“In Defense of the Book” by Mark Helprin
Post thoughts to comments.
Today’s rest day post is one of the best-written articles I’ve ever read. I’ll be buying this guy’s book.
I would assume the book is a good read, I see a similarity in writing styles Russell. Interesting, I liked this quote in the article:
“the sooner we can all get past the ‘idea’ that anyone can own the thoughts, the words, the music, the sooner we can survive the possibly ensuing class war and get down to the business of evolving our eventual hive mind”
Pull up / HSPU workout
12:29 (partial HSPU)
A few notes on the article.
I think the basic purpose, in fact the biological necessity that inexorably links humans to machines and tools of any kind has not changed nor will it ever. People tend to self organize into larger and ever larger groups based upon the innate desire of man to categorize and organize ourselves. People have a tendency to group up on their own like colonies of bacteria or fungus. In fact nearly every animal, plant, bacteria and insect alike congregates and ‘socializes’.
Modern digital tools such as forums, blogs, Facebook and twitter provide humans the ability to collaborate around multitudes of ideas such as “modernism, collectivism, militant atheism” and even CSI Miami, Facebook, Spiderman 3, Playstation, Crossfit, the GOP and Barbara Streisand.
We all pick our associations. We may be mass conformists by all being fans of Seinfeld but we can also be perfectly happy not at all hypocritical by being rebellious in our diet and radical workout methodologies.
That being said i believe copyright holders own their ideas and should profit from them, but its a falsehood to believe that their works will simply “over time and according to its merits …rise to the surface and remain” as the author puts it. Works are brought to the surface solely through the efforts of its promoters. This is not at all shocking if you think about it closely.
Popular music is only popular because of the marketing push and the thousands of radio and TV stations pushing the music to millions of listeners. Millions of listeners then indoctrinate their social connections with their love of the song. The more infectious or the more “stcky”, a term defined by Malcom Gladwell in the book “The Tipping Point” used to describe an idea’s tendency to be memorable. the easier this mass indoctrination takes place.
It’s not that mass media is required for an idea to spread, but it makes it easier. Some ideas percolate through a society through the ‘efforts of its promoters’ as it is spread simply by word of mouth. For instance Urban Legends percolate autonomously without mass media intervention. Urban legends typically have no “merit” as the author suggests is necessary, they simply have to be sticky to trigger a biological need of humans to interact and to share ideas and beliefs.
Copyrights can and should be protected because the copyright holder has typically created a work that is ‘sticky’ and has used tools such as Advertising, the internet, TV and radio to market his work to hundreds to millions of fans. However, I just think it is shortsighted for copyright holders to limit the natural “urban legend”, free of charge, open source method of spreading their idea. Crossfit is spread by the power of word of mouth and it is owned and reinterpreted and improved by its proponents. Yet P90X will die because it limits its inclusion into the club to only paying customers, and it limits the natural growth of the idea by its adopters.
Radio has been indoctrinating millions of new listeners for years. The Internet and blogosphere is just a natural extension of radio. However this time, the users of the new technology can organize themselves. We are not required to listen to WDRM for our country and WZYP for our pop anymore. Nor do we need to read the newspaper to get our news. We can group ourselves and filter our interactions by using the new digital tools of interaction such as MySpace, Facebook, Rhapsody, RSS news feeds, blogs and forums.
Copyright holders want a larger audience to indoctrinate more and more eventually paying customers. So they should embrace viral marketing scheme as a tool and not try to kill it like a virus. The truly ‘worthy – ahem’ works will always continue to make money like the common cold. They will always come back once the virus has been placed in enough of us. The Beatles are a social virus and so is Plato, Shakespeare, Jesus and also the “Mozarts Einsteins [and] Raphaels” of the world.
It is ironic that the very biological mechanism I am describing here is helping to spread the word of his own book. The very sticky passage he wrote that many critics subsequently quoted in their flame, “It would be one thing if such a revolution produced Mozarts, Einsteins, or Raphaels, but it doesn’t. It produces mouth-breathing morons in backwards baseball caps and pants that fall down” created hype and and a viral like spread of his ideas that attracted and simultaneously repulsed enough people so that I am now hearing about his book on this forum, and it will produce at least one new book sale for him. So the very mechanism he is railing against is at the same fueling his book sales. Brilliant.
The new digital tools of our society will however create not just “mouth breathing morons in backwards baseball caps but it will also produce the next Einstein by fostering collaboration and information sharing just like the emerging tools of generations past. We are not becoming slaves to the machine, we are simply creating new tools to fulfill our innate need to group and socialize. We are highly formed funguses releasing our spores onto society.
