Thoughts on Forbes and the Delusions of the Ruling Class

I actually have been reading Forbes on a regular basis. This was because, I had noted a greater sense of depth and thoughtfulness that one might expect (or I had expected/seen in the past) from a magazine that chronicles the world’s mega-rich. I also like some of the technology reporting.

Yet I think what is often the case is that we only glimpse a small part of the reality and we often wrongly assume a pattern or shift when it is just an imaginary blip. I started following the online edition of Forbes recently because its still free and had some interesting content about technology as well as social commentary which I would not have expected to find in traditional versions of the publication. Most recently I had begun to see a tilt back towards the more conventional Forbes mentality. That is this idea of being a magazine to promote hedonism, materialism and a definition of the American Dream that revolves around the power addiction needs of the super rich.

Below is my comment to the article in Forbes titled: Bipartisanship Is Great For Politicians But Gridlock Is Better For The American People

“My thinking is that Forbes is struggling to find its intellectual way and to put this kind of “intellectual” content on here is a sign of that. I felt like it was reflecting a shift in thinking where the obvious implications of the dangers of too much wealth concentrated among the ruling class becomes self-evident even to the more thoughtful members of the Ruling Class. Basically the article rehashed the same old weak economic argument that always lacked the reality of being actually proven to work in the real world. In that way, it really reflected the worst assumptions made about the economics class itself – that it talks about abstract theories of how the world works. Economists are taught to think that economics is the center of the universe and they become isolated from the whole or a holistic view of how society. An example of the tendency is to see the planetary Ecology and/or Ecosystems – which we rely on to sustain our economy – as a free and infinite resource. While reference is made to the “ruling elites” in Washington, I see these kind of people who seem to parrot the same uncritical supply views almost in unison as robots who seem not able to ask questions or to look critically at our capitalist dominated society. And to consider bias and delusion in how a society dominated by wealth and power might seek to distort reality so as to affirm the author’s very predictable and intellectually stale point of view. Need I say more?”

 Interestingly enough the post despite various grammar mistakes which is common in my writing the post was “called out” by the online editors as have several of my other posts which had a similar demeanor.

Why Google Glass Exposes New Questions about the Intrusiveness of Technology in our Lives

A Facebook post by Libby Hubbard (AKA Doctress Neutopia) featured about an article in Wired about a Google Glass (hole) user experience. http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/12/glasshole/.

An Academic who I had met at Arcosanti several years back by the name of Barry Vacker mentioned the word Simulacrum in relation to the article which he criticized as “sophmoric and laughable.” Simulacrum was a word I first became aware of when reading post-modern theory (in my college days) from Jean Baudrillard but I never “grokked” it in my mind and so it still confuses me I have to admit. I was more of a Michel Faucault, Jean Francios Lyotard post-modernist. Simulacrum:  a fake image of the real? Ill have to think about it more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacrum.

What I see is that the article is a user experience piece and was written informally – its in Silicon Valley geek style (as the writer admits that’s what he is and what he represents – a reporter for that culture and frame of mind). Even if it was laughable or sophmoric , we can still explore the points the author is trying to make: people have not fully adjusted to the potential of this new technology. Of course Vacker is a professional writer and academic so he has the experience of really trying to professional write something which I really do not. However he never got into specifics about what about the article was sophmoric.

Indeed when I met the writer and academic at Arcosanti, I briefly and distantly recall this us debating about some topic I have long since forgotten. However what I recall is this sense that because I was not an academic without a Phd, that I was going to be held to a lesser and inferior standard as a thinker and person of ideas. Its sort of understandable right? To consider that if you put all your life energy into a structure designed to facilitate higher learning and thinking, you are bound to think your mind and way of thinking is superior to those who are not part of your academic culture and way of life. Yet when you feel judged by an academic who deems you inferior to them intellectually, it also understandable to consider it a negative experience that gives real life meaning to that idea of ivory tower intellectualism.

Indeed to say something is “laughable” is almost like disregarding everything that was said, like it was a waste of time and there was nothing redeeming in the article what so ever. Still there may be value to something’s laughability. Indeed I find much of what I see on TV, in celebrity culture and even in the news as laughable but I still get some value from it. Admittedly the article may be unremarkable, but it tells a story and shares a experience about a new technology and how that experience affected the user – I found some value to that and it got me to think more and deeper not just about the possible implications of this cutting edge technology, but about the people from that sub-culture who pioneer, develop and promote these technologies to the global masses.

I think its more about style than any real substantive problem with the writer. I would have liked to see the author actually describe the experience of using it a bit better. Example: how do you surf and how the images come up on the glasses and how this affects how you see things through the glasses.

The writer also expresses a sense of discomfort about wearing the device and how others see it and him in wearing it as a glasshole/asshole as he becomes a walking monitor/monitoring device of others which understandably might make people uncomfortable. I can relate to this on some level, having taken pictures of people who did not want their pictures taken and looked uncomfortable and in a few cases expressed their desire to not have their picture taken.

I also would have liked to have seen more about the possibility that this data can be another tool for monitoring not just the patterns of the user but of the people he watches and collects data on with his “Glass”. This relates not only to the government but also private corporations and how they could develop software to collect and data mind data from Google Glass users. Indeed I have read other articles about Glass that included more information about the specifics of this which was lacking in this article.

Its almost like the social unease about how other’s view him suspiciously or uncomfortably as a Google Glass Users is the defining essence of this article. Possibly its reflecting a collective concern or expression about about the potential abuse and intrusiveness of this powerful tool. While having many possible positive benefits, it another way to chip away at our privacy.

Consider that most likely in about five years from now there will be millions of these devices collecting huge amounts of data just at idle as the person wearing them does their daily life duties and routines. So it has the potential to unconsciousness and unintentionally transform the mundane and routine into the extraordinary. The implications could be way beyond those of the person wearing it. It may indeed affect thousands of people and without many of these people even knowing they have been “locked in” to the “Matrix” thanks to Google Glass capturing them as the User passes them. Apparently there is a software which can get a lock on a face (facial recognition software) and ID them without either that person being aware of its.