Monday, December 7, 2009

last post

Yes, this is an unnecessary post.
I end where I began...with my blog.

I can't believe, after all this time, I am having trouble writing about the need to connect. After being isolated for so long...How fast I forget.

I keep thinking about the need to connect. How close we are and yet how so very far away we really are. No one really knows anything or anyone. Not really.

We desire intangible things like security. Tell me what that means? There is no such thing in this earthly life.

We desire private in the public. But if we are private, we are alone. So we speak behind the veil of the internet. We have a big voice, with no face...or a false face, one that we construct.

"The real world affords many ways of keeping public, private, and secret utterances separate from one another, starting with the fact that groups have until recently largely been limited to meeting in the real world, and things you say in the real world are heard only by the people you are talking to and only while you are talking to them." Shirky pg 89.

We connect in a virtual world so we can connect beyond human boundaries.

There is no privacy here. There is no security here.
There is only the word. It is old, yet alive, real and on fire. And the word is good. And the word is God.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The future...

Security and privacy are words that keep appearing in our text. These words are anomalies when combined with humans and the network. They are conditions that are contradictions to our nature as human beings, yet they are privileges that we all desire. We want to be safe, secure and at the same time connected to others. Can you really be private and secure while using the networking tools that are available today?

What made me select this particular subject at this time? Tiger Woods. Tiger is a well respected sports icon. On the day (or weekend) that our culture sets apart as a day to physically gather with loved ones and give thanks for the things that we have, Tiger Woods reminds us that no one has privacy and no one is secure. I was in the forest, far away from malls and traffic, but I still got pinged by CNN about Tiger’s so-called “private” life in a very public way. And he was not secure at all. Via iPhone, I was alerted that Tiger has crashed into a fire hydrant and then a tree. His wife bashes his window in to "rescue" him. He is in currently in critical condition. No alcohol was involved.

Key figures, like Tiger Wood, have no privacy. The world instantly has knowledge of his actions and whereabouts, whether we want to or not. I can with certainty tell you that I was not thinking, I wonder what Tiger Woods is doing now?

To be totally unconventional, I will use some random quotes that I got from a CNN article to tell you what a couple of other people thought:
"If a golfer crashes his SUV in the forest with no one around, who gives a crap? Don't we have real news to report here?" (cavalier1138)

And:
"Actually, he did choose to be a celebrity. The moment he signed his first endorsement deal, he absolutely chose to be a celebrity. As a celebrity, he no longer has the benefit of a private life. He traded that for money. If he doesn't like it, he can give back the money." (flex1)
http://www.cnn.com/2009/OPINION/11/30/tiger.woods.legal/index.html

Harsh? Maybe.

In one respect we wish to connect with other and at the same time we expect to have the right to "privacy". What is privacy? Privacy means the state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one's private live, the state of being private; retirement or seclusion (dictionary.com)

I think the idea of communicating behind the network veil of privacy is enticing. One can connect, share and divulge as much as they care without revealing too much about who you really are. But is that information really private and secure? I think people want to believe that they have the security and control on spaces like FaceBook and MySpace. There is a perception that there is distance that can be maintained between electronic connections, but that distance can rapidly decrease in a heartbeat, if someone really wants to gain access to the information. Just look at the Tiger Wood episode. And even look at the fall of Essjay, the Wikipedian who worked feverishly behind the scenes of the electronic pages of Wikipedia. His past was uncovered, revealed and exposed as Zittrain shares on pages 141.

Other key points of this book include the concept of a generative evolution of the Internet and traditional PC architecture. Zittrain talks about how architecture - the physical - hardware, protocol, the application, the content and the social layers evolve as result of the loose control during its evolution. (page130) " The Internet flourished by beginning in a backwater with few exceptions, allowing its architecture to be simple and fluid." Page 34

But one of the dangers is that no one really knows what is going to happen and where this is all going. There is no security, no privacy. Once you participate, you are subjected to possible exposure should someone take an interest.

