“He don’t know me very well, do he?” – B. Bunny c. 1940
“As a scholar trained to consider the lasting impacts of design, for some time now I’ve been attempting to come to terms, not with the obduracy of political artifacts—the sociology of the freeway system, the power grid, or the railroad. Rather, I’ve been looking for a sociology of the kludge: a language to capture the agency, intelligence, and politics behind fleeting, inelegant, and opportunistic solutions that—while they often evolve over time to become infrastructure—are deployed first and foremost with regard to their immediate consequences. Examples of this sort of ingenuity abound in the case of online television distribution, where large companies, start-ups, and users alike are, as we speak, hammering out evolving solutions to delivering and consuming content in new ways, in new places, and on new terms. Media distribution is an area that’s arguably understudied in general, and I’ve found online television distribution a wonderful corner of the media landscape through which to explore the sociology of the kludge.” – Josh Braun from Going Over the Top: Online Television Distribution as Socio-technological System
This was the week that lacked any redeeming charm. Between the awful weather and the incessant grief there was one moment of levity. Around the middle of the week some one sent a rather convoluted note which asked if I’d like to be a keynote speaker at a conference. From what I can gather the previous keynotes were not all that much different than what’s seen in this video.
Your convulsive laughter reveals your deep knowledge of where this one is going. Obviously some one, with the very best of intentions, brought up my name and then added, “What could possible go wrong?” Given what they mapped out – I’d have to talk about what’s been on my mind lately.
Or something like that.
To that end:
In the mid-1950s The Ford Foundation gave a bucket of money to Marshall McLuhan to come up with an outline of how media should be taught in the schools. What they got was a colossal manuscript which the directors of The Ford Foundation found completely incomprehensible. McLuhan kept the money and they told him he could do what he wanted with what he wrote. After several edits that white paper became Understanding Media, a book which states that the arrival of mass produced printing seriously altered people’s view of the world. McLuhan said that print created a solitary individual who was free of a world that relied on visual stimulus and rote story telling. (eg. legends and fables) That new man, like Descartes, could live in his own mind and create new views, or rather, new versions of reality. Therefore in that context it is possible to make the case that Johannes Gutenberg is to the 1400s what Albert Hofman was to the 1900s because mass produced textual material is a mind altering substance.
Certainly, but I’m dealing with nothing but barking dogs these days and old barking dogs at that.
Because most of the people in media have yet to understand that we are living through an upheaval in how text, audio, and video is distributed. The uncertainty of all this has made some people very, very angry and lately – especially last week – some of them really lashed out while I just happened to be standing there.
My utility as a doorstop or a punching bag has not decreased even with the steady advance of years.
But there are those that say you are currently interacting with something that might well be mind altering that was invented by people who dabbled in mind altering things that were not text. Please enjoy this video and then we can ask the question once posed by Mr. Sharp’s friend Nenslo, “Balmy am I?”