Saturday, June 11, 2016


Cheezy Keys er en norsk underholdningsgruppe som har eksistert siden vinteren 2000.

The present state of the Internet promises to be even more awful as the election proceeds and I dread to think about it if Trump wins.  I think he may, sort of in the same spirit as my little brother in elementary school who hated his teacher (with reason).  He came home and announced he would take his revenge by flunking every test and assignment.  That would teach her!

We’re all moaning about Medium being so cheezy and it never occurs to us that it’s cheezy because of the mice (us).  It’s bait for traffic, esp. the kind that goes in circles, never leaves, never has anyplace to go, must scrounge to live.  Like never paying off your credit card.  They aren’t selling cheese or mice or even traps.  They’re selling numbers.  It’s not a virtual world — it’s a quant world.  

Land is not needed as a wealth indicator, because no actual existing land or land use is involved: it’s all book keeping, potential.  So you want the number of hits, like the number of subscribers to a magazine,  to be high and higher with the idea that hits indicate that people will buy.  That’s what the advertisers are told.  (They’d better not go by the hits I make.  I don’t hit for stuff, I hit for knowledge.)

Realizing this has made a whole new frontier assault on government and regulations possible.  The theory is called “takings,” and it means that if some regulatory body prevents you from developing land in a profit-expectant way, then that regulatory body must pay you the amount you expected to make, no matter how over-optimistic you may be.  There's no profit actually, just "virtual" profit.  So, poetic justice-wise, the Walmarts — many of which built on wastelands or other ecologically regulated land using the “takings” theory to push away governmental intervention— made part of their profit with that strategy.  But now Amazon is killing Walmarts by going back farther than “virtual” idea.  No land for stores is needed because it comes to you out of the air.  I expect someone somewhere right now is trying to figure out how to prevent regulating of delivery drones by calculating how the “takings” can be estimated if delivery drones are finally forbidden.

Of course, there will be places in the West where drones will be “taken” by gunfire and no one will ever know who took ‘em.

So paper was the “land,” and the Internet “took” it from publishers and authors by making copyright impossible and breaching the gentleman’s agreement of selling in your own country; by erasing national boundaries and even offering instant translation without paying for a foreign edition.  

But there’s a whole “virtual” realm of prestige quite apart from selling writing.  And that’s what websites like “Medium” and the other Social Media use for bait.  The fabulous idea of becoming a famous writer just like the movies is not far from the idea of winning a lottery or finding the perfect lover.  Not by dumb luck, of course, but by being chosen as a ticket-buyer.

But then there’s the other dimension of “attachment.”  Interaction with virtual people one will never meet but with whom one shares everything, becoming more and more attached.   This sort of prestige and attachment (purporting to be real accomplishment and friendship) are CHEEZY.  They are meant to catch the mice whose anxiety makes them write, often very well but more often in the way that rodents compulsively nibble.  What counts to the trappers is the numbers of mice.  They can figure out how to make numbers go up by analyzing formulas and fiddling with add-ons to see what they do.  Algorithms.  Aromas.

When we were trying to promote the Scriver Museum of Montana Wildlife, we would station a kid on the front porch with a clicker to see how much traffic went by.  They only counted tourists, who were our mice.  Then we kept tallies of how many actually stopped and came in.  If we put up a tipi, more stopped.  If we tied a horse out front, more stopped.  If the kid had braids, more stopped.  (The Museum of the Plains Indians was next door, but tourists can't read.)

Then we kept track of how many who came in the front sales room actually bought admissions to the museum and how many bought trinkets.  We were healing a damaged muskrat kids brought in.  They were also the ones who damaged it by throwing rocks at it until they realized if it were alive, they could sell it to Bob.  I could never tell whether it had a concussion because, like evolved prey, it’s two eyes were on the opposite sides of its head so I could never get a good comparison of pupil-size until I thought of a mirror. 

