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Bullshit 2.0

Writer’s block.

It sounds pathetic in this day and age. In a world where every Tom, Dick and Sally is frantically typing his or her every waking thought, the quaint notion of writer’s block in a social media environment seems like a poor excuse of sorts.

We are in the midst of one of the most fascinating presidential elections in modern history, where, the notion of a black man as front-runner would have been unheard of not that long ago. Where his political rise to power and financial prowess was largely orchestrated by the fusion of grass roots and social media technology. And yet, after more than ten years of writing about every political, cultural or social phenomenon, I have found — and find — myself wordless.

Although I frequently allow myself to slip into a mode of observation only – to simply absorb what is going on around me, every now and again I still feel that overwhelming urge to spit something out.

Now former McCain advisor, Phil Gramm’s remarks about an imaginary recession; Thabo Mbeki’s incomprehensible continued policy of “quiet diplomacy” with a sick and demented dictator named Robert Mugabe, who deserves his place at the table with Hitler and Idi Amin. The absurd furor over a New Yorker magazine cover featuring a satire of Barack and Michelle Obama depicted as Muslim terrorists, essentially because it is not sufficiently dumbed down enough to make it obvious to Joe Shmo that it is, truly, a satire.

Yet just one paragraph into the idea, the words evaporate, leaving me with a hundred opening paragraphs but not one full-fledged anything.

And everything I want to say is already being said a million times over by a zillion different people in a gazillion different ways anyway. Global, multilingual interpretations of prepackaged press releases by desperate publicists about their desperate clients.

With an avalanche of verbiage spewing faster and more furiously than green house gas emissions on a Texan highway, I feel myself being drowned in a cacophony of self-absorbed trivia masquerading as the new information pipeline. User-generated crap. The empty promise of Web 2.0.

Communities of like-minded communities linked to like-minded communities of like-minded people for like-minded discussions about like-minded subjects concerning like-minded consumption of like-minded products in like-minded earnestness for like-minded drones to inform like-minded sheep with like-minded generosity about like-minded everything so that like-minded beneficiaries can wallow in like-minded individuality.

Bullshit 2.0.

For every deed, a million analyses; for every sentence, a million deconstructions. Blogs begetting blogs, begetting social networks, begetting conversations and commentaries. Comments about comments for comments, responses for responses about responses. Words tripping over words to embellish words about words. Sentences about sentences, broken down into keywords and efficiently retagged into categories and subjects to be repurposed and rehashed and replayed and redeployed. An over-bloated, over-tagged, over-stuffed, over-sub-categorized, over-rated, over-extended, over-hyped, overload of over-analyzed, over-distributed, over-offered, over-done overstatement — over and over and over again.

I am part of the problem. I breathe it. I create it. I enable it. I read it, feed on it, absorb it, process it, analyze it, regurgitate it and piss it back. As if somehow, my own bullshit filter transforms the same old, tired shit into fresh, new, insightful, meaningful, and appropriate pearls of infinite wisdom, strategically cast before grateful, appreciative, deserving, under-served swine.

Is this what Web 2.0 is all about? Nothing more than a verbal diuretic facilitating uniquely tailored bullshit aimed at relevant audience segments in a social media constructed world?

Bring on Web 3.0. Immediately.

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I've recently been thinking

I shouldn't be writing as many posts.  Graphomania.  Someone called me a blogger, and I was taken aback as I've never considered myself that.  I am simply communicating with a few people I enjoy and would never have met had it not been for RR.  Hope not to clog up the blogosphere with more BS.

x

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You're not a blogger; you're a bloggist

The difference is subtle but profound.  The bloggist recognizes that we are in a life-and-death struggle against entropy.  The blogger merely contributes to the entropy, whilst the bloggist floats to the surface thereof.

Allow me to borrow an analogy from the world of physics.

One of the most perplexing problems in physics is deriving meaningful data from the ever-present background noise.  Some of this background noise is perfectly natural; it serves to remind us that the universe is still alive.  It's a good thing.

Now, for the most part, cosmic noise is totally random.  In fact, it's one of the few truly random number generators we have at our disposal.  Information technologists use random cosmic noise events as a seed from which to create encryption sequences....a good thing to have.

 And yet, as Mandelbrot has shown us with his beautiful fractal images (look up the numerous references to Mandlebrot on the Web)....even this perfectly random phenomena has its own internal logic.  The Mandelbrot pattern is IMMEDIATELY recognizeable, and beautiful.

Now, as beautiful as cosmic noise is, it's so prevalent that it tends to mask anything we really want to observe.  For instance, in ionospheric research, you are looking  for ELF (extremely low frequency) radio waves that can be many orders of magnitude weaker than the background cosmic noise!   What's a physicist to do?

One of the most wonderful tools for doing this is a very simple device called a Lock-in amplifier.  Every plasma physicist has a few of these lying around the lab.   What a lock-in amplifier does is it takes a sample of the signal you're looking for, buried in the noise and MULTIPLIES it by a reference signal.  This reference signal is similar to the signal you expect to see buried in the cacaphony.  What happens is that...after a period of time....the desired signal RISES out of the muck.....the longer you allow this to happen, the clearer the tiny  signal becomes...while all the noise cancels out, because there is no correlation.

There is a phenomonon in the universe called self-correlation...which basically says that, given enough time, meaningful information takes precedence over random information.  Of course, this works both ways.  Stalin said that if you tell a lie the same way enough times, it becomes the truth.  (By contrast, one might suppose....if you tell a different lie every time, it soon gets forgotten)

Our job as writers, bloggists, or artists of any type, is to tell the TRUTH so many times that the correlation factor takes over....and that we can rise above the cosmic noise.

Now you know.

eric