Listening to John Cage talk about music, sound and silence causes me to think about data. We talk about data in similar terms, we think of it as structured, semi-structured and unstructured.
I don’t need sound to talk to me…
– John Cage
We often talk of trying to capture the intention of a person’s activity on the Network. Google has done this through providing the mechanism through which a question about the location of something is asked. In our age of quantification, it seems rational to dedicate our efforts to locate the consumer’s stated intention to buy. The rational engages the rational in a structured transaction where the best feature/function/price ratio is determined by auction in real time. This is a vision of humanity as a population of buying machines.
There’s a magic trick that’s often used to sell the non-verbal within the corporate environment. A series of visual illusions are displayed to prove the point that each person brings something of themselves to every situation. Usuallly a test is then given— and a person’s set of answers are then mapped to a psychological profile. Colors or archetypes predict what each person might bring to the party. These maps are then provided to make visible the invisible threads running through our everyday interaction. Magic, of course, is entirely rational. Diverting our attention between the Turn and the Prestige is its art.
Image advertising works at a lower level, it creates a personal connection to the economics of a person’s psychological ecosystem. The image asks for completion: I want to be that; I want that social status; I think that’s sexy; I think that’s funny; That thing is practical, like I am; I’m frightened, that thing looks safe. Is it really possible that advertising on the Network could be all ego and no id? Can brands survive as pure feature/function/price sets to be compared in a data matrix?
Crusades are being launched to structure and link all the data on the Network. The age of enlightenment strives toward its completion. And yet, I wonder, as I listen to John Cage talk about the sound of the traffic on 6th Avenue in New York City, how much of what goes on between people works at the level of the rational, unambiguous signal? How much more can we learn about what’s going on right now by listening to the sound of the traffic?
Take a moment, what is the sound of the traffic on the Network from your particular vantage point?