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Questions about resonance

Page history last edited by roy williams 3 years, 8 months ago


This is a page to explore questions about resonance. This can be as broad as your imagination - so see what you can come up with.

If you can, please add like a blog - i.e. add to the top, and write the date and your name / initials (I will use RW, JM = Jenny Mackness, MM = Matthias Melcher, RD = Richard Devon), so ...


See here for page minus 1 


5/12/19 Hate for Profit?    

Feral Facebook, again:  see here ...  WIP ... Words have consequences ... 


4/12/19 About Ontologies and Writing - or parole and langue  


We need to reboot our social ontology. The starting point is the overarching ontology of global emergence (or zoom out to our milky-way galaxy, or the universe, etc, if you will).  In any event, the ontology is one of emergence, or complex-adaptive systems (and now complex-adaptive networks). That's the changing, non-predictable ecology that we live in, and it's now in emergency care (or should be).


And it's within global emergence that we emerged from the basic (biological) first tier  of emergence (see here ...), to the second, (social) tier of symbolic behaviour, i.e. language.  The core of language is what linguistics calls parole (or speech), which is flexible, adaptive, emergent, collaborative, and open (aka "free" - as in liberty). It allows for continuity in culture, but also for adaptation.


From the basic abstractions of language we developed a concatenation of further abstractions (see here ...).  But at this point two interlinked processes developed: of abstraction/alienation on the one hand, and writing on the other hand. What writing (or in linguistic terms, langue does), as opposed to the emergent, open network of parole, is to 'set' our first algorithms (from syllogisms onwards) in stone (literally, in Sumeria and in Egypt) as well as on early forms of paper/papyrus.


Writing down procedures, histories, biographies, algorithms (etc) in 'stone' - literally and metaphorically - does a range of things:


i) It preserves the texts/algorithms, literally.

ii) It commoditizes the texts/algorithms, and the processes they describe and define - and it allows them to pass on from one place and time (and culture) to another. 

iii) It tends to remove, or abstract, culture from ongoing emergence in the domain of the public (or parole, broadly and metaphorically speaking), to the more formalised and restrictive domain of the priests/book-keepers (or formalisers/controllers, as in langue).


This is clearly a mixed bag. On the one hand it provides the mechanism for accumulating and disseminating social, financial, and cultural capital. That is, surely, progress, no?  Yes, but ... it simultaneously shifts the basic algorithms and structures of the social out of the domain of flexible, emergent and complex-adaptive systems, into the domain of fixed, and apparently "predictable" systems in the sense that much of physics is predictable (but social and biological systems are not).


Some of these systems (like all good systems) have feedback loops built into them. Unfortunately these can become entrenched, and even 'too big to fail'.


For example, the European Union has a veto mechanism available to each of the 28/27 member states on all major issues - this was necessary, in order to get the small states to join up in the first place. However ... that veto remains in place today, and recently, when several states put forward proposals to tax the Silicon Six (the big Silicon Valley IT/social media cartels) for the revenue they generate in situ, in Europe, these proposals were promptly vetoed by several small European states (e.g. Ireland). 


So on this key issue the formalisation of the procedures of the EU - in a written treaty - effectively means not only that no adaptation or emergence will occur, but no change - at all.  The key issue here is that the much vaunted accumulation of (bureaucratic - in this case) capital in civilisation, even in so called free, liberal societies can (selectively) be transformed from so-called open, emergent, progressive societies into inflexible, defensive associations of elites. The resonances of power can shift away from the 'open' domain almost imperceptibly. 



So ... In terms of this ontology, the key elements are:


1. Global (+), contingent, emergent systems, (within which) 


2. Emergent, (oral) language-based systems, (within which)


3. The interlinked, simultaneous, emergence of:

3.1 Further layers and networks of abstraction 

3.2 Further systems of capital accumulation and application (social, financial, cultural, legislative, GDP, etc), which includes both: 


3.2.1 The emergence of systems and networks of setting down, capturing, and recording (aka writing, or langue), which allow for the accumulation and dissemination of capital, as well as:

3.2.2 The removal of elements, and even chunks, of capital from the public, open domain, (aka parole), as well as from accountability &/or change.


4. (3.2.3?) The consolidation (&/or break-up) of various elites from time to time, based on varied (and even clashing) affordances that emerge from time to time and place to place. 


For action to be effective and sustainable (as in: knowledge is the capacity for effective action), it has to primarily satisfy criteria at level 1. The other levels are merely derivative.


