Saturday, November 10, 2018

#314 / Analog

Jaron Lanier, pictured above during a recent appearance at UCSC, is the author of Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. Wikipedia describes Lanier as "an American computer philosophy writer, computer scientist, visual artist, and composer of classical music." Lanier is also considered to be a founding father of the field of virtual reality.

Lanier's UCSC appearance was reviewed in an article in The Mercury News. According to this report, some of the college students whom Lanier addressed were reluctant to unplug themselves from the social media sites that Lanier argued are a major threat to democracy. These sites, an algorithmic simulacrum of reality, are the places where we increasingly spend our time (and thus our lives). 

"Real" reality (as opposed to "virtual" reality) is analog, not digital. Digital is a distortion. It is chopping up into little bits a unified whole that is, in its reality and integrity, not susceptible of division. 

Our bodies are not digital abstractions but living tissue. As I advised in another blog posting, we should listen to our bodies. Our bodies do know! In terms of politics, this means "precincting," meeting real people, door to door and in face-to-face meetings, not thinking we can connect in any political potent way through the mechanisms of social media. The distortions of our democratic process in the 2016 presidential election, whether the product of "Russian tampering" or not, make clear that Lanier is on to something!

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