Vanity Publishing

Image of a clown

The Guardian asks if blogging is more than vanity publishing? The article contains the usual arguments about what blogging is, should be, could be etc…I dunno – for me this site is very much a blank canvas for me to experiment with. Many people draw, paint or write for no reason other than they enjoy it, blogging (for me) is somewhat similar, a place where I can put down my musings about the world. Let’s not over define the issue, it is as it is, expression.

Real

‘In Historians view, texts were arbitrary assemblages of words that themselves had come into being only through an arbitrary process of human invention. Each time we read a text, therefore, we put the meaning into it ourselves. So it was with the historian also. Thus what historians wrote was their own invention and not a true or objective representation of past reality, which was in essence irrecoverable’

or

the loss of history. As Baudrillard puts it in “History: A Retro Scenario,” “History is our lost referential, that is to say our myth.” He goes on to say that “The great event of this period, the great trauma, is this decline of strong referentials, these death pangs of the real and of the rational that open onto an age of simulation”

or

“Television, film, and the internet separate us from the real even as they seek to reproduce it more fully or faithfully: “The hyperreality of communication and of meaning. More real than real, that is how the real is abolished”

Sources:
Jean Baudrillard
What is History Now Edited by David Cannadine

Easter

Bugger this – I’m off for the Easter holidays, back home to the garden of England (or new ‘Gateway to Europe’) to see the folks and sister. At least the satan of train operators aren’t running things any more.

I am going to Sittingbourne (The Meaning Of Liff: (n.) One of those conversations where both people are waiting for the other one to shut up so they can get on with their bit.)

Bye

Brains

Zombies

I love predictions, no matter how many times people are proved wrong by the slow spicy brain shuffling of time; people, commentators and pundits have to predict. Its like a disease. The side-effects of which are the spewing of guessing, speculation and prophecy.

At the moment there is a lot about how Google/Blogging/Social Software/Wireless is going to take over the world.

Like a hell-bent zombie banging up against a window to get to those tasty brains, prediction attempts to taste the sweet gooey softness of the future. We may live in the now, but damn the futures exciting, dangerous, doomed, totalitarian yada, yada? Hmmm brains.

‘Prediction of events in history is similar to predicting weather events. Some patterns repeat shortly, some patterns repeat after a long time, some patterns may never repeat, some patterns are expected to repeat but we do not know if or when they will repeat; and some patterns are not patterns at all’

Indeed much prediction is probably based on what happens in the past, the ‘History repeating itself’ idea. But like a loaded shotgun forced into the disintegrating grey face of time, it can get messy. In the book ‘What is History’ E.H. Carr proclaimed that ‘History’ ‘is an unending dialogue between the present and the past’. The contents of the dialogue may change, and the focus but the dialogue continues. History is not static, attitudes change towards events, history is written by the winners etc.

The concept of linear progression is often at fault. People assume that things will carry on as they are. The .com boom of the late nineties. Tulip mania of the 17th Century. Stock Markets. House Prices. All based around predictions that the markets would continue to grow and never revert. When people smell those tasty brains (or stock options), nothing is going to stop them. The ravaged undead mob keep shuffling on, regardless of what happens.

In my opinion prediction is somewhat like gambling. You try and back a ‘winner’, if it comes through you get the buzz of being right and most likely the monetary return (alas, no tasty brains). Prediction is very necessary in a capitalist system, most of our economies are based around this. Maybe there is no alternative, but it just seems to me that there are an awful lot of people that back losers.

My favourite spicy brains? Hmmm…

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” — Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.
“It will be years — not in my time — before a woman will become Prime Minister.” — Margaret Thatcher, 1974.
“It doesn’t matter what he does, he will never amount to anything.” –Albert Einstein’s teacher to Einstein’s father, 1895
“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” -Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” –Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist in 1859.
“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” -Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

Sources:
The Philosophical Science Of Prediction And History by Ion Saliu
What is History Now Edited by David Cannadine
Shaun of the Dead
Scaryduck.

