Posting to Autocat
On 7/7/2014 6:33 PM, John Gordon Marr wrote:
Think about it.
What “the public” thinks is not and has never been relevant, because “the public” does not exist as a cohesive group. Now, if you break the “public” concept up into 2 groups, exceptionally powerless and exceptionally self-obsessed, you come up with a new question– who has the most influence over us and what can we do about it other than submit to “public” pressure?
Say all you want about grubby clothing, but I continue to fear and distrust “suits” and the “values” they represent. If you want the respect of the “people” who can’t afford the “suits”, then scrap material conformity in favor of empathy.
People” are also not a cohesive group. We attribute too much to the loudest and most unruly “people” fronting the crowds and demanding power and conformity.
Any of “us” who cannot fathom the need to be portrayed as defenders of freedom of information and “catalogers” (collators) improving accessibility to that information before pretty labels that diminish our responsibility and appeal to conformists need not apply for the job in the first place. >
What will require a CERTAIN effort is to inform the “public” of the destructiveness of the self-obsessed.
So, I guess you don’t believe that there is such a thing as “public opinion,” that that opinion can be manipulated, it is not being done all the time every day by all kinds of people in all kinds of interests.
Whether we like it or whether we don’t, our brains work by “classifying” or some say that we immediately put things into “stereotypes”. The moment I say or write “man” or “woman” or “tree” or “thief” or “horse” or anything at all, others who understand English will be able to know what I am talking about. When we ask: what is this thing we all understand as a “tree”, everything becomes extremely vague because I cannot point to “tree”. I can point to an example of a tree, but there are lots of different kinds of trees, so the generalized term, “tree” exists only in my mind. And my conception may be quite different from yours.
At least in the examples of “man” “woman” “tree” and so on, we all have some kind of personal experience with each of them, but when it comes to more abstract notions with much less shared experience: “terrorist” “communist” “capitalist” “Nazi” “lazy people who live in southern Europe” “Islamofascist” (I don’t need to go on), each person thinks about these terms in different ways. What is interesting is not to find out what people think about them, but to ask: Where do those concepts come from? Obviously, for the vast majority of us, they do not come from personal experience with terrorists, Nazis, and so on. But nevertheless, there is some kind of shared understanding that comes from …. where?
I will just state that there is a tremendous multi-billion dollar industry that spends its time trying to manipulate these vague images in our minds: to make us angry, fearful, disdainful, full of desire, whatever. They use the web or any other means they can find, just as they have used all other types of media in the past.
To return to cataloging, does any of this concern cataloging? Of course it does in all kinds of ways. Instead of the words I have used, “tree” etc. you can put in almost any LCSH heading. How do people relate to those headings? I don’t know. In any case, I have thought that cataloging–if done ethically and with care–could be a type of corrective to this manipulation, although I realize I am being idealistic.
In any case, do I think there is a “public” with an “opinion” that can be manipulated in all kinds of ways, both for the better and for the worse? Yes, and we see it happen all the time. We can ignore it, but we do so to our peril.