It's Fire Escapes All The Way Down
For: @IgniteNYC June 8, 2011
Koyaanisqatsi; "Crazy Life. Life Out of Balance."
1. I started the Coffee on Fire Escape series when I moved to New York City last November.
2. I started using Instagram, and posting to Twitter every morning. The question i sought to answer was, "Who am I, and does "I" even exist"
3. George Berkeley is probably the philosopher in the western tradition that most fully anticipates our current ideas about of experience of reality and self in social networks.
Berkeley notoriously argued that Esse is Percipi: to be is to be perceived. I would argue that we should flip this, Percipi is Esse: to be perceived is to be.
4. The intermittency of my ideas is "not that sensible objects have no real existence," but rather that there must be some other mind wherein they exist" - Ultimately, for Berkeley, this other mind is God.
5. Today, we are more likely to say that it is the network, on which the simulation of our existence may play out - or rather the social network. I am because my projected Profile exists.
6. To be online is to already be perceived, for the network is the modern instantiation of God, the unsleeping omni-voyeur. My understanding of "I" in simulated reality therefor reads: I am connected, I exist.
7. Heidegger describes technology not simply as a collection of artifacts but as an all encompassing world view "The technological understanding of being." A culture's assembled tools & practices define for them a particular way of both seeing and interacting with the world.
8. In our new epoch, networks of social communities completely enframe our world, fitting everything into a grand, unified ecosystem, and treating everything as a potential node to be used and exploited, friended or followed.
9. Both social object and subject are converted to a standing reserve to be disaggregated, redistributed, recontextualized, and reaggregated. This is what is argued against in the Book "You are not a gadget"
10. This new era fits Heidegger's model even better. Information and our relationships in the context of social networks is the ultimate natural resource. They can be endlessly disaggregated, remixed and redistributed.
11. The network enframes our entire world, and human individuals, who were once reduced to resources (Fredrick Taylor and the authoritarianism of Human Resource departments), or "eyeballs" in the terminology of internet marketing executives.
12. We are now the creative engines of content farms, enslaved to Huffington Post and Facebook advertisers.
13. Albert Borgman builds upon Heidegger's work, seeing technology providing the promise for a better life, but warns of us substituting the collection of technological objects themselves for a focus on what makes life good (family, friends, love, sex, food).
14. Modern gadgets allow us the freedom to do many things, but in so doing, we risk our intelligence becoming diffuse, our memory lost without our electronic aids - my iPhone is my memory, contact list, communication device, and extension of my central nervous system - to build on the ideas of Marshal McCluhan.
15. Borgman's antidote for losing ourselves, and our personality to the shallowness and superficiality of hyper-reality is to return to focal activities.
16. Focal activities are practices which center our attention on the richness of life. For example, the preparation of a well cooked meal calls upon all our skill and focuses our attention on the necessities of life and can be an aesthetic or sacramental communal activity.
17. It is here, then, that we arrive at our conclusion. To avoid losing ourselves - to return to some center - we must return to the importance of focal activities. Rituals and communal sacraments that focus our attention.
18. Coffee on Fire Escape is my personal ritual - meant to hold my attention on a sacred moment in time, but shared, ther