Digital World Stuff: Thinking Aloud over Time

DigitalWorldStuff

I’ve just found this and thought I’d share it with anyone who might be interested, it is an extract from an essay I wrote many years ago – it’s a bit of a philosophical ramble but there’s some statements in it which I can’t help but relate to my current frustrations with the UK Digital Economy Bill

[…] I have come to realize that for me, there is more to life than sitting in front of a computer creating stuff that only exists in a virtual sense. I do not want to create stuff that doesn’t have physical shape or exist beyond the structured world of code and convention.

This trail of thought has led me to question the values I apply to the “Digital-World”, to my degree and to my life as a whole; I have begun to question the values I apply to the world around me and my understanding of the conventions that give value to my life, the decisions I make and the things I spend my time doing.

I began to read books on Philosophy and Sociology; combined with my dissertation studies of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability I have become interested in the areas of Materialism, Conventionalism and Consumerism. This led me to question the very definitions of value, form and existence. I drew inspiration from contemporary artists whose works were based around the same themes and began to investigate how value is determined, through its relationships with form, function, essentialness and the hierarchy of needs.

Upon trying to gain a philosophical understanding of Value I found the work of Alan Sidelle, within Sidelle’s writings on Conventionalism he states that all that there is in the world, independently of us, is “Stuff” (or as a commentary on Sidelle’s work calls it, “World-Stuff”).

The way we understand the world around us is based upon what we have been told or experienced – Consumerism, Technology, Advertising, Mass Culture and Brand Ideology give meaning, understanding, essentialness and value to our lives and the world around us – without these manufactured conventions of our consumerist society much of the world around us would have no meaning – it would have no linguistic construction, no understanding, no value – the existence of “World-Stuff” is relative to the manufactured conventions of our consumerist society.

So it is in a sense true that we (by our conventions) construct and shape the existence of the world’s objects. This is of course “construction” in a transposed sense. It does not require the use of hammers and saws, and we do not do it in the sweat of our brows. We do it merely by thinking and talking as we do. [2]

I began to draw comparisons between the “Digital-World” and the “Real-World”. I began to question the existence of “Digital-World-Stuff”; in order for something to exist, convention tells us it needs physical form, value and understanding, yet philosophy tells us we construct the existence of world-objects merely by thinking and talking as we do, understanding and linguistic construction determine value, Logic and Math tell us that if something has value it must exist. I believe this to be an interesting line of inquiry, especially when looking at “Digital-World-Stuff”, surely the existence of “Digital-World-Stuff” is relative to the manufactured conventions of our consumerist society, therefore “Digital-World-Stuff” must exist, but in what form?

I read a book entitled “One-Dimensional Man” written by Herbert Marcuse – within his text Marcuse refers to technology and consumerism as one-dimensional, helping to create a one-dimensional society.

“Marcuse was one of the first critical theorists to analyze the consumer society through analyzing how consumerism, advertising, mass culture and ideology integrate individuals into and stabilize the system. He suggests that the emergence of computerization, the proliferation of media and information, and the development of new conventions allow social control; bringing about the surrender of individual thought, hope, and fear to the decisions of the powers that be; the preservation of misery in the face of unprecedented wealth constitute the most impartial indictment… [Society’s] sweeping rationality, which propels efficiency and growth is itself irrational. He also critically analyzes new forms of technology and technological rational which are producing a qualitatively different social structure, a totally administered society”. [3] […]

Here’s the project work – make sure you zoom in and out!

Today this video has greater meaning to me:

Bibliography / References:
[1]  Crawford, E. Real Natures & Familiar Objects (Conventionalism) pg. 10
[2 & 3]  pg. 11
Mit Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2004.

Q. What do we actually need? #DigitalEconomyBill #debill

Q. What do we actually need? – Please put forward your answers…

*a better process for finding & writing to an MP* ???

A site that has a generic letter to an MP that covers all the major issues with the existing Digital Economy Bill – in the form of a concise list that uses plain English not technical jargon or long words.

Such a letter would be in the form of clickable/selectable/applicable tick boxes to highlight what paragraphs the letter writer wanted to keep or amend. Once selected the text is 100% customisable. The User adds their name, address and based on their postcode a selection of MP’s is displayed (they can select all of them if they so wish). The system tracks the receipt of such a message and sends a tweet out to the users network that is trackable – a GoogleMap is created of letter senders. Perhaps Audio and Video messages too? Plus a feature that allowed Bloggers to submit their related blog posts (just like the http://www.blogactionday.org) ? with an integrated Twitter Avatar feature?

Is this doable? Is it worth doing?
How long might it take?
Who might be able to do it easily? The following sites/APIs already exist:

http://www.theyworkforyou.com
http://belocal.com
http://www.writetothem.com (run by http://www.mysociety.org)
http://www.hearfromyourmp.com
http://tweetminster.co.uk
http://www.parliament.uk/about/contacting/mp.cfm
http://audioboo.fm

Who might sponsor such a system? Google/Yahoo/eBay/Facebook

I feel helpless & pissed off, this is extremely unusual!

I write this at 20:37 on Friday 4th December 2009

For me this has been the toughest and most unproductive week of this year – my mind is elsewhere…

I’m frustrated and extremely concerned that very few (Designers, Developers, Freelancers, Bloggers, General Public, Politician’s etc) seem to recognize a major problem looming above us – in addition to that of next weeks Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

I urge you, please do your own research into the proposed Digital Economy Bill – trust me, its a big deal and it needs to be stopped!

