Ian Andrew Bell (
Fri, 13 Mar 1998 11:40:38 -0800

From: "David S. Bennahum" <>
> MEME 4.02 []
> In this issue of MEME:
> T E C H N O R E A L I S M
> Over the past few months, I participated in the creation of a set of
> principles called "technorealism." It's a set of declarations
> meant to go beyond the bi-polar visions of cyber-utopianism and
> neo-Luddism. In another age, this would be considered a manifesto.

So, what happens when the ageing hippies of the Digital
Revolution get even more aged, and *squishy-soft* on the
truths they held so self-evidently dear? Well, all that
cranky libertarianism goes out the window for a start, and
shiny new TECHNOREALISM takes its place. A fine assemblage
of cyberspace's comfortable-shoe-wearing thinkers took to
the soapboxes on Wednesday to announce their
Technorealistic manifesto. Among the new slogans being
chanted on the barricades outside Harvard Business School
was the catchy "Information wants to be protected",,
"Government has an important role to play on the electronic
frontier" and "Are technological changes good or bad?" -
altogether now - "The answer is BOTH!". Interested parties
(who must number at least twenty) looked forward to pitched
street battles between the John Perry Barlite old guard and
the cardigan-wearing shocktroops, but to no avail. For who
were the first to offer their lives for the new crusade?
Why, rumour has it, Wired editor and "hive consciousness"
guru Kevin Kelly, Howard "psychedelic funster" Rheingold
and ... Mr "Cyberspace Declaration of Independence"
himself. So what would happen if they held a war, and every
turned up on the same side?
- "Technorealism is by no means an exclusive club"
- or is there a more... satisfactory explanation?

My reply:

I'm not too sure I haven't seen all of this crap somewhere before..

I doubt there's anything that these people have to say that hasn't already
been done to death, co-opted, and then repeated in keynote addresses to the
attendees of any of the proliferation of useless boondoggle info-tech
conferences held every year. Look at the roster of politicos on the
Technorealist board -- they all have "Wired Magazine" in common. What
exactly is so technocratic or realistic about Wired? They're cheerleaders
for the information carnivores; people who day-to-day labour under the
delusion that the intrinsic forces of a peer-based architecture are
entirely compatible with the good old hard-line, hard-sell, dig at our
pocket change business model.

Pish Tosh.

It's all very well and good to have a poster of Marshall McLuhan on your
bathroom wall, but how many of these people have used his works as anything
but the punchline to a good sales pitch? Personally, I would suspect that
Dr. M would abhore the way his words have been commodified and
recontextualized, exactly as he anticipated happening to those of others,
to effectively sell a "revolution" which is not a revolution at all; but a
quiet changing of the guard.

Technorealists are nothing more than a small but vociferous cluster of your
typical corporate spoon-fed automatons, seeking to establish THEMSELVES,
not their ideas, as the top tier in the knowledge capital food chain. They
are grasping desparately for credibility by swimming with the tide in the
river of modern industro-capitalist thinking.

They'll become contributors to just the kind of pseudo-intellectual ra-ra
hype machine that's kept the wondrous benefits of globalization and
information economies solidly at the forefront of the western psyche.
They'll be championing the new information society on Larry King while
East-Asian workers sleep in their own piss and toil in factories for cents
a day to create advanced, physiologically perfect, performance-enhancing
running shoes for our neverending onslaught of slacker teens whose primary
concern is their current high score on Diablo and the size of Lara Croft's
perfect, digitally rendered tits.

IN OTHER WORDS, these guys are wanks. And anyone who hasn't been
indoctrinated into the pseudo-hippie cyber elite, but has a relatively
fluid brain on their shoulders can effortlessly dance ethical and
intellectual circles around them. The problem is that because of the
palateability of their ideas THEY have access to the control points in the
mass media. If they had any objective that fell somewhere short of
personal promotion we'd have seen a much more subdued and less video-bite
and data-byte friendly approach to the distribution of their meme (sic).

As it is, let's just resign ourselves to the fact that we have heralded the
arrival of a whole new generation of apologists for the information society
and batten the hatches for a whole new bible, filled to the brimming with
"cyber-" and "digi-" based buzzwords. And when Rheingold does his next
Kinko's commercial let's just see if the recycling-box signifiers of
new-age political correctness fulfill the moral checklist that's neatly
defined and laid out in glorious HTML for us by the Technorealists.

New Boss... same as the Old Boss.


Ian Andrew Bell
BC TEL Interactive (604) 482-5708
"Make it idiot proof and someone will make a better idiot."