Thursday, May 15, 2008

Being Human, Working, Writing Stories, Being Human

My weblog recently featured two posts that together speak to a perspective that I have been formulating over time regarding the Internet.

The first was from this weblog's blogroll Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: McLuhan's web - Diigo Annotated His blog post has all the links.

diigo tags: mcluhan, writing, storytelling, blogging, marketing
My column in today's Guardian looks at Marshall McLuhan's second life as a prophet of internet media. A couple of my references had to be cut from the column for space reasons.

According to Nicholas Carr, "Reading, to put it simply, is a lonely pursuit, while speech is a social one." So what does that make blogging? Carr talks about sacrificing our shared, tribal consciousness and became locked into private consciousness. I have to believe though that the rise of individualism, as it relates at least the cognitive ability that would later be applied to the specialization of jobs in factories, came before printed text. I would go so far to speculate that cognitive individualism gave rise to the need for the printing press.

Kevin Kelly, one of Wired’s original editors, suggests that what McLuhan “was really talking about was the Internet—two decades before it appeared.” Paul Levinson, in his book Digital McLuhan, argues that McLuhan’s ideas help explain the “dynamic of increased and enlightened human control” that characterizes “our digital age.”
The internet doesn’t really fit into McLuhan’s “hot” and “cool” dichotomy. It is, as Scott Rosenberg wrote back in 1995, a “lukewarm” medium. It encourages participation but it also sucks up our attention and dominates our senses. When we gaze into a computer screen, we tune out everything else.

Are we becoming part of an electronic tribe when we tune into the computer screen and tune out from everything else or are being confined to our own individualistic and to a great extent self-created web identities or is it a fusion of both.

That would depend on how we use the web to communicate because that is what the Internet basically is, a form, a medium for communications. Which raises the question, what is the purpose of that communication? That brings up the second post from Seth Godin.

Which comes first (why stories matter)
via Seth's Blog by Seth Godin on 4/1/08 Storywork
Most of the time we do the work. The work is our initiative and our reactions and our responses and our output. The work is the decisions we make and the people we hire.

The work is what people talk about, because it's what we experience. In other words, the work tells a story.

...if you decide what the story is, you can do work that matches the story. Your decisions will match the story. The story will become true because you're living it.

The story creates the work and the work creates the story.

It is both the work and the story that makes us human. The story more so, because it is what we use to connect with each other. There are different ways of telling the story and different means of telling the story. Millions have chosen the net and web 2.0 as the most viable means. The loss is when we stop telling our own story and let the machine define us rather than the other way around.

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