The 21st Century's Crisis: Standardization

Question: Is the proliferation of digital media threatening \r\nindividuality?
DJ Spooky: \r\nYeah, I mean I think we’re really the crisis of 21st century culture is\r\nstandardization.  On one hand that’s a crisis precisely because it\r\nreally flatlines and just deadens a lot of amazing stuff. But on the\r\nother hand as the next couple of years kick in you’re going to be\r\nseeing what I like to call mass customization, where everyone can have\r\nyou know their phone or their iPad or whatever—but they’re going to\r\npull it into their own orbit in their own way. And they’re pulling\r\nmaterial that is out there in the world as their own vocabulary.  I\r\ndidn’t make this phone, you know, but I’ve customized and transformed\r\nit. So I’m always intrigued with saying that nothing stays the same in\r\nthis era.  In the 20th century, you know, someone like, you know, Ford\r\nwould say you know what, you can have any color car you want as long as\r\nit’s black, you know. And they had the whole sense of humor about the\r\nproduction line all making the Model T Ford car there was the exact\r\nsame machine rolling off the line.  Now that was amazing because it was\r\nhigh-tech at that time, but for the 21st century where we can just\r\nretrofit and reboot anything, why stick to one thing?  I mean just\r\nalways transform and change everything.  That’s the DJ model as\r\nwell.  So by customizing and transforming it adds new life to I think\r\nthe way we function right now.  When I say the way we function I’m\r\ntalking about going down the street, walking around... everyone\r\nhas a little computer, which is essentially is a cell phone.  Most\r\npeople, I’m sorry.  There is a class division here, but even in\r\neconomically, you know, low income and so on most people have some kind\r\nof communications device. And I think it’s transformed the way the world\r\nworks right now and this is just the beginning. So within the next five\r\nto seven years you’ll be seeing probably a massive revolution in\r\ngetting rid of sameness and just having this wildly creative and\r\ninventive era.

Recorded on April 8, 2010

Standardized technology "deadens a lot of amazing stuff," but it also allows people to customize their sensory landscape in new ways.

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