Nicholas Carr is laying down arms to the future
Technological dissent or obscurantism ? Nicholas Carr is having fun on his terms with Twitter, and maybe Facebook, and maybe "new media" in general. But at what price, and for what purpose ? Only the Prophet can tell.
[Obscurantisme ou dissidence technologique ? Nicholas Carr continue son grand oeuvre de prophétisation des nouveaux médias. Résultat : un joli billet pour plaire à un public culturellement blasé et technophobe. Même s'il fait l'effort de citer Jean Baudrillard, il termine sur une conclusion incorrecte et facile.]
Nicholas Carr having nothing to say really concrete, suddenly delves "into the shallows" more profoundly, merely said, he is shooting away impressions and he surely knows with style how to weave assumptions into a remarkably antagonising scheme.
What is particularly sad is that some fragile manager, naive student, or disrupted journalist will read this article and believe that he has struck gold in company of a new prophet, laying down arms to the future.
"Those that know the technology cannot see beyond it, and those that don't know the technology cannot see into it."
Absolutely wrong, those that know technology are not here to provide all the answers, nor taking the political decisions for the technology produced. They need returns from experience, they need the society to produce adequate policies for the society upon their work. They are no God and surely do not want to decide for others, but in a crisis, as they rarely loose their sense of openess and optimism, they belong to the rare ones who can bring helpful, bright and novel insights about future changes.
And those who do not know technology, proved also that they can just make great things with it, to say the least. And they can see into it if they just ask technologists, after all the latters are not demons.
As usual, Nicholas Carr is taking position against new IT, this time by borrowing the words of a brillant french philosopher, Jean Baudrillard, words which were directed at another targets at another time : television trauma caused by its growing omnipresence and obscenity, and the nightmare of mass medias joined to the polls addiction of the masses. Which we can observe now the last flames in a disingrated world after old medias failed in their mission to alert the whole system.
Nicholas Carr seems pessimistic about "new media", but what do we see at the edge of these "new medias" ?
[I do not know if it is such a bright idea to call them such, as what Nicholas and his colleagues called mass media (or just media) for years where not even at the level of simple communication as it never enjoyed other feedback than a complacent one.]
What we see is just enormous resistance at the edge of the Network to the habits of mass media : polls, panels, audience targeting by communications agencies were unable to bring sense to the Web publication efforts.
What we see is thousands of anonymous people gathering informally at Wikipedia to keep track with the flow of knowledge, whatever subject it might cover.
What we see is the flourishing of dozens of free tools and free working standards that enriches the possibility of communication and creation of anyone who wants to. And yes, even the tools made for cloud computing are made accessible to the public.
And Nicholas Carr is only viewing the signal of the end of mass medias, in the desire of some but many users to broadcast their own life on Facebook or Twitter ?
Really strong statement indeed... let us see :
"Mass media reaches its natural end-state when we broadcast our lives rather than live them."
No, mass media enters a regressive and antagonising state whenever the possibility to evade its system of interactions occurs.
Of course, it is up to anyone to adopt a role in the actual play, but in Nicholas Carr's article I do not even see a point which is not dedicated to pure criticism, or the necessity to adapt reality to his own arguments .
Another thought came to my mind while reading this article, even if it deviates from the main subject, I present it to you nonetheless. So you are free to stop reading from here.
This whole disenchanted feel about the world, is not a proof of an elite superior mindset, it is, to the contrary, very known to people who have dealt once in their life with science and technology, probably during their studies or much later treading with them in their work path. Generally, they overcome this kind of state.
Baudrillard used this postmodern disenchantment as a promising style and opened with it a most prolific avenue for his literary career, but we should take care here of not stopping and falling into the only derisive or ironic habits of Nicholas Carr's kind : Jean Baudrillard was much better than that as he reenchanted the world with the feel of the moment that pervades in Taoist or Zen Bhuddism thinking.
Because Baudrillard is not a pessimistic writer, in the end, quite the contrary.
For instance, the act of liberation of Jean Baudrillard's thinking happened during the 80's when with his first tome of Cool Memories he opened on "the first day of the rest of your life" ; something to be enjoyed as a a man who has accomplished his best moments and experiences of his life, and cannot pretend at least to more satisfying and intense first emotions that the ones he lived.