For a while I kept a del.ic.ious account (last updated almost two months ago). I also used to have one at Flickr, and various other ‘social networking’ / web2.0 paraphernalia, including Technorati. Everything but del.ic.ious got brushed off because I do enough photos/linking/reblogging/link-whoring here, and del.ic.ious, well I’d upload links, but never use it as any kind of reference resource which is one of the several main reasons for me blogging in the first place. I remain listed on Techorati and China Blog List though and still have an almost pornographic attraction to a good directory.
Amidst all the interweaving and self-referentialality spawned since blogistan, some of which I have in a small way taken part in, I have become jaded and pessimistic about what mostly amounts to electronic noise. The question is not how large a presence I or anyone has through using the plethora of social networking sites, but fundamentally what does it add to a conversation? And what is the value of information if it is all instantly available and lives and dies in a storm of /.-ing
Yesterday while doing some research for Temperance, I fell into a wiki-hole from the Boredoms to Butthole Surfers, Minor Threat, Straight Edge. In the pre-internet days when I was a homeless punk/goth living in squats in Wellington and Auckland all this kind of knowledge was passed on by word-of-mouth, through photocopied zines, semi-legal underground bookshops and strange, obscure lines of communication.
It was the joy of finding something on my own, picking up a static-ridden radio station playing The Stooges when I was twelve, being handed a battered hardback of William Burroughs’ Cities of the Red Night, discovering the world by myself, following these cryptic and indeterminate threads wherever they might lead; not passively consuming the coercive barrage of media junk. As much as I get turned on by knowledge, it’s the searching that still really does it for me, and I love little more than getting diverted for days or months or longer from some footnote or casual remark.
Earlier this year in Guangzhou after a number of months fruitless searching for Ming and Qin Dynasty erotic drawings and being told they didn’t exist, by asking the right question I finally found 春宫图 Chungongtu. And a whole world opened up. It is the same feeling, the same alive giddiness.
I wanted to say it is philosophy, as in the love of knowledge or wisdom, but it’s not. I’m not searching for an exegetic or ontological starting-point, it’s not some rationalist attempt to explain the world soaked in millennia of western theological humbug. I don’t particularly care if my obsessions today are Leibniz, and the plague in Southern China, were Jean Baudrillard, and might be anything equally amenable to obsession tomorrow.
What I read today was initially just that, the several blog posts, articles, things that make it out from my NetNewsWire feeds and get opened for full reading in my browser. But I got a little side-tracked in my explanation of why I was planning on posting the links here instead of on del.ic.ious or elsewhere, and seem to be eulogising the internet’s subjugation by that same media junk I have spent my life evading.
I am not lamenting a pre-internet world, because I am under no illusions that pre-1998 in many ways was the dark ages. I am an unashamed proponent of the good a networked world can bring to individuals and communities. From using mobile phones and sms to notify the outside world of governmental attacks during the Taishi Village elections to support websites for transsexuals like TS Road Map, for those of us lucky enough to be connected we live in a far better world.