High 8 Us

It’s been 5 weeks since I blogged. Pretty dramatic hiatus for a guy who feels compelled to right something every day.

The superficial reason is that I’ve been forming a new company and that it’s all-consuming. In that effort, in addition to becoming the self-appointed big cheese in an inconsequential little blister of capitalism, I’ve even been busy doing the kinds of things I always had others do before, at least since 1979. (It’s quite a luxury to say, “I have people who do that for me.” I’ll bet a lot of folks get hired just so their boss can say they have people doing things for them, when it would be so easy for the lazy bastard to do it himself.) Contrariwise, I’d forgotten that it’s kind of fun to go open the checking account, work with the bookkeeper on the chart of accounts, etc.

But forming a company is, twisting the old saying, an excuse but not a reason for my silence. I’m just not sure that I’m improving the silence anymore.

Improving the silence is a Quaker term for the obligation of an individual in the shared meditation of a Quaker Meeting. Doc Searls was raised as a Quaker, and he can tell you how it is a fundamentally different experience than traditional religion. Most religion is all about the guy who is preaching to the people-who-need-preaching-to. That those people may not need preaching to is an unexamined question. If they didn’t need preaching to, they might not go hear the sermon. And if they didn’t do that, the preacher might have to go get a real job, doing something palpably useful to the people whose approval he suddenly needs.

I’m riffing off the deep end here, but I can’t help thinking of Doc’s hero, John Taylor Gatto, as he bared the illusion of incompetence that the blowhards have leveled on ordinary citizens:

“The shocking possibility that  dumb people don’t exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions  of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet  that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official  schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn’t real.

“With less than  thirty hours of combined training and experience, a hundred million people are allowed access to vehicular weapons more lethal than pistols or rifles.  Turned loose without a teacher, so to speak. Why does our government make  such presumptions of competence, placing nearly unqualified trust in drivers, while it maintains such a tight grip on near-monopoly state schooling?. . .

“The truth is that genius is an exceedingly common human quality, probably natural to most of us. . .”

The same power plays dictate the presumption of stupidity that all our favorite hypnotists use: News anchors, politicians, everybody’s boss, Big-Pub journalism.

Authority’s house of cards has never been more naked.

As I said, before I went ’round the bend there, I’m not sure how to improve our collective silence. The blogosphere is a kind of silence, like the echo of the big bang, resonating at the edges of our radio telescopes’ yearning. When you try to contribute to the long tail of the blogosphere, you’d better do it in the spirit of improving the silence, ’cause you’re probably not going to be heard and surely not attended to. In fact, it’s not clear that even the Power Law guys are being attended to, since journalists aren’t, yet bloggers are universally ecstatic when quoted in a BigPub outlet. Is it possible that decorating tomorrow’s fish wrap is the outer bound of A-list bloggers’ aspirations?

Well, it won’t be for long. Before we’re done with this revolution, it’ll be one noted down the centuries as world-changing, not just an improvement on the techniques holding sway when we happened on the scene. We’re in that archetypal interstitial period between the first flush of possibility exhibited by every revolution–the few years when it’s declared a failure–and when the new realities take hold of everything, no matter how hard everything resists.

It was true of the Silk Road, the New World, railroads, telegraph, phones, cars, planes, radio, TV and rock ‘n roll. Now it’s TCP/IP’s turn.

A Word for Love

If there were a name for the TCP/IP difference, what would it be? We know it’s gotta be at a 7th grade level (thanks, Jerry!), or even the people with expensive educations won’t get it. “Packet-switched communications” won’t quite cut it.

I’d like to call it speaking up.

Speaking Up is what happens when a previously unheard human can’t stand it any more. You know, that third-reel moment when the truth needs to out, and no one else knows the truth, so Joe Blow speaks it (so often in the pregnant pause after the minister asks if anyone objects to these two people legalizing their sexuality).

Speaking Up is what we’re all doing now, uppity unwashed though we might be. We’re speaking out about things we either feel strongly about or know more about than almost everyone. Right now, it’s hard to know the difference, but we’re close to solving that distinction.

My silence embodies my frustration that our collective dialogue isn’t going anywhere. We talk a lot, but we don’t conclude a lot. Inconclusiveness seems to be the cardinal virtue of the blogosphere. “Let’s all talk but, ferchrissake, let’s not bring anything to a vote!” I guess that’s the nub of my prosaic malaise. The talk goes nowhere and that’s unsatisfying to me. Progressives’ talk didn’t go anywhere in 2004, but that seems not to have intruded on Progressives’ collective confidence in ownership of the vault holding all the answers. It makes me crazy that progressives share a self-anointed confidence even though they’re not even on the radar of the American voter.

Until the voice of hundreds of thousands of voters can be aggregated into a specific, auditable commitment, blogs will continue to be entertaining but toothless. Sorry, that’s just the truth.

Don’t mistake me. I’m more progressive than most, but my progressivism favors a cyber-mediated playing field, leveled by the obviousness of fair dealing and the triumph of the commons over the predictable and so-easily-exposed avarice of professional politicans and their brutish henchmen.

Le Corbusier famously said that “God is in the details.” So it’s the details of Speaking Out that our new little band is working on.

11:07:50 PM    comment [commentCounter (338)]

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