11/11/19 Cooperative or Imperative Resonance  

This is a world of difference between cooperative or imperative resonance, or resonance with/ resonance for


Resonance with is resonance by going along with what someone else is doing, whether that is playing in a jazz ensemble, engaging in a dance ensemble, or joining in with the behaviour of autistic people (add link). The purpose in both cases, strangely enough, is to resonate with what the other person/s are doing, in order to provide a link to, some resonance/empathy with, what they are doing. Once that is achieved, you can see whether you can lead them on to other behaviour. 


Resonance for is to provide a behavioural template for others to comply with. This in turn can be either resonance for compliance, or resonance for self-expression. 


31/10/19 Fractured Realities 

This is a follow up to the post on Malgorithms, below.


The invidious fine print is not (just) that social media (can) fracture the population into self-contained silos, but that the core business model of Facebook (and up till today also Twitter) is to maximise this, because they are designed to sell micro-targeted political and commercial advertising, right down to the granularity of individual people, about whom they know "more than you own mother knows" to quote a recent commentator.  This is - literally and figuratively -  deeply divisive, because it provides the tech. platform, the modern day affordances, for political campaigners to promise different and even contradictory things to different pockets of the same electoral market.


The effect of that is that the electorate can be offered promises which are therefore impossible to deliver to all of the people all of the time - the new micro-deceptions - the new capillaries of power - of the 21st Century.  Welcome to your new 'home', millennials. (See also here ...)


Business models are the holy grail of Wall Street. Fair play, you might say.  But the new ones are also avatars, viral algorithms, which can morph into malgorithms, and infect the hidden capillaries of the 'social' (which Thatcher said "did not exist").


In the debate on Twitter's ban on political advertising, it appears that they (unlike Facebook) are finally attempting to pare down the worst excesses of their business model.  Namely, the infinite fracturing and degrading of the political marketplace.  Nothing wrong with that either, you might even say (all is fair in love, war and apologetics).  However, as someone recently pointed out, in practice this means this means that the political eminence grises of this world can fracture/splinter the political market into tiny contradictory and fractured pockets, that's also OK. 


Stitched up doesn't cover it. 


30/10/19 AI Manslaughter (forewarned)

The Boeing Max accidents, which were probably the first (of many?) AI Mass Homicides, were caused by problems flagged up within the Boeing Corp some years ago - and ignored.


12/10/19 Voices, Transcriptions & selective Affordances 

Or: The Structural Violence of Literacy. See also, Agency 


The King James translation of the Bible (and the Book of Common Prayer) was remarkable in many ways. Apart from the fact that it created the global precedent for peer-reviewed publications (add link), it was deliberately written to be heard by the masses, first and foremost, not read by them. And not only that, but heard as widely as possible.  


It was the most astute response - ever - of an elite (i.e. the English Court), to a radical new communications technology ... (read more here ... )


11/10/19 Morbid Algorithms (or: nests of bad code

We (unfortunately) need a typography, a pathology of anti-social media, e.g. Instagram, where the 14 year old Molly Russell found graphic information that played a part in her suicide.  A new ontology (in many senses of the word) for our times.  But to avoid descending to the level of the trolls, and the potty-mouthed Boris Johnsons, et al (see Johnson's "spaffing international aid up the wall" remark).  


We live in the age of the super-global cartels: Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple (with their even more invidious Chinese proteges advancing apace). They are increasingly establishing global monopolies / cartels of networks for communication and interaction.  Whatsapp appeared to be more user friendly, for a time, only to be gobbled up by Facebook. 


Cartels are, by definition, perversions of the 'free' market, but they are also the darlings of the free market jihadists.  And they, in turn, are determined to privilege short term profit over the long term survival of the planet.  It is difficult to envisage a global stitch-up of all these forces, but it's increasingly true. 


First off, section 230 of the 1990's Communications Decency Act (sic, that is not a typo), which gives the social media cartels the biggest free pass in market history, by declaring that they are merely distributors and not publishers of content, absolving them at one stroke of all liability for the death threats and insults that appear continually on their platforms, and provide highly monetised click bait for their revenue streams - for example this video shown at the latest rally where Trump (jnr) spoke. But preferably don't watch it, it is one of the most horrific examples of what passes for 'free speech' in the America ruled - and aided and abetted - by Trump, who has yet to criticise, let alone denounce it.


This proves, yet again, that if you name things they way you want them, if you stitch them up into the right categories, you can turn your back on any litigation, and laugh all the way to the bank.  And the billions of people who are potential targets of your business model (seeing that you are merely a 'blameless distributor' of the offensive material), will be written off as collateral damage of free speech. This is off-balance hate speech (in more than one sense).  What a wonderful / terrible business model.  Eat your heart out mephistopheles. 


