A while ago now, Wired magazine ran
a short article hazarding that the modern perception of culture is not so much
of some sense of "real" old-fashioned culture as of the rate at which "real"
culture changes. People are becoming more interested in something rather
like the mathematical derivative of culture than in culture itself. Now
this is a pretty silly idea but an appealing meme. Consider "real" culture as a function f of time,
and "perceived" (hip) culture, df/dt, as another function g.
Now imagine you want to know how trendy you are. You're probably pretty hip if you're close to the centre of the new accelerated culture. You can work out the centre of mass of the body generated by the new culture g, and thus how
far you are from it (not to mention things like its moment of inertia
about you) by integrating g. But the integral of g is by
definition f, plus or minus some constant. So you can work out your
fashionability by reference only to f. The conclusion is obvious and worrying. Your trendiness is only dependent on the static, old-fashioned culture. That means art and literature and things. The new accelerated culture is completely irrelevant. Infoculture theorists are quaking in their boots. 1995
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