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TL;DR

Written By: - Date published: 2:28 pm, June 20th, 2013 - 59 comments
Categories: humour - Tags:

From xkcd: The Pace of Modern Life

59 comments on “TL;DR”

  1. karol 1

    And so it continues…. life getting faster and faster, with less and less time for reflection. I have seen lengthy discussion threads in online forums, that contain no words, just a continuous exchange of images. I suspect that some txt msg conversations are like that.

    • Populuxe1 1.1

      Or rather it’s all an illusion promulgated by old farts
      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Good_old_days

      • karol 1.1.1

        Actually I do think it’s partly a reality. It doesn’t mean there’s no reading of lengthy pieces going on, and no reflection. But there is a speeding up of communications.

        Overall it does mean many people reflect less. On the other hand, it means people need to express themselves more succinctly in order to convey the same amount of ideas than done previously. That is a good thing.

        It’s a recognised thing in academic circles, that peer reviewed articles are more often expected to be shorter on average than a few decades back, This is because of the increased volume of material to read.

        It’s also pretty well recognised by film and media scholars that length of shots in movies have got shorter & shorter since the 70s. Films have basically speeded up in terms of the length of time before a change of scene, perspective or between bits of action. Ditto for TV news, etc.

        It is also something that many scholars of media and politics discuss: i.e. that there has been an increasing shift to communication via images than in recent decades. This results in less reflection on politics and more opportunities to use images for political manipulation. See also Walter Benjamin on the aestheticisation of politics.

      • Arfamo 1.1.2

        Or rather it’s all an illusion promulgated by old farts

        Which my father was, I will become, and you will one day be :)

        • Jokerman 1.1.2.1

          Burn out or fade away :-)

          • Arfamo 1.1.2.1.1

            The only things that are certain are death and taxes :)

            • karol 1.1.2.1.1.1

              unless you are among the corporate elite, then taxes are avoided and maybe some even think they can cheat death?

              • Arfamo

                Hmm. Good point about the taxes, though I expect the majority pay some small amount of tax on legally under-declared hoardings & income, if only to be able to then claim their taxes shouldn’t be spent on the unworthy. So far, none have managed to avoid the death outcome.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Faster and dumber…since the 1800’s: US Presidential address reading level

                  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2013/feb/12/state-of-the-union-reading-level

                  • Populuxe1

                    Sort of ignoring that for a brief window of maybe 30 years in the 19th century literacy was at an all time high due to improvemnets in education and befor ethe existence of mass broadcast technology – hence the flourishing of the novel as a literary form – and also ignoring the fact that such addresses were performative (a la the roman rhetorical tradition) and intended to be heard, not read.

                    • karol

                      The development of the printing press is generally seen as a democratising technology. Although, the benefits have probably been exaggerated as much as the democratising potential of the Internet is today.

                      With each new technology, providing access to communication for the (almost) whole population, TPTB begin to develop ways to control/regulate it: it’s an ongoing struggle.

                      The 19th century novel had those like Dickens who used it to expose the nasty aspects of industrial capitalism in the UK. Other novels served to reinforce the logic of the UK class hierarchy and, to cheerleader British imperialism.

                      Pros and cons to each new technological development, but they do bring changes in practices and modes of thought and communication.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      P1 – a chart of declining speech grade level doesn’t “ignore” anything. It just shows that presidential speeches have been aimed at less intelligent and less educated audiences over a real and long term trend.

                  • rosy

                    Who were the Presidents talking to over time? Wasn’t voting quite restricted in some places until the civil rights movement? When did presidents realise they’d have to appeal to the voters who weren’t the educated middle-class types?

                    Does France, for example have the same ‘dumbing down’ of presidential speeches, with universal (male) suffrage being clearer earlier in the political history of the country? I understand New Zealand Prime Ministerial trends are similar to the U.S. ones, but is this just an English language issue? (I’m not going to call it a problem), or does it happen in other, non-English-speaking countries? Have we just decided to speak more clearly?

                    So many questions that a simple graphic doesn’t answer.

                    If you read some of the sample sentences, doesn’t the modern speech phrase the point more precisely? (and I don’t consider myself entirely thick, but there are some earlier sentences in earlier times that use a lot of words to say not much).

  2. Jokerman 2

    There will only ever be one ‘Jokerman'; God rest his soul.