Exclusive!

Paper
Annoyed

I must say I am becoming increasingly annoyed at the tabloids of late. Maybe the Beckham story is true, maybe it’s not – I don’t really care.

I am not against newspapers writing their opinions, it’s their right, as it is mine to write this. However stories should be angled as that, opinions, not the 100% true fact that they are often presented as. One headline over the past week in The Sun was ‘Hate Britain’ a seemingly thinly veiled attack on Islam based around one instance in Hyde Park. Apparently it is okay to display stories as proven fact if they come from a singular source, regardless of the fact that in many cases the source is represented by Max Clifford and being paid 6 figure sums. However if the government puts out a document based around one source people (and the tabloids) go mad.

Indeed on this Blog, people have the right to agree or disagree with my comments. I welcome this approach. My facts can be cross-referenced and checked and people can post their reaction or debasement of these ramblings in a Blog of equal stature to this. We do not have that ability with newspapers. They are a monopoly of opinion, and I feel that’s wrong.

Ultimate control

‘Marxists view capitalist society as being one of class domination; the media are seen as part of an ideological arena in which various class views are fought out, although within the context of the dominance of certain classes; ultimate control is increasingly concentrated in monopoly capital; media professionals, while enjoying the illusion of autonomy, are socialized into and internalise the norms of the dominant culture. The media, taken as a whole, relay interpretive frameworks consonant with the interest of the dominant classes, and media audiences, while sometimes negotiating and contesting these frameworks, lack ready access to alternative meaning systems that would enable them to reject the definitions offered by the media in favour of oppositional definitions.’

Lowest common denominator

‘The Sun understands its readers. It may have no great desire to educate them or liberate them but it knows unerringly where the lowest common denominator is and focuses there.’

The ex-editor, Kevin MacKenzie, apparently once described an archetypal Sun reader as the ‘skinhead with a six pack’. MacKenzie had no desire to change this – he simply wanted to use it.

People may primarily read the newspapers that reflect their views but they are also changed by them, precisely because the material comes to them from a trusted source, but why is it trusted?

‘According to the Marxist view, the media are influential in the ‘construction of reality’ for the rest of us. In other words, we understand from the media what the world is like. The media represent the major means by which individuals, groups and classes construct an understanding of the lives, meanings, practices and values of other individuals, groups and classes, thus acquiring a picture of how ‘social reality’ hangs together. Reality is not in any sense ‘given’, it is constructed; media texts do not reflect reality, they are a construction of reality.’

Britain today is a coarser, less politically astute country than it was thirty years ago, and the Murdoch press and the TV stations he controls and the media tone and priorities he sets have contributed to that. A poll of the 100 most influencial people in Britain listed Conrad Black and Ruppert Murdoch in the top 10, the Queen (Head of State) came in at 100.

Choice

The critics I am sure will simply say – ‘well don’t read it’ or the classic ‘people deserve to know’. However ‘headl
ines reach an audience considerably wider than those who read the articles, impact is deliberately sought through the use of the choice of emotive vocabulary and other rhetorical devices’. Even further the actual stories themselves can be seemingly tame and careful. Yet ‘headlines encapsulate not only the content but the orientation, the perspective that the readers should bring to their understanding of the article’ and ‘structure a particular view of the world by imposing on information a hierarchy of importance’. And there seems to be very little comeback if that story is incorrect (unless you are the BBC).

Essentially I feel that many of our opinions are being moulded by an almost totalitarian onslaught from the media, commercial and (less so) governmental organisations.

Is it any wonder that apathy rues the roost? The future’s not bright the future’s didactic

Sources:
Discourse analysis of newspaper headlines: a methodological framework for research into national representations by Christine Develotte and Elizabeth Rechniewski
Rupert Murdoch & his papers
Claude Abastado
Marxist Media Theory by Daniel Chandler
The Guardian
The Isles: A History
Google

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