; an interesting behavior with the core that we conform not to conform, we show resistance to the community we (want to) belong to yet we are part of that community. PS calls this the romanticizing of the resistance. It is Kynism, the critique of cynical reasoning and most likely the distinctive characteristic of a system period. It is resistance to strange elements that want to inhibit our bubbles. That is why we must be fit in our immune system; a fit system will respond openly and properly, an immune system that is not fit will respond in a xenophobic sense. Fully in line with his metaphor, PS states that too much hygiene and security in a community – please allow yourself a good look at our contemporary state of the union – causes group-autism only to dissolve itself when getting in contact with fearful foes; the system (community) will turn against itself for as people cannot distinguish real threats from false, they cannot distinguish their own misfits. The mogul of the community will fight itself. Originally religious immune systems offered comfort to such an extent that even death was not a real threat (Heaven as the ultimate and ever-lasting Utopia).
But technology became religion’s opponent and more and more people de-slaved themselves from poverty. Perhaps PS uses this in advocacy of social constructivism; Technological Imaginary as an immune system against totalization of communities? In any case, because of technology the wanting, being able and execution are now closer related than ever. It makes us as mighty as God.
To conclude, let me quote Sloterdijk from the Dutch translation on page 598 (translation by me) as he attempts to relativize his self-alleged pomposity of thought and theory: “Let me not arouse false expectations. I would not dare assert that I have understood what the so-called spheres eventually mean. I doubt if I will work with such expressions in the future. It has not become fully clear to me what dyads or multipolar surrealistic spaces are, let alone be able to reproduce how peoples under their canopies, how city cultures behind their immunificating walls and how the liberal populations in their pampering greenhouses live. Anyway, historians are known for not being feeble with abstract ideas. In any case, I am convinced that these vague and grandiloquent theories, with the thoroughness in which I, to be honest, cannot believe to the full, one way or the other fall back on the [mentioned] phase construction I, after long but never disputed trial, hold for grounded”.
Personally I do believe that Sloterdijk’s philosophy of Plural Spherology bears elucidation and metaphor in understanding communities in their habitat and the role of technology and media. But then, I am not a historian.
My rating: ★★★★★ Very good and readable.
Book read: Peter Sloterdijk (2009) Sferen. Schuim. (Dutch translation) Boom Amsterdam. 693 pages, hard cover. Translated in Dutch by Hans Driessen. ISBN 978 90 8506 6750 / NUR 730. Original title: Sphären lll. Schäume – Plurale Sphärologie. Originally published at Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2004.
This text taken from Reuters via Online Media Daily Europe
* First screening of internet sensation in northern Uganda
* Disappointment and scorn greets scratchy screening (Adds tourism officials)
By Elias Biryabarema
LIRA, Uganda, March 14 (Reuters) – Few faces evoke more hatred and fear in northern Uganda than Joseph Kony, one of Africa’s most wanted men whose army of child soldiers preyed on this town for years and whose brutal legacy has been thrust back into the spotlight by a hugely popular U.S. video.
A wave of anger and depression swept over 27-year old Isaac Omodo as he stared at fuzzy images of young boys mutilated by the rebel warlord whose drugged and vicious fighters abducted Omodo’s brother at the height of northern raids by Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in 2001.
Those grainy pictures came from the first screening in northern Uganda on Tuesday of a 30-minute YouTube video filmed by a California-based charity, whose appeal for U.S.-backed Ugandan troops to capture the LRA leader went viral on the Internet over the last week.
“When I see some of those things Kony did I get mad,” said Omodo, whose sibling is still missing.
As the sun dipped over a dusty park in Lira, Omodo was among thousands who gathered to watch the screening of the video, which has been seen by more than 77 million people. It has attracted massive support on Twitter and Facebook and endorsements from celebrities like George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey in its quest to press for Kony’s capture.
But Omodo said he felt his raw emotional scars were being reopened.
“Why are we being reminded? I feel bad. We want to just forget all about Kony and the LRA madness,” Omodo told Reuters.
Some jeered as the projection neared its end and scuffles broke out as simmering frustrations boiled over.
Notorious for his use of children as fighters and sex slaves, as well as his fighters’ fondness for hacking off limbs, Kony terrorised northern Uganda for nearly 20 years until he was chased out of the area in 2005.
Glenn Beck, Founder & CEO of Mercury Radio Arts
“Everyone knows that the internet has transformed how news is both reported and consumed. This fact—that news production and distribution changes—is the new (and only) constant. Change is normal. In the future a lot more stories will be uncovered that have been ignored for too long—stories that people actually want to read about but that the media gatekeepers either finds disinteresting or is afraid to report. The power is shifting from the media to the people. Cave canem.”