  3. aerobubble 3

    Work will set you free was not written for those who were to read it entering the camps, it was written to emphasis surely that by keeping Germans distracted in activity the Nazi could free themselves of the Jewish (and others) people. Going to far, either information overload, or the protestant work ethic, or even the greed is good (of our times), all taken to the extreme are distracting to the societal group think, and allow for those with power to extend and abuse.

    When a worker works more than 40 hours, unpaid overtime, then we should all be very worried for our democracy.

    • karol 3.1

      This is looking like this thread overlaps with the “Slogan politics” post thread.

  4. Chooky 4

    Very interesting that people were thinking these things in the ‘olden days’.

    Issues of perception are fascinating..And time comes into perception. eg How an Eskimo views the Arctic landscape vs how an oilman views the landscape – or how a polar bear views that landscape ….same land presumably but very different ‘landscapes’ and lives….and values …..

    Another example….bike through NZ or ride a horse through NZ a hundred years ago …very different from motoring through NZ or flying over NZ…..

    Yogis are concerned with perception and their pace of life is slowed right down.

    • karol 4.1

      It’s not just perception, but that they are related to technological change. I’m interested that the quotes in the post cover the late 19th century and early 20th century: a period of significant change in industrial society & its techonlogies in countries like the UK and the US.

      People do tend to be resistant to change. Many of the 19th century changes in technology were beneficial to society in terms of increasing ease of travel and communicating across distances and amongst a greater number of people. It’s easier to get help in a crisis, etc. Democracy can be encouraged with the printing press and mass communications: ditto today with the Internet.

      Technological changes, do bring changes in perception. Travelling at increasing speed across the countryside, means we get to become more aware of contrasts and changes in terrain. But it also requires less engagement with locals as we travel.

      Each technological change has it’s up and downsides. And the changes in perception are part of that.

      A news photo, or online video, can communicate the reality of a disaster, riot or war more quickly & graphically than a print article. (The US government learned that during the Viet Nam War, thus aiming to control such communications during the first Gulf War). But also a print article can explain more of the background to the image, and create a more in-depth argument.

      It’s important to be aware of how changes in technology, and in communications influence perceptions (Walter Benjamin again).

  5. Chooky 5

    Heidegger was very interested in these issues ie how technology affects perception and values and quality of life….He wasnt optimistic.

    • karol 5.1

      Hmmm. Heidegger & Walter Benjamin were the same generation in Germany. So they were probably dealing with similar issues and debates. Heidegger associated with Nazi1izm (rightly or wrongly). Benjamin was Jewish and a lot of his work focused on the evils of fashism. Hence his concern about the “aestheticisation of politics” – the way image and propaganda can appeal to the emotions etc. Many see the 20th century as an increase in the aestheticisation of politics.

      The way to counter it is the politicisation of aesthetics: ie political popular culture that makes people sit up and take notice, by drawing attention to propaganda and dictatorial practices.

      • Jokerman 5.1.1

        oooh, wonder how we might do that… 😉

      • Populuxe1 5.1.2

        Um no – that way lies kitsch, which the Naz1s were very good at, or mind-numbing propoganda a la the Soviets. Best not to let aesthetics and politics mix at all, I reckon.

        • karol 5.1.2.1

          So, you reckon politicians should just explain themselves by standing on a soap box on a street corner?

          Clue: Once the media is involved, there is some aestheticisation.

          • Populuxe1 5.1.2.1.1

            Given that the media is the new soapbox, and for all it’s faults and conventions it isn’t going anywhere, I would still say it’s best not to let the two mix overmuch. Though seriously you are well OTT to be comparing the Naz1 nationalised cultus/mythos that Benjamin was on about with the media here. Especially as our media is too arrogant to think it needs to obey the whims of politicians when it smells blood.

            Clue: critical theory is a useful tool, but it isn’t a solution, and like economics often has little relationship with reality.

            • karol 5.1.2.1.1.1

              Yes we are stuck with the media, though now it is complicated by digital media, providing more means to talk back tot the journalist, albeit often from a less powerful position.

              And democracy needs more coverage of, and critical debate on issues that impact on the general population.

              You assume that politicians, in total separation from the corporate world, are the new rulers of the world. The corporate media, driven by ratings and the profit motive, make a major contribution to the aestheticisation of politics: it is seen on their preference for drama and conflict, and simple stories divorced from background context.

              It was seen in Gower’s grandstanding at the Labour Party Conference last year.

