#99, information overload needs positive feedback effects

In Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age, Tiziana Terranova (2004) begins “this is a book about information overload in network societies and about how we might start to think our way through it.” Here on #100hardtruths #99, coming finally to my end point, I reiterate “this is a digital primer about, within, and against information overload in network societies—in the guise of #fakenews and all it might bear—and about how we might start to think our way through it.”

In the 99 posts preceding, I have argued, shown, or succumbed to several findings about how to think our way through (and within) #fakenews. One of these came late, by way of my sister Antonia—read some good books—that is take advantage of the depth of understanding, commitment, and expressive intensity that hunkering down with a good book (and other long-forms) can emanate. (I have no interest in quibbling about what counts as long-form, and I have no investment in material vs digital production per se.) I do suggest, again and again, that one way to think through #fakenews is to commune with an artist, author, theorist, polemicist with time (and better yet in the company of others). Enjoy the insane potential of human production. Then attempt how to re-enliven and share this sustaining encounter with equal penetration and connection (again I have no investment in material vs digital production, per se.)

Terranova writes: “Proposition: Information is what stands out from noise.” She continues:

Corollary 1a: Within informational cultures, the struggle over meanings is subordinated to that over ‘media effects’

Corollary 1b: The cultural politics of information involves a return to the minimum conditions of communication (the relation of signal to noise and the problem of making contact)

This matters to me because in seeking or sharing clarity in the form of somewhat facetious, somewhat sincere “hardtruths,” I find I often, still, get mired in and produce noise against all my best efforts (i.e. writing short posts, relying on images, building a simple pretty interface, sharing via social networks in even more redacted forms). I find that even when I gain discrete moments of clarity across this project, this is quickly drowned out by the noise of its own escalating plentitude and thelogics of its internet home.

The problems of “making contact” has also been central to the project. While I, or it, aligns with others with frequency and sometimes satisfying volume, given the painful truths of its internet home, I have found I am most fulfilled in my quest to better understand #fakenews when sharing #100hardtruths-#fakenews with people, in person, or one-on-one on the internet: my “people need people” superhardtruth #9.

Terranova explains that “contact” trumps “accuracy” in the information age, and this is what I have been resisting throughout: trump, his trumping of accuracy, and his (and #fakenews’) winning logic whereby a satisfyingly brief exchange is the coin of the realm, even as this proves superhardtruth #3, “short, fast and fun will be the death of us, or at least some.” She continues: “This is why the social management of communication favors the short slogan or even the iconic power of the logo.” (I go on and on against slogans in my earlier attack on short form in the form of another of my invented internet short (but huge) forms, Learning from YouTube).

a cultural politics of information opens up a heightened awareness of the importance of minute and apparently inconsequential decisions as they are implemented in architecture and design, on television and the internet, in medical research and news-making, in personal relationships and working practices … this dimension is concerned only with the successful transmission of messages.

This matters to me because I am not a machine, nor am I tyrant, a corporation, a nation-state or someone’s or something’s data or product. I am a person, and I want and need more than “the successful transmission of messages.” I want, with others, connection, goodness, honesty, reason, feeling, and change.

Terranova move on and gets righteous. She anticipates my sorrow, and then, counter-intuitively projects a place for my needs, for our human rights and power, in network cultures: “Corollary II: Information cultures challenge the coincidence of the real with the possible” because this place is as infinite as are people, especially people in connection.

Beyond the possible of the real is thus the openness of the virtual … Whether it is about the flash-like appearance or disappearance of the electronic commons … or the virtuality of another world perceived during a mass demonstration or a workshop or a camp, the cultural politics of information involves a stab at the fabric of possibility, an undoing of the coincidence of the real with the given.

Her thinking is hard, because this is hard. Go read it! That’s one of the other, final, takeaways of this project. Thinking about, being in, responding to, changing things, striving for social justice and ethical engagement in network culture is complicated.Superhardtruth #8: “people need time to ponder so they can be truly ethical and thoughtful.” No easy fixes. No quick studies. No simplistic strategies. No I get it from a slogan or an aphorism. Superhardtruth #10: “people need art and complexity.”
Yes: sitting together in the noise, being together in the clarifying beauty and intensity of our shared humanity and profound human production.

As much as this project has left me blue (through its blighted linkage to 99 days of destruction. Superhardtruth #5: “our tiny contributions cascade into the mother of all bombs”), I have been consistently and persistently saved by the grace of others (found sometimes, no often, on the internet). Superhardconclusion: “people make the internet. and bombs. and #fakenews. and poetry and song and community. Only we have the power to know and do better.”
The cultural politics of information is no radical alternative that springs out of a negativity to confront a monolithic social technology of power. It is rather a positive feedback effect of information cultures as such.
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To see a poetic response to this hardtruth:

A Picture that Will Never Tell My Story

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