Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rationality, objectivity, neutrality, functionalism.
1- note taking/posted elsewhere. 
My problem with the “analysis” of advertising as with politics is that the language of engineering reinforces the culture of engineering. It’s like talking about grammar as if grammar were synonymous with language. The ethos of expertise is a form of functionalism, and the older model of intellectualism is replaced by one of simple professionalism. And with this we get corporate psychologists and anthropologists, and HTS. [The active cultivation of sensibility is concomitant with the awareness that you have a sensibility. Functionalism supplies you with one ready-made.]

Designers of slot machines have learned that one of the things that keeps people seated at their machines is the repetitive motion and sense of time, “flow”, and that “flow” is broken by hitting the jackpot. But it can be preserved by paying out less money more often -no sudden shock (defamiliarization)- so that even after winning people stay in their seats and keep playing, and needless to say since slots are a losing game for the player, losing more money.

There’s an amorality to expertise, as there’s an amorality to numbers and to language as grammar. But the use of language carries a moral weight and a moral responsibility. You can’t speak without expressing value. The culture of academic expertise, as engineering and “theory”, has never come to terms with that or the values behind its own forms of speech.

2- The Convergence Culture Consortium at MIT (C3) is a partnership between thinkers and researchers from/affiliated with the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT, and companies with a keen interest in deciphering convergence culture and the implications it can have for their business. Members of the consortium gain new insights and ideas about a very intractable and urgent set of questions that they are already grappling with in the current business environment. We aim to expand the role of industrial leaders by informing them of dynamic humanistic scholarship while providing them with early access to the cutting-edge ideas that emerge through the consortium.

3- But the mistake you are making is to assume that Palin needs or wants to play by the standard rules of American politics. Or that it even occurs to her to do so. Trash her all you want (even you Republicans who are doing it all the time behind her back) for being uninformed, demagogic and incoherent, and brandish the poll numbers that show fewer and fewer Americans think she is qualified to be President. Strain to apply political and practical norms to Alaska's former governor. You are missing the point.

Surely you've come to accept the reality that as a businessperson, Palin is a genius. The gusher of revenue from her speeches, books and television deals sweeps away any doubt that she can brilliantly harness her energy, charisma and popularity into a moneymaking bonanza. But what you need to appreciate is that the same dynamics of supply and demand that Palin has cleverly exploited for financial gain also make her inimitably formidable as a political force.

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