. left | coast | lurker . on Fri, 25 Jun 2010 13:31:20 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The Slow Media Manifesto

 ( slow response to the writers_
    are they on Nettime ? )

Slow Food & other such movements are based upon reducing the destructive
forces of industrial capitalism by increasing the time it takes to produce
something --- such in the realm of agriculture. Such slow movements
constitute an attempt to revaluate time, valuing the slowness of temporality
in giving back time to what takes time, and thus granting the time for
production to be performed in a less destructive manner (in current
buzzwords: sustainability, organic and local produce, etc).

However a manifesto of Slow <edia has me somewhat confused in terms of its
positioning in regards to what it attempts to slow down --- if it attempts
to slow down the production of media at all (and does this mean: a reduction
of media channels? or of content? and what precisely is meant here by media
given its ambivalence as both conduit and content?).

> 7. Slow Media are Social Media. Vibrant communities or tribes
> constitute around Slow Media. This, for instance, may be a living
> author exchanging thoughts with his readers or a community
> interpreting a late musician¹s work. Thus Slow Media propagate
> diversity and respect cultural and distinctive local features.

I'm curious how the call for a monotasking medium (technically this isn't
'Slow Media' at all but a call for utilisation of a singular, one at a time
'slow medium') corresponds with 'social media'. Is the point to redefine
what is meant by 'social media'? To 'perfect' an attitude towards it? To
simply use it slowly... like take a long time to answer email?

Because in its current incarnation, social media produces its dizzying
effects of 'community' precisely through a monopolization of distraction
within a multitasking digital environment -- neverending status updates,
multithreaded conversations and comments, photo streams, miniblogs,
cross-linked databasing of interests provoking calls for tagging,
associative linking, and other opt-ins that generate massive aggregate
databases for corporations pegging the consumer index of desires...

Ie, so what I am trying to grasp is (from thesis 12):

"Slow Media are not a contradiction to the speed and
simultaneousness of Twitter, Blogs or Social Networks but are an
attitude and a way of making use of them."

So Slow Media doesn't affect production at all, but is a lifestyle.

Nevertheless, it would appear that given the call for 'monotasking' and
'focused alertness' (thesis 2), that such Slow Media (as an "attitude")
would produce an approach completely incompatible with social media ---
unless slow media is, in fact, nothing less than social media's perfection,
insofar as what it calls for is nothing short than a complete, 'monotasking'
immersion within it.

I.e., instead of distractively checking Facebook or sending out a quick
Tweet, I should now spend all of my time glued in front of the screen to
perform these tasks with the perfection of monotasking.

If Slow Media is meant as some kind of resistance to social media, or
temporal deconstruction of it, will it be found by turning all of one's
attention to it...?

And would such an attitude toward an already-existing media structure not
also imply that Slow Media is not "progressive" but precisely reactionary as
a kind of immersive dispositif toward social media?

> 9. Slow Media are distributed via recommendations not advertising: the
> success of Slow Media is not based on an overwhelming advertising
> pressure on all channels but on recommendation from friends,
> colleagues or family. A book given as a present five times to best
> friends is a good example.

Unfortunately, this position delimits & underestimates advertising in a way
not seen since the beginning of the 20th century . By all accounts,
advertising works precisely through recommendations -- and quite literally.
I'm thinking here of Amazon's recommendation databasing, for example. But
certainly in more insidious forms: it is the very unconconscious
mechanization of brand "recommendations" that advertising strives to

So far, this manifesto seems to support the complete immersion within
distractive social media through the utter resignation to unconscious forms
of advertising. This manifesto itself appears in its most reactionary form
as a mere reflection of the very desires and wishes of the organised systems
of social media and consumer capital.

Which is why I shudder when I read that:

> 5. Slow Media advance Prosumers, i.e. people who actively define what  and
> how they want to consume and produce. In Slow Media, the active  Prosumer,
> inspired by his media usage to develop new ideas and take  action, replaces
> the passive consumer. This may be shown by marginals  in a book or animated
> discussion about a record with friends. Slow  Media inspire, continuously
> affect the users¹ thoughts and actions and  are still perceptible years
> later.

Heavens. If there ever was a historical category of "passive consumers",
such a fictive mass only ever existed within the superbly imaginative realm
of advertising as a construct to make "us" feel better over "how far we've
come": "Just look at you now, baby" -- Yep, now you can choose to smoke
Virginia Slims, Woman!

This manifesto seems to read as if consumer capital didn't invent the
Prosumer as a more invasive procedure of snaring mass desire to begin with.
If one can be made to feel part of something, one is less likely to critique
it. Moreover, the prosumer also conveniently generates free R&D for whom
s/he serves. While this used to be through focus groups, polls and surveys,
now every click and movement online is tracked to further "enhance" the
experience of dangling consumer desire in front of your eyes. This is the
entire economic model of social media --- i.e., it is what makes it
"sustainable" (see thesis #1).

In short, this Manifesto appears to only signify the complete and utter
breakdown of any attempt to think an imaginative alternative to the impulses
of consumer capital.

Instead of allowing us to make use of media for what it is -- something we
shouldn't spend too much time with precisely because of its desire-traps
that induce you to buy the new fucking iPhone or whatever -- it calls for us
to spend MORE time with it.

No. Nein. How about less time with Twitter & Facebook, and more time getting
to know your neighbour, your library, the people in your local coffeeshop,
the grassroots level of political organisations in your locale, and the
alternative online networks (such as this one) that call for sustained
analysis and thought --- which demonstratively translates here & there into

    (requisite shout-outs to Toronto & Chicago at this very moment ... )

Oh, and read a book every once in awhile too. And not on the censorious
iPad. Marginalia exists not as a metaphor of the Prosumer (such in thesis
5), but as an activity of defacing and questioning the command and control
principles of the received text. Get out and get some graffiti done while
you're at it.

/ best, tobias.

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