He talks about the procrastination principle (page 31) that "rests on the assumption that most problems confronting a network can be solved later or by others. It says that the network should not be designed to do anything that can be taken care of by its users." This enticed someone like Robert Tappan Morris, Jr. Zittrain speaks of Morris (with a heroic slant) who created the first Internet worm, in an attempt to “count how many machines were connected to the Internet.” And as the story goes, he was mildly reprimanded and sent off to get his degree at Harvard and his tenure at MIT. (Page 41)

Is the procrastination principle an invitation to break a network construction which is built for a particular purpose? It appears the answer is yes for those who take the dare.

“Generatively pairs an input consisting of unfiltered contributions from diverse people and groups, who may or may not be working in concert, with the output of unanticipated change.” Page 70 If no one has a shared vision and no one seems to care what the consequences could be, it looks like a train wreck is coming to me. (see the cover)

Zittrain talks of leverage, adaptability, ease of mastery, accessibility, and transferability as features of the generative network. (pages 71-73) The characteristics of the network are plastic and fluid. Once we connect, collaborate and participate, we can no longer expect privacy or even security as we are now a part of this plastic and fluid network.

He goes on to talk of trust, self-governance, and the salvation of the net on page 152. And then gives us some solutions and possibilities such as the OLPC project. I wonder what Tiger thinks about the OLPC project. It is amazing to me that we could think it is a good idea to use laptops to experiment with the education of underprivileged children in other countries, when we have made such a debacle of our very own? Why not do something more obvious and substantial like giving them something to nutritious to eat?

Zittrain's point out strengths and weaknesses, problems and solutions but I can only think that a lack of order and control produces chaos and disaster. I don’t want to be tethered but the extreme is open to breaches in my privacy and security. Just ask Tiger.

Monday, November 23, 2009

connect the dots

Connect the dots and you will see key points that are repeated throughout this piece, that humans make choices about connections – the net works of many to many and the inter net of the single connections through a web of points and patterns. Patterns emerge from the text between the biological and virtual comparisons. Links are associated with the effects of political and social organization as a result of 911 and fears of biological disease, biological warfare, and human research data. Meanwhile, we humans continuing to seek virtual connections that result in power struggles, fear, loss of security and self, and exploitation by political and social powers. The biological, political, social, and technical edges of humanity begin to blur into one organism.

Here are some relations explored: Edges links to nodes. What is inside and what is outside a boundary. Centralized and decentralized structures. Rules and rebellion (anarchy). Language and code. The universe and the inverse. The macro and the micro. The real and the replacement/replica. The virus and the host. The self and the other. The controller of knowledge and the pawns or masses that are manipulated. The disease and the cure. A cause and a reaction. Replication and translation. Protocols and rogue behavior. Power maintained by fear. Life, demise and death. Zombie and robots. (Yes, I, too, fear the gray goo of sector 9.) The watchers and the watched. What is seen and what is not. The body and the shadow or trace.

These are themes that constantly reappear in the Exploit. The authors tie this all together to suggest political control of information of the masses that result in anxiety, fear, disaster and doom.

I see these aspects in my personal life. I can see this as I cruise in my little car on my happy way to work. I drive a great distance on the vein of the tollway. I queue up, and glide through the booth as my toll tag is read. I speed on through zones to my mapped out path to my cube at work. I proceed through the compartmentalized and segmented routines of my day. I attend to the meetings and motions of my day. I sort, arrange, and filter data. I speak in acronymic code. I use my network of tools and collaborate with clusters of multinational coworkers to complete lists of tasks, using a host of technologies. System acronyms are embedded in all the language we speak. Our actions are systematic. Our outcomes are predictable. We produce our required outputs.

I see how my job fits in the patterns and structures of the network. Our group is implementing a system to collect research on human subjects. This particular type of work is critically inspected and dissected in this text. I am part of the academic, research structure. I see the fearful side of the political powers who can profile, sequence, manipulate and control the gold mine of medical research data that is collected to manage and study human subjects. I see how the information could be used to control and result in economic gain. I see it.

I read my homework, in the allotted time and I have an overwhelming desire to go rouge! This is the system of life I live in.

