“Boats for difficult times” on Medium

I’d like to encourage you to take a look at a new venue for this publication on Medium:

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I’ve posted a new essay, Sailing On.

I’m experimenting with whether Medium can provide a more cohesive and still flexible platform for my various interests.

This WordPress sites will continue to act as an archive.

Take a look around my Medium presence and feel free to let me know what you think!

Medium is different from traditional websites like this one. On Medium a writer lives and dies by the number of recommendations they attract. It’s how a post ‘s ranking is measured. It controls how easy it is for new readers to find a writer on their feeds. While on WordPress a “Like” or a start-rating is no more than a simple sign of how someone reacts to a piece; the number of page views drives rankings; on Medium it’s really important to click on that little heart. So, if you don’t feel your time spent reading’s been wasted, help me find new readers by recommending!

 

 

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4 thoughts on ““Boats for difficult times” on Medium

  1. I agree with you on this as a worthwhile ideal. I am not saying anything new here, but I think we live in a time when sources of factual information are treated with so much distrust that it undermines the ability to have well reasoned dialogue.

    Most of us grew up believing in scientific method as a reliable source of knowledge. We believed that knowledgeable and intelligent people formulated theorems, and devised experiments to substantiate or refute those theorems. While few of us are capable of producing new theorems of our own, or have performed the experiments that confirm other people’s theorems, we as a society, none the less, have traditionally looked at the accepted theories and laws based on scientific method as knowledge.

    Our ideals about a free press assumes that reporters in their investigation gather information, create hypotheses based on that information, and seek substantiating data, and only then present that data in an intellectually honest manner.

    But that belief in scientific method does require us to place our faith in science as way towards truth. But in a world flooded with supposed information sources at our literal finger tips, instead of a more ideal flow of knowledge, we have achieved a divisive deluge of babel. With the vast electronic flow of information and misinformation that is available, it is harder for individuals to obtain reliable knowledge with much greater difficulty in finding an illuminated path through the competing spectrum of the total falsehood, the almost truth and the actually factual.

    Complicating the search for accurate information is the way that this spectrum of the fact, almost truth, and total fiction is presented as if all are equally valid in their sourcing; leaving carefully researched and presented factual information being treated by many as having an equivalence to the totally fabricated or purposefully misdirected.

    And in that swamp, all to often an individual’s search for high ground is filtered through their own biases, prejudices, and fears, with reliance only on those sources which reinforce previously held positions. And when even direct observation is ignored, it is easy for shaky ground to be seen as being as solid as high ground.

    In the absence of a agreed upon methods of obtaining knowledge, the process of learning becomes a matter of faith, rather than of a “sharing of gifts.” The process of “collaboration; each, both, teaching and learning, in the mutual reciprocity of dialogue.” is then eroded by differences in the articles of faith of the individuals such that meaningful, productive and civil discourse and mutual understanding becomes nearly impossible.

    In productive discourse it is necessary to agree at least on the givens, and in doing so then be able to reasonably explore the differences in conclusions. In the obfuscation of misinformation, it seems like there cannot even be an agreement on the givens.

    In a society with tools available that are so capable of producing shared wisdom and knowledge, I fear that we are becoming a people who prefer to shun those virtues, and instead prefer to slip into camps occupied by irreconcilable ignorance.

    1. Jeff,

      Thank you for responding.

      You’ve laid out the symptoms of the corruption of the foundations for belief we’re living through.

      I’ve found that it takes a surprising amount of time and effort when entering into any true dialogue to discover and define our assumptions, beliefs, and even what we mean by the terms we use. This is true for exactly this reason you point out, “…that meaningful, productive and civil discourse and mutual understanding becomes nearly impossible.” In the light of the corruption and collapse of the foundations of our expected forms of discourse.