Secondly, just to make sure, there are some hefty contributions from the social media cartels to fund climate change deniers (and the fossil fuel cartels that are the primary causes of climate change) to ensure that they (both) maintain their 'right' to a free pass to print money, for instance:

Google logo







see:  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/11/google-contributions-climate-change-deniers 



A marriage of true cartels, indeed. 



11/10/19 The Genocide of the Dead  

Being a card carrying semiotician / discourse analyst, when I start exploring a new topic, what's always at the back of my mind is "how can we define the limits of the topic"?  What is the polar opposite of what we are trying to describe? For it is only then that the field in question comes clearly into focus.


(To put it more formally, to be clear about what a is, you need to be clear about what not-a is too). 


I have, unfortunately in this case, now reached that point, in this project on resonance and resonant knowledge. See here ...



07/10/19 The Age of Impunity & the Mental Health Epidemic  

The problem with the Age of Impunity is not that we have all of a sudden entered an age of impunity.  History is full of successful tyrants and dictators surviving for years if not decades, within 'democratic' political systems.  The problem is, rather, that because of the internet, we now have our noses rubbed in it. That's what makes people so angry. 


07/10/19 Diversity & Assimilation 


The Internet is many things and, hopefully (fascist state control to the contrary), will continue to be provide new affordances for more people to communicate and interact.  


However, the early years of the 21st Century are already starting to look like the age of perversion - in this case, the perversion of democracy, aided and abetted by the perversion of the Internet from its intended purpose as a user-friendly, open, communication and interaction network. What's happened?


It's actually a very old problem. The problem of open systems.  The more open the systems are, the more open they are to perversions - of power - ... (see here ... for more).


04/10/19 Digital Cocaine

A panelist on (UK) TV recently said that the problem of young people spending too much time on social media is rooted in the dominant business model of the big social media companies.  And if that is not fixed, nothing much is going to change.


And that model is the 'freemium' business model with digital cocaine sprinkled all across it.  Which takes us back to the problem of addiction.  (See more about digital cocaine here ...)


30/8/19 Mind

Buddhism teaches us about mind, and specifically that your mind is like an overactive monkey.  Best thing to do if you want peace of mind is give the mind something simple and repetitive to do, to get it off your back. For example, get it to count as you breathe - "In, 2,3,4, Out, 2,3,4." And repeat ...


So, once you link the overactive monkeys / minds of a few billion people on social media, the result is one humongous monkey mind. Unsurprisingly, it needs some discipline.  If not, it will drive you crazy. 


Any other open system (capitalism for instance), is the same. In fact, it is true of all open systems that without some constraints, they degenerate into chaos - from games (real and virtual) onwards. (See Paul Cilliers work on postmodernism for more details).



2/12/18 Implicated Subject or Structural Violence?


Roger Friedman introduces a useful term, the Implicated Subject, to deal with what we might call the historic capillaries of guilt.  I prefer structural violence, the term coined by Johann Degenaar in the 1970's to describe life under the Apartheid regime. Maybe that makes me an unreconstructed structuralist, but that's OK by me. For there are things that you are implicated in, which amount to structural violence, about which you have no choice - no agency as a subject.  Then there are things that you might (?) have some say in, in which case you might be called an implicated 'subject'. Subjects have agency, whereas the subjected do not, although both are implicated. 


And the point about structural violence is that, particularly if you are not the object of structural violence (e.g. not a 'non-White' under Apartheid, or a 'non-Jew' under Netanyahu's policies, etc etc - the list is long) - you get used to it, inured to it, and it just becomes part of the social furniture - the social micro-ecology that you have to live with/in. 


2/12/18 Reading AI/AI

Once we realise that AI - or AA (autonomous algorithms) is no more than a (very) elaborate form of signs/texts, all of which potentially take on a life of their own, from words to syllogisms, to algorithms, and that they are all in their own way difference machines, or logic machines, we should be more wary of the claims that autonomy (in cars, buses, drones - weaponized or otherwise) requires a lot of our attention before we let them 'loose'.  


Specifically, medical AI / AA (autonomous algorithms).  The issue is not how smart they are - smartness in data sifting is something computers have been good at for a long time. The issue is how we know they are as smart as they say they are (or not). Getting advice from a text, whether it is the ponderous Grey's anatomy, or Babylon's smart apps, is fine, as long as you can interrogate the text, the assumptions, the calculus that was employed to give you advice (let alone conduct robotic surgery). 


And there's the rub.  Despite the best efforts of the EU's recent (2018) regulatory legislation, it remains to be seen whether they effectively make AA transparent to the users. Computer code and big data analysis is very complicated, extremely time consuming, and seldom open to public scrutiny, let alone improvement anyway.  So we are starting to experience an epidemic of black boxes, locked up inside corporate intellectual property.   