As I leave work and walk to my car, I hear two young men comment about the wonderfully mild weather we are having on the 23rd of November. I hear them say something about global warming and hear them comment that they have nothing to worry about as it won’t affect them in their lifetime. I am saddened by their apathy.

Yes we have a desire to gather, collaborate, inspect and compare. And yes we have this burning hunger for knowledge and information. I see some who hunger power and have a need to control. All of these elements are examples of human characteristics. And when humans apply their human attributes to non-human systems the systems resemble humans…flawed, vulnerable and exploitable.

Humans have a desire to collaborate and connect? But what if we have this obsessive need to count and collect to seek something good? What if by reviewing trends the data leads to visibility, to a pathway or possibility for a cure? We share the desire to collect data, and bank it, and mine it to find answers even though there are mutations in our biological systems. We observe biological systems and how they behave in a like manner to non-biological systems. We compare the political, biological and social system structures. We project the political, the biological, and the social to the technical model to find new forms.

I believe we seek answers because we inspect ourselves from within and beyond to project ourselves in other resembling systems, like plant, insects, and animal, to find something better, something greater, looking for something artful and elegant. Yes we are flawed but we are wired that way. We will mimic and mirror what we are in hopes of finding something better. It appears that we will recreate, exhibit and war with ourselves until we construct, reconstruct or deconstruct into a trace.

Oh and PS: I still love trees.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Six degrees of Pong and the Bacon Number

I am still reading at 10:13 PM, but wanted to take a break to post. Duncan Watts sure does get around. His circle of friends (or shall I call them a network of brainiacs) seem endless. He is well connected on the research front. I feel like I have been bouncing across the pages like the old video game ...Pong. He bounces back and forth from Steve to Mark to Peter to Chuck to Mark (again) and Jon . He collaborates with his cohorts to explore questions of networks, how they form, how they grow, how they spread or what makes them die.

"what are the patterns of interactions between individuals in a large system that we should pay attention to?" (page 27) He approaches his topic from different angles, studying from the viewpoint of the cricket, the macro to micro, individuals to mobs, physical to virtual. Watts is trying to understand the dynamics of networks, communication and systems.

He uses available free data, to study trends, statistics and different distribution patterns, trying to understand networks. One such interesting piece of data analysis produced the Kevin Bacon – Distribution of Actors According to Bacon Number -- amazing! Watts studies message chains and relation links trying to understand characteristics and behaviors. “…almost everyone in the giant component can be reached in 4 steps or less.”( page 94)

Watts talks about problems beyond the small world network with scale and cutoff regions (page 112), “the real constraint is with people themselves, who only have enough time, energy, and interest to befriend so many others before the shear effort of it all overwhelms them.”

He seems to float around the academia circuit like a virus, connecting, stimulating and infecting others with his ideas and theories on networks systems. I will say that he does attack an issue and not let go. He draws others in from his net of relationships to gain insight to his theories. He looks at the components, cave, and clusters of small networks. He is himself, a research specimen of his network investigation.

Watts uses mathematics, science, biology, psychology, sociology and physics to name a few approaches to attack his theories. He even notes that it is dangerous to assume from previous research such as the findings of Milgram. (page 132) I thought this insight was key, as research can be skewed by the researcher’s biases and pre-conceived notions about conclusions.

So how does this relate to my world? I am working with a team of people about to implement an electronic clinical research management system. This system will give researchers electronic access to other studies and the data that results on a broad scale much like the scientific publishing repository for prepublication research papers of sub disciplines of physics called the LANL (page 123). Eventually, there will be a repository of (de-identified) data that can be shares and mined for research purposes to reach conclusions using networks to study systems much like these in this book. Collaboration will hopefully open the door to treatment and scientific development that could lead to curing diseases.

He sums it up on page 15,"...one thing I hope to convey in this book is a sense of where the science of networks comes from, how it fits into the larger scheme of scientific progress, and what it can tell us about the world itself."

I am hopeful that scientific collaboration through multidisciplinary networks can lead to exciting new discoveries and cures.

Monday, November 9, 2009

a public display of temporary insanity

Identity, socializing with peers and dealing with power relations, are three core topics of dannah boyd’s investigation of social media and teens in Taken Out of Context.

