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DJ Spooky (Paul D. Miller) is a composer, author, producer, and electronic and experimental hip-hop musician. His stage name, "That Subliminal Kid," is borrowed from the character The Subliminal Kid[…]

Standardized technology “deadens a lot of amazing stuff,” but it also allows people to customize their sensory landscape in new ways.

Question: Is the proliferation of digital media threatening rnindividuality?
DJ Spooky: rnYeah, I mean I think we’re really the crisis of 21st century culture isrnstandardization.  On one hand that’s a crisis precisely because itrnreally flatlines and just deadens a lot of amazing stuff. But on thernother hand as the next couple of years kick in you’re going to bernseeing what I like to call mass customization, where everyone can havernyou know their phone or their iPad or whatever—but they’re going tornpull it into their own orbit in their own way. And they’re pullingrnmaterial that is out there in the world as their own vocabulary.  Irndidn’t make this phone, you know, but I’ve customized and transformedrnit. So I’m always intrigued with saying that nothing stays the same inrnthis era.  In the 20th century, you know, someone like, you know, Fordrnwould say you know what, you can have any color car you want as long asrnit’s black, you know. And they had the whole sense of humor about thernproduction line all making the Model T Ford car there was the exactrnsame machine rolling off the line.  Now that was amazing because it wasrnhigh-tech at that time, but for the 21st century where we can justrnretrofit and reboot anything, why stick to one thing?  I mean justrnalways transform and change everything.  That’s the DJ model asrnwell.  So by customizing and transforming it adds new life to I thinkrnthe way we function right now.  When I say the way we function I’mrntalking about going down the street, walking around... everyonernhas a little computer, which is essentially is a cell phone.  Mostrnpeople, I’m sorry.  There is a class division here, but even inrneconomically, you know, low income and so on most people have some kindrnof communications device. And I think it’s transformed the way the worldrnworks right now and this is just the beginning. So within the next fivernto seven years you’ll be seeing probably a massive revolution inrngetting rid of sameness and just having this wildly creative andrninventive era.

Recorded on April 8, 2010