File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0103, message 15

Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2001 00:01:40 -0500
Subject: Re: The rearview mirror stage of capitalism.


1) New Napsters will appear.

2) I never paid much attention to Toffler, but remember he said that before
the Industrial Revolution, children were educated in
their home, by their parents. Now, both parents are working for the "man".
Children are in day care or school - the house is empty all day and
"education" is a national disgrace.  Politicians use tax money to dynamite
old stadia and build new ones for games that only the wealthy can afford.
No money for schools.

3) The time has come for "PINS", a Public INternet System.
We only need a few PINSITES to give us an international library free of
advertising.  Print Media and Books are a waste of trees.
A few books should be kept in special Book Museums.  Students should be able
to download and print any hard copy they can't do without.

On their computer desktops each student should have the buttons to fetch
dictionaries of languages they use and study,
biographical dictionaries, maps of any country, state, city, community they
study, excerpts from any book they are required to read, plus government
statistics they need for reports.

The so-called information highway is full of potholes and jammed with
advertising.  Try to find information and you are surrounded by Amazon and
other bookselllers with titles and prices.  Now the Internet is becoming
like TV.  We pay with every brandname purchase for the privilege of having
our time stolen with pop-ups.


> The news about Napster strikes a melancholy chord.  It appears likely
> that the court will rule Napster must begin blocking access to about 1
> million copyrighted songs.  Such a judgment will probably sound the
> death knell for Napster.
> Lyotard writes, "As distinguished from a litigation, a differend would
> be a case of conflict, between two parties, that cannot be equitably
> resolved for lack of a judgment applicable to both arguments."
> So, the question arises, what is the Napster case?  Is it a litigation
> or a differend?
> I would argue that this case is a differend because the judgment between
> the two parties is clearly incommensurable.  For the recording industry,
> it is clearly a case of intellectual property rights.  Since these are
> owned, the means of distribution must be protected.  Music is a
> commodity, like wheat, oil, steel, automobiles or Nike shoes.
> For the defenders of Napster, another principle is at work -
> "information should be free".  They argue that technology has now
> changed the relationship between the artist and consumer.  The recording
> industry has merely become an anachronistic middleman. There are other
> possible relationships that might reward artists without restricting
> artificially the flow of information.
> Marshall Mcluhan has written that major technological change creates a
> social numbness whereby the new technology is first embraced in terms of
> the old technology is replaces.  The classic example of this is the
> "horseless carriage" as the name first given to the automobile.  Mcluhan
> calls this approach "the rear view mirror effect".
> Similarly, Alvin Toffler in his book "The Third Wave" described the
> radical discrepancy between material commodities and information by the
> fact that the more the commodity is used, the less it is available.  The
> relationship with information is exactly asymmetrical to this.  The more
> information is utilized, the more of it is available.  To restrict the
> flow of information in economic terms is simply to restrict the flow of
> trade.
> The fact that Toffler sold himself as a consultant to Newt Gingrich in
> the nineties is evidence that he did not understand his own principle.
> Perhaps, it was because his analysis was constrained by "rear view
> mirror effect".  Or perhaps, he just went where the money was.
> In any case, the content of hegemony today seems to be composed of
> exactly such "reactionary futurology".  On the one hand intellectual
> front-men rhapsodize poetically about all the riches that technology has
> given us (i.e. the white American middle & upper class) both financially
> and in terms of the quality of life.  On the other hand, they argue that
> the only means of consistently delivering  such wealth is through an
> economic system mired in nineteenth century industrialism that creates
> disproportionate distribution, artificial cycles and ecological
> instability.
> Thus, Napster is a differend because the conflict it represents cannot
> possibly be resolved by litigation.  It could even be said it figures as
> proxy in a clash between modernism and postmodernism, commodity
> economics and information economics and the question Lyotard raised at
> the end of "The Postmodern Condition," Who will control the data banks?"
> There is also the question concerning what is to be done about this
> differend?  Certainly, it is possible to bear witness to this differend,
> to feel it sublimely as a clash of incommeasurables and articulate this
> feeling in language.  This is partly what is being attempted here.
> It remains insufficient, however.  Although there will always be
> differends because of the heterogeneous ways in which phrases are
> linked, individual differends have a history and each one changes
> dynamically over time. Thus, to bear witness to this particular
> differend may mean taking actions as diverse as pirating, proliferating
> shareware that duplicates Napster's functionality, artists refusing to
> work through record companies and finding other venues for reward.  In
> short, various groups experimenting with changing the differend even as
> they bear witness to it, using the differend politically in ways that
> are not limited to being merely democratic.


Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005