Three key occupations with the teens I have known (including myself) were determining identity, socializing with peers and maneuvering within the power structures whether it’s parents or those in positions of control. It's really no different now than in the past, except there are greater media options and easier virtual access for teens that have the tools. Teens are smart and they know how to use them to get what they want!

Don’t you remember? It's been a while since I was a teen but I still remember how crazy it was. I saw it was a time of temporary insanity. I was constantly trying to be different, unique, individual. I crafted my look from head to toe. I was constantly seeking to achieve a specific look that reflected who I was, inside and out. I even made my own clothes (not very well, I might add). Every decision I made was not complete without a little drama and angst.

Social networks such as FaceBook provide teens with a virtual environment to explore, experience and socialize with others while trying to determine their place in the world. The teenage years are a painful stretch of time when you are trying to figure out who you are, what you represent, and where you stand. You have to go through this seemingly endless maize of painful choices, dicey decisions and foul relationships in order to figure out how to get along with others and live harmoniously in the world with others.

Social networks are just one more way to engage with others. Whether it's with friends or special interest groups, people want to find some way to connect. Teens have always found ways to meet others, whether it is sneaking out a two story window or using FaceBook, texting, IM or other social media tools to socialize, they find a way. They gossip, flirt, collaborate, or just trash each other. It's a time of risk.

“Social media includes systems that support one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to many interactions. Practices, including communication, collaboration, information dissemination, and social organization.” (page 92) Tools such as these can provide a means for teens to make a difference as well. Yesterday, I heard a news story about two teenagers in California, collaborated with their community using social media to organize, gain support, and develop parks and walkways to combat obesity. Social networks expand the ability to communicate and offer ways to form groups. In this instance, media and social networks provided teens in the community an opportunity to drive social change.

Yes, there are fewer places for teens to hang out. There is greater fear of predators. There is greater awareness when abuse occurs. Parents and adults are more cautious for their teen’s safety. Parents and adults sometimes have to take control. I have been in both position, being a na├»ve teen and being the heavy-handed parent, and neither side is clear cut.

As a teen you need space to grow, learn, and make mistakes. FaceBook is a social networking vehicle for a teen to reach out, find others with common interests. But it is also one more place for freaks and perverts to find that innocent one who is lonely and needs a friend. As a result parents live in fear and come across as control freaks.

As a teen, I was stupid enough to hitch-hike. I hopped in the car with a whack-o and I am lucky to say, I escaped. There is reason for fear. I warned my children to beware. I don’t think it is a bad thing to be cautious.

Also, when you are teen, you think you are invincible. You want to experiment and explore. Social media allows you another possibility to do this.

It was disturbing to me that dannah had such easy access to teen profiles. She was able to do a random sampling and gain access to a large population of teens so easily. If she can gain access, doing research for sociology and cultural reasons, what about those who are not so socially minded?

I don't know too many teens that have everything figured out. I don't know too many adults that do for that matter either. So dannah boyd's investigation of teens exploring their identity, socializing with peers, and struggling with power issues while fluidly using social media tools and virtual environments presented interesting but predictable results, to me.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Order maintained by discipline or punishment?

I see Foucault’s observation of how knowledge can result in power, how knowledge is accessible to those who are privileged, and how knowledge, power, and control can be used for good or evil. I see how power was adopted as a method to maintain and control the masses during the plague that resulted in a pandemic pandemonium. And I see how power, submission, and control can result in a dronish apathy of the masses. Again, I hate to repeat this example but it resembles Blade Runner, replicates like citizens, and domination by surveillance and force. People are counted, tracked, and observed by those who hold the knowledge and power.

Those who are deviant in any way, are singled out, hunted down, separated and isolated from the group. They, in turn, group together to form like groups. In the article, Foucault’s examples are those who are lepers or those who contracted the plague. And the idea of a person identifying with or aligning with anyone other than the established norm is discouraged.

