“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Digital Detox

I'm hearing about the London tech city knitting party.

The knitting is said to be a happy, mindful regression from having to code.

But knitting is algorithmic. Knit one pearl one.

The so-called digital age--the age when we have started to program computational devices--reconfigures everything retroactively. With 20/20 hindsight you can see that lots of things are computational. Sorting laundry. Knitting. Mindfulness meditation as such (breathe, think, notice the thought, come back to breath).

In the really big picture what is happening is soothing the speed of agrilogistics 9.0 with the relatively slower speed of agrilogistics 3.0 (or whatever).

There is a reason why you want to soothe your digital fixation with knitting. It's because knitting is already a kind of digital fixation. Digital means having to do with your fingers. Not having to do with 1s and 0s (sorry to the author of the recent book that makes this equation.)

Also--pity the poor people who have to code, or have to knit, or plough, or work a production line of any kind, without being able to go to some party to soothe their productive processes with older productive processes.



Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's not about doing digital or non-digital stuff: it's about doing stuff you like or don't like. You like knitting because you can hold, see, rub your face in and smell the result. It's physical. It's doing code, but with an ulterior motive. Code for its own sake can be clever for about a minute, then you have to start looking for reasons to be convinced that it's real. It comes down to personal preference. I can't stand playing cards or watching football, because to me it's abstract number and score manipulation that we do because we can't think of anything interesting to talk about. Other people get spontaneous social enjoyment out of those things. We're at the optometrist, deciding which lens is less blurry. As long as we're dealing with visual stuff, nobody cares if the lens is digital or analog. Sound is different: nobody likes digital sound, but it can be used to likeable disorienting effect, to inject some discomfort or irritation into the mix. But yeah, nothing's clever for long if you have to give yourself migraines and carpal tunnel syndrome doing it for 8 hours a day.

D. E.M. said...

I wonder if the opposable -thumb thing and forward-facing stereoscopic eyes have as much to do with weaving / knitting / braiding as they do with other activities usually associated with those characteristics.

Anonymous said...

The haptic interface. Under the hobnailed jack-loafer of neoliberalism you are all Cyborgs now. But do you dream of using technology for more than playing fruit themed games on the subway?
@nickguetti. excellent comment and mostly about like/don't like also a boolean binary to say the same thing twice same thing twice twice thrice. When do one's neural pathways become rewired to the extent that we are allergic to analog, or more precisely, older versions of code? Humans stratify themselves based upon level of abstraction, it seems. How does one (and is it one anymore, or a node on a sensory net?) know which lens is less blurry anymore when it is all photo shopped in our brains?

Fern Hollow Folks said...

So by this definition of digital, does that mean that writing is digital? And what about chopping wood? Is the detox element of an act then have to do with "doing what you like"or is it about engaging the body? Being creative? Something else?