at the if:book blog, of the Centre for the Future of the Book, Dan Visel has been reading Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques and noting his link between the invention of writing and improved social control.
Dan’s ‘wish that someone would present a cogent argument against reading’ rang a bell and I remembered Douglas Rushkoff’s argument that ‘text leads to a society of hearers read to by priests’; that by the time the masses have acquired the ability to read, the priests have already become writers, controlling what the masses read. The latest iteration is that anyone can publish (online), an ability until very recently reserved for elites. But now the publishing masses meekly accept the tools they are given to publish with. Every time a literacy skill becomes ubiquitous, the elite moves one step ahead once more. If the latest elite is the coders, it’s incumbent upon all of us, says Rushkoff, to learn a little coding – to program or be programmed. I read at the header to the little box I typed in to leave a comment: ‘you may use HTML tags for style’. This is often seen in comments pages on blogs. It raises the question of the way permission is embedded into the process, almost inconspicuously, mechanically. Who gives or witholds this kind of permission? It also raises a question about how many people can actually use HTML tags, or do any other kind of simple coding. Let’s call it the a href= test.
One thought on “The a href= test”
I wonder if societies work in a kind of predator-prey style relationship, where the elite are always trying to one up the plebes just to feel power. But ultimately the only real power lay in how we use the mind to develop self awareness. Technology must always be subservient to self awareness. Specialization, generalization, and the application of technology, may ultimately be irrelevant to how we conduct our life and how we treat one another. I disagree with Douglass but I like his idea. Thanks for bringing these disparate pieces together into something MORE interesting.