Reading "The Shallows:" Virality



Previously I wrote about the mens nova, the new mind, and how, for some it is being programmed and encouraged by our peers and our workplace. It would seem that the mens nova should be localized among certain work disciplines or economically advantageous countries and age groups.

But it is not. As the elder generation dies away, the population will come to be dominated by those who understand and take as granted the mens nova. Further, the older and less digitally entrenched are not immune. Parents will be seduced by text messages, smaller, more frequent, offering status insights on a faster basis. Grandparents will embrace the iMac and a lighter digital bombardment as their teachers, the young, slowly show them how to scale emotional payoff (pictures, video, Skype) in real-time.

Furthermore, markets will demand growth as they always do. Capitalism demands that new consumers be found: the old, the young, the blind, the poor. To convert eyes and clicks into revenue, interfaces will be made more simple, arguments will be made more simple, and complexity will diminish even as social norms and distraction alerts increase their presence.

Again, it is not just the new that will conform to the mens nova. Old media will also put on new personae to fit into the expectations of the mens nova patterned readership. CNN’s news site is now a pale simulacrum of a news site. Fox news’ site blares and blasts with the subtlety of UK’s “The Sun.” But that’s not surprising, they’re owned by the same corporation. Short, contextless atoms of information float in a sea of pictures and sixty-four point headings. This is the world of Internet news and it is dumb, dumb, dumb.

The virus has us already. Barring shortage in materials or energy, we have no choice but await the new mind’s complete infiltration and dominance. What sort of animal is being created? What sort of political being is this? If we can’t make it through a paragraph of an intelligently-written newspaper, how can we be a people of critical thought?


It’s not unreasonable here to let your mind wander freely and start to come to scary conspiracy-theory grade conclusions. I believe it’s worth getting them on the table:

  • The Man™ designed the Web as a Huxleyan weapon of mass distraction. We won’t rebel not because we don’t care, but because there’s so much more noise everywhere else
  • The Man™ / Space aliens are patterning our brains (Snow Crash or Macroscope style) to receive an imprinted thought virus
  • The Man™ and other plutocratic institutions designed the Internet to amuse plebes whilst they plan a separate tier of actual knowledge and wealth creation information network (Internet 2, or “books,” which will fly under the radar as and @justinbieber absorb larger slices of the attention pie)

None of these, formerly the realm of science fiction are inconceivable. Perhaps the greatest contribution of “The Matrix” cycle was to suggest that such a thing was possible and we should be wary of, wait, what just happened on Twitter? Does even the far-fetched nulltopia of “The Matrix” even seem impossible anymore? Or does it just seem to be a higher definition experience than what we currently mediate?