At Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law suggested that we all give to charity instead of giving to one another. Some of us will use the new philanthropic technologies to do this: Donors Choose.com or one of the micro credit loaning sites.
What has happened here? Gift giving in North America is becoming more general and philanthropy elsewhere is becoming more specific. What used to be really vague is now particular. What used to be really particular is now quite vague. We have relocated the particular, sent it off shore.
Yesterday, I heard about something called micro arbitrage. This is investment activity by people who detect a stock on the upswing. They buy this stock and hold it for… a couple of seconds. (That’s what the … signifies in this case.) For them day trading is like an ice age. They make tiny fractions of time pay handsomely and they do.
We have seen other instances of this hyper differentiation. The death of mass culture and the rise of plenitude makes for lots of little social and cultural distinctions. The possibility of niche marketing does something like the same. Customization everywhere means that we now make distinctions where before we could or would not. Some part of the world, the local world, is parsing ever more finely. Blogging has replaced 10,000 journalists with 1,000,000 journalists.
This is a kind of inversion. At the top end of things, globalization collapses differences, making countries once very different from one another more and more alike. And the bottom, finer distinctions become ever finer.
I am not sure I am ready for this. I am still working on the old typologies, trying to master the old architectures of knowledge. If what we are saying is that we now will generalize where once we were particular and particularize where once we were general, well, I am not sure I’m following you.
Wikipedia on microcredit here.