Thursday, February 16, 2006

Have you blogged yourself to death yet?

This morning may have been the first time since I started my blog when I came up empty. It gives me a haunted feeling. I really wanted to go paint instead! I saw this article and felt better. For more on Joel's idea see 1900 House, 1992 House, and around here too.

Extracts from the Achenblog:
Becoming Pre-Digital
For a while we've talked in the neighborhood about staging an Eighteenth Century Weekend. This would not involve dressing up in silly outfits or wearing powdered wigs or rarely bathing or having bad teeth or anything like that. The idea is not specifically based on any particular culture in any particular place. We just think it might be neat to spend a weekend without using the car, the cellphone, the TV, the computer, and the other technologies that shrink the world, change the pace of day to day existence, and accelerate communication to the speed of light.

In theory, we'd discover lots of simple, old-fashioned pleasures, such as talking directly to our neighbors while desperately beating the laundry against a rock. Come to think of it, we'll keep the washer and dryer plugged in. Also the fridge. But there will be a hard and fast rule: No one can use one of those automatic ice dispensers in the door of the fridge. When we turn back the clock to the Eighteenth Century, everyone will have to reach all the way into the freezer compartment to get ice. We'll just "rough it."

[He links to another blog discussing Neil Postman's book "Amusing Ourselves to Death":]
One professor uses the book to aid in an experiment she calls an “e-media fast". She demands that her students abstain from the use of all electronic media – TV's, radios, computers, cell phones etc. etc. – for one sustained 24 hour period and then write up their experiences in a paper:

"The papers I get back are amazing," says the professor. "They have titles like 'The Worst Day of My Life' or 'The Best Experience I Ever Had,' always extreme. 'I thought I was going to die,' they'll write. ...

Each student has his or her own weakness – for some it's TV, some the cell phone, some the Internet or their PDA. But no matter how much they hate abstaining, or how hard it is to hear the phone ring and not answer it, they take time to do things they haven't done in years. They actually walk down the street to visit their friend. They have extended conversations. ... years later when former students write or call to say hello the thing they remember is the media fast."
Mark Cooper [an an article, "Blogging Ourselves to Death"] says ... "as a society we allow and encourage the advent of new technologies without ever first reflecting on what consequences they will bring. We invent 'solutions' for problems that don't really exist. And without thinking about it – usually until it's too late — we radically reshape our own environment with no regard to the concurrent consequences."

[Joel says he interviewed Neil Postman after the Milli Vanilli lip-synching scandal; Postman told him, "The whole culture is becoming a kind of pseudo-event." He finishes with the quote below, emphasis his:]

The science of manipulating truth has advanced faster than our ability to detect phoniness. It is hard to imbue cynicism among people who are ignorant of even the basic facts of the world. Geology, for instance. The sum of most people's knowledge of geology is contained in the opening sequence of "The Beverly Hillbillies," when Jed Clampett is 'shooting for some food and up through the ground comes a-bubblin' crude. Oil, that is. Black gold. Texas tea.' If not for this we wouldn't know that oil sometimes spurts from the underbrush when hunters fire errantly.

Please, no Cheney jokes.

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At 9:15 AM, Blogger MaryB said...

I know the feeling, Jane. Coming up empty is not a bad thing - sometimes I'm too busy with actual life to indulge in the virtual. And sometimes I just don't have anything I want to say. Blogs are used for so many things now tha I figure a day or two without a new post to ShortyPJs ain't gonna stop the earth's rotation. (Loved the Stonefridge post, btw - har!)

At 11:11 PM, Anonymous Craig said...

Still waiting on a few confirmations, but for me the internet and my blog has been a direct line to my 18th century ancestors. I think I may have four generations who all attended the same school between 1697 and 1797.


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