No one has failed to notice that the dinosaur institutions, “too big to fail,” are being overrun by the little mammals they used to trample. This article discusses how viewers are turning to small citizen witnesses with photo-phones instead of watching the big network news programs.
The reasons are obvious: the big network news shows are celebrity-dependent, highly edited. loud and jokey, interpreted, slanted towards the interests of the network. Blurry on-the-spot reports from unreliable and unknown people are not “curated” into being something other than what they are. It will be up to the viewer to figure it out. Not a job for passive couch potatoes. But far more rewarding.
Publishing is also going that way -- in fact, it may be misleading to call it “publishing.” Maybe “gathered access” or something of the sort. The whole dynamic is not that of the hierarchical authority-granting ziggurat anymore but rather rhizomatic nodes connected by affinity, event, or place. The software that enables this already exists as search engines, listservs, stand-alone friendship networks and websites/blogs. Basically, subscriptions. But also, when capital is required to prepare content, co-ops.
This is not taught in schools. American public schools were designed for the days of manufacturing: step one, step two, assembly lines that value repetition, obedience, staying in one’s cohort, accuracy rather than innovation, specialized skills and being a team player. At one time learning these things would make a person a big success at a small job (not the head of a company). Because kids and employees are taught to obey, the kids are vulnerable to shower room assaults and employees are afraid to report it . Teachers who innovate don’t last long. But this post is not meant to focus on schools. Rather I’m trying to think out where the arts are going.
Turn inside-out the manufacturing factory model: consider finding new ways, innovating, explaining the advantages of deviations, consorting with people who are different, trying new skills, going it alone. So -- models might be Inter-library loan. Montessori School. Almost surely online participation. Small repertory theatres. Pop-up galleries. Pop-up bookstores. Print on demand. Kitchen table publishing. Street performance. Flash choirs. In short, agreed-upon but always negotiable situations. Confidence in letting process carry the outcomes instead of forcing pre-determined outcomes.
There is a political/moral/preservationist aspect to this. I believe strongly that the big institutions and even nations and international corporations have become so complex and uncontrollable that their very size causes evil destruction of assets and living people. Too big to fail -- for all the wrong reasons. I think it is unjustifiable to live in huge power-sucking houses while within a few miles children are dying of starvation and vermin. I think it is hard to defend “haute foodism” while not preventing the adulteration and poisoning of common processed foods, esp. the ones that end up as commodities for the poor because they are subsidized by the government. I think all these inequities are severe enough to tug us toward war within our own nation in our own times. There are good reasons to suppress the news of these forces. So the biggest inequity is simple access to reality.
When I talk to small town people, I find that we often can’t discuss much of anything, even locally. They haven’t heard of this or that. They live in a bubble. The categories of their world have no spaces for many things. Even when I correspond with sophisticated academic folks, I find that too often they are narrowly informed. Liberals are as bad as conservatives, repeating mantras without challenge. Of course, I have an agenda even as I type this blog. We can’t expect omniscience from everyone. But everyone can be fairly expert on something. Everyone can stay open and aware that there are things they don’t know, even things they really don’t WANT to know.
Back to the creation, forming, discovery and distribution of writing or art. How does any particular kind of art find its particular customer? Without requiring a huge outlay of capital. Funding “clouds” are a current experiment. The artist or writer makes a little video pitch, it’s shown on a website, the money rolls in. The capitalist corruption is that the website takes a percentage of successful funding and therefore resists giving space to projects they don’t like themselves or believe won’t attract money. The lesson is that “old-think” is always going to be looking for a way back into the game.
A fascinating website I know -- about art and psychology -- is a mix of academic, clinical and literary people, all interested in how minds work and how to heal them. Someone posted an interesting video on a Facebook account. You can’t open a Facebook post unless YOU have a Facebook account. There were requests for the password of the Facebook account owner, a huge blunder in tech terms -- one NEVER shares ANY passwords. (These are people who deal in confidentiality as part of their profession!) Someone else objected to Facebook as a profit-based operation. A third person wanted to know how a simple website could possibly be exploited. Plainly, this last person did not know that harvesting, accumulating and sorting lists of addresses is money-making, esp. if the lists are of prosperous and product-hungry people either providing or consuming psychological work. (I had an offer only this morning for a list of 1,000 Facebook accounts guaranteed to be interested in my blog. Who knew so many cared about the prairie!) So there’s a huge need for techies and ways to improve technical skills in older people in particular, not because they are old but because they learned in their early training not to self-teach and not to risk failure.
Since I started life as a working adult in 1961, even as I was moving into more sophisticated jobs and fields, I’ve been aware of a huge shift in management styles. Bosses started ordering -- as though they were Patrick Stewart on Star Trek -- “MAKE IT SO !!” Too many management people only know how to apply pressure through threats, coercion, rules and rigid evaluations. Strange that the people who object to kids bullying kids don’t realize how much principals bully teachers. Once again, this is provocation for rebellion. The post on “prairiemary” that has been getting the most hits lately is called “adult oppositional defiance disorder.” Hmmmm.