A Manifesto by Grenzfurthner
and thoughts advance or grow out from the middle, and that's where you
have to get to work, that's where everything unfolds.
("On Leibnitz", Gilles Deleuze)
A specific use is
never inherent to an object, even though technical demagogues like to
claim that it is (cf. the term "self-explanatory" and the term
"archeological find"). Instead, the use is concatenated with
the object through definition ("instructions for use"). Turning
an object against the use inscribed in it (as sociolect of the world of
things) means probing its possibilities. Indeed, I would like to pound
in a nail with a power drill, but at the moment the fear of freedom and
fear of responsibility predominate ...
Why do I write this?
... I came across a book. "Tales from the Tech Line". The subtitle
identified it as "Hilarious Strange-But-True Stories from the Computer
Industry's Technical Support Hotlines" (Berkeley Books, NY).
In it there are stories about people who ask in software shops about "Word
for Gameboy". Or people who think their Netscape beta version doesn't
work because they have a VHS computer. Or those who evacuate their house
because of an Apple error message with the bomb icon. Or those who think
the mouse is a foot pedal. Or those who punch holes into their diskettes
to put them in a binder – or simply think that the CD-ROM drive
is a coffee cup holder.
Tech: All right. Now
I'd like you to quit any programs you're running, and close any windows
you've got open.
Caller: Well, OK ... There are only two windows here in the basement,
and they're both already closed.
Tech: No, no – the windows on your screen ...
One might think this
is poking fun at others. That probably was roughly the intention of the
publishers as well – a few laughs at someone else's expense. A baleful
grin for the woefully stupid. Taking "delight" in the ignorance
of those not in the know, the smugly esoteric giggle of the cognoscenti.
It is a joke collection for the happy "winners" of the digital
two-class society. "Get wired or you are toast." Even the field
of humor appears to be trimmed to productivity.
But wait! Let's change the reading! These Luddites(*) of inability are
the saving clog in the cogs of the machinery of progress; the human factor
in the simple-mindedness of the programmers of our future. Inability is
glorious, unknowing is a virtually miraculous deceleration, a sneer at
the high-speed processes of our capitalist-technological world. Oh dear,
dear people! Honorable failures! The clicking of your keyboards is the
erosive crank of the anthropophagous meat grinder that your doing wears
out. Your "approach" – the way you use your computer –
makes corporate bosses cry and sublimates capitalism with the procession
of GRAND EMOTIONS into top management.
The information age is an age of permanently getting stuck. Greater and
greater speed is demanded. New software, new hardware, new structures,
new cultural techniques. Life-long learning? Yes. But the company can't
fire the secretary every six months, just because she can't cope with
the new version of Excel. They can count their keystrokes, measure their
productivity ... but! They will never be able to sanction their inability!
NEVER! Because that is immanent.
The Peter Principle has to be applied to humanity as a whole, too: one
rises higher and higher in the hierarchy of life - until one reaches a
point where one will no longer be promoted, because one is simply too
incapable for a new climb. One has reached the level of incompetence,
where one will ultimately perish miserably. Nothing other than a conspiracy
of ignorance, both natural and artificially and artfully cultivated, can
save us from the last step into a world that we no longer understand,
because it couldn't care less about us. Endless possibilities for failure
await us. These people cannot be laughed; on the contrary: these stories
should be read as a eulogy in honor of dissidence:
The staff member who complains about the fragility of the extendable coffee
cup holder "24x" on his PC is the fevered nightmare of the manual
author thinking he has almost reached a didactic breakthrough. And just
imagine the moment of epistemological panic, in which his boss' world
collapses, as he is forced to recognize that it would have been better
to spend the money for developing his CD-ROM drive on a pleasant celebration
with friends, because his system, disastrously determined in principal
and transbiologically by human consciousness, CANNOT be perceived in the
interpretation provided for it. His life work is a coffee cup holder,
and he expires in mental derangement. And his company with him.
Someone I know recently
defined a personally spoken sample as the standard error sound in WinNT
with the text "Just piss off". Although this is hardly congenial
and certainly irritating after some time, it is more than apt. So be it:
go forth and make mistakes - small ones and big, nice ones and stupid,
trivial and catastrophic. And while we are at it: be sure to watch your
(*) Erudite annotation:
the English Luddites and German machine wreckers of the 19th century defended
themselves against new machines in the textile industry, which impinged
on their work, wages or status.