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Grant McCracken:

"you are a cloud. You are an aggregation of interests, connections, and contacts, tagged in several ways, linked in all directions, changing in real time. I mean your mental world. It's all hints and hunches, guesses and glimpses, shifting perspectives, tumbling assumptions. You take on clarity for clients. Then you're all "let's get on with it" pragmatism. But normally, and for most purposes, you're as cloudy as can be." (


Grant McCracken:

"what difference does it make to the self and the group that they are mediated by electronic connections (email, internet, SMS, IM, MMS, blogs, aggregators, shared search engines, p2p file sharing, online game play, etc.)

I think cloudiness might be an answer to the first question and especially to the second. My guess is that new selves and groups are richly heterogeneous, loosely and variously boundaried, capable of expansion, contraction and sudden reorganization, not very well governed, but still quite navigable and quite mobile, and, in still other respects, dynamic in content, form and operation.2

I think cloudiness was an emerging property of selves and groups in the late 20th century, but that cloudiness was intensified by the new electronic technologies of the last 10 years. So the third anthropological question is now, "Where does cloudiness come from and how does it intensify?" Or to put this in a more pressing form: how'd ja get so cloudy?

There is a double cloudiness. In one, let's call it, social cloudiness, more contacts and interests open up, and more contacts and interests are made possible. And this in turn sets in train the other cloudiness, let's call it a conceptual cloudiness, in so far as expanding social network expose us to things like the Yi Tan contemplation of social search and the recognition that there are lots of new things the proper intellectual reckoning of which will likely take the substantial relocation and renovation of our existing conceptual categories.

Summing up. The self and the group, when electronically mediated, reaches out in all directions, embracing more topics and contacts that it might reach out and embrace still more topics and contacts. Selfhood is expanding outwards, and this be much more exciting and fun, if we did not finding ourselves expanding into a certain conceptual, categorical cloudiness and the task of thinking down to test our assumptions and up to query our purposes." (

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