Nick Carr: The electronic kool-aid wifi test

InsightaaS: The most recent post from the Rough Type blog finds Internet/IT philosopher Nicolas Carr in rare form. In “The electronic kool-ad wifi test,” Carr uses the viral video of a “Google employee” (later outed as a union organizer attempting to discredit the firm) as a point of departure for a fascinating comparison between Ken Kesey’s famous Merry Prankster bus and Google’s wi-fi enabled (and far less colourful) conveyance. Carr notes that “The Kesey bus was brightly colored, a rolling Grateful Dead poster; the Google bus is drab and anonymous, a rolling Jos. A. Bank suit,” but the differences go much further than that, as Carr explains as he examines the implications of Silicon Valley culture against the metaphor of a bus that “continues on its circuit between the City and the Valley,  an infinite loop of infinite possibility.”

Mobile and Social: Before the app, before the smartphone, before the network, there was the bus. And the bus headed south from San Francisco toward a new world.

“There are going to be times,” says Kesey, “when we can’t wait for somebody. Now, you’re either on the bus or off the bus. If you’re on the bus, and you get left behind, then you’ll find it again. If you’re off the bus in the first place – then it won’t make a damn.” And nobody had to have it spelled out for them. Everything was becoming allegorical, understood by the group mind, and especially this: “You’re either on the bus . . . or off the bus.” —Tom Wolfe

In a richly allegorical incident that took place on a San Francisco street on December 9 of last year, a young Google employee harangued a group of protesters who had blocked a Google bus from making its rounds between the city and the company’s Mountain View campus. “This is a city for the right people who can afford it,” yelled the Googler, irate over his inability to get to the Googleplex and his free breakfast buffet. “You can’t afford it? You can leave. I’m sorry, get a better job.” There was a video, of course, and it exploded into virality…

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