Its likely The Bill will be passed by the House of Lords on the 16th of December, and it’ll be heard in the House of Commons on the 6th January.

Please help spread this message in any way you can! Things you can do:

Add a Twibbon to your Twitter Profile
Write & Promote a blog post and Tag it with #debill or #DigitalEconomyBill
Contact or Write To Your MP < this is the most important! MPs need to be aware of the problems!

 

Share your Creative Freedom!
Connection is a Right!
Only 40 days left until YOUR Freedom is disconnected!

As my dad says, “Son, you need to think before you speak
… I urge you, please consider this statement as I have done and make your own voice heard:

Your ‘Freedom of Speech‘ is *no longer valid* if YourFreedom to Think‘ is removed! – be it about what you might say, do, create or whom you might collaborate with or be inspired by.

The Digital Britain Report published in June 2009 and Digital Economy Bill proposed in the House of Lords sets out a vision for the future that has already raised many questions and set-off many alarm bells regarding data governance, information censorship and content licensing – in short its a massive melting pot that will effect the entire Digital Landscapewhich in turn effects You and Your Freedom to Think!

Whether you’re a technology fan or not, its important for you to recognize that your bank statements, medical records, credit card transactions, phone connection, driving theory-test, wages, job applications, newspaper articles, txt messages, emails, television channels, internet services, music and even radio weather forecasts are now digitally connected and delivered – that effects your Right to Privacy and your Freedom of Speech. Obviously it needs some extremely serious consideration, however it appears to be being rushed (pushed) through in front of an election (less than 40 parliamentary days away) – this concerns me *and all of us* greatly!

Putting our Right to Privacy and our Freedom of Speech concerns aside; as a creative fellow the Freedom to Think, be inspired and inspire others is of utmost importance, I prioritize it over making money and I recognize it as more important than my Freedom of Speech. I choose to share and distribute my works and ideas openly using Creative Commons Attribution and I’m inspired by other peoples open content, ideas and conversation daily. I regard closed mindsets, corporate governance, copyright systems and patent laws as *the biggest barriers* to creativity, education, communication and innovation.

I’m not saying that making money from an idea is a bad thing – god knows its on my to-do list but I firmly believe that someone else should be able to access and share my ideas (or use them in a new way) provided they are not using them for financial gain or devaluing my design credit – in my opinion copyright and patent laws need to be redesigned to accommodate this – just imagine what we could do for charities and positive social change!

But I say again, its only the tip of the iceberg and it’s a waste of time campaigning for such things right now because we’ve got more pressing matters to handle!

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Technically, the following act is illegal. Imagine if these laws were applied to your conversation, your ideas and your Freedom to Think:

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I know I’m not the only person who thinks sharing ideas and information without boundaries is truly the key to economic growth, creative enterprise and innovation but from what I’ve seen and read I’m failing to find any evidence that the UK Government or Lord Mandelson are on my wavelength in any way, shape or form.

UK Government, driven by Lord Mandelson, recognizes that our existing communications infrastructures need to be updated. They plan to modernize us with some digital pipework, building blocks and legislation to cope with the futures demand; and to support economic growth, enterprise and innovation – this in itself sounds great!  but…

Whilst Lord Mandelson (Business Secretary and Minister for Information) is driving forward Three Strike proposals to disconnect people from the Internet in the event of copyright violations we are wasting our time arguing that copyright violations may or may not be illegal and do or don’t warrant punishment. The simple fact is this, content in all its forms is now as freely available as conversation and you can’t listen in on every conversation or introduce a giant swearbox – the ‘Business Secretary and Minister for Information’ must surely realize that the businesses of tomorrow won’t actually have secretaries, nor will information be administered – I’ll also suggest he’s smart enough not to care about our squabbling as it only buys him time to push, push, push…

If your mind is stuck on having the Internet as a Human Right or Legal Right as its already viewed by some countries in Europe then you need to look at the larger Digital Landscape and the scope of such non-future-proof policy making: If I download a pirated film, will I be disconnected from accessing my bank account or banned from attending my online Open University lecture?

Hannah Nicklin‘s recent Open Letter to Peter Mandelson was perfectly crafted, information packed and said everything it needed to in terms of a protest letter but as she points out in her more recent blog post ‘Its not working‘ – we need a more directed approach and real-world Campaign – so has anyone got any ideas?

Last Thursday (24th November 2009) I went to London to meet the founder of Louder.org.uk and the OpenRightsGroup.Org team. Together we are proposing a campaign (be it online, offline or preferably both) that focuses on today’s digital economy creators, thinkers and makers – tweeters, bloggers, designers, developers, musicians etc…

The ultimate freedom is the freedom to think, to express, to have a voice, to create, to share, to connect with others, to collaborate, to innovate, to inspire and be inspired.

Share your Creative Freedom! Connection is a Right!
We’ve got 40 days until YOUR Freedom is disconnected!

PLEASE call your MP to tell them why the Digital Economy Bill shouldn’t be pushed through before the election << CLICK LINK << and if you want to help directly please email freedom@fellow.ventures
Share Your Creative Freedom! and spread the word!

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Disclaimer: The ’40 Days’ reference is based upon ’40 Parliamentary Days’ as suggested in conversation by the Open Rights Group – these thoughts fell from my fingers into the keyboard – they are my honest opinions and open thinking because that’s what blogs are for right? Please do comment or contact me directly if you feel I need to correct or adjust any details or references…