Inverting order?

French_garden_i 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 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.

3 thoughts on “Inverting order?

  1. jkh

    inverted order? sure. – in all small and personal things you can zoom in as far as you like. … the – for you – perfect apple (meaning the fruit), the – for you – perfect shoe, the – for you – perfect shirt… but on a larger (than one) scale these perferences lose their social significance.
    when idenity used to be defined by what you are not – by drwaing the distinction – these distinctions tend to lose their significance on a social level simply because there are an infinitate number of them and simply because they only relfect your personal and very subjective perspective (and the personal and very subjective orientation of others).
    so as the individual world of personal choice and experience gets extremely deep, the social world gets extremely flat at the same time.
    that is the catch22 of the experience society. the paradigm of experience drives you to look for the absolute – the authentic. but where everything boils down to mere personal choice the absolute experience – the “THAT IS NOT ME – THIS IS ME” has left our world. – …. americans though can consider themselves lucky to have such a polarising president. – at least the strangely one-dimensional character of this man provides you with some kind of outside orientation.

  2. jkh

    so one can also conclude that authenticity has left the social stage.
    evidence for this you can find in the marketing of luxury fashion brands for example. nowadays you find less emphasis being put on creating brand experiences but much more on the creation of product experiences. the ‘label’ steps back in favour of artisan qualities, refined craftsmanship, cut, silhouette, and exquisite materials.
    we can see a shift from social experience towards personal experience also because the creation of identity built on external attributes – and on external communication – is significantly losing ground.

  3. jkh

    and – coming back to your ‘gift-giving’ observation. – it can also be that one senses that the person next to you is a completely different cosmos all-together.. – not so that is if she/he is a card carrying member of the nra… in that case i guess you are pretty safe in knowing what can make this person happy

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