"I'm frightened by the devil,
but I'm drawn to those that ain't afraid" Joni Mitchell.
An expert is a man who has stopped thinking - he knows!" Frank Lloyd Wright
“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Max Planck
I came across a really interesting proposition at Grant McCrackens blog. (link above) He suggests creating a unique system:
"I need a briefing system. (And it's not just me. Every marketer, educator, politician, cultural producer, and retailer, needs this too.) This would supply me with a steadily supply of intelligence on what is happening on TV, on line, and in the world. It would give me advance notice of the forces shaping my world. And it would give me early warning of the things that are going to change the way I make my living, raise my family, live my life. It would be nice to have a little notice. I mean, come on.
This could be a briefing exchange that would allow me to trade insights with other suppliers (using some kind of credit system). I would also allow me to sell new insights to clients for cash. Where would I fit in the system? Oh, I guess an anthropologists chattering away as I do could create something useful, if only by bundling all these daily posts into aggregates of illumination. (Hah!)"
I was quite charmed by this notion and realized such a system already exists!
And it is "free". All you need to do is partake in ritualistic eating, meet to drink drugs and surrender to other people who might mess with your mind.
It's called high school or university. Or nightclub, coffee huff and have friends.
I't's also called being young and hip.
Kids already have a briefing system; a currency exchange of fun, music, comics, news, games, merchandise and consummer savvy. They product share and if crassly raised product compete.
I remember in the early 90's when every one was getting old. People didn't know much about music they stopped going dancing and keeping up with new movie releases. Then they bought computers. By the zeros my friends were all hip again! They knew who the new bands were, who cool actors were. Two things happened to provide this sudden knowledge of contemporary culture. They got the internet and their kids became teens.
I was never a really cool person, but I was just funny enough that cool people liked to hang out with me. I was just sexy enough to get into clubs and work in bars and I was an artist, so that kind of helped get cool friends. My edginess is from nature: camping in Montana, boating in the Pacific Northwest. Not exactly urban-hip currency. I have almost always journeyed through many contemporary extreme experiences by the grace of my friends who had way more guts than me. They made me try edgy make up, dragged me to speakeasys, shared recollections of their herb and drug experiments and friends at Triumf, a particle accelerator, turned me onto electronic mail 20 years before anybody had home service. And the best? Friends turned me onto all kinds of edgy literature...where the extreme "briefing system" really goes for the gusto. William Burroughs, Melville, McCarthy, Cathy Acker, Neal Stephansen, Bataille, Di Lillo, Dickens.
The most efficent and speedy "briefing system for contemporary culture" is very organic and right in front of us. It is to be found in blogs, hunter and gatherers and young people...if we dare to listen to each other and still go out dancing.
The customer that would need McCracken's briefing system would be the customer who might least transform by its value. There are few minds more fucked up than one that isn't open to new ideas and letting go of their own egos and the tyranny of believing they know how the entire world should live.
If listening and spending time with young people can help older people stay young and informed is there nothing that older people can teach young people?
Could this be an exchange?
I find myself yet again with questions? What exactly is cool and good to know about? What insight is the most important insight to share?
It is the communial currency that improves our quality of life. We are addicted to American Idol for our vote in the rags to riches Broadway musical soap opera result. We all want a voice.
And the only way we know we ever have a voice is when we have the validation of someone else in our life witnessing our passions. We share information about the things that represent our own strugggling souls. It might be clothing, it might be music, it might be homehardware, it might be picking the winner of a singing contest on tv.
Being informed is more important than having discerning taste. Perhaps being informed is the new high brow? It doesn't matter if air conditioners are bad for the environment, it is much more important that in your cooled down house you can tell your neighbour all the latest studies on air conditioners and the environment. Every body can tell you exactly the pros and cons of their behaviour, but they are still badly behaving.
I know American Idol sucks. I hate the style of singing, I prefer natural voices like Chris Cornell and Busta Ryhmes, but I can tell you all about each American idol performer and who is going to win. That currency might help me in some social situation.
Contemporary culture is breathing recycled ideas, air and entertainment.
If kids can help old people find their objects of passion shouldn't old people remind kids that passion can not be lived though objects or products or celebrities?
Isn't the most ultimate briefing system an ethical quest?
Contemporary cultures live in Plato's cave. How can we brief them to get outside?
Don't be afraid...
We can still listen to Band of Horses and Bound Stems with our Guess cork heeled platforms outside the cave.