      This is yet another example of the way in which we discount actual difficulties while overestimating the effectiveness of our actions. Believing that it is possible to change minds, solve problems, save the world, we rush into means-justified-by-our-ends actions that inevitably blow-back in our faces. We discount these actual results as “unintended consequences” and rush back in to do the same thing again. This is the definition of insanity.

      Unless we slow down and lose the extreme hubris embedded within our failed modes of thinking/feeling/acting we will not be able to do anything beyond playing our own parts in the general catabolic collapse. The only way we can access creative – not “solutions” they are an illusion, but responses – is to dig deeper and explore how our modes of thinking have led us astray and discover how we can enter into direct relationships with, not just truth, but everything.

      The failures of our institutions, their utter corruption, is not the cause of our predicament. They are symptoms. The root of our predicament is in the failures of our understandings of how the world works and the part our modes of thinking/feeling/acting participate in the worlds we find ourselves inhabiting.

      For a clear synopsis of the problems I’m alluding to look here: The order of Thought. My friend Peter Kajtar is “writing the book” on the subject!

      As part of this migration onto Medium I hope to be able to address these questions more directly. Medium also offers more organic modes for feedback and interaction between readers and writers. I urge you, and anyone reading this, to give it a chance. There are a few simple tools available. Beyond writing a comment you can highlight a word or a passage, and comment on it or Tweet the result. This provides a finer-grained interaction. I also find the way all of someone’s comments, posts, and highlights are then available to be viewed as a whole or responded to in detail.

      No online medium is free of problems, but this does seem to provide for a more nuanced and connected back-and-forth between readers and writers and writers and other writers.

      We need to move beyond surprise and frustration at how our accustomed expectations are not being met. “…meaningful, productive and civil discourse and mutual understanding” can only be achieved if we take responsibility for our parts within a discourse instead of continuing to rely on a corrupt model where we are coerced into consuming opinions and furthering artificial divisions.

      It should be clear at this point that all sides within the current battles for control and exploitation benefit from deepening our sense of isolation and our dread that we are trapped within our proliferating divisions and “identities.”

      The only way to counter this is to take our attention elsewhere. To develop our own lines of communication and discover our own compasses for navigating uncertainty.

      From My Medium Profile you can find and explore the various publications I’ve started. My intention is to deepen and broaden an inquiry into the various aspects of our predicament and ways to find creative responses. I also hope that using the advantages Medium offers for interaction and ease of guest-authorship to evolve these publications into conversations and instead of just punctuated monologues.

      I hope you’ll join me!

      Tony

  2. The ability to respond to a paragraph, sentence, line, word, letter is interesting! In other respects, I’m not sure how Medium is different. WordPress has become my tool of choice for web publishing because of the flexibility that an open-source environment gives me — and the decent hope of some longevity, as other closed-source or commercial platforms come, go, are bought out by Facebook and Google etc. This summer I’ll be teaching some graduate students about digital publishing under the theme of “a domain of one’s own” (cf. Jim Groom of Reclaim Hosting) to emphasize the agency, design, and responsibility one might want to exercise at every level of writing/publishing. In this context, we’ll be learning how to maintain one’s own web domain and the mix of software applications, such as WordPress, that meet the needs of our projects. WordPress itself is very flexible “if” you move away from the free or hosted version at WordPress.com. But then, as careful as we may be about choosing our tools, it’s what you plan to do with it and how it’s executed that matters.

    1. KW,

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve been with WordPress since I found out about it. So much better than Blogger!

      I’m giving Medium a serious try because of the limited interaction I’ve found on WordPress. Not saying it’s WordPress’ fault. I’m hoping Medium’s interface will lead to more interactions and help me reach a wider field of readers.

      We have so much personal agency and freedom to publish what we want. The trouble is that so many others feel the same. We are flooded with what the owners of the web call “content” and it’s very difficult to break through.

      Add to this that most of what I’m writing about has an extremely narrow appeal….

      In the end, what matters most is the writing itself….

      Good luck with your course!

      Tony

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