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• Small Pieces From 2002-05-04 •

1. The Web it's a whole new world. So new that you've to re-think the basic concepts of space and time. In re-thinking space and time in the web-mode you discover they resembles what Heidegger enlightened as the ontological formal structure of space and time.

2. Heidegger said Technology is the essence of our modern age. We can't fight against it, 'cause this is the kind of revelation of truth we are receiving as our own destiny. But he's no pessimistic at all about that. He seems to look forward for a Hope (last SPLJ's chapter): the Technology is still a revelation of Being, Wo
aber Gefahr ist, wächst das Rettende auch
, where danger is, grows also that which saves, là dove c'è il pericolo / cresce anche ciò che salva.

3. Maybe we're lucky enough to be-here and experiment this phase: technology (sub specie Web) saving the human beings from alienation, from the same alienation that technology did push at the extreme (the danger and that which saves).

4. I've to read "Hope" again. I think it's about that.

PS Please don't laugh too much at my poor English! :-)

Loosely joined by Antonio02:03 UTC

• Small Pieces From 2002-05-03 •

Making communication instantaneous isn't what the Web (using the standard Weinberger generalisation here) is about at all. It is about making it asynchronous and persistent.
Most existing communication methods are instantaneous (speaking to someone, phoning them, watching TV). But they are also ephemeral.

Letters, journals and books are the classic persistent asynchronous methods (see "I can read people's thoughts" below). These works are asynchronous in two ways - you don't both need to be present at once to share thoughts (this is the part that the Web hugely facilitates, as no physical medium needs to be either), but also that there is an asymmetry of effort - It took Dave at least a year to write SPLJ, but I read it in a few hours.

Email is intrinsicly more efficient than telephony because of these characteristics - this is most obvious with voicemail.

Although things on the Web come and go, most of them are out there somewhere (In Google's cache, or the wayback machine) and the relative speeds storage and connectivity are growing, we should assume that everythign we say online is kept somewhere. This is Dave's point about writing ourselves into existence, but it is also a new kind of Kantian imperative - assume that what you say online will always be available to others. If you are familiar with game theory and evolutionary psychology, you may recognise the 'iterated prisoners dilemma' argument - in a one shot choice, it may be logical to behave in an unfair or untrusting way, but when you are going to have to live with your actions and other's knowledge of them over time, the shadow of the future exerts a pressure to be nicer and more trusting.

One formulation I like is 'never say anything in email you wouldn't want your mother to read on the front page of the newspaper'.

Loosely joined by Kevin Marks19:03 UTC

Kevin are you proposing the radical notion that parents should actually be involved in parenting? Interesting concept.
Kevin also said:

"I would argue that the idea that philosophy fails in the market is a peculiarly American one - renaming the first volume of Harry Potter to 'The Sorcerers Stone' from 'The Philosopher's Stone' being an egregious example."
Perhaps this is due to modern culture and affinity for the "Now" existance, but philosophy and intellectual concepts that take more than a sound bite to learn aren't as fashionable, that being said that the internet makes communication instantous, yet, ironicly also allows forums like this blog.

I was going to argue perhaps this isn't a place for philosophy, at least as mentioned in the book (p. 130) because it's an open inquiry to better understand certain concepts, but then it struck me that there is a bedrock of certainty in the group and that is the internet and it's importance. So perhaps we are philophizing with a hammer, to borrow a one thinker's phrase.

Loosely joined by Thomas14:53 UTC

Study Probes Kids' Web Porn Access

Small Pieces ideas percolate back from this committee:
"As a parent, it's important to acknowledge the Internet is a public place. You wouldn't let your small child wander around the airport by themselves and, by the same token, you shouldn't let them wander around the Internet by themselves," said committee member Winifred B. Wechsler, a consultant from Santa Monica, Calif.

Former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh [...]drew a parallel with swimming pools.
"Swimming pools can be dangerous for children. To protect them, one can install locks, put up fences and deploy pool alarms. All of these measures are helpful, but by far the most important thing that one can do for one's children is to teach them to swim," Thornburgh said.

Panel member Geoffrey R. Stone of the University of Chicago said that while Internet screening filters and law enforcement can help protect children, "Overreliance on those methods will lead to a false sense of security."

The study was welcomed by Judith F. Krug, director of the office for intellectual freedom of the American Library Association.
"I am particularly pleased to see that filters are not touted as the only solution, nor even the best solution," she said. "If you educate children you are developing an internal filter that is going to remain with them throughout their life."

Loosely joined by Kevin Marks06:29 UTC

• Small Pieces From 2002-05-02 •

The perfume site Kevin points us to is as good an example of the debasement of language and culture as we're going to find. Wow. (So, can we say that the Attics are in debasement?)

