Sunday, April 03, 2005

Braintrust Files For Bankruptcy!

Finding myself in Tokyo, Ground Zero For the Future, I decided to step into the '90s and get a website.

And here we are.

Not that this necessarily counts as any great achievement on my part, or even a step in the right direction for Humankind. Here I have my very own MetaPulpit on which to pontificate, and yet all I see from here are millions of other soapboxes, each crowned by some other fool shouting to no one in particular.

Pity, isn't it? The vault doors have been opened, all history, all art, all philosophy made available to anyone with a phone line, and what do we get? Porn, melodramatic diaries, shit music, identity theft, porn, the wholesale abandonment of grammar, bigots with a digital megaphone, porn - a boundless archive of bad ideas. Instead of creating a better-informed, more thoughtful populace, the Internet seems to amplify ignorance, self-righteousness, and obnoxiousness.

Ten years ago, there was excitement about how the Internet would get everyone a voice. That, it now seems, is precisely the problem. Sounds a tad fascist, I know, but allow me to make my point by way of metaphor.

Remember the stock crash of 1929 and the subsequent run on the banks? Good.

Imagine cash as a physical analogy for information. Cash is kept in your wallet, information is stored in your brain; for our purposes, your wallet is your brain. Whatever money/info you have, you carry around in your wallet/brain; sometimes you have a little more, sometimes a little less, sometimes you lose the damned thing... Get it?

One day you wake up to find everyone sprinting towards the local bank. Apparently, some guys in suits shook hands yesterday, erasing all borders and creating a true Global Market Economy. Consequently, your national currency no longer counts for shit. You've got to exchange all your dollars/rubles/pesos/yen for the handsome new Global Currency.

Of course, a globalized economy with currency to match means your LOCAL bank is out of business. Flipping the bird to fate, the bank has just opened its vault and told everyone to run in and grab what they can. It's a financial free-for-all as all the local residents dash to grab their cash. Fighting your way through the mob of money-crazed proles is not easy, and by the time you get your slice of the dough, all you walk away with is $58.23 in cash, some traveler's cheques, and a gold watch you ripped off a teller. Sucks to be you.

And so you wander the streets, a pauper in search of purpose. All around, you see a bustling and busy MetaMetropolis, with cartographers, record stores, thieves, bookstores, in-crowds, pawn shops, angry people, good, evil... but where do you fit in? What place is there for you here?

Well, you could become a legitimate participant. Pawn the gold watch so you can go to the department store and have "Good Consumer" embroidered on your wallet.

Or live by your wits. Take only what you need to survive, and leave no footprints. Become a Memetic Mugger: hit only the good marks, and leave the junk for some other fool to buy. Your time is too precious to waste wading through corporate news, hipster solipsism, marketing disguised as data, or second-hand sales of shit you don't need.

This isn't all hot air and bluster; the last thing I want to do is waste your time. Thus, I offer you this as a little oasis of intellectual efficiency, providing only essential information, food for thought, mental floss. Hit some of the links, and let a thousand dandelions bloom.

Or daffodils. Whatever.

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