This is off topic, but I believe it is OK to be a mass conformist. Not everyone can be innovators. Just like not everyone can write a novel or hammer a nail, work for 40 years at the same job or strike out on his own and start a new business. We all have our roles, and me, the entrepreneur, still needs the NASCAR fan willing to put in 50 hours a week framing, living off Gas Station Hot Dogs and Red Bulls, and smoking cigarettes to fulfill my dreams.
Pull up/HSPU workout
12:33 (partial HSPU)
the last mandee post was supposed to be me–Courtney!
Just a thought,
Daniel, I think you fell into the same trap many of the author’s critics did, which was to assume that the author was criticizing technology, mass media, or digital communication.
I’m also not sure where you go the conformity subject from, unless that’s just your own thoughts and you aren’t tying your argument to the article.
Rather, I think Helprin is criticizing the outcome of our technology, mass media, and digital communication: stupid, self-centered people with more knowledge of American Idol than their own constitution. These same people are generally behind the “yes we can” generation of progressive youths who would disagree with the defense of copyright, but would gladly see the police power of the federal government used to take wealth from others and used for the “collective good”.
Neal boortz would just summarize this as the “dumbassification of America” This just happens to be the first time I’ve seen anyone make an attempt at connecting this type of thought with the technological revolution… which Is why I’m curious to buy his book.
Since yesterday was a travel day and I spent 12 hours on a plane, I missed the front squats, but to my surprise, there was a bar in the fitness center at the hotel this morning, so I made it up today. I think having the bar on a machine made it a little easier, so my numbers might be somewhat high. It’s hard for me to compare.
I read your response before reading the today’s article, very interesting thoughts. Did you take your arguments from today’s article or the original “Digital Barbarism” piece? I, like Russell, had trouble connecting the dots.
Your P90X thoughts were interesting. I believe that program is “sticky” but it will die the natural death of any video program, boredom, repetitiveness, and as time goes by the clothing is out of style. I don’t think a private club mentality will be it’s demise. Those programs are meant to have a limited life span or you wouldn’t buy the next, newest version of P90X+, P90XXX, and Turbo Ab Busting 90X++.
And what’s the deal with NASCAR?
While I don’t think the P90x analogy is relevant, I also don’t think its lack of popularity in comparison with CrossFit can be traced entirely to its cost. The simpler, and probably more accurate answer is that one product is just plain better than the other.
ENDURANCE WOD…4 X 5K WITH (5-15 MIN,REST IN BTWN). THIS WAS VERY GRUELING FOR ME (MENTALLY). I WANTED TO STOP SEVERAL TIMES, BUT THOUGHT OF SERGEANT MAJOR JERRY PATTON’S SURVIVING WIFE AND FOUR CHILDREN…NO WAY I WAS GOING TO STOP MY FEET FROM MOVING FORWARD.
BLESS HIS SOUL AND FAMILY.
Russell, Don’t be a smarty pants! I was too tired to bother with the shift key. Plus, I’m a very passionate person that likes for everyone to feel what i’m relaying. 🙂 Does a Sapporo beer count as 3 carb block?
Did 5k for 8:30 a mile and 100 sit ups as end.it was tough but felt great I still can improve thanks to CF and hills running.
4.5 miles @ 9:30’s. Horrible. I’m normally ~8. Attempted it in the morning with no pre-run snack. Stupid.
Did a lil workout since I’ll miss Saturday, and can’t make it up Sunday.
Row 500m-30 ring rows (toe on box of course)-30 GHDs
Row 500 m-20 ring rows-20 GHDs
Row 500m-10 ring rows-10 GHDs
SOOOO glad Josh talked me out of Barbara, now that I see the beating that ‘Daniel’ is going to give me tomorrow!!!!
Just caught it…ring dips is what I meant….not ring rows…
Tracey, If I’m reading the chart right 8oz beer = 1 block. That’s the assumption I’ve been going on. 🙂
Hmm no. I was criticizing his belief that “good” work always rises to the top. It is my contention that is not the case. Crossfit is more ‘sticky’. I believe it is good, and many people do, but without the website, it might not have spread so fast.
My rant refers to a book ” The Tipping Point”. It is a book about a new area of research, called “tipping points” that seeks to explain such diverse things as stock markets, the melting of ice shelfs, the spread of urban legends and the spread of viruses. Here is a recent article on tipping point research. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112886911
I also suggested that new tools create the new Einsteins and the new conformists at the same time, and that these modern tools allow us to collaborate with like minded individuals at a far more intricate level then before.
I agree with him that morons are possibly unjustly given a voice with today’s technology, but it’s an even playing field. We can all share our ideas with ease with the digital revolution.