Rasmus Fleischer’s postdigital manifesto

In his highly timely and readable 2009 book “The Postdigital Manifesto”, Swedish writer and historian Rasmus Fleischer discusses the effects of the digital on our relation to music and sets out his vision for how we can make music listening more meaningful. Fleischer is a prolific blogger (almost exclusively in Swedish) at Copyriot, and is probably best known for co-founding the Swedish think tank Piratbyran. As a side project, I am currently in the process of translating this book into English. It will be released in some form when it is done. The original work was released without copyright, so it is quite likely that some kind of PDF will simply be made available for download.

One of the central ideas of the manifesto is that our relation to music is dependent on physical presence and responsibility. Physical presence as opposed to the illusion that distances and places are made irrelevant by the internet and digital communications. Responsibility as opposed to the idea of mindlessly shuffling through a very large or infinite archive of recorded music. One of the ways in which music conveys something is when I choose music to play to somebody else, and I take responsibility for the effects of the music on that person or on a group of people.

Fleischer constructs the idea of a “postdigital situation” and holds it up as a model for how music is to be valued, critiqued, understood, and, essentially, how it is to take place, or come to matter. The postdigital situation is constrained by a physical space where music is being performed and listened to, where responsibility relations exist and evolve, and where bodies are set in motion. The digital world, the internet without boundaries, can be a means of gathering people in such a space and informing it, but it does not replace it. The “postdigital” goes beyond the naive idea of the digital, which ignores places and crowds.

Olle Olsson at SICS has also discussed this book in English. More to come!

Category: Life, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , 3 comments »

3 Responses to “Rasmus Fleischer’s postdigital manifesto”

  1. pcolley

    Thank you for this brief English explanation. Seeing this book on Bytelove sparked my curiosity. Reading your description lit a flame. Fleischer’s notion of physical presence and personal responsibility — in essence, the direct communal aspects of music performance and appreciation — as a new model for valuation is a very intriguing notion. This is definitely a book I’m interested in reading… whenever it’s translated.

  2. johan

    I don’t think I’ll ever finish polishing this translation, so I’ll just post it in its current state here if somebody wants to read it. (Email me for other file formats.)

    This translation is not endorsed by Rasmus Fleischer and should be seen purely as my own hobby project. The main outcome for me has been to realise that translating a text is a totally different game from writing an original text. But I think at least some sections turned out fairly readable.

  3. Trikki

    Thanks a lot johan!

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