“These tools represent the complete corporate capture of the imagination, that most private and unpredictable part of the human mind. Professional artists aren’t a cause for worry. They’ll likely soon lose interest in a tool that makes all the important decisions for them. The concern is for everyone else. When tinkerers and hobbyists, doodlers and scribblers—not to mention kids just starting to perceive and explore the world—have this kind of instant gratification at their disposal, their curiosity is hijacked and extracted. For all the surrealism of these tools’ outputs, there’s a banal uniformity to the results. When people’s imaginative energy is replaced by the drop-down menu “creativity” of big tech platforms, on a mass scale, we are facing a particularly dire form of immiseration.
By immiseration, I’m thinking of the late philosopher Bernard Stiegler’s coinage, “symbolic misery”—the disaffection produced by a life that has been packaged for, and sold to, us by commercial superpowers. When industrial technology is applied to aesthetics, “conditioning,” as Stiegler writes, “substitutes for experience.” That’s bad not just because of the dulling sameness of a world of infinite but meaningless variety (in shades of teal and orange). It’s bad because a person who lives in the malaise of symbolic misery is, like political philosopher Hannah Arendt’s lonely subject who has forgotten how to think, incapable of forming an inner life. Loneliness, Arendt writes, feels like “not belonging to the world at all, which is among the most radical and desperate experiences of man.” Art should be a bulwark against that loneliness, nourishing and cultivating our connections to each other and to ourselves—both for those who experience it and those who make it.”
-Annie Dorson, “AI is plundering the imagination and replacing it with a slot machine.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. October 27, 2022
Strikes me as another example of the two computing revolutions. One is to make things easy with a touch interface. The other requires having deep knowledge of a complicated topic, such as building machine learning models – not to mention having the resources to do so at the highest level.
The point I would make is that creativity by proxy is still creativity. You may not understand how the A.I. generates its content, but we still can have an aesthetic sense about what is good and what isn’t that the A.I. doesn’t provide.
This is a really interesting discussion of how one man created a business using a subscription model combined with discounts for the finished work for subscribers. There’s much to think about in this discussion. If this is of any interest to you, I’d read the whole thing and the previous year’s as well. He talks about what it takes, how much it costs, the tools he uses, and provides a whole lot of other detail that might provide some food for thought.
Gumrobe is a simplified Shopify, or Internet storefront for your creative output. It has categories that include: animation, apps & software, books & writing, comedy, comics, crafts & DYI, dance & theater, design & tech products, drawing & painting, education, film & video, food & cooking, games, merchandise, music & sound design, photography, podcasts & audiobooks, and sports. Cost for a basic account is US$10 / month for less than 1,000 customers, which is a third of Shopify’s current price.
I think this is an interesting gateway platform to think about making something that people are willing to pay for.
Imagination is political. Without new vocabulary, new thinking cannot be born. A change of concepts both clarify and obscure. Data erases all our nuances and contradictions. We retain the facts which are easiest to think about and then classify and organize them into representations we pretend are the whole world.
When imagined worlds defiantly insist on being birthed into Reality, the dream reshapes the whole world. Secret police exist to prevent the dreaming and brings the might of the state down on the individual, who with a new thought buys a lottery ticket that redeems society with blood sacrifice. New worlds are fed the blood of their originators and early adopters, their validity testified to by the numbers of the dead.
“Role play is contingent on navigating between real and imagined worlds, which affords opportunities for allegorical thinking, exploration of alternate identities and universes, and creative problem solving. But when this boundary collapses, we have what Joseph Laycock calls “corrupted play,” a term that helps explain dark or weaponized ARGs. As he explains in his 2015 book Dangerous Games: What the Moral Panic Over Role-Playing Games Says About Play, Religion, and Imagined Worlds, ‘Play becomes corrupt when it ceases to be separate from the profane world. Instead of playing for ‘the sake of play,’ corrupted play becomes entangled in the logic of means and ends … Corrupted play is not about intensity so much as duration. The frame of the game is lost, and what was once voluntary becomes compulsory … The moral panic over role-playing games can also be interpreted as a form of corrupted play.'”—Jon Glover, “This is Not a Game.” Real Life Magazine. July 23, 2020.
Related: The Incunabula Papers: Ong’s Hat and other Gateways to New Dimensions.
