It’s hard to imagine how the gateways to thinking and writing publicly felt once upon a time. I know the gist of them – broadsheet, a comparatively rare university education, the funds for self-publishing.
One by one, late modernity has knocked down or replaced these early modern forms. Self-publishing became impracticable as an intelligentsia was divested of its aristocratic funding and publishers became gatekeepers. Education was democratized and disciplined – in a literal sense, with intellectual projects being parcelled-out to various career destinations with ever-increasing specificity. Finally, print itself came under sudden and vicious attack by a chaotic stew of web publishing technologies.
However these old forms felt for those who wanted to have a public voice, todays forms surely feel different. Now we are “creatives” producing “content,” stuck in perpetual internships, blogging and tweeting and posting without an end in sight. And always for a pervasive, anonymous Other we can only call the Internet.
The problem isn’t, and never has been, I suspect, that too many clamoring for too few spots on the panel. There has always been less bandwidth than those who’d like to take part. Nor is the problem that the hyperdemocratic accessibility of web publishing produces too much chaff to wheat – again, it’s easy to forget that eras past had plenty of chaff, too.
The problem unique to digital capitalism is, rather, that there are fewer gatekeepers and more gates.
It’s a familiar enough problem for members of the audience. Most any web-literate person today will remember the controversies over Wikipedia citations. They’ll also probably know the pains of managing one’s Facebook feed, of checking the veracity of anonymous users’ claims, of being confronted with yet another social network vying for their attention (most recently, Ello).
But it’s also a problem for those who want to voice themselves in public way. What outlet or outlets does one choose? Where is your intended audience, and how do you get them to come to you? What’s the best way to establish web presence and increase your cachet? What’s the best way to comport yourself? What voice do you use?
It’s with these questions in mind that I start this blog. Here, I’ll mainly be writing about technology, late capitalism, and not a little about Marx and his Marxists. I’ll be writing about both old kings in the Old World, and new petty-kings in their private consumerist gardens. I’ll touch on gender and race and class and ideology – really anything to emulate, to some small extent, the all-encompassing breadth of vision that Marx and others have brought to bear on understanding capitalist modernity. And to meet the challenges and pass through the gateways that it confronts us with.