28/11/18  Big Man Politics (updated 3/12/18)

Democrats (those who believe that fascism is too exciting, command economy communism is too boring, and democracy is just right) - are pretty allergic to 'big man' politics, which usually has overtones of fear and fascism. 


However ... what's really scary about current trends in Russia, China, America, Hungary, The Philippines, Brazil, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc, is that one of the collateral effects of our immanent extinction crisis could well be that a bunch of testosterone-laden politicians might well get together (at some point in the next decade or two), to decide which 'sacrifice zones' (see Naomi Klein's latest book) are expendable in the battle to contain the runaway climate disaster.


They mightDraft Resonances Conclusion Draft Resonances Conclusion Draft Resonances Conclusion Draft Resonances Conclusion decide unilaterally which areas/continents of the world they are going to sacrifice to the new gods of geo-engineering and global damage control.  It's a logical extrapolation of most of our current populist/nationalist trends, and it's a global version of the nightmare of Sophie's Choice.  Just a thought ...


Semiotics works best when you first look for the absences, and the interesting things is that many signs (and signings - sorry, couldn't resist it) end up signifying nothing. So ...


The G21 - the plus 1 option

I have just, belatedly, realised how Bruno Latour's book on Nature is essential to our response to the climate crisis. The point he makes is that all in/animate things (or Gaia, and all its constituencies / constituent parts) must have a seat at the table.  The fact of the matter is that until the G20, G7/8, and the UN Security Council and ... (fill in the blank) - until all these gatherings of so-called world leaders, purporting to speak for the rules-based-international order that they "hold so dear" - until they create a permanent seat for Gaia / Earthclient - at each of these world jamborees - and with full veto powers, the politicians and their billionaire clients are going to pay no more than lip service to the climate crisis, and their protestations will just be "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". The financial markets are, as Vince Cable said in his frustration when the Con-Dem coalition under Cameron failed to take them in hand, a bunch of spivs and gamblers.


The Earth's delicately balanced climate is too important to be left to gamblers and politicians.  Or to put it another way, why would kids trust a posse of playground bullies (and killers) to make decisions for them - you've got to be kidding, right? See below and weep ... 





8/11/18  AI's lack of 'understanding'

AI's problem is that it has no real understanding, (see here) just like psychopaths. The problem is simple - neither of them has any 'skin in the game' - they all stand outside it, or in linguistic/semiotic terms, they don't do first person plural pronouns. And furthermore, computers have no "I" either, so they cannot, by definition, have a "we" - at least psychopaths have an "I".


8/11/18 Democracy

Democracy is a mechanism for dispersing (some) agency, within (some) time-frames (usually once every few years, at best), on (some) specific issues, of which some issues can be raised by some people. mmmm ... as Churchill said, it's "the least worst system for governing the affairs of the nation".


8/11/18 Truthiness

The point about truthiness (see NHS 'efficiency', below) is not just that it's so offensive and patronising, it's that it slowly and inexorably erodes any residual resonance between the people who use the NHS (and those who work there) and the people in the palace (of Whitehall - the Whitehall bubblers).   


 3/11/18 Monetizing the NHS

What passes for 'centralisation' in the NHS is actually jihadist monetisation.  The NHS, apparently, is committed to provide care which is "free at the point of delivery".  The only thing is, getting to the point of delivery is becoming more expensive each year - it's death (sic) by a thousand cuts - pushing medical care over the horizon of family budgets inch by inch, year by year.  You can't provide access to medical care by pushing the 'point of delivery' out of reach. That's not fake-news, it's just plain dishonest and nasty.


The problem with monetization is that numbers lack context. You can't discuss the human and societal implications of it, more efficiency is more efficiency, but then as grandma used to say, "efficiency is as efficiency does".


31/10/18 Click-bait as dirty money, the (loaded) currency of human-baiting

Business models in most of the aggressive media (digital and print) are increasingly built around the core meme of click-bait - it's "just more profitable", and a "better investment" opportunity, apparently.  We have managed to outlaw most of the 'sports' of bear-baiting (etc), but we seem to be happy to run our lives on 'free' media platforms that are built around core memes of human-baiting, quite a few of which are implicated in real life murders. Weren't snuff spectaculars meant to go out with the end of the Roman Empire and the Colosseum? Are we becoming more or less 'civilized'? 


 18/9/18 Taming the real (social) difference memes 

The debate about to Brexit or not to Brexit has to some extent been dominated by distractions from the start.  The four freedoms of the EU (sounds like a Maoism) are a nice package, but are they too vague and too apple-pie-self-evident, so that they deliberately miss the point?  


