Monday, March 9, 2009

An Introduction to the Global Nerding Theory

"While Al Gore trots around the globe talking about chemistry and melting glaciers, Boswell unveils a more subtle planetary trend he calls "Global Nerding". The autistic is being cultivated and favored by the macro economics of the computer industry and results are tangible and devastating. The art of human expression is being limited by the technocracy, not enhanced, as Boswell suggests in his Aesthetic Uncertainty Principle. In the aggregate, the current technology culture is medically incapable of empathy with the consumer and Boswell directly relates that to mindblindness or the single unifying characteristic of all forms of autism."

"High technology has been my Galapagos,” says Boswell.

Simply put, Global Nerding is a planetary trend where mankind willingly or unwittingly adapts to technology rather than demand technology adapt to him. In today’s culture, the nerd is the chief arbiter of taste for the neuro-typical or regular user of technology simply because the nerd both creates the technology and is the first to adopt it. Putting it another way, the nerd is in control of the technology. The macro economics of the high technology industry itself is helping to cultivate these “tech savvy” individuals. Global Nerding is my theory on why technology trends toward being almost unusable and certainly non-intuitive at best. Global Nerding also seeks to explain the planetary effects of nerd culture on language and artistic expression. Global Nerding and The Autistic Planet is my book on this topic. I’m first an artist then a technologist. I’ve spent the last ten years working directly with artists utilizing technology. From that experience I synthesized my theory. I choose to view technology as a tool and not as a religion.

Global Nerding is the force by which social intelligence of the planet is being made extinct or dissipated like the glaciers. That’s fine with me because it’s a continuing source of entertaining new material for my music and films. However, as a user of technology, I demand that it pay more reverential respect for the way I work and think. I believe technology needs to respect everyone in the same way.

My theories on Global Nerding in their most elemental form offer the world an explanation, a medical explanation in fact, of why technology is for the most part non-intuitive and arcane. No one should be surprised, especially those of you who have worked in the high-tech industry.

A simplistic example of a subtle effect of Global Nerding is the advent and instantaneous acceptance of MP3. MP3 is a compression technology developed to overcome a technology limitation: storage and bandwidth. It was happily lapped up by teenage America because it allows people to store their vast libraries and share their music. That’s all good, except the fidelity of MP3 is terrible. We willingly traded convenience for quality. I believe it to be a conditioned mindset that has pushed people to make aesthetic judgments based upon only what the technology will allow. I categorically reject that notion. The neuro-typical user says to himself, “I’ve never been this happy, I have 5,000 of these lo-fi recordings and I can share this amazing art with my pals.” I think the same thing can be said about the PC; it’s slow and cumbersome, and we’re saying, "I love this computer because I only had to reset it once today." We must have a very low opinion of ourselves and the technology if we’re in love with this stuff. These kinds of lowered expectations are an effect of Global Nerding.

I believe the “nerderati” have been deciding what I might like and providing these “frameworks” that I utterly reject. I contend that the nerds cannot empathize with end users so their frameworks are flawed and presumptuous. I don’t need frameworks, my framework is infinity, for my mind. Global Nerding itself is a framework, the nerds creating a utopian society for their own kind. I reject both them and their vision.

I grew up in the boyhood home of Walt Disney in the Midwest (Marceline, MO). Walt is known for a number of things, but his most genius legacy is Disneyland. It is a unique model: you don’t see the technology, it’s under the street. Regular people are above the street enjoying the experience while the technology and the technology culture are completely invisible. I am an advocate of Cloud Computing because it will help usher in a Disney-like view of invisible technology. The complexity will vanish in the cloud just like Walt hiding it below the street in Disneyland. The complexity of the technology will reside server-side and the end user experience will become more immersive and interactive with less technology on the client side.

For more information on Global Nerding And The Autistic Planet, check out the Anderson Vision interview.

- Boswell

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