Knowledge Consumption 2

What is the relationship between knowledge consumption, advertising and knowledge production?

Here is an argument:

1. Postmodern capitalism industrialized the creation of consumers. We went from industrializing products that were mostly needed, to producing consumers. Consumers have to be produced in order to consume the excess of goods that are produced through efficient industrialization. We need hyperconsumers who will both consume lots and consume new knowledge products.

2. Advertising is the major way the system creates hyperconsumers. Advertising is the beginning of the information age – it is the beginning of an age where symbolic products (ads) become important to capitalism. Individual ads manipulates desire. The totality of advertising encourages conspicuous consumption with an excess of information.

3. Therefore the information age really is not about usefull information. It is about excess information – excess information to develop excess consumption. It is about the information of desire.

4. If follows that the experience of too much information was announced by the escalation of advertising and this excess is not a problem, but the solution to the problem of excess production capacity. We are trained by excess to satisfy excess desire through excess consumption.

5. What is ironic is that information workers are complicit in this. We think that by working in the “knowledge” industry we know how information is manipulated and are therefore immune to it, but in fact we are part of the problem. We are trained to produce an excess of information (publish or perish) and to teach others to consume an excess (keep up with the literature). While we may be immune to any particular ad, we are not immune to the total system of information production of which we are part.

6. Could our complicity be deep and systemic? Could it be that in order to be authors (producers of information) we need an excess of input to sort, manipulate and render? We are dependent as in any economy on an escalating need for our knowledge so that we can contribute to the excess. The more we make the more we have to consume. In fact we are given jobs creating so that there can be an excess to consume – the illusion is that we are the class of producers when in fact we have been produced to consume-and-produce.

7. One direction this is going is towards information products that are increasingly expensive to produce for the time it takes to consume them. A movie costs more to make for less time consuming than a book. Boutique information products like health food will replace mass produced art – these will cost more as there isn’t a mass audience.

8. Two underlying features of this dystopia are speed and the illusion of choice. Knowledge products can be moved faster and consumed faster. The faster things are consumed the more time there is to consume more. Speed of production and consumption allow the system to increase capacity and include more of the population in the ranks of the production/consumption class. (See Virillio) The illusion of choice is how knowledge workers are manipulated. We are not sold a product by particular ads. We are sold on infinite choice and the need to explore that through information and consumption.