You see this in today’s society. Deviation results in punishment and isolation. And I believe isolation is the one of the worst punishments that can be inflicted on an individual. Sure, it is nice to have privacy, but if a person is isolated without human interaction, the person could die. Look at Christopher McCandless, the subject of, Into the Wild as a case in point. He was an individual who resisted consumerism and capitalism to the point of isolation and error which led to his untimely death...but that is another story.

I wonder if ideas surrounding the Panopticon led to the systems and processes implemented by the industrial engineers of the past. I see similar concepts of routine steps, repetition, the watcher and the watched, isolating tasks, process standardization, and controls implemented in institutions of today like schools, hospitals, prisons, business, and government. Although I embrace the idea of the unique, I don't really know how to work in an organization that is linear and doesn't contain a hierarchy. This concept is embedded in almost every area of our society. It is present in our homes, society, and culture. Our world revolves around the idea of these patriarchal systems which are the backbone of our institutions.

On a final note, I do find it interesting that Foucault uses discipline synonymous with the word punishment. I think these two words have a very different meaning.
Discipline, to me, infers an accepted relationship of trust between the one who is the receiver and the one who is the barer of the act. When discipline is applied and received, the act of submission for correction often produces benefits, learning results, and a better way is found. Discipline is accepted and is helpful for growth, improvement, and maturity.

Punishment, on the other hand, equals an unwarranted beating that is not deserved and does nothing but harm. Punishment is usually forced on another to gain power and control. Punishment does not result in improvement. It often results in permanent physical, mental, and psychological scars. Unlike discipline, that guides a person to do the right thing, and produces a healthy respect for others; punishment suggests control and power and is used to abuse and inflict pain over another. Often when the act of punishment is repeatedly performed the recipient often repeats and adopts this behavior and inflicts punishment on others in order to gain power and control.

Now some may say that rules made by powers of authority such as the police, can result in punishment. But if the authorities fairly apply rules of behavior for the benefit of the masses for protection (to serve and protect), then this use of power is more aligned with discipline. There is a fine line between maintaining order and harmony and the abuse of the "police apparatus". I don't find it odd that there is such wide appeal for television programs with subject matter representing control, power, and surveillance...examples include: CSI, Law and Order, NYPD Blues, and The Closer, to name a few.

When you use an analogy of the body, pathology, and the plague to discuss an over extension of power of those who are privileged, possess knowledge, have wealth, and have access to use surveillance to control others unknowingly, then you have a interesting argument for rebellion and revolution resulting from a much more insidious cultural disease.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

$$$

Oh Mr. Hunter can you loan me a dime?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Phones, Pro-Ana, Wikipedia, Abortion & Flash Mobs

Ok so, I write this long post about how I believe in sharing, cooperation, community, and collective actions using social media to create this utopia and really...while working, a real life episode of the Office breaks out involving a social media drama that includes elements of claiming ownership of my documents, misappropriate emails and puts me in a really bad mood. It was about 903 words of this stuff and though it might very well be related, to the public and media, I just decide...naaa. I'm not writing on that. Snooze...boring. It seems to indicate that I might not be compassionate and really, it is not worth the print...space...words that I could write about it as it happens almost every day. So enough.

I decide to comment about the social side of media and the public.

I love how the guy, Evan, gets his girl...I mean her phone that is. I love justice was served. It was so Southern-like, take the law in your own hands and make em pay, dude. That's what he did. He was relentless and he had the etools. It was very cool. Almost to the point of maybe a little uncool. Maybe a little over the top. Maybe a little stalker-like.

Me? I might just consider upgrading, and hey guy, just buy her a new frickin phone why don't ya? But hey, that's just me and we would have missed the whole point of the book. Right? So I read on about Xanga, mass messages, and bulk advertising.

Then Saturday, I have the honor and privilege of being a juror of my local high school art exhibit. 52 pieces of social insight to the young teenage mind. It was beautiful...awesome. One of my favs was quite a disturbing piece of Pro-Ana. It was so loaded with teenage angst. The skinny midriff, squeezed in the skin (and bone) tight tape measure belt, with all kinds of written messages in the corners about how no one can control this girl and make her eat...Ouch...Scary stuff. Many pieces were more than visual. They were loaded guns, shooting out cultural commentary. I loved this textural, visual, tangible, hold-it-in-your-hands type media. I guess you can say this is old school art but it related to the YM piece in Shirky's book about the Pro-Ana girls who overtook the YM social media project with their "thinspiration" make me puke til I am beautiful statement about what young girls perceive as what "Beauty is..."

