[ExI] Media generations

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Mon Jun 13 09:49:58 UTC 2011

BillK wrote:
> "Certain media are good for some things" - and some are good for nothing!
> You have to consider the information content and side-effects in your
> media choice.

Exactly. Online forums require you to go to a certain online address, so 
they are pull media and will not intrude unless you set things up that 
you get emails about comments to your posts (a form of mild push, since 
you still need to pull the emails). On the forum you get a social 
interaction that can act as a reward, and the information itself is 
stored fairly stably and doesn't update in realtime. These factors give 
certain affordances to such forums - they are for example great in 
collective creative writing for roleplaying games.

An RSS feed is more push, and can easily become an overloading 
experience as numerous sources you at one time or another felt were 
interesting or important produce stuff you think you need to take in - 
but it is also quick to scan, so the overhead of the feed is itself low, 
it is just keeping the mental discipline to ignore things and to 
remember that if it is truly important it doesn't matter if you miss it 
while skimming.

And so on for every media that is invented...

> There are still a few holdouts who refuse to carry a cellphone because
> they don't want the continual harassment. (Quite apart from security
> worries about continual tracking and recording of all communications).

There are a few interesting ideas on this and extrapolations of current 
media in the preview for the new Charles Stross novel, Rule 34:

> I recently saw a bitingly funny rant about Twitter.
> The comedian pointed out that Tweets were all total rubbish, along the
> lines of "I'm going to eat a ham sandwich. Yum, yum!" Who cares?  He
> commented that it was as though their brains were leaking
> uncontrollably. People who Tweet every detail of their insignificant
> lives are basically people who EVEN WHEN THEY ARE ALONE just can't
> Shut the f**k up!

But if he *listens* to them, what does that tell you about him?

Many criticisms of new media are done by people who do not 'get' them. 
So outside criticism is rarely on the point, it just attacks surface 
details. But 'getting' a media requires immersion, and then you will 
have invested time and effort into mastering it and will now be biased. 
"Surely CroakCroak is good for something, I spent a month learning to 
gesture through it?!" So inside criticism will often miss obvious points.

Nick and me had a fun dinner discussion with a junior colleague about 
Facebook. We wanted to figure out what it was good for. So our colleague 
convinced us it was great for keeping track of old friends or 
schoolmates, plus upcoming social events, but didn't convince us it was 
useful for professional interactions. So, being academics with no lives 
we felt it was pretty pointless :-)

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute 
James Martin 21st Century School 
Philosophy Faculty 
Oxford University 

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list