The fundamental point is that although we need free movement and investment, we do NOT need free movement of personal wealth (or the creation of accountability-free zones for the new aristocracy / oligarchy, see here ...).  Quite the opposite, and it's the missing 'difference' - the elephant that has not even got into the room yet. It's the key distinction that must be in place 'going forward' (as people are wont to say). 


So ... personal money, the ultimate anonymous, viral, 'value' meme, needs to be accountable - needs to be able to be 'taken into (public) account', so that personal wealth (and its sources) becomes transparent. It's all very well to propose a tax on wealth, but we currently have no systematic means to determine people's wealth, let alone the origin or location of that wealth. Until then, money will remain anonymous, viral, feral, and unaccountable.  Which means that power will remain largely invisible and unaccountable: oligarchs rule, OK? - from the Russian (and other) mafia, to the Koch brothers, and so on ... 


The viral memes of social media can be nasty and vicious, but they are small beer compared to this. And they are actually a distraction (however huge) from this, fundamental, core, globalised meme. 


Money and personal wealth need to be divided into two distinct categories. A bit of a challenge to say the least, but it's crucial for any real notion of justice and fairness. Capitalism is deliberately abstract (see elsewhere), so it's neither fair nor unfair per se. It's how we use it, and whether we tame it - or let it continue to ride wild and viral, that really matters.



18/9/18 Market Jihadism

Trumpists and Brexiteers have finally flushed the darkest/purest face of neoconservatism/neo-fascism out of the woodwork for all to see.  We are now moving from market fundamentalism to market jihadism/market fascism. Wow. All spelt out plainly and clearly in the latest CATO Institute proposals, which are analysed and contextualised in the latest Guardian article on Brexit


Simply put, market jihadism is a mutual regulatory bonfire (or, fill in your own IED's, here ...) of at least two States, leaving only a single market left standing between them.  Naked capitalism in its purest form.  Ground zero for ALL (excuse the caps) government, and regulation, built on an extremely idealistic / stupid / cynical faith in a free-for-all-billionaires-market. 


8/9/18 Technologies of Value 

Many authors, with the best of intentions, are focusing their attention, and their (justified) ire, against the ruling classes, the 1%, the '42' people who now own as much as the bottom half of humanity (3.5 billion of them/us). This includes Naomi Klein.  However ... there's more to it than that, because ...


i) Although it is true that we have a very short time left (10 years at most) to try to avert at least 200 years of greenhouse gas poisoning, we must find a way to prioritise all the technologies we have at our disposal to bring global warming down to acceptable levels, even though this inevitably clashes with the rules of 'free' trade (see Klein: .... (add). 


ii) We need to take into account that this will eat into, disrupt, and even overturn our core technologies of value, technologies that even though we are already "steeped in so far," we will have to find a way back out of them - to paraphrase Macbeth - who like us, now, faced the impossible prospect of "turning back" mid-stream when he had already committed himself to a disastrous future. 


These technologies of value are, simply, the technologies of hyper-capitalism which produces the means (and modes, if you want to be picky) of the production, exchange, circulation, accumulation, and re-deployment of capital (i.e. value) across the globe, preferably via frictionless 'free' trade. The EU's unfettered freedom of capital flows (alongside it's other three freedoms) is one of its 'self evident' core values - one that threatens to end history (but not in the way Fukiyama intended), because it has been adopted as a self-evident core value not only by the EU, but also the USA, what's left of the Soviet Union, 'communist' China, and just about all the rest of the world. 


Extracting ourselves from our contemporary technologies of value, which we hold to be "self-evident", taming them, clawing them back from their current feral state, and transforming them into new, sustainable technologies of (capital) value will be an unprecedented challenge. 


The threat to 'destroy' capitalism is simplistic nonsense (when it comes from the Left) and a disingenuous diversionary tactic (when it comes from the Right).  The fact is, we need a meme for commerce and investment, and 'capital' will do nicely - besides, its not going away anytime (let alone soon).  But it does need to be reigned in, and made a lot more transparent so that it can be regulated properly. The real threat is the market jihadism of the ERG and the CATO Institute (see above).


29/8/18 Austerity as Self-harming

The Stock Markets tell an interesting story, and the evidence is out there for all to see: the purpose of austerity is to make more money, not to cut expenditure. There is nothing puzzling about the relentless rise of the (private) financial markets in a time of grinding (public) austerity. Both are 'in your face' real, and there is no contradiction. 


Privatising the public sector, and privatising taxes (the privatisation of public utilities is, by sleight of hand, a proxy for privatising taxes) eats away at the State's ability to guarantee the necessities for a dignified existence, and hands all that lovely 'surplus' value on a platter to offshore trusts and hedge funds, out of (h)arms reach of self-emasculating governments. And we are all made complicit, via the investments of our pension funds. Maybe Parliament should just shut down, and transfer its functions to an anonymous committee in the Virgin Islands. That would 'save' even more money.


