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Cool isn’t so cool anymore

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Roberto Rizzato â–ºpix jockeyâ—„ Facebook resident

We need some good ol’ radicals in being cool. You know, the types that have a vision and an ideological orientation that defies the pragmatics of reality. Stubborn, irritating, aggravating visionaries.

Today, I fear, being cool is beset with a more moderate spirit. People are trying to make a living off of being cool ““ i.e. coolness as a utility to advance a career, gain recognition from peers, or make money. This is fine. But it’s not what I’d expect in the early stage of a movement. Ideological purity in being cool had a very short existence. Instead of building a future foundation, we see instead a foundation to serve for career advancement.

We need more real coolness, you know…. leather jackets and motorcycles.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by The Hamster Factor

See the problem?

George, though, is cool.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. It’s funny, because cool is very much at the forefront of the push for turning a potentially liberating idea into a market push. It may be unavoidable, but framing something as cool is what the 60s revolution of advertising was all about, and it is cool that we try and package so much of what we are talking about—new tool, new term, new hairdo—as a way of promoting it with some kind of authenticity. Yet, Frank’s The Conquest of Cool suggests just how quickly this logic is eaten up and sold back to us…

    So while you are jesting here, I think your ideas are even more resonant that you may have intended, although I may also be assuming that this wasn;t your intention, or someone the intention I am suggesting here is different than yours. Either way, cool post.

  2. Hi Alan – yes, you nail the need for coolness! We can’t go on being quasi-cool. We must commit fully. We need a theoretical base from which to analyze what is cool and what is utilitarian.

    I officially nominate you for first Chair in the Society for Analyzing Cool.

    (I agree with Jim’s comments – I think your jesting/mild mockery has more relevance than you may have intended!)

  3. My whimsy is usually a mis-direction for saying, “I don;t have anything profound to say.” Nothing to toss in on pragmatism or submarine screen doors.

    The thought occurred to me when reading Martin Weller’s response, and thinking that trying to define “open” or “openness” seemed as vague as trying to define “cool” — except you know it when you see it.

    And it was just irony that the flickr creative commons images I found for 2 icons, Arthur Fonzarelli and James Dean, where actually imitations thereof.

    So for Jim, I am feeling your concerns, but personally have little worries of companies being effective at defining the table. The networked world does not work that way; they will try, but it will be obvious (like a fake James Dean) and someone will call them on their shit.

    I liked the provocation that George started and would agree we need more “crazy ones” and doubts that its going to come in a big way from established institutions. Maybe it will be an on foreseen outsider or a swelling of small revolutionaries, or never at all.

    And no way, I was and am so un-cool, shall live and die a nebbishy geek.

  4. What was ‘cool’ soon becomes bubblegum edupunk – and a lot of that is purile and self-serving IMO. We need cool ideas to kick us in the face to remind us to keep moving … too many in the edu-consulting cartels orbiting the same stuff. Fax machines are not cool either. Keep up the good work Chachi.

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