Deutsche Version

minus 24x
A Manifesto by Grenzfurthner

Things 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?
Well ...
... 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.

An excerpt:

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 speellling.

(*) 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.

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