Friday, August 5, 2011

Bubble Rubble

What's the rubble of a bubble? I was reading in a fossil book about the earliest fossils of animals way back, 600 million years or further.  There's a few jellyfish, but they're rare. Because they are basically a bubble of jelly, they don't have much structure to leave an impression.

Bubbles have always been around, but they seem to be in the air lately. Eli Pariser's book, The Filter Bubble, argues that each of us may have our own separate internet. Our profile dictates what we are offered.
This extended bust cycle in the economy, which just lurches on endlessly from one crisis to the next, makes me think of the great granddaddy of bubbles, the Tulip Bubble, which wracked Holland and the financial markets back in the 1600s.

The bubble seems so soft and etherial, just a little nothing. That's why it's such a good metaphor for insidious events or tendencies. The winds blow good fortune to some, but very many are left in poor straights as a result of these bursting bubbles.

Some insulate themselves within social networks that have an echo-chamber effect. Yes, there is great diversity and democracy on the web, much more than the days of magazines and newspapers.  But the colorful, skillfully designed covers are no longer  displayed on a dated shelf for us to buy. Gone also is the record album cover, an even more glorious format, displayed for our vote. (We put our money where our mouth was.) Our patronage provided livelihood to the artists.

 Now we read a tailor-made mix that suits our taste, so specific that we know what it is before we see it.  Apps clean up content for us. (Heavens, don't commission an illustration- just slap on a free thumbnail. The audience won't care, nor will they see it, on their diminutive smartphone screens.) We are tiny choirs finding just the right preacher.  And some preachers can be very happy with their choir; they may invent it and select it from within their own bubble. They may be so convinced of their worth, they publish a long manifesto, spread over the web.

Regarding the font of Bubble Rubble, I was inspired by a magazine from 1969, which was celebrating the impending Moon Landing. The font was evocative of an age soon to come: the future. It was at once technical and soft- bubbly even.  Amid the rubble of the space shuttle program and the austere courses nations have set themselves on, this optimism seems increasingly distant.

1 comment:

  1. R, speaking of fossils, there was a rerun of an American Experience recently, Dinosaur Wars, about the early discoveries (and rivalries) of fossils in the West, Wyoming, Montana, etc., in the 19th c. very different from jellyfish traces. I couldn't comment on the Eddie Albert obituary entry on the new blog, but that's a great Outer Limits he's in, influenced by the Colour out of Space, I believe. Jonathan