[iDC] The Social Event Machine

john sobol john at johnsobol.com
Sat Feb 4 00:30:49 EST 2006

On 3-Feb-06, at 1:28 AM, John Hopkins wrote:

>  I have seen clearly over the years the social mechanism that holds 
> the written/printed word over other forms of expression.

blessed be ;)

> concrete examples are good, but a clear understanding of the 
> fundamental principles that can easily frame any of the subjects of 
> the discussion would allow a deeper understanding of the dynamics and 
> avoid the confusion that a flood of bits and pieces of disparate 
> information can engender.

I completely agree. Thus in the interest of advancing a hypothesis for 
discussion I would like to posit the following principle:

when designing events that rely on the spoken word as the primary 
enabler of ideation and communication within an ephemeral community of 
embodied psyches (i.e. a festival or conference), the formal 
imperatives of orality must be respected and the hegemonic tropes of 
literate psychodynamics (silence, stillness, separateness, monology, 
etc.) eluded to maximize meaningful exchanges and avoid hyper-literate 

as concrete examples of how other performative oral cultures embody 
this principle i offer – 

comedy (audience is noisy, speaker is not still, audience is unified, 
everyone gets to laugh)

hiphop jams (audience is noisy, speaker is not still, audience is 
unified, everyone gets to perform/shout/sing/dance)


everyday conversations between people (everyone is both audience and 
performer, free movement reigns, the conversation binds a community, 
everyone gets to speak)

All of these models of social organization for interpersonal dialogue 
and knowledge-exchange employ the same oral principles successfully. As 
do many other familiar social situations, including some very solemn 
and sober ones. Can the same be said of most festivals or conferences? 
I don't think so. (Shhhh, no talking in the library!) And i'm saying 
that that is a big part of the problem.

I hope this contributes to the persuasiveness of my argument that 
paperism produces panelism.


bluesology • printopolis • digitopia
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