Friday, December 21, 2007

First Monday and Stephanie Mills

This Monday, First Monday released their monthly podcast, which is really quite fantastic. This month's podcast featured Stephanie Mills who, according to the blurb on the site functions as a "[m]odern day Luddite, ecological activist, writer and lecturer". The podcast is introduced in a similar manner that the blurb on the site refers Mills' purposes to" to critically assess the totality of technology which might mean limiting our pursuit of certain kinds of knowledge."
This podcast was tremendously interesting for two reasons. Mills focuses mainly on the impact of technology on the ecology of man in relationship to his stewardship of this Earth.She presents her point of technology's overwhelming footprint, especially in regards to our flagrant use of technology, without necessarily thinking of the effects to the local, national and international environments. Mills also stresses the needs to establish community on several different levels. This stress on the idea of community reaches from a desire for creation of "neighborhoods" between scientific,religious and technological factions to a propagation of community between local individuals. One of her most poignant points is the labeling of our culture as a culture of confrontation.
However, there are some things that were lacking in this podcast. Understandably there are only 15 minutes to present, defend and discuss on these ideas so they cannot be completely fleshed out but truthfully I was hoping for some more definitive concrete steps that could be utilized to either 1) create community or 2) take steps to analyze one's impact. (see Radiohead's site for a dramatic analysis of this) This podcast falls into the area of utopian idealism without necessarily prompting for continued action. This is not say Mills should have standing on the conference table waving the flag of revolution but it's strangely ironic that a self-proclaimed Luddit would be propagating her message over a podcast and owns a Mac. Mills understands the impact of her technology a landfill or developing country but seems unable to reconcile her use of technology to lessening the impact of technology.In all of Mills calling for community, the idea of community is not defined. Is community people simply meeting together? Mills gives the idea of a book group but what is the purpose of the community? Community for community's sake quickly degenerates into a art pour la art mindset which I do not believe is healthy.
I would encourage listening to the podcast; let me know what you think.

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