Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Luddite Versus the Populist

Yes, folks, I'm going to continue to contemplate the questions of literature in the digital age. Let me say, first of all, that following this conversation in its many forms and facets, has led me to blogs and chatrooms all over cyberspace and into several different books, from HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME by Victor Hugo to NEGOTIATING WITH THE DEAD by Margaret Atwood and beyond. The topic seems to engender debate that is lively to say the least.

In my own thoughts on e-publishing, I find two perspectives warring inside me - the luddite and the populist. The luddite approaches the entire concept with a healthy dose of paranoia and distrust. She always notices the latest posts warning that Facebook has changed its privacy settings to give it the ability to own her image, her words and all the private information she or any of her friends have ever posted anywhere in the cyber universe. She would rather remain unknown than click "yes" to anything giving some faceless cyber creature permission to do anything and believes her keychain is nobody's business but hers. She believes computers, television and cellphones have cut us off from one another and created a generation of children increasingly incapable of civil conversation. Her favorite books include George Orwell's 1984 and FEED by M.T. Anderson.

Then there's the populist. She honors the internet as one of the great heroes of all the latest revolutions throughout the world. She celebrates it as a tool of the masses, overthrowing the information elite and throwing open the doors of ideas to the people. She has a copy of Apple's famous METROPOLIS-inspired Superbowl ad saved on her iPhone and firmly believes that e-publishing is to the common man what the printing press once was. She believes humanity's desire for connection will always win out over the isolating aspects of the computer, and points to the explosion of social networking, skyping and shared gaming experiences as proof. She is an incurable optimist and she likes it that way.

Which one is winning? Honestly, I think I'll keep them both around, just to stay grounded. Whose winning in your head?

1 comment:

  1. I am posting this comment on behalf of my friend, writer Katherine Salzmann: "I'm such a Luddite I can't figure out how to post a comment of the blog. I always think of the internet as The Plaza like in downtown Santa Fe, the place you stroll thru in the morning to tip your hat and see what's up with the neighbors, a place to set up a soapbox but not to show off your juggling skills...oh but wait: Youtube! So I take that back. But as a bodyworker I worry about the body: historically, our cultural proclivity is to deny the body with one or all of shame, contempt or as the temple of simple chronic discomfort. Which is what makes us bolder here, but where we run the risk of losing contact with our toes, lungs, goosebumps, bones, etc...."


Popular Posts