Wednesday, August 1, 2007

From Infantilism to Arrogance

Having had my rant about the infantilism of IT professionals, I discovered another perspective in Eliot Weinberger's New York Review piece on the (final?) collection of essays by Susan Sontag, At the Same Time: Essays & Speeches. Weinberger's characterization of Sontag invokes "the old joke about the Oxford don" who "knew everything, and nothing about everything else." This is a good way to describe that narrowness of the IT perspective that is so concentrated on the "everything" of the objective world that its practitioners know nothing about the "everything else" of the subjective and social worlds. The result is that the sort of arrogance that has always been associated with the most scholarly of scholars has been inherited by an entire professional class that almost takes pride in ignoring the day-to-day realities of the clients who are supposed to be beneficiaries (not unlike the arrogance of power that we tend to associate with all three branches of our Federal government). As is the case with the Oxford don, the IT professionals neither recognize nor care to recognize that "everything else" within their sphere of consciousness; and, unfortunately, the current market for (addiction to?) IT products tends to reinforce such sociopathic behavior. The consequence is that day-to-day life, itself, may begin to "phase out" its subjective and social elements, following the path of the objectification of the subject (reinforced by that new marketing strategy of subjectifying the object) to an ugly conclusion where all of us will experience that same dispassionate neglect that we have already seen meted out to the victims of Katrina.

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