[iDC] Art

john sobol john at johnsobol.com
Sat Dec 10 10:46:36 EST 2005

On 9-Dec-05, at 11:36 AM, Judith Rodenbeck wrote:

>  I take "below the belt" to imply a
> kind of pragmatic bricolage, "simple" to imply testable.

On 9-Dec-05, at 11:22 PM, Grant Kester wrote:
>  I'm afraid the projects that I am writing about will
> see almost anachronistic in this context. They include Navjot Altaf's 
> work
> with water pump design in villages in Bastar (central India)...

Ghandi had his millions of followers (there's a charismatic leader who 
was worth following) spin cotton at home. India was essentially 
pre-industrial in his time so this made sense. His activism yielded 
(surprisingly) tangible results. Simple. testable. Useful.

We have yet to effectively establish simple commercial models that 
leverage popular media usage in the networked age to redistribute 
wealth. Were we able to provide people with the equivalent to 'spinning 
cotton' in the age of media, what form might this take? What kinds of 
simple/testable and pragmatic/grounded strategies are available to us 
today that might engage similar ends and conceivably achieve similar 

Ghandi's goals were to empower and enrich members of the exploited 
underclass so as to generate a sense of cultural solidarity, material 
ownership and collectivist engagement, with political resistance as an 
intentional byproduct. Whether or not every low-caste sharecropper 
understood Ghandi's theories (he had deep ones) mattered not because 
they mostly understood the validity of his message intuitively and 
pragmatically. His suggestions felt right, made sense, and helped 
people materially.

Blogs are great but people need to eat, and if Redmond pays and blogs 
don't then we know where most people's allegiances will lie. I would 
argue that we are living in an age of Mass Media Mercantilism, one in 
which the raw material of personal narratives is constantly being 
bought at depressed prices by media conglomerates, to be repackaged 
(value-added) as newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, etc. and sold back 
to the colonized population at inflated prices. If networked digital 
media tools enable consumers to become producers, this mercantile 
economy needs to be upset so as to permit people to gain simple, 
testable and useful results – including personal wealth, from their new 
status as producers of their own stories/media. Now that would be a 
potent form of activism.

Any suggestions as to what the equivalent to the spinning cotton might 
be today in the age of media? Something easy, obvious and materially 
helpful, that will yield political consciousness as a byproduct?


bluesology • printopolis • digitopia

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