As I read about exposures of cultural issues like phone theft, anorexia, child molestation, and abuse of power defended by the church, I see each injustice has a kind of viral characteristic to it...doesn't it? Viral media. Something is broken in public commentary. Something is sick and everyone is talking about it. And it is easy to talk when you are not face to face.

Then I read about Wikipedia's origin...being written and re-written, when defamed then reclaimed to include such essential topics of freedom of speech as abortion, Islam, and evolution. I thought...why not comment on one of these issues myself?

Then I flip on the tube and watch an old episode of Law and Order. This segment is very poignant to me as it is about a man who kills a doctor who aborted his son because he has a genetic disorder called Ehler's Danlos. Now this really ticks me off because I know the most beautiful, intelligent person, who happens to be about the best teacher in the world. She teaches for pennies in a low income area of Texas sometimes 10 to 12 hours a day, and would secretly do it for free. And yes, she has Ehler's Danlos. Abortion could have been a choice with this life and yes it is personal... and I personally, in my most feminist way, do not believe in it. Personally. This mutant gene-child is awesome, valuable, and grand in her beautifully created way. I am thankful that she was not aborted. Yes. Yes. Yes. And people say television doesn't have significant impact on the way people think and feel.

So (moving right along in concert with the book)there was the flash mob. FLASH and the PacWe Flash Mob occurred on Sunday...I didn't go. But I did see the value of it. I wish I had been there amoung my artist friends to fight the good cause for health care reform in the art-heart of Dallas - Artist Americans...I like that...wearing yellow slickers (for $2.00) It was truly a great cause. And after all, I did participate in spirit by viewing my FaceBook feeds while reading this book for class.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sphere of public illusion – what you see is what you get?

I don’t watch the news on TV much anymore. I haven’t for a long time now, maybe five or ten years. I just stopped. I still pay for the newspaper but mostly just out of habit or just for what it represented – a sweet memory of my dad sitting in his easy chair reading after a long day at work.

I rarely read it. What the newspaper means to me today is an opportunity to doze on the couch for short moments of time each Sunday, while my husband edits the high points for me, relaying snips of this and snips of that.

I admit, I use to be one of the few who indulged in the guilty pleasures of the Quick, before the target age range shifted to the 20-30 year old mentality.

What has replaced the news is fluff, disasters, or hoaxes…I guess someone has decided, through surveys or public opinion, that this is what the public wants to hear, not the real, controversial, cutting edge news. I shy away from the news because I no longer trust the content. It typically represents some concocted tale, some half baked truth or a full-fledged lie. It appears that we the public wait to be fed from the media who

“systematically creating or exploiting news events that attract attention …engineering of consent…which leads to staged public opinion” Pieter Boeder

Yes, people want to hear about what Paris Hilton’s latest escapades are, or Jessica Simpson’s little murdered dog, or the balloon boy hoax. We put cameras inside homes to see what happens in the (fake) real world…then we have 8 babies by artificial insemination, just to get that coveted slot on TV. We give talk shows about topics that will sway the masses…like Oprah newest religious craze, fad diet, or even weep with her when she has gives a huge donation to support some meaningful cause.

Meanwhile, we talk among ourselves in our cubicles at work, discussing these events, as if they occurred in own families. We are equally enthralled and equally disgusted with it all.

I remember 9/11 and the impact it made on my opinion of the enemy. Then I was later told the enemy is within. I saw the war as the answer, and shamefully watched as thousands died …again. Although I was very young, I was around during Viet Nam. Why did I fall for it again?