“‘You have been searching for us without knowing it, following oblique references in crudely xeroxed marginal ‘samisdat” publications, crackpot mystical pamphlets, mail order courses in ‘Kaos Magick’- a paper trail and a coded series of rumors spread at street level through circles involved in the illicit distribution of certain controlled substances and the propagation of certain acts of insurrection against the Planetary Work Machine and the Consensus Reality – or perhaps through various obscure mimeographed technical papers on the edges of “chaos science” – through pirate computer networks – or even through pure synchronicity and the pursuit of dreams.”—https://incunabula.org/
“Our world is an ecosystem in which our only real chance at survival as a species is cooperation, community, and care, but it’s being lead by people who believe in an egosystem, run on competition, power, and self-interest…
…When you think about your family, your friends, your neighborhood, your office, your city, your country, your world… are you operating as an ecosystem or an egosystem?
Which model we choose to operate under will determine the quality of our lives, and, arguably, our survival.—Austin Kleon, “Further notes on scenius.” AustinKleon.com. May 12, 2017.
Also liked the quote on the potluck dinner being the model for utopia.
The central idea of this book is that a system of note taking can help us incorporate our reading into a process of engaged learning. This involves three levels of note taking:
- Inspiration: quick notes on ideas that occur to us in a flash of insight
- Reading: reading highlights from books and articles that capture the gist of the content
- Permanent: Relating our inspired and reading notes into a body of work that reflects our worldview
The keys are to put our inspired and reading notes into a slip box to help us develop unique insights and to interrelate the permanent work so they remain singular and discete, but at the same time serve as part of a network of relationships that can feed into projects, or specific pieces of writing designed for some purpose.
The thrust of this effort is to develop a note taking process that invites us to build and learn as part of an integrated process. It reminded me a bit of the text based social science and two computer revolutions I mentioned previously. (I’ll put the links in later.)
“It’s the writerly act of organizing and assembling inchoate thought that seems to helps me. That’s what I did with this blog; if I blogged something for “Beyond the Beyond,” then I had tightened it, I had brightened it. I had summarized it in some medium outside my own head. Posting on the blog was a form of psychic relief, a stream of consciousness that had moved from my eyes to my fingertips; by blogging, I removed things from the fog of vague interest and I oriented them toward possible creative use.
Also, the ideal “Beyond the Beyond” reader was never any fan of mine, or even a steady reader of the blog itself. I envisioned him or her as some nameless, unlikely character who darted in orthogonally, saw a link to some odd phenomenon unheard-of to him or her, and then careened off at a new angle, having made that novelty part of his life. They didn’t have to read the byline, or admire the writer’s literary skill, or pony up any money for enlightenment or entertainment. Maybe they would discover some small yet glimmering birthday-candle to set their life alight.
Blogging is akin to stand-up comedy — it’s not coherent drama, it’s a stream of wisecracks. It’s also like street art — just sort of there, stuck in the by-way, begging attention, then crumbling rapidly.”-Bruce Sterling, “Farewell to Beyond the Beyond.” Wired.com. May 17, 2020.
Bruce Sterling really nails the value of a blog, or at least my conception of it. It also makes me realize that I should be writing more for it. Perhaps it is time to start doing that.
“…’withered’ technology usually means mature technology. It is
much easier for companies to create best-selling products by using mature technology as this kind of technologies are abundant, well-understood and cheap. Mature technologies are often studied extensively by people, and it is easy to experiment with or make further innovations. Even if the technology might be obsolete, it is applicable as long as used appropriately.”
—Weisi Han, “Nintendo’s Philosophy: Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology.” Medium.com. December 6, 2017.
Instantly recognized this as my philosophy as well. I mostly buy used items, from clothing to computers. It means I never pay retail, which lowers the cost of failure if you are trying to do something new.
It’s much easier to install a custom operating system on a phone or computer when you paid <$100 than when you paid >$1,000.
It also gets you in a frame of mind where you can think differently about technologies you want to learn. For example, I’m more interested in learning Common Lisp because it’s a mature technology in a way that Julia is not. Mature languages have libraries, standards and other elements that newer languages don’t.
In short, accepting limitations and using different tools than others can be a source of creativity and can change your focus.