              Goebbles would have been impressed by the manipulations of late 20th and early 21st century media.

              • Populuxe1

                I assume nothing, and Goebbels might have invented the technique but to make the comparison is a big fat Godwin

                • felix

                  It’s nothing of the sort, fool.

                  We are actually allowed to “mention the war” you know.

                • karol

                  So, instead, we should build a big wall against,what is generally presented as the greatest evil of human society, and never make comparisons between other ways ordinary people become part of such an evil?

                  The case for Goebbels leading the way to 21st century political propaganda is argued in many credible texts on the development of propaganda and persuasion methods over the course of the 20th century. He is especially referred to in relation to his approach to using the mass media. Goebbels said in his dairy:

                  the best form of newspaper propaganda was not ‘propaganda’ (i .e ., editorials and exhortation), but slanted news which appeared to be straight . (“Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda, ” in Schramm, Process and Effects of Mass Communication, p. 524)

                  Generally, the advertising and political PR strategists have gone on to develop more sophisticated ways of achieving manipulations of the masses, but, obviously, without the death camps and other brutal ways of enforcing the regimes dictatorship.

                  Same underlying methods, implemented in slightly different and more subtle and sophisticated ways.

                  • Populuxe1

                    I can’t accept the Marxist version of socialism reducing society to a patronising, ignorant blob of the “masses” – that smacks of a control fantasy. I see socialism as a way of supporting people who can’t help themselves for whatever reason or who have been temporarily placed in a difficult position. The assumption that the overwhelming majority of the population is too stupid to pick up on manipulation or to have calid reasons for their decisions, is offensive.

  6. Brevity is the soul of wit.

  7. mac1 7

    Bah, humbug. The ancient Greeks and Romans would complain about the hoons on horseback and the clowns on chariots. The world was going to the dogs then. Nothing has changed.

    If that’s the way you want to see the world.

    • Populuxe1 7.1

      Indeed – one need only read Juvenal and Horace.

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      Mac1. What the hell are you on about. The ancient Greeks and Romans were spot on. Didn’t you notice that both civilisations fell and much of their knowledge lost or discarded.

      For you to just shrug your shoulders and not recognise the relevance to ourselves is a bit funny.

      • mac1 7.2.1

        It’s all in the way we choose to see the world, as I said. What partly informs my view is that of my historical training. We are all individual grains of sand in the great shifting dune of history.

        Partly also that of my literature background.

        “Latter Day Geography Lesson” – Allen Curnow, parodying Macauley.
        “here boys, ere disaster
        
overtook her, in splendour there lay
        
a city held empires in sway
        
and filled all the earth with her praise :
        this quoth the Eskimo master
        
was London in English days.”

        And partly that of my musical background.

        “It’s the same the whole world over,
        
It’s the poor wot gets the blame;
        
It’s the rich wot gets the pleasure,
        
Ain’t it all a blooming shame.”

        But I’m sure that Horace and Juvenal said it better.

        CV, you wrote “and much of their knowledge lost or discarded.”

        I’m glad we lost all that Greek and Roman stuff about slavery, militarism, crazy sexually predatorial leaders, and conquering countries to feed the one’s own economy, “vae victis” and all that, eh…………

        • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.1

          CV, you wrote “and much of their knowledge lost or discarded.”

          I’m glad we lost all that Greek and Roman stuff about slavery, militarism, crazy sexually predatorial leaders, and conquering countries to feed the one’s own economy, “vae victis” and all that, eh…………

          We’ve only just figured out some fundamentals about Roman building techniques using concrete. 1500 years after it was common knowledge but then lost for over a millenium.

          As the old saying goes, we’re aware of the things we know, we’re aware of the things that we know that we don’t know, but we also have to be aware of the things that we don’t even know that we don’t know.

          • mac1 7.2.1.1.1

            In Istanbul twenty years ago, in a city that has had continuous occupation for two millennia, they discovered a huge underground cistern that was built by Diocletian from memory and had been forgotten. It, too, used Roman concrete technology to build the cistern and to hold water for all that time. I was lucky enough to go there and see it a few years ago. If I’d travelled there as a young man, I’d have missed it, let alone appreciated what I was seeing in all its historical, engineering and aesthetic glory.

