Habermas Just Blowing Hard?

December 28, 2007

Ping: “War Strategies … for Daily Life?” at VibeWise

/*preliminary draft; do no quote, please and thank-you

When I spend more time on this it will be shorter. heh */

Smart Mobs » Blog Archive » Habermas blows off question about the Internet and the Public Sphere – November 5th, 2007 by Howard Rheingold

“I think it’s important now to build new theories and not simply to rely on Habermas, who is signalling his ignorance of the meaning of the changes in the infosphere that have taken place in recent decades. He did his part in his time, but the ideal public sphere he described — a bourgeois public sphere dominated by broadcast media — should not be taken as the model for the formation of public opinion in 21st century democracies.”

What I’m going to write is that Habermas’ ideals are so far from being reali-ized that that their validlity and his perfunctory defense of them might seem without basis. My point is that even Web4.0 will fall short because real develop must be orthogonal to the “with this hammer I call AJAX I will hammer every nail” attitude that now dominates.

What has oriented me in these matters is having read (or, more precisely, being in the process of re-reading for the umpteenth time) Habermas’ “discourse ethics” in context of the operational considerations comprised by the OpenAccess project as set out by UBC/PKP’s Prof. John Willinksy.

A fancy toy is just a toy, for all its wonder. “And you shall know them by their uses”, we might say.

At the risk of seeming cynical or bitter or both: where (Oh, please! Do tell me where!) is there to be found the authentic discourse that Jurgen Habermas so skilfully depicted? I’m talking about operational criteria, not just aspirational-goodie-goodie bliss-ninnie light-and-love (by the pound, by the gram, whatevuh) … I mean authentic subjective narrative in discourse. (Two ways … sorry kidz, tweeting is almost 1/2 of that recipe.)

Here’s something I’d like to be corrected on: from both my studies of abhidharma and my practice as a Marxist I’ve bought into “activity conditions consciousness”. (Oh-wooops I left out cog-psych … “schema theory”, yes?) Endless hours of 1st person ejaculation (Think “soliloque” here … get your mind out’a gutter; make some room for the rest of us.) … equally endless hours of 1st person shooter … endlessly peregrinating constructs resulting in a tangle of conceptual fictions and fictional identities. (Nooo, not “personas” … I said identities and I meant identities.)

Discourse … not “discussion”, not “debate”, not just “exchange”. (I happen to love Edge. But to the vast majority of the human race it is effectively hermetic. “In effect” is the watchword of Pomo, please.)

It’s great fun to play fast and loose … sophistry (Think about it … “sophist-icated” … what I call the Marie Antoinette syndrome … like marketing: no need to produce and deliver bread if you can produce a clehvur joke about cake, ehh whot?) … to quip the old-school Zen, a painting of bread does not feed. (Ohhh sure sure, “Man does not live by bread alone”. Go without a coupla meals sometime!)

see also: TimBL on “net” and *shudder* “graph”

Earlier this evening (I took a break after writing the large part of the above; I put up a batch of my best bitter last week and tonight I’m enjoying some of it.) I thought back across my history with communications … a time before SBI (“Soviet-bloc illicits”) and ILS (Integrated Logistics Support) and troposcatter (uhhh … 10KW WiFi huh huh) and, and and … I mean my relationship to the phenomenon itself. I remember as a child gazing into the sky, extrapolating the sun’s movement, and wondering at how this time-piece was so similar and different from the one on the wall above the stove in the kitchen.

I believe it was thinking like that whot allowed me to grok LASER theory in grade 3. It was as though the molecules were communicating with one another, as though ducks scrambling to get into a row. So it was natural, only a few years later, to get into ham radio … watching the 20mtr beam swing towards its great-circle bearing to the distant antipodes … VK2RU, IIRC … Australia. And, in the late evening, knowing that the air around me was filled with uncountable conversations.


So it’s with a bit of a startle that I read, “Smart Mobs » Blog Archive » Treating my Facebook community as a public” … ehhh? To treat FaceBook or whatevuh as anything other than public? Isn’t that like putting up a sound-proof wall all around your house so neighbours won’t by mis-chance or mis-deed happen to hear a bit of your commonplace and mundane?

Schema … in large part, barriers against what’s previously been tagged #noise, filtering in what’s salient. But those processes result in valence. I take it as confirmed that most kidz today take as “true” what is pleasant and “untrue” or even “wicked” whatever gives rise to dis-comfort in any sense. Valence … why it matters … and that, dear reader, is for me the heart-essence of discourse. Not “data”, and more than “information”.

Eric Fromm wrote about how a parent who, upon hearing a devestating prognosis regarding a child, is ill who responds by asking about probabilities. It’s more than cost/benefit … and so it’s more than signal/noise (“SNR”, in my business).

But it’s late. And my best bitter, if not actually my best, is very very good.

Front of mind? I miss my old springer spaniel … “Duart’s Mr. Chips” … Chippie … won Canadian Kennel Champion in his first show, he did … and trained himself, he did too. Missing him matters to me … it shows me I still care about the beings in my past. And I daren’t lose that.

–bentrem 00:18 29DEC07