feedback and failure: solutionism
May 28, 2013, 11:29 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , ,

jouro.583.A favorite professor in architecture school – Prangnell – gave a favorite lecture on gifts.  He told us how making a building is like giving a gift, and how the motivations behind giving gifts closely parallel how we design for the public realm.

There are many ways of giving gifts:  give something I like; give something I think she will like; give something I want him to like; give to assuage an emotion, like guilt or longing; give to feel better about myself; give to increase attention and a feeling of love; give to show off a sense of taste or wealth.

Prangnell’s lecture was better than mine is turning out to be; but of course his point is that giving a gift well is an act replete with intentionality and emotion: of not knowing, of empathy, of deciding and acting and of hope:  that this thing will delight or ignite a passion or spark a memory, or unite us in some way.

Following is a dystopian view of giving gifts in which the joy of not knowing, the pleasure and pain of thinking, choosing, doing, risking and giving are all removed.  By none other than the kings of social media – and who knows maybe soon also the world –  facebook.

From Morozov, The Perils of Perfection:

LAST month Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook’s former marketing director, enthused about a trendy app to “crowdsource absolutely every decision in your life.” Called Seesaw, the app lets you run instant polls of your friends and ask for advice on anything: what wedding dress to buy, what latte drink to order and soon, perhaps, what political candidate to support. Seesaw offers an interesting twist on how we think about feedback and failure. It used to be that we bought things to impress our friends, fully aware that they might not like our purchases. Now this logic is inverted: if something impresses our friends, we buy it. The risks of rejection have been minimized; we know well in advance how many Facebook “likes” our every decision would accumulate. Jean-Paul Sartre, the existentialist philosopher who celebrated the anguish of decision as a hallmark of responsibility, has no place in Silicon Valley. Whatever their contribution to our maturity as human beings, decisions also bring out pain and, faced with a choice between maturity and pain-minimization, Continue reading

squinting at pop
August 15, 2011, 5:23 am
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , ,

Facebook status updates are quite a bit about life actualized:  sushi lunches and manicures on days off, chillin’ with single malts in Brooklyn lofts, cedar planking salmon, safariing in east Africa, prix fixe with poached flounder, taking post season dips in the Tyrrhenian Sea, generally jetting about, and so on.  I like reading them, but must admit many are giggle inducing.  Would they, gathered together, make a viral tumblr?  No doubt.

The actualizing set has seductive new tools.  Facebook’s ‘like’ and Google’s G+ are innocuous but powerful little buttons built on the human need to have and to express strong opinions about — well, about everything and nothing. Essentially, they are curatorial tools, which puts everybody in the desirous position of editor.  They give delusions of influence and power.  That they are viral shows our deep need to know, to be culturally evolved and experienced.

Continue reading