“I’m all lost in the supermarket…”
In the beginning there was conversation, musings, the exchange of local words. A good story might be gathered in the morning and roasted at fireside talks over many evenings.
Words could be risky, we learned, but also nutritious, mind-blowing, and profitable. So people made petroglyphs, cuneiform clay tablets, papyrus scrolls, telegraph cables, CB radios, and personal computers. Then with smart phones and other devices we could click around the digital hive, quaff quick messages and targeted ads, tell friends which memes we like most.
Thus there was no real morning and there was no real evening, just one virtual day. Users looked at all the new apps and links and said “eew!” or “whatev” or “kewl”.
Alpha text-slingers inform me that “kewl” is no longer cool, btw. “Lol” now means “little old lady”. Funny is “ha!,” funnier is “haha!,” very funny is “hahaha!.” Nothing in this wide world is “hahahaha!,” according to in-the-know dudes.
So what’s the next big code in human communication? What new nerd cereal will feed our collective chatter, once Facebook is as memorable as Myspace, and Twitter becomes a pile of binary bird-bones?
For help in answering these questions I went to Rabbi Bob (Bob Goldberg), one of the nerdiest nerds I know. He’s very enthusiastic about electronic gadgets, possibly because of childhood exposure to Crazy Eddie commercials. He also exudes a primal passion for folk culture, as demonstrated by his programming on KMUN.
Bob’s geeky grassroots ethos made him a great guy to help re-launch the Upper Left Edge. Many local residents loved the little monthly paper connecting writers and readers with our coast community. We’ve revived upperleftedge.com as a website for homegrown conversation, a place to re-root social media in the local muse.
Much of today’s online experience feels like fast food. Throughout the virtual day people screen messages at drive-through windows, big websites sponsored by big corporate chains that want us to think like big chain consumers. Public discourse is reduced to a kind of endless speed dating. We don’t pause to get to know what’s inside the packaging. No time-outs from the popularity contest to explore who we really are.
Hopefully we’re at the same tipping point with media that we were with farmers markets a few years ago. When localized, the web enables writers and readers to engage in direct exchange. It compliments our real interactions, helps us share gifts of creative produce with the village.
The ineffable “aha!” comes when I bite into a tasty comment following a fresh local post. Makes me hungry for more.
– This post also appears in the Spring 2014 edition of The Current, a quarterly publication of KMUN.