Friday, July 3, 2015

"bureaucrats of experience"

Nicholas Carr at Rough Type, riffing on a piece by Kenneth Goldsmith in the Los Angeles Review of Books in which KG discusses how in the digital-era " our role as librarians and archivists has outpaced our role as cultural consumers" such that we enjoy the acquiring and organising cultural-artifacts than more than actually listening/reading/watching them.  

Carr: "It’s as though we find ourselves, suddenly, in a vast library, an infinite library, a library of Borgesian proportions, and we discover that what’s of most interest to us is not the books on the shelves but the intricacies of the Dewey Decimal System."

"Abundance breeds boredom. When there’s no end of choices, each choice feels disappointing. Listening to or watching one thing means you’re not listening to or watching all the other things you might be listening to or watching....

"Bored by the content, bored by the art, bored by the experience, we become obsessed with the interface. We seek to master the mechanism’s intricate, fascinating functions: downloading and uploading, archiving and cataloging, monitoring readouts, watching time counts, streaming and pausing and skipping, posting and reposting, clicking buttons bearing Heart and Thumbs-Up icons. We become bureaucrats of experience."

"Bureaucrats of experience" - love the phrase!
Actually came up with a similar phrase once - "bureaucrats of desire" - as a catty description of poptimists, or rather the generalist-kind  you tend to find working as the resident pop critic at a newspaper or major magazine - the ones that go about their work with conscientious fair-mindedness, doling out coverage and respect in equal amounts to every genre

Which has nothing, of course, to do with POP!, the true passion of the pop kid who hates as fiercely as she loves, who is fickle (poor Justin Bieber, who means nothing now to my 9 year old Tazzy, displaced first by One Direction, and then by other poppets who have erased 1D from her heart and mini-Ipod)

Don't know if beauty is cruelty but pop certainly works like that... 

The Goldsmith piece It’s a Mistake to Mistake Content for Content is definitely worth reading: 

"In the digital ecosystem, the apparatuses surrounding the artifact are more engaging than the artifact itself. Management (acquisition, distribution, archiving, filing, redundancy) is the cultural artifact’s new content. Context is the new content. In an unanticipated twist to John Perry Barlow’s 1994 prediction that in the digital age we’d be able to enjoy wine without the bottles, we’ve now come to prefer the bottles to the wine"


1 comment:

  1. See also, on forums and email lists, the attempt to put everything in order of merit (top 10s, "which is best", "which is better" etc). A mix of librarianship and accountancy. Related: the fury that many express when they see something getting the INCORRECT AMOUNT OF PRAISE. As if all opinions are being logged in a great ledger for all eternity, so we have to get it right.