The goal of austerity, then, is an impoverished and dis-abled State, one that is worth contesting only for its ceremonial values and 'honours' lists.  


See the many examples in Aditya Chakrabortty's article, e.g: 


Privatisation and austerity have not only weakened the country’s financial position – they have also handed unearned wealth to a select few. Just look at a new report from the University of Greenwich finding that water companies could have funded all their day-to-day running and their long-term investments out of the bills paid by customers. Instead of which, managers have lumbered the firms with £51bn of debt to pay for shareholders’ dividends. Those borrowed billions, and the millions in interest, will be paid by you and me in our water bills. We might as well stuff the cash directly into the pockets of shareholders.


27/8/18 Capitalism - again ...

Reading Naomi Klein's book, This Changes Everything, it struck me that there is a kernel of 'algorithms' that we are living in - a new semiotic infrastructure, which we need to understand in order to deal with it.  The semiotic infrastructure - simply, the underlying pragmatics of the way signs work - starts with the way signs come about. And that happens (to quote Wittgenstein) through "meaning is use": i.e. 'meaning' is not the result of some very clever cognitive gymnastics. It is, in the first place, the result of the way you use something.  If you shake your head from side to side in Greece, that means yes, and if you do that elsewhere in Europe, it means no.  It depends on the community in which you use it.  Its kinaesthetic, and whether it is transcribed into words someplace else is a different matter. 


So to begin at the beginning: (embodied) use determines (cognitive) meaning, not vice versa.  But in the process something very interesting happens, which is that (i) meaning very soon gets 'lifted off' from the material of the sign/artefact, and, to quote Barthes, "every use (potentially) becomes a sign of itself".  So, the stick, the hand axe, the gesture, the grimace - each one is used to explore and then establish an affordance - a possible use, a new way of doing things -  which soon becomes an established use, and thereby a meaning, in a particular social context.  But then that meaning can be lifted off from that particular material form (hand axe, gesture, word, algorithm, etc) and, represented by another sign - a picture, and ideogram, a hieroglyphic, a word, a digital code of a word, etc. And that makes it available for use in, and circulation to, any other contexts, by any other people. 


{There is a link here to synaesthesia, and the transformation of multimodal active-perception into non-modal signs, but that's another story, and probably just confusing at this point, no?}


The concatenation of processes and coding (above) is entirely dependent on, and based in, particular contexts - contexts in which creativity, &/or play, &/or work (defined as 'deferred gratification'), provide opportunities (or affordances) to add new uses to the stock of possible uses.  Another interesting thing happens here, (ii): this provides further opportunities (or affordances) for the creation and accumulation of uses, the coding of those uses in signs, and the circulation and exchange of those signs - either as signs themselves (we can pass on words we make up to other people), or as commoditised (copyrighted and patented) texts, theories, formulae, procedures, pictures, and algorithms (we can sell or rent/licence these concepts, processes, algorithms too).


These can then (iii): be further abstracted into financial value, and the financial value (and its derivatives) can then be circulated, exchanged and accumulated too.  In this way a multi-layered set of codings and derivatives of the new uses are created, consolidated, coded, exchanged, commoditised, accumulated, into an ever growing (and hopefully improving) stock of uses. 


So despite the fact that uses are in the first place dependent on, and generated within a specific material and cultural context by particular actors (or subjects), the concatenation of codings and transformations described above can result in purely financial value, in which all context and subjectivity has been completely stripped out, and we are left with 'pure' exchange value, which can only re-enter the domain of material use by purchasing something of material use. So exchange value can, in principle, be accumulated and circulated in total abstraction from all social context, and any particular subject / actor, (or regulator). 


This series of transformations provides the scaffolding for a more general set of semiotic transformations, in the algorithms of: finance, bureaucracy, representative democracy, science, mathematics, and ICT.  Because of the high levels of abstraction in each of them, they can collectively be called meta-semiotics (add link). The affordances of meta-semiotics are, crucially, built around precisely this level of abstraction and context-free abstraction.  In many cases where globalisation and the internet potentially accelerate and exponentially expand the reach, access, and distribution of agency, and the accumulation of data and power (bid data, billionaires, big surveillance, etc), the affordances for people to exercise their agency paradoxically broadens and narrows at the same time. There is more concentration of agency and power (in the private and public sectors), as well as more distribution of agency through access to social media.  Globalisation, and particularly the globalisation of 'private' offshore banking and trusts conceals the ever more substantial amounts and concentrations of power and wealth from public scrutiny and public regulation. 


