Presented without comment #23

Uncreative Writing‘ by Kenneth Goldsmith at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The prominent literary critic Marjorie Perloff has recently begun using the term “unoriginal genius” to describe this tendency emerging in literature. Her idea is that, because of changes brought on by technology and the Internet, our notion of the genius—a romantic, isolated figure—is outdated. An updated notion of genius would have to center around one’s mastery of information and its dissemination. Perloff has coined another term, “moving information,” to signify both the act of pushing language around as well as the act of being emotionally moved by that process. She posits that today’s writer resembles more a programmer than a tortured genius, brilliantly conceptualizing, constructing, executing, and maintaining a writing machine.

Perloff’s notion of unoriginal genius should not be seen merely as a theoretical conceit but rather as a realized writing practice, one that dates back to the early part of the 20th century, embodying an ethos in which the construction or conception of a text is as important as what the text says or does. Think, for example, of the collated, note-taking practice of Walter Benjamin’sArcades Project or the mathematically driven constraint-based works by Oulipo, a group of writers and mathematicians.

Avoiding the blogger trap‘ by Marco Arment at Marco dot org.

I’m not just about technology, just as John Gruber’s not just about Apple products and Merlin Mann isn’t just about index cards and Steve Yegge can speak briefly and Jeff Atwood enjoys Rock Band and Paul Graham is a great cook and Ted Dziuba likes stuff and pretty people take shits and maybe, just maybe, there’s an area of Michael Arrington’s life in which he isn’t a dick.

People aren’t so one-sided. Everyone has a life that goes much deeper than the topics on their blogs.

You Are Not Facebook’s Customer‘ by Douglas Rushkoff at CNN (reposted).

Of course, if they stopped and thought about it, they would realize that Facebook is work. We are not Facebook’s customers at all. The boardroom discussions at Facebook are not about how to help little Johnny make more and better friendships online; they are about how Facebook can monetize Johnny’s “social graph” — the accumulated data about how Johnny makes friends, shares links and makes consumer decisions. Facebook’s real customers are the companies who actually pay them for this data, and for access to our eyeballs in the form of advertisements. The hours Facebook users put into their profiles and lists and updates is the labor that Facebook then sells to the market researchers and advertisers it serves.

Deep down, most users sense this, which is why every time Facebook makes a change they are awakened from the net trance for long enough to be reminded of what is really going on. They see that their “news feeds” are going to be prioritized by an algorithm they will never understand. They begin to suspect that Facebook is about to become more useful to the companies who want to keep “important” stories from getting lost in the churn — and less useful for the humans.

Goatse as Industrial Sobotage‘ by the Deterritorial Support Grouppppp.

The ability for this “in-joke” representation to appear within mainstream advertising and commercial image production relies upon two developments within postfordist capitalism: technological development and the proletarianisation of the creative industries. The first point is obvious– the development of cyberspace as a territory of virtual community, and the development of digital imaging hardware/software, has created a means of recording and disseminating chance observations of advertising hoardings, online and offline material and chance observations. It has also created a relatively lawless, anonymous environment where pornographic and extreme material can be circulated without fear of embarrassment.

Within this environment the “in-joke” differs markedly to workplace in-jokes of the past. Today, you might be the only person in your office who gets the joke. But worldwide you’re connecting to thousands of others in a form of exploded solidarity. It’s a dynamic form, a vivid social relationship the marketeers can – for the time being – only dream of invoking with their cosy stock images of friends-coming-together, sharing a joke over a glass of chardonnay. The proletarian – especially within the present conditions, the info-prole – is a force who pushes forward innovation through her resistance to capital, and it is capital who exists on the back-foot, damming the flow of proletarian innovation, demanding enlarged logos in order to harness its power.