Response #5- Mumford & Castells

Castells- Occupy Wall Street

Literally

This reading covers the birth and progression of the occupy wall street movement. It notes several key factors in the formation and evolution of the movement as well as the fundamentals that allowed it to survive as long as it did. With the collapse of the financial market in 2008 and many people feeling the wrath of the government saving finance to “save peoples lives: (Castells 157) aggravation grew. In July of 2011 the call to action came to occupy wall street, the birth of the #occupywallstreet movement online. Throughout the movement its primary functions were online, meetings, movements and ideas were shared on forums like twitter and tumblr. They had several ideals that were evident though the principal being the system needed to change, it was broken. They aimed to separate the the power of money or corporations from politics. Stating on page 160 “…democracy not corporatocracy, we’re doomed without it”. The date they choose to invade wall street was symbolic of the signing of the constitution though few realize the date, this aimed to truly restore democracy to america. The internet greatly furnished the occupiers success in getting their messages across, in governing their camps and meetings, all though without a designated leader. They aimed to remain leaderless to enhance their points on the current government. Occupy wall street was able to ” transcend time and space” because if its social media firestorm, which even after the camps had been vacated continue on online.

Intellectually

This read makes me think about the things i’ve learned about the financial crisis both before and after it occurred. In 2008 I was 18 and grossly unaware of the logistics of  home loans, banking and corporate control. I just merely assumed you borrowed the money and payed it back, i had no idea about the commissions bankers made and their negligence when coming to giving out loans. After taking an economics course in college i learned about the Glass- Stegal act and various other attempts at holding investors accountable for their actions. Knowing that big business the Ford and GMC were bailed out even after they were clearly dead wrong was a big red sign that corporations steered the green river of america. Companies like Freddy and Fanny that didn’t do their ethical duties when buying and selling off debts and putting consumers at risk were given a light slap on the wrist. Unemployments rates soared and rather than fix the problem they put bandaids on it, extending the time you could be on unemployment instead of fixing the corporations that could employ you.

Emotionally

This reading makes me feel a variety of things, confusion, anxiety and frustration. Confusion because how could we turn a blind eye to this for so long, how could we over exert a system that wouldn’t be able to sustain our greed at the going rate. Anxiety because as I enter the working world more and more and see the corruption and dishonesty that still exist i know its only a matter of time before this crisis occurs again, only worse. Frustration because so many people have the means to stop this, the conscience to end the corruption but don’t because they fear the claw of the “vending machine” that is america. But in the end it makes me understand the flaws of humanity there is no way to appease every bleeding heart.

Mumford- Automation of Knowledge

Literally

Mumford is exploring the progression and emergence of automated knowledge, noting at one time the ability to rapidly produce knowledge was a fairy tale. On page 262 he goes into the exploration of history and how it seems to sometimes repeat or reinvent itself in modern day, but is perplexed or surprised he can’t find a link between the current acceleration towards automation and that of the Pyramid Age. Mumford claims there is a catch to the automation was sought after and praised so highly and that people often don’t care or acknowledge it until it threatens our jobs or livelihood. Its a double edge sword in the sense that we look for things to become automated and less work on humans by delegating a machine to the job but become concerned when machines replace human workers. “Organic and human modes of behavior are infinitely more complex than automatic systems..” (mumford 263) reinforces this idea that we can teach machines to do for us but not think for us even though we have come to regard automation as the climax of human culture. Large scale automation has been on the rise for the last century but Mumford points out that if we continue on this premise and current methods of doing things that we will eventually break down and fall apart. Mechanical success will eventually defeat us and we need to preserve human autonomy.

Intellectually 

Mumford’s piece makes me think of the connects to Neil Postman and his essay on The surrender of culture to technology. Both authors go through the timeline of technology in society and the automation of our world. Postman talks about Ford and his factory approach to car making and Mumford talks about our eduction system and the scientific journal. Both are critical factors in our lives today, cars and the expansion and sharing of knowledge. The corporation documentary also in a way related to this because there we see how much we rely on the corporate progression , making and speeding up the production of goods. All of the things we rely on and essentially need to function are automated, by 2017 80% of bank transactions will become automated.

Emotionally

This subject amazes me because until the data or the questions is posed do we really think about any of these things? When was the last time you sat back and said wow my life is more than 60% automated. My textbooks, my phone bill, my medical records are all automated, online, no human interaction to get any of them. When i call customer service, automated, send a company an email the first response is an automated message. This obviously cuts costs and speeds up the world but at what cost, there are very few mom and pop shops left we don’t need quality anymore because we have quantity. Something breaks you get a new one you don’t seek a remedy for whats broken. This new age of technology is fascinating but is it practical for the future.

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