As a result, social regulation of the new concentrations of power and wealth, and the regulation of micro-firestorms and trolling (which is inherently lucrative) will be very difficult to achieve. Power and wealth have gone viral, if not feral. Mafiosi affordances rule, OK?


24/8/18 Joy and Colours

Rainbows and flowers resonate with joy after all. 


13/8/18 Capitalism

Capitalism is the ultimate scapegoat. It is credited by some with everything that is wrong in the world, as well as credited by others with everything that is right.  Both sides cant be right, or can they? 


The question is not about capitalism but, rather, its excesses - or as Robin Cooke (late UK Foreign Secretary) said, feral capitalism.  Capitalism is just one of many semiotic tools to promote exchange, and like all the others (science, bureaucracy, representative democracy, the internet), it does this by stripping out context and subjectivity, to promote and facilitate open, objective, rule-based exchange (see meta-semiotics).  We cannot live without these semiotic networks, so, how can we live with them?  Radically open systems, per se, are just invitations to trolls and feral behaviour - always have been.  It's time to sort it, as the most recent ones have quite clearly got out of hand.  

30/7/18 Description 

Brian Williams sent me through an excellent piece by Barthes:


"In the Stalinist world, in which definition, that is to say the separation between Good and Evil, becomes the sole content of all language, there are no more words without values attached to them, so that finally the function of writing is to cut out one stage of a process: there is no more lapse of time between naming and judging, and the closed character of language is perfected, since in the last anal­ysis it is a value which is given as explanation of another value. For instance, it may be alleged that such and such a criminal has engaged in activities harmful to the interests of the state; which boils down to saying that a criminal is someone who commits a crime. We see that this is in fact a tautol­ogy, a device which is constantly used in Stalinist writing. For the latter no longer aims at founding a Marxist version of the facts, or a revolutionary rationale of actions, but at presenting reality in a pre­-judged form, thus imposing a reading which involves immediate condemnation: the objective content of the word ‘deviationist’ puts it into a penological category. If two deviationists band together they become ‘fractionists’, which does not involve an objectively different crime but an increase in the sentence imposed" [all emphasis, added]. 


Barthes: Selected Writings S. Sontag, editor (Fontana/Collins 1982) p. 41.


This is a completely different issue from the argument (see elsewhere) about the end of modernist science.  The two distinctions do, however, need to be kept in mind concurrently, to maintain our defences against the simplistic rants of Trolls and simpletons. 


The issue here is the reductionist debasement of discourse, or the closure (see Barthes above) or suturing of discourse to what can technically be called 'argument by assertion', or more frankly called out as plain trolling - a clumsy version of bullying and totalitarianism. At stake is the basis for all science, jurisprudence, consensus, reconciliation, and constructive resonance, namely the hard work of meticulous description and agreement on facts - however unpalatable. 


If there are no facts, but only judgements, if as Barthes says "there are no more words without values attached to them, so that finally the function of writing is to cut out one stage of a process: there is no more lapse of time between naming and judging, and the closed character of language is perfected, since in the last analysis it is a value which is given as explanation of another value ", then we are condemned to communicate in the tautologies of bullies and facists.  The alternative is what Archbishop Tutu's father taught them as children: "never raise the volume of your voice, raise the quality of your argument". If not, the prospect of a society based on consensus and rules is over. By this measure, Trump has more in common with Stalin than Putin, and power is the only game in town. Naked power, on top of being divisive, cruel, and disrespectful, is just lazy and sloppy. 



27/7/18 Homogenization

Different people dream different dreams for the people they rule, e.g Roosevelt, see below, and at Mikanowski .


"As the Trump administration intensifies its crackdown on migrants, speaking any language besides English, has taken on a certain charge. In some cases, it can even be dangerous. But if something has changed around the politics of English since Donald Trump took office, the anger ... taps into deeper nativist roots. Elevating English while denigrating all other languages has been a pillar of English and American nationalism for well over a hundred years.


It’s a strain of linguistic exclusionism heard in Theodore Roosevelt’s 1919 address to the American Defense Society, in which he proclaimed that 'we have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boardinghouse'”.


5/6/18 Commoditising and Sublimating Anger
Political governance, in the era of 'democracy' is all about commoditising and sublimating anger. The trick is to convert resonance between particular points of view into the resolution of representation, and declare a workable truce for 4, 5, or so years, during which the ruling classes can pretty much do what they like.

But early millennial democracy is fractured and angry. Very angry - on the right and (with Occupy, Five Star in Italy, etc) on the left. There could be many possible threads to this problem, such as: i) The failure to sublimate, and commoditise and transform anger through the number-crunching mills of representative democracy; ii) the failure to conserve the status quo ante (a largely innocuous see-saw between binary choices of two political parties of the establishment, iii) WIP ...