As media companies try desperately to solve their revenue problems by launching paywalls and subscription iPad apps, too few are looking at how connecting with their community (or communities) can help. That’s the view of Public Radio International’s vice-president of interactive, Michael Skoler, in a piece written for Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism. And I think he is right: engaging a community can be one of the most powerful tools that companies have in an era of real-time, distributed and hyper-social media.
As an example of what this kind of engagement can produce, Skoler describes the incredible response that PRI had when it took radio host Ira Glass on the road several years ago, with a live version of his popular show “This American Life.” But would anyone come to see what amounted to a radio show in person? Apparently yes — huge numbers of them.
They came in droves. More than 30,000 watched the first digital show at hundreds of theaters across the U.S. and Canada in the spring of 2008. The next year, 47,000 turned out. They came to be with other fans, experiencing something they all loved together. The success wasn’t so much the power of Ira, but the power of his community.
Skoler also offers several other non-media related examples of communities that have produced profitable businesses, including Angie’s List — which has grown from a site run by a single mom into a company with more than 1.5 million members in over 150 cities who pay annual fees that total about $50 million. Although Skoler doesn’t mention it, Craigslist is perhaps the most powerful example of this phenomenon: a site that started as Craig Newmark’s personal passion and is now one of the largest sites on the Internet, with revenues estimated in the $100-million-plus range.
I’ve been sort of following WWDC, You know: what the sentiment was, what the novelties were and, obviously, what Steve Jobs oracled that fine day at the West Coast. Steve Jobs was, could it be any different, the ultimate keynote speaker and his brilliant master stroke that day was: “We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device, we’re going to move your hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud.” With this bright future claim, Jobs introduced, what Apple refers to as iCloud. And this is how it works: iCloud is integrated across Apple desktops and Apple mobile devices to ensure that all of your Apple computers can synchronize contacts, calendars, email, apps, music, photos, and more. Most likely, iCloud can be integrated not just in Apple machines but in machines that run on any given OS. So Apple is offering a fully integrated service while at the same time other companies offer parts of the service (i.e. Amazon’s latest music service, Google’s Gmail inbox, Youtube, Dropbox, Wiggio, Flickr) no one combines it all into one seamless service that also works across a set of hardware devices. And it’s free. Now, isn’t that nice?
Now the question rises whether Apple has any scruples, let alone responsibility regarding the rise and fall of companies that build their business model on just one, call it, platform. Obviously, these companies choose to depend entirely on the big ones that provide the necessary biotope to have an entire ecosystem of interdependent companies. I have often wondered about this phenomenon. Why should you bet on just one horse? On the other hand, there is a paradox in this. It is not just in digital media that there is a certain parasite behavior of -often – smaller – companies that extend the big one. We see it in industries like automotive and agriculture, to name just two. In the case of automotive, we only have to bear Chicago in mind, its deserted streets, gross poverty and bitter waste.
Thinking of interdependency (as we may call this system) in agriculture, we see fast areas of non-activity all over the world; places that used to thrive. Paradoxily, the small specialized companies that provide the big one with a one trick pony probably have no other place to go to, may not know how to do things differently or simply don’t have the power to step out of the race and find different employment.
So, now it appears that Apple is taking over all the specialties of other (small) companies that were once proud of
the technological innovation they marketed. I wonder if this has any effect on us, the simple end user, consumer, adapter. Will we obey the great leader, St. Steve? Will we adjust to his demands from his new and spectacular ivory tower (that will most likely look like an UFO (as indicated in the press?)
Who knows? But the paradox, no, question better remains: do we lead or do we follow? Apple bought more semiconductors in 2010 than any of its peers, and the spread will be even larger in 2011. Semiconductors power chips. Chips power tech. Tech powers innovation. Innovation powers tomorrow. See where we’re going here?
Every so often a news item comes along that reinforces the downside of building your business on someone else’s platform, and this week’s poster child is iFlowReader, an e-book app for the iPhone and iPad. The company behind the app announced Wednesday that it’s shutting its doors for good, and it puts the blame for its demise squarely on Apple and its new 30-percent levy on in-app sales. The benefits of getting into bed with Apple are obvious: access to a huge universe of motivated users and built-in payment handling. But the downsides for those who play inside Apple’s walled garden should be just as obvious — namely, you lose control over some fundamental aspects of your business.
The bitterness that iFlowReader feels about Apple suddenly changing the rules of the app game spills out of every line in the company’s blog post, in which the company advises users that it will be “going out of business” as of May 31, and that this is a “sad day for innovation.” The post goes on to say that: