I used to kind of deify these people, presuming that they were presenting some gospel that I just had to work and work and work to try to understand so that I could like, put on their glasses and see the world through their lenses. But ultimately I realized that these are—and I’ve written this elsewhere, too—like, these are fallible people, often egomaniacs, often really bad writers. And that’s why I can’t understand it. So it’s not to give up on them too quickly. If you put in the work to try to understand what they’re saying. But not to regard their work as gospel. Essentially to think of it as tools to think with. And that’s how I try to desacralize theory in my classes, to help students think these are tools to be critical, interesting frameworks that you can apply to the work that you’re doing. But they should not have the power to become paralyzing forces.
By and large images tend to always be in the lead, always running ahead because of ease of consumption, because it requires less brain processing on our parts. But text is never obliterated.
We’re going to talk at length about new media. And in our first few installments we’re going to begin by thinking for a bit about what makes a medium new.
The Soviet experience suggests something really important for us today, which is that networks are entirely compatible with surveillance. And many of our favorite things to talk about, then, peer-to-peer production, or end-to-end intelligence, kind of missed the point that I think is now obvious. That whether you’re the NSA or Google or whoever else…you’re a general secretariat, seeking to privatize our power, and you are surveilling us, because you have a network in place.