We had the animal in a cage on the receptionist’s desk, thinking people who loved animals would be intrigued and buy an admission.  Our tallies showed that if the muskrat were there, admissions plunged.  In fact, some people walked out as soon as they saw it.  To them, evidently, small mammals were to be avoided.  Vermin.  Mice.

Oh, cats.  And rats.  And toxoplasmosis and all that interacting stuff that’s so hard to break up.  Hooked.  Brain abcesses.  Addiction to writing.  Not the end-point of becoming famous, but hitching to the loom shuttle in the brain.  That’s what goes around in editors’ offices.  Like selling fabric — er, fabrication?  Fabulation?

It’s all the fault of the internet itself as expressed in social media.  No one realized it could be so addictive.  

So I got to thinking about all this stuff and went to Google for research.  I was amazed.  There are a LOT of people who are fully aware that the internet is preventing quality writing by crashing, irrelevant templates, suffocating pop-ups, paywalls, and — the one that bugs me the most — the box on the NYTimes site where the X to shut off an intrusion is programmed to evade your cursor.  The NYT is plainly as infected WITH THE CULTURE as everyone else.  “Good Gray Lady,” my pink ass. Suggestions of starting a new Internet that returns to hope and clarity — not selling drugs and sex — is all over the place.  

Not because of the content, but because of the structure of the behind-the-scene workings.  It has been captured and commodified just like everything else.  Instead of the multi-connection system that was supposed to prevent monopolies and crashing, the whole thing has been quietly guided into pinch points where toll can be charged and gates can be closed.  Those who can invent new kinds of internet have stuck to the shadows, Darknet.

Twenty years ago the Internet was supposed to be our salvation, a way to interact honestly without being controlled by thought police.  We could baffle the authoritarians!  Do you think that if it were really the Internet that it is now the schools would allow them?  Even subsidize computers?  What schools in their craving for control fail to realize is that kids are programmed to learn — they just don’t want to learn what they’re told to learn but can’t use.

What finally ended my collaboration with Cinematheque was my failure to keep up on tech stuff.  The boys loved all the control and detail and ability to get access to forbidden stuff.  They could do video and had a whole inner world to explore with it.  I was interested, never shocked, sometimes puzzled.  But I can’t see small blue print on screens.  Images flash by faster than I can focus.  I don’t know how one uses Skype or iTunes to invade other people’s computers or prevent it being done to you.  I can’t remember all the little formatting tricks. esp. between competing platforms -- but I’m strongly attached to MACs.  I don’t really care about bad grammar or phonetic spelling.

Once it took me a wasted half-hour to find the “sign-out” signal for Medium because it was underneath my picture, made invisible by my visage until I clicked it.  The password blizzard fills a three-ring notebook, and they keep issuing more requirements for what an “acceptable” password might be: so many letters, so many numbers, capitalization, etc.  The point is WRITING, not COMPUTER LAYOUT and doing the “Nudge.”  Almost anything, like an up-date, and you'll need a new password.

So maybe the boys or someone ought to work on an alternative net, beginning with a meshnet, local within a mile or so.  Then there needs to be a firewall against greed and exploitation.  (Maybe in the operators.)  Tim points out that the structure of Medium, with its constant vortex of praise and attachment, PREVENTS the kind of creative agony that improves and individuates.  It becomes a Hallmark blizzard instead of focussed work.  

Because that means lots and lots of numbers -- how many valentines did YOU get?  Why not admit it's a feel-good platform, call it that, and then invent a real writing platform?  But the founders are also gripped by fantasy.  How many times have they reinvented the same thing and after a good start, stalled out again? 

If this little mouse trap is so good at trapping wannabe writers, but never quite good enough to please investors, what does the whole big picture say about trapping wannabe entrepreneurs?  Surely they must be the ones worth capturing somehow, not just taking their time and their craving for attachment, but using the stats for investors to provide what their mommy should have supplied— admiration and fulfilled attachment.  They don’t even need a teddy bear — maybe a mirror.  Or maybe a boy with a Go-Pro, though that might be a rude awakening.

In the meantime, I want my old Internet back.

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