BTW, Hegel is a music amplifier. That's the spirit! And Heidegger times out. How appropriate!

Loosely joined by David14:05 UTC

• Small Pieces From 2002-05-01 •

I would argue that the idea that philosophy fails in the market is a peculiarly American one - renaming the first volume of Harry Potter to 'The Sorcerers Stone' from 'The Philosopher's Stone' being an egregious example.

The last CD-ROM I worked on before that particular bubble burst was an interactive version of the international best-seller "Sophie's World", and it was published in 12 languages.

This is what Joe Mackintosh wrote for it about Heidegger

Anyway philosophy is a perfume...

Loosely joined by Kevin Marks21:24 UTC

Just as Plato was in olive oil, and Spinoza in lens grinding, so business and industry are metaphysicians in spite of themselves. The only problem is, not only do they not know this, they fail to appreciate the damage they're doing to human discourse and human imagination by not attending to the implications of their marketing, advertising and strategic metaphorics. Or the damage that they're doing to their own "careers" on earth by closing off all access to the roots of their own debased speech. I guess this sounds rather severe, but let's put it this way: we have a society that is under constant siege from the remnants of bowdlerized philosophy (in the language of marketing and more). The Jesuits used to say, "Give us a child at six years of age, and we have him for life." The Jesuits of Business have us by the scrota from before we're born, minimizing the chances of creating any independent headroom.

Loosely joined by tom14:06 UTC

Heideggerian and proud of it. Me too. (ok, except... me too!).
To write something philosophical was your fear, David. But you DID write something philosophical! Maybe it's the right time to tell people that a new opportunity arises: the business can become again "one of" the way to establish relations between us, the human beings! Maybe the business in the Web will be better done from philosophers than marketers! They say Plato engaged himself in the olive oil business, and he did so well he'd been able to finance all his long trips to Italy, Egypt and the likes...

Loosely joined by Antonio00:03 UTC

• Small Pieces From 2002-04-30 •

AKMA - Apology not accepted because you didn't do nuthin' wrong. The "gentle echoes" are more than that. SPLJ's metaphysics are best termed "Heideggerian." Thanks for pointing it out; in my fear of writing something philosophical (= boring, = fails-in-the-market), I tried to find different ways to sneak up on the issues. But I am Heideggerian and proud of it! (Well, except for the Nazi part. And the adulterously-sleeps-with-Hannah-Arendt part. Oh, and the lederhosen part. And the rest of it, too.)

Loosely joined by David21:21 UTC

Hey, David--

Sorry; I didn't mean to suggest that you thought, "Heidegger solved every problem and was generally right"--simply that many topics in your exposition of Web reality generated gentle echoes of what I assumed was your appreciation for Heidegger. One of the many positive features of the book lies in its capacity to render a moving, humane version of Heidegger's philosophy--but i ascribe that version to DW, not MH.

I'm pretty firmly non- or anti-Heideggerian at a number of points, most points in fact, so it didn't occur to me that I might be heard as suggesting you were making a blanket endorsement.

Loosely joined by AKMA00:01 UTC

• Small Pieces From 2002-04-29 •

I'm baa-ack. Sort of. Still massively jetlagged...

Thanks for the generous posts in my absence. Now, wrt to Antonio and AKMA's:

Yes, I consider myself to be fundamentally Heideggerian. Now the question is what that means, and not just in terms of early and late Heidegger. For example, Heidegger was a rural, technophobic romantic who believed that authenticity was literally grounded in the soil - which, BTW, was a piece of his anti-Semitism since "the wandering Jew" was literally ungrounded.

But I don't think "Martin H. figured this all out years ago." He did figure out that meaning and being are not separate, that time is crucial to understanding anything important, and that explanations that fly in the face about how we actually live our lives are likely to be ridiculous. For me he undoes the damage done by Descartes. That's a lot to figure out. And it has guided my thinking ever since reading him as a freshman in college.

But there's also a lot Heidegger got wrong, IMHO. As many have noted, his lack of attention to the fact that we are embodied is a bit scary. And he has - to me - an impenetrable view about Being unfolding itself that scants the dialectical effect of the fact that we live in a material world that we've fashioned for ourselves; he could stand less Hegel and more Marx. I raise these two points among many other possible ones - hmm, wasn't he a Nazi? - because they seem to me to be important to understanding a technology like the Web.

So, I am pretty thoroughly a Heideggerian (of a sort) when it comes to metaphysics, i.e., what counts as real. I'm happy to classify SPLJ's metaphysics as basically Heideggerian. But, I don't think of SPLJ primarily as a metaphysics.

Loosely joined by David14:12 UTC