money over meaning
Technology has become the principal religion, the new unseen deity that is worshipped without critical thought. We throw money, lots of money, into the collection plates. We ignore the inequality it exacerbates, the fad- ing out of art and literature to help us interact with hu- manity. We’ve been taught to deify entrepreneurs, not the starv- ing musicians and broke photographers, but the apostles who drop out of university, giving up all their mainstream possessions like the apostles of Jesus, becoming martyrs at the hands of investors. I’m from a small town in Southeast Missouri, I headed to the East Coast in early 2012 to cover the financial services sector. For nearly four years I focused on emerging payment technol - ogy, specifically Bitcoin and other blockchain developments. But after finding inspiration in the anarchist underground of London, I took off on my own with Moneytripping’s first iteration, a six month, 48-state drive covering money, politics and everything that latches onto those topics.
Tech Is Winning Money, But Not Hearts
by Bailey Reutzel
It was a lot of rooms in a lot of houses – crashing on friend’s, friends of friend’s and stranger’s couches, ex- tra beds, floors, whatever I could get. Cliff’s bedroom. Black metal, punk and hardcore show flyers are pinned slapdash to the white walls. In the corner, there’s an alter of sorts--little bird shit-like mounds, diminished incense sticks, a gold chalice sur- rounded by the bones of various Coloradan woodland animals. John’s loft. Records from Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Who line the wall like crown molding. A huge Grateful Dead fabric poster hangs over a ‘70s-style patterned couch. There’s a thrift store bookshelf full of Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac and other bums. This is where I ended up. I had a dream, a blog, a book and called it ‘Moneytripping’, more than 26,000 miles scouring the American landscape trying to figure out what the country had become. I began the adven- ture, hands on the wheel of a 2008 Ford Escape in my parent’s driveway in Missouri thinking I’d be collect- ing thoughts on how people use, abuse and interact with money, but it quickly became clear that for most Americans, money is political and politics is polarizing. Moneytripping became, as my hands grew callouses from gripping the now worn steering wheel, a look at how politics and it’s sought-after accomplice, money, shapes America’s citizens.
on a poster or SnapChat’s ghost icon memorabili or Uber wall hangings.
I wrestled with the state of the States, talking to shopkeepers and students, military vets and disabled homeless, bankers and policy advisers. Conversations did not revolve around technology. Dis- cussions were not grounded in the gadgets we held in our hands. Arguments did not hinge on Silicon Valley. No one had ever heard of financial technology or bit - coin or blockchain, the topics of my trade. When I asked about these things—blockchain, fin - tech, broader Silicon Valley goings-on—many people shrugged. And even if they had heard its name, they didn’t understand how those systems worked under- neath. They didn’t care. Or maybe it was something else, that technology has made us feel apart from these things, like we’ve been tricked into thinking that money and technology and their accumulation is all that matters, that it’s the way to get the core things we want. They cared about being a part of the humanities-—the study of how people process and document the human experience, to philosophize, to speak, to tell stories.
The Merriam Webster definition of technology is: the practical application of knowledge especially in a par- ticular area.
Practical. Would you call art that? I wouldn’t.
An application? I don’t think I’d use that term for art either.
Knowledge? Sure, but an emotional kind of knowledge, a humanities-based kind of knowledge, not one that as technology is defined later as: “manner of accomplish - ing a task especially using technical (mechanical or scientific) processes or methods.”
Another technology writer I talked to (he types his mes- sages; I handwrite mine) doesn’t see it the same way.
And so his argument becomes: Everything is art. Every - thing is technology.
“Paints, photographs, and anything else you might de- clare as art-making devices are technology.” And later, “Nor am I particularly swayed by those who try and dic- tate what is and isn’t art…” I see what he’s saying, that art-making devices are tech- nology in the definition that is used today—something that iterates on something else. But, it’s worth asking what the words mean.
And it seems a lot like: Everything is beautiful.
But these are wrong. Loose definitions. One might be able to say that everything is everything and eve- rything is good. But some things are technology and some things are art, and some things are closer to good and others are closer to bad.
They cared to be listened to.
And never once did I see the sleek surface of an iPhone
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