Ming the Mechanic:
Agora and Antigora

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Agora and Antigora2006-01-10 22:55
20 comments
by Flemming Funch

Jaron Lanier: The Gory Antigora. A brilliant essay about the net. Like how we both find examples of the Agora, the ideal democratic collaborative sharing space, and what he calls the Antigora, where somebody mangages to set up huge, efficient profit-making machines built upon the ownership of their proprietary core. And how we in many ways seem to need both, and one builds on the other, in ways that sometimes are rather invisible.

He also laments how we lock ourselves into paradigms that aren't necessarily the best, but that become very stuck. You know, stuff like "files" and "desktops", and the ways we make software, which remains, as he calls it, "brittle". We still make software based on principles that mean it either works more or less 100% or it doesn't work at all. Which makes it all rather fragile, hard to change, and requiring lots of invisible unpaid work at the periphery to make it appear to be working. If you actually accounted for the work people spend in trying to keep their windows computers free of viruses, or trying to solve dumb problems with their software, it would add to up to being outrageously ridiculously expensive. Which it is. But it is still being used because a lot of people voluntarily make up for the gap between what it is supposed to do and what is actually going on.
There is no recognition for this effort, nor is there much individual latitude in how it is to be accomplished. In an Antigora, the participants at the periphery robotically engage in an enormous and undocumented amount of mandatory drudgery to keep the Antigora going. Digital systems as we know how to make them could not exist without this social order.

There is an important Thoreau-like question that inevitably comes up: What's the point? The common illusion that digital bits are free-standing entities, that would exist and remain functional even if there were no people around to use them, is unfortunate. It means that people are denied the epiphany that the edifice of the Net is precisely the generosity and warmth of humanity connecting with itself.

The most technically realistic appraisal of the Internet is also the most humanistic one. The Web is neither an emergent intelligence that transcends humanity, as some (like George Dyson) have claimed, nor a lifeless industrial machine. It is a conduit of expression between people.
And that is sort of the conclusion. It is really not about technology or economics, it is really all about culture and the playing of an infinite game.


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20 comments

10 Jan 2006 @ 23:43 by Andrius Kulikauskas @193.219.5.40 : http://www.openleader.net
I'm very glad to see somebody say this: "the Net is precisely the generosity and warmth of humanity connecting with itself" I think that the value of the Net is primarily as a metaphor for our connection. The Net makes tangible the fact that we are all connected to each other. It was a fact before the Net, and it will be a fact after the Net, but the Net helps us believe it.  


11 Jan 2006 @ 15:24 by rayon : Offering
in another form:


p23.2/95


Networked communication is an electric animus
Nature en masculine
Represents the return of the Bull
to save Earth for human living
Subjects to the realm

Society passive in a multi centred family unit basis
Minute contingencies contained and functioning
teaching experiencing and building
On immediately known consequences
to attain the natural anima
of emotional intellectual and physical balance
necessary to regain its rightful inheritance
of the Golden Age

Originality is resistance to the overwhelming impulse
It is the departure ensuring known human life
in its admired historical forms
of actuality here and now, tangible testable and sharable


The amphitheatre of 15,000 would be one Electra
The Agora passive paternal confusion

nsr  



11 Jan 2006 @ 22:38 by jobrown : Well said,....
Andrius. Well said!  


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