Tag Archives: consensus

Manufacturing Taste

In a comment to my rant on naysaying, Carl Dyke posted the following link (to a Josh Ellis piece from 2003):

Mindjack – Taste Tribes

The piece itself is rather unremarkable. Although, it does contain comments about a few things which became important topics in the meantime such as recommendation systems and the importance of music listeners for individual artists. I’m not too concerned about the piece and I realize it’s “nothing new.” It mostly made me think about a number of things about which I’ve been meaning to blog.

I could react to the use of the term “tribe.” And there are obvious things to say in terms of social groups (family resemblance, community of experience, community of practice, communitas, homogamy, in-group knowledge, social network analysis, etc.).

But I guess my take is at the same time more personal and more cultural.

Contrary to what my Facebook profile may lead some people to believe, I am not a fan of anything or anyone. I’m not saying that I don’t like things or people. I do. In fact, I pretty much like everyone. But fandom isn’t my thing. Neither is fanboyism. So I don’t relate so well to Ellis’s description of networks based on appreciation of a band. Sure, in the past, I’ve participated in similar groups, such as online discussions about one of my favorite tv shows (which still has a fairly active online fanbase). And I did join several Facebook groups about things or people I like. But my personal attitude makes me react rather negatively to fanclubs and the kind of “taste-based community” Ellis so regrettably called “taste tribes.”

Nobody’s fault but my own. I just feel these groups tend to be too restrictive, too inward-looking and, well, too opinion-based.

I’m too much of a social butterfly to spend much time in any one of these groups. My engagement to a group of people can run deeply and my allegiance and faithfulness are sometimes rather strong. But I don’t like to restrict myself to certain groups.

Maybe I’m an “alpha socialiser” after all.

The cultural dimension also seems quite important to me, but it’s harder to explain without giving off the wrong signals. Not only do I react to what I perceive to be abuses of “pop culture references” (in part because I find them exclusionary), but I perceive a kind of culturally significant attachment to individual “cultural items” (“media,” as Ellis seems to call them) in “English-speaking North American popular culture.” I’m not saying that this tendency doesn’t exist in any other context. In fact, it’s likely a dimension of any “popular culture.” But this tendency is quite foreign to me. The fact that I conceive of myself as an outside observer to popular culture makes me associate the tendency with the common habits shared by a group I’m not a member of.

I’m sure I’ll post again about this. But my guess is that somewhat shorter blog entries encourage more discussion. Given the increasing number of comments I’m getting, it might be cool to tap my readership’s insight a bit more. One thing I’ve often noticed is that my more knee-jerk posts are often more effective.

So here goes.


To Live By

  • Don’t get mad. Get a clue.
  • Respect is not earned. It’s all due.
  • People aren’t what you think they are.
  • Protestant work ethic? Catholic play ethic. Buddhist life ethic.

Tags: , , , , , ,


NYT Mindset, Nationalism, Wars

On a recent episode of his Radio Open Source podcast, Christopher Lydon admits that the fact that the recent Israeli attack came between issues of the New York Times had an impact on his ability to reflect on the issue.

The episode itself, especially near the end, linked “normalcy” in Israeli society with a culture of consumerism with strong “Western” influences, the notion of a “Free State” (in this case, a free Jewish state), and being too boring for U.S. media. Fascinating. But quite specific. Many people do think through these notions and many of them either read the New York Times themselves or listen intently to those who do.

The notion of sovereignty came regularly in that podcast episode. Israel is a “sovereign state” and is allowed to defend this sovereignty. Interestingly enough, the notion of sovereignty has been a major part of the nationalist discourse in Quebec for a while. In fact, that version of sovereignty is less linked with protecting borders than with building a society on its own terms. Self-determination. Many Quebec sovereignists hope, in fact, for a world without national borders. Hearing comments on Radio Open Source, it seems like many people are still clinging to the existence of “Democratic Nation-States.” Hence the attitude that wars can be won by one of the countries involved.

Ah, well…