Media is powerful. It is controlled by political, economical, social and cultural organizations, who wield power using force, fame, farce, money, or by presenting an illusion of all that is good and grand. Look, Barbie is the female model of perfection. (check out my social commentary using betty on this cultural issue - http://www.deadphotographerssociety.com/member_galleries/members/levin_mel/images/album/index.html)

Every detail of the rich and famous’ lives are scrutinized in every form of media, in hopes that the public can be like them or publically tear them to shreds for not succeeded in their illusionary picture-perfect life constructed by the media. Crazies even feed off them and stalk them to the point of madness, assault, and even death. (Yes John is dead)

Oh some forms of media are great. We can text, chat, and blog easily to others at great distances and receive instant feedback. We don’t have to brush our hair, bath, or even brush our teeth. Our avatar represents us well. And we can dream up some perfect personae of the person we are corresponding with on the other end of virtual world.

We can create music, without an actual instrument. We can form a relationship without experiencing human touch. We can vote on the latest dancer’s ability to dance the Tango in Dancing with the Star’s, or judge a singer’s ability to sing, or a chef’s ability to cook. We can select a new piece of clothing from eBay, or buy an electronic book from Amazon without leaving our dwelling. All of these things are examples of how the media has changed culture, public opinion and is commercially driven by the consumer. It is downright constitutional…created for the people by the people.

Oh how I long to sit by a fire with dozens of friends, and share a tale of long ago. Oh to sing along with others, jamming with old fashion instruments, like guitars, drums, and harmonicas. Or to share a meal with others while debating politics, the economy, religion, or just discuss the weather conditions. That is where I will be in several weeks. I will shoot some film images of the desert with my Rolleiflex, eat some chili, and listen to music around a campfire. I will hug old friends, talk about this last year, and make a toast to another year that has brought exciting new changes. And later, I will lie under the sky, watching my favorite media of choice – the stars, without my iPhone, my computer, or a GPS. For a few days I will be lost in the great outdoors, without public opinion… Oh how sweet it will be.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My discursive comments on Karl Marx and Stuart Hall

Media and the question of the public. My discursive comments on Karl Marx and Stuart Hall, revolution, culture, codes, encoding and decoding, signifiers, the knowledge of the elite, the privileged creating a dominant meaning, sell a product and the masses buy it. Swaying the masses by assuming that they know what is right, just, and best for their viewers, and then leading the masses with a dominant cultural order towards chaos? Marx says something like this, “Man succumbs to work, rules, and materialism. There life is not altered by consciousness but consciousness is determined by life.”

People must understand codes and context of a message to receive it, realize, comprehend for it to then take effect. People can also be manipulated, seduced and led to slaughter if they are not careful.

These are thoughts that I have in response to the readings. Fragmented statements from the reading that ring true as signs of our times. Circular loops, in communication, in history, in culture, yet there is productions, distribution and then reproduction, upheaval, then renewal of our society.

It appears we are going through a period of inversion as Marx puts it. I like this concept. I like the idea of flipping things around and turning them inside out. This is how I work with art. I try things one way, then invert, flip it and try it another way. Try it inside out. This works for me. It is like the pendulum swinging one way and then going the polar opposite, except this time it is flipping right over.

We are in an age, where a shift is occurring, where capitalism has been dominant but it is being questioned. The sheep are getting wise. We have followed, like sheep, the American dream, of owning things, houses, cars, retirements plans, stuff…We have fallen into a trap of the American way like American Beauty. We have witnessed the rise and are now seeing the decline of this way of thought. We bought into this false dream. Now it is crumbling. It’s time to invert again. The American dream owned us and we became the slave of it. It’s time to invert.

I have an image that speaks volumes about the current state of capitalism. As I am reading Marx and I drive down my street. I see this house that is going up for auction as a result of foreclosure. There is a sign in the front of the house. It says Capitalism Did This, www.capitalismalovestory.com Here is the image:


Michael Moore’s movie says it all. I think of Marx and this idea of ownership. I think how we are sucked into the idea of capitalism and it has backfired. Here is a tangible example of capitalism gone wrong. People keep taking the sign down in the yard at this house on our street. They don’t want to see it. It is a painful reminder. I like the sign. I think it should remain standing. It is a reminder of what could happen to each of