New Age Nonsense

This was in the link list post at Marginal Revolution. It is a wonderful example of authentic new age gibberish. It is all emotive, synthetic language that is popular with the managerial class these days. It’s the sort of therapeutic language that is supposed to both validate the people using it and establish them as insiders in whatever it is they are promoting. This sort of gobbledygook is common now in corporate America, to the point where there are websites fro generating it.

Astra Taylor is the author of “The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age,” a new book on how information technology and market changes are reshaping art and culture.

Here is the bio of Astra Taylor:

Astra Taylor is a Canadian-American documentary filmmaker, writer, and musician, best known for her 2005 film, Zizek!, about the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, and for her 2008 film, Examined Life.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Taylor grew up in Athens, Georgia,[1] and was unschooled until age 13.[2] She attended Brown University for a year and holds an MA in Liberal Studies from the New School. She has taught sociology at the University of Georgia and SUNY New Paltz. Her writings have appeared in numerous magazines, and in 2006 Filmmaker Magazine listed her as one of “25 new faces to watch.” She is the sister of painter and disability activist Sunny Taylor,[3] and is married to Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel.[4] Taylor performed with Neutral Milk Hotel during the band’s reunion tour of 2013/2014. She is the author of the book The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, published by Metropolitan Books.

The “unschooled” bit is amusing, as it could only come Astra Taylor or maybe fellow feminists. they like the pseudo-language stuff.  If you are going to make up a nonsense biography, calling yourself “unschooled” is a good start. The links in her Wiki page go nowhere so a little search reveals this video. Mostly third-wave feminist nonsense, bit we learn that “unschooled” means home schooled. In her circles, “home schooled” is equated with Walmart and gay bashing so they use a neologism.

Right out of the shoot, the interview takes on the vibe of a couple of hens yapping at one another while waiting for their kids at the Montessori school.

HF – At many points in the book you suggest that new technologies, far from leveling the playing field, are creating their own forms of inequality. How can open technologies lead to very unequal outcomes?

AT – It’s true that our new communicative technologies can create space for many voices, but the Internet also reflects and often amplifies real-world inequities. It is open but also unequal.

Contrary to all the hype about the “long tail,” the cultural playing field hasn’t been leveled so much as rearranged. What we are seeing is the emergence of the “missing middle” (a phrase I’ve taken from the political scientist Matthew Hindman). Online the bandwagon effect intensifies: the big can get bigger than ever before, and there are lots of tiny interesting things on the margin, but the in-between is hollowing out. The Internet is a global distribution medium.

Now, the Interwebs has been with us for two decades. The first browser was dropped in the early 1990’s. Not many people were on-line back then compared to now, but it was not a tiny community. When Astra was discovering middle-school, adults were discovering the Internet. Now she is “educating” the rest of us about how the Internet is changing the world. This is a hilarious phenomenon that is popular with feminists for some reason. maybe it is empowering.

I try to highlight a contradiction in the contemporary media ecology. On the one hand, a handful of businesses are rising to become new info-monopolies. Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook are now among the biggest companies in the world, siphoning revenue away from other local economies to Silicon Valley or Seattle or wherever, concentrating wealth in the process.

On the other, even as this remarkable concentration is playing out, our relationship with media is becoming more personalized. No one can tell you what to click on, Web sites reflect your preferences, and everyone has a glowing screen of their own. Yet these catered services generally rely on centralized vendors and services, like Amazon or Apple, that control the hardware we are using and the content we consume. This creates a kind of vertical integration behind the scenes. Certain barriers to cultural participation have been removed, and we can all post on social media or comment on articles, but massive asymmetries of power persist. Individually we glean benefits that are orders of magnitude smaller than the benefits for the platform owners who can collect and harness the “big data” generated by our communications.

There are certain buzzwords that are popular with these new age hustlers. One of them is “ecology.” The reason is it conjures images in the mind of plants and fuzzy cute animals. People like plants and fuzzy animals. Then there’s the old standby, the false dilemma. The specter of the global mega-corporation versus granny viewing pics of her grandkids on Facebook.

Of course, we see the liberal use of neutralizing words. A “kind of” vertical integration is, logically, no vertical integration, but the point is to have it both ways. It is a way of taking both sides while allowing the listener to assume whatever ever they find pleasing or validating. Obama speeches are full of this sort of language. The text is largely meaningless, so the listener can make it about themselves.

1 thought on “New Age Nonsense

  1. My head hurts when I read her writing. Can you please do us all favor and translate?

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