Can You Imagine? A Library of Possibilities for Reimagining the Web by Sublime
Rating: ★ ★
I finished reading this recent zine from Sari Azout and Sublime last night and I’m torn. At times I put it down excited, at others I put it down depressed and I almost put it down out of disgust.
The first third of the book bored and drained me. Profiles of influencers and quips about how hard it is to post cheap content on social media or read the crap that other people post. I literally wrote “This shit is depressing” in the margin of a page.
The middle third energized me. I highlighted several passages and made notes to got research name-drops of places online. It gave me at least a couple good ideas of how I should be using my own online places to improve my thinking and my connection with others (other people, other online places). It promoted the communal aspect of artistic expression, a socialist utopian sketch of how groups of people could be operating online, and the self-realization that comes from building worlds in the open web.
I almost didn’t finish the last third because it was so menacing. It was a series of ads for online apps disguised as advice and Venture capitalist self-aggrandizement. I wrote “WTF??” multiple times in the margins and I had to go back and re-read some of the middle sections to make sure I wasn’t mis-remembering that yes, this same pro-capitalism section telling the reader to enforce artificial scarcity and hustle to rise above the algorithm was printed in the same zine (by the same people?). It felt incongruous. It felt like a trap.
This zine definitely got a reaction out of me! It made me think - both of self-empowerment and in bewilderment. Maybe it’s a good piece just because I can’t get it out of my head this morning.Josh Beckman
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