        • karol 7.2.1.2

          My understanding of a Marxist view of history, shows that some underlying structures remain the same: ruling classes and subject classes

          But the make up of those classes and their systems and technologies of production, change as a result of the outcomes of the ongoing struggles between ruling and subject classes.

          My understanding of technological change and social change, shows me that they are interwoven, and with these changes, come changes in the dominant culture and practices.

          • mac1 7.2.1.2.1

            karol, Juvenal couldn’t have said it better. 😉

            Are we changing for the better?

            • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.2.1.1

              However I don’t think the goal is to have a hierarchy-less society, because I don’t think that human systems can ever work in that way.

              Having a social system where accident of birth/class does not determine your future is crucial however.

            • karol 7.2.1.2.1.2

              Are we changing for the better?

              I think that’s probably the wrong question.

              We should be asking, how have these changes impacted on culture, society & the economy? How has this influenced political processes?

              • mac1

                I think my question would lead to the same place. If some/all things are getting better, then why? If some/all things are getting worse, then why? Then what changes can we make for betterment?

  8. Chooky 8

    Sound bites…stunts… …showmanship…attention grabbing ….forging identification with the masses of voters you wish to represent…..media savvy

    Why cant Labour get a leader to do the same?…( Cunliffe would be better than Shearer )

    Media savvy is a neutral tool ….but a very powerful gift in the age of televised debates.( I am sure that heroes/heroines of the people ..the Left as opposed to the Right…. used it in the past eg John A. Lee on his soap box and the suffragettes with their chains !)

    These days it is sheer incompetence and negligence for a major party on the Left …Labour….not to have a leader who performs well in the media.!

    ( Of course any thinking person can see through the media….and a boring inept politician who is totally incompetent with the media may have great attributes never-the -less……but to make them leader in this era of the media, is suicide for their political party)

    • karol 8.1

      Well, I think the left needs more politicians like Cunliffe, who can communicate well via our currently inadequate media, while also having substance behind the rhetoric: ie he speaks in a way that highlights the realities.

      But, for democracy to thrive for the long term future, we need an MSM that doesn’t do like it does now: ie in it’s methods and motives, serves ultimately to reinforce “neoliberal” values via distraction, celebrity culture etc.

      And I agree, the left will never thrive with the likes of Shearer at the helm.

  9. vto 9

    In 1890 it was predicted that at the then current growth rate of horse and cart the entire surface of the planet would be covered in six feet of horseshit.

    That didn’t happen of course but we still ended up with everything covered in six feet of horseshit due to the unending growth of politicians..

  10. Chooky 10

    Ha ha…about the horse shit!

    ON the subject of the ‘aestheticisation of politics’ . This puzzles me….surely it does the word ‘aesthetics ‘ a disservice……I thought aesthetics was all about art and appreciation of beauty.
    Also isnt the concept ‘aestheticisation of politics’ used as a pejorative term a tad old fashioned……

    It is inceasingly being recognised that we think largely in metaphors , especially the more complex the thought becomes. This also applies to science.

    (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Lakoff)

    If we think largely via metaphors then it is crucial any leader is adept at positively using the media to get his/her campaign off the ground as a winner, because the media is all about evoking metaphorical thinking.

    • karol 10.1

      In Benjamin’s conception, he uses aesthetics to mean any art form or cultural construction – as translated from his original German. (It’s not about beauty as such, but the seductive powers of art and pop culture). In this term Benjamin is arguing that art/artiface/media is used to manipulate people, while masking the true intent to work in the interests of the ruling class.

      He contrasts this with the revolutionary potential of the “politicisation of aesthetics”: here the idea is to use the media, popular culture etc (film and popular music in Benjamin’s day) to convey a revolutionary and democratic political message, challenging the dictatorship of the ruling classes.

      But, I agree that, today, there’s not a clear separation between media manipulation by the elites, and media used to challenge the elites. Although, today, the elites tend to own and control the media.

      • Populuxe1 10.1.1

        You have really got to get past this block of not seeing the internet as mainstream – these days it’s probably more mainstream than broadcast.

  11. Chooky 11

    The pop/rock scene is very adept using the media to powerfully challenge elites…eg John Lennon
    …..Not that every political leader can or should be a rock star , although it may help ( eg Peter Garrett, Midnight Oil , Australian politician)

    But at the very least we can hope for…. is for a political party to put forward a leader who is their best at handlling the media and gives their party a powerful media image, draw card….This the Labour Party have failed to do!

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