rehabilitation of choice

06Jun11

eili parisereli pariserA new dawn appears to rise for the humo universales. Not so much the individual renaissance view but the more social view of the PRB (Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood) that honours the base selfish human need to create a true, undying companionship and regards craftsmanship as its base.

At the start of the 20st century industrialisation separated concept and skill. William Morris (Morris & Co) proved successfully that design and creation should not be separated and most of all that freedom for each employee is created by being responsible for excellent execution of their own job and by taking care of good working conditions. This freedom for employees could only be utilized in a rich environment. He therefore encouraged his workers to practice each other’s art to stimulate their imagination. Like Ruskin he believed in the power of imaginative engagement: the element of fantasy that requires you to engage in the work and to choose to believe.

Ruskin: “A man can’t always do what he likes, but he can always fancy what he likes; and he may be forced to do what he doesn’t like, but he can’t be forced to fancy what he doesn’t like.” Unfortunately this can only be fruitful if we strike out the human need for compliance. To avoid stress we are prone to index support stronger than counterbalance. Especially in the more abstract domain of our emotions we are often blinded by the indirect influence of its contextual construction.

junk food or hard workAs Eli Pariser points out in his talk about filter bubbles the flaw of personalisation is the shallowness of choice. He explains that search algoritms are the new editors of information and advocates more transparent algoritms to allow us to choose a broader selection of filter-signals to also include an alternate view. But his plee for openness might be  just as naive as the plee for fantasy by Ruskin. You still need people who want do do the hard work of dedication and experimentation to become knowledgeable. A ‘craft’ is a cunning workmanship made by hand with much skill. Much skill is a relational noun which indicates comparison and thus the necessity for interaction to decide valuation.  The fear for myopia might in fact not so much be the flaw of filtering but could be caused by our acceptance of the human tendency to opt for the easy way (in this case: crowd-insight). In our networked society we should remember Morris and create structures or fellowships that stimulate individual craftmanship and relational inspiration. Which might happen more automatic if we make people responsible for the whole task instead of only a specialized part.

Quote M. Houellebecq (la carte et le territoire):“with social species individuality is a short lived fiction”

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