omg yr so pomo lol

October 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Oh just go with it.

Andy Clark, “Technologies to Bond With,” Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies and the Future of Human Intelligence (2003)

Los Alamos! Bunkers & printers! The Black Hole! i.e. “an elephant’s graveyard of Un-transparent, In-Your-Face Technology.” Which perfectly illustrates the difference between transparent (intuitive; unobtrusive; human-centered) and opaque (something to trip over; conspicuously mechanical) technologies! The move towards transparency is neither natural nor necessary, rather is the result of co-evolution between hombre & machina! Basically anticipates smartfones via –at the time– pie-in-the-sky predictions about Wearable Computing and Augmented Reality. (“It might sound crazy but someday we may just have GPS systems built into our sunglasses!”)

Ian Cook, “The Body Without Organs and Internet Gaming Addiction,” in Deleuze and New Technology (2009)

Internet addiction is the latest in a long line of technology-related moral panics! In this essay we frame the question using Deleuze & Guattari’s conception of the “body without organs.” BUT OF COURSE! Body becomes plugged into the froggin Matrix, addict prefers that reality to real reality. Behaviors thus functioning as constant repudiation of the really real in favor of the really virtual (“reconfiguration”), except with bigger words & junk.

David Marshall, “The New Intertextual Commodity,” The New Media Book (2002)

Let’s talk about THE MATRIX again, except this time in terms of Hollywood/mainstream marketing. These days –not that this is a brand new phenomenon, I mean what is, but increasingly– the goal is to create layered transmedia worlds, well beyond a particular self-contained text. Hence “intertextuality,” which emphasizes play and the commoditization of similar. Well-placed headings speak a thousand words (no really): The Resurgence of the Play Aesthetic, The Dialectic of Interactivity, Game-Film-Game, The Multimedia Event, The Centrality of Play Within a Culture of Promotion. In conclusion, play is the key to petty much everything.

William Mitchell, “Homo Electronicus,” in Placing Words: Symbols, Space and the City (2005)

Interest in computers is waning I guess? Yes, not unlike the 17th century’s tulip frenzy. It was fun while it lasted! Except. The legacy of this apparently past-tense digital revolution can be still be felt in global telecommunications networks, which have spurred the proliferation of instruments of displacement. You know like smartfones and LCD displays at bus stops. Everything is (or could be) a screen, whisking us ever further from the Edenic condition, you know, before computers, back when everyone was happy and there was no such thing as war or lying. I’M CLUTCHIN MY CYBERPEARLS Y’ALL.

Picture always related

Mitchell and Clark’s essays reminded me of this, a thing I wrote fifteen thousand selections ago all mind = blown in response to Clay Shirky’s TED talk, particularly the bit about topless mermaids on Flickr. Logically I knew –not that I’d ever thought about it before, because I never had do– that pictures online aren’t automatically indexed. But image search has become such an integral part of my life that I don’t even notice when I do it, so spend even less time thinking about how the pictures got there. I mean, half my day is spent on the prowl, either for information or for images (sometimes both). So Shirky’s talk was one of those “by George, the world has changed while the fuck I’ve been in it!!” revelatory moments that belong on an episode of House.

Anyway. All this talk of transparent technologies and Wearable Computing (“instruments of distraction” if you’re cranky and wish the kids would get off your damn lawn) got me thinking about how many of my devices I no longer notice. The most obvious example is my beloved iphone, which I can only describe as some sort of brilliantly-marketed cyborg appendage. I don’t need to need it and I still (feel like I) need it — even if I’m just driving to the store and have no use for GPS or internet or you know calling, pssh, as if I’d ever do that anyway. This isn’t just about the device itself, though, it’s what I can do with it. I never think twice (and sometimes don’t even think once) about sending pictures or videos or emails or whatever else, this is simply what one does while grocery shopping.

Obviously it’s not always been like this, obviously at one point phones were phones and that was all. I remember being absolutely blown away when I got my first camera phone (2002?) — every time I sent something it felt like I was hacking life. I had a similar reaction in 2009, when the iPhone added MMS and you could (finally!) send pictures directly to another phone, as opposed to the recipient’s email. Looking back I’m like — lol, pictures to email? HOW QUAINT. But that’s just the thing, my brain has no room for how things used to be. The information is there, but on a day-to-day basis it doesn’t occur to me to remember. This made reading Clark’s essay very odd (and highly entertaining), since in it he speculates about all the AMAZING stuff we might be able to do, someday, with our Wearable Computing devices. Almost all of his predictions came true, including the above bit about GPS being at our fingertips, and in every case I had to remind myself that the shit he’s only dreaming about in 2003 is a) what I take for granted in 2011 and b) seriously amazing, even if (maybe especially because) the technologies have become so transparent.

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