5/6/18 Which way up is post/modernism?
Post-modernism has always been deliciously confused and ironic. The following wikipedia entry confirms all that, in spades ...

  • "Postmodernity (post-modernity or the postmodern condition) is the economic or cultural state or condition of society which is said to exist after modernity. Some schools of thought hold that modernity ended in the late 20th century – in the 1980s or early 1990s – and that it was replaced by postmodernity, while others would extend modernity to cover the developments denoted by postmodernity, while some believe that modernity ended after World War II. The idea of the post-modern condition is sometimes characterised as a culture stripped of its capacity to function in any linear or autonomous state as opposed to the progressive mindstate of Modernism.[1] (Emphasis added].
  • Postmodernity can mean a personal response to a postmodern society, the conditions in a society which make it postmodern or the state of being that is associated with a postmodern society as well a historical epoch. In most contexts it should be distinguished from postmodernism, the adoption of postmodern philosophies or traits in art, literature, culture and society. In fact, today, historical perspectives on the developments of postmodern art (postmodernism) and postmodern society (postmodernity) can be best described as two umbrella terms for processes engaged in an ongoing dialectical relationship, the result of which is the evolving world in which we now live".

To wit ...
Modernism was about experimentation, and breaking with the strictures of the past, and for many of the artists of the early 20th C (and beyond), their work moved deliberately into multiple and fractured perspectives. So it is just so ironic that modernism is, here, in the new social media oracle, described as a self-evidently 'progressive' mindstate, which confines us all to linearity/ (aka 'progress'). And the value judgement in the description of the post-modern condition (?) as "a culture stripped of its capacity to function in any linear or autonomous state ..." is revealing and self-ironic. Wow. And the final section is, at best, confused.

3/6/18 The Revenge
3/6/18 The Revenge against Post-Modernism
There are many people (Jordan Petersen, for example) who still, 40 or 50 years on, resent post-modernism, and want to get their revenge. But modernism is dead (see elsewhere) so their only possible response is a reductionist version of connectivism, in a desperate (and even,clinically, hysterical) attempt to displace the emergence of a constructive ecological / complex-adaptive networks approach with an everything goes approach, and in which every failed actor (even POTUS) can become a ham performance artist, particularly on a perverted version of Twitter, where they don't even have to complete their sentences. tbc ...

8/5/18 Resonances Trump Style
New vocabularies are required for new systems of difference. We need to use concepts like channeling to describe Trump channeling the memes, the social algorithms: of the NRA last week on gun controls, and of Netanyahu, this week on nuclear controls. Paradoxically, the boundaries (a rather flattering term, but lets run with it for a while) of Trump's channelling share a disdain for externalities of feral capitalism and feral science. These discourses / memes / algorithms all overlap, and all hunker down into their own closed (sutured) discourse - a domain in which knowledge is bounded by their own algorithms, and in which a discussion of a broader ethics is not possible.

Ironically, channeling is often done uncritically, thus reducing and narrowing down,rather than increasing, agency - contrary to appearances.

6/5/18 Resonance, narratives and histories
If semiotics is resonant, which it is, it follows several paths - at the one extreme, anecdotal narratives, and on the other extreme, a-historical formalisms. Of course, a-historical is not even a paradox, its an oxymoron. But that's not to say that some things (like 'objective science', not to mention 'second amendments to the Constitution', and bureaucracy, and open financial markets - aka 'free' markets') are placed behind a political and cultural fire-wall, and de-historisized, de-contextualised, de-subjectified - for a while). That's until the Anthropocene penny drops, and the myth of 'externalities' is declared dead (even if not yet buried).

5/5/18 Avatars and Algorithms
The distinction is subtle but crucial. We have always had algorithms - from the first signs, to aphorisms, to syllogisms, to cannonised texts. They have just become more complex, and more autonomous, and more dynamically auto-referential - currently incarnated as autonomous algorithms (AA) (not artificial intelligence, which is just smoke up ...). On the other hand, we also have avatars, which on the one hand are not new, but which may sit on and cross the borderline with AA. However, avatars can be proxies - just proxies, standing in, openly, for some institution or person (and this applies whether they are 'machines', i.e. particularly soft[ware] machines, or not), or more sequential modes, like academic theses.

The ethical borderline is the point where avatars cross into off-limits AA - i.e. secret (auto-referential code) - the dark domain of prostituted geeks, who have sold their algorithmic skills for a sack of bitcoins (even if, like some recent employees of Cambridge Analytica, they protest their abhorrence after the fact, and even after their failure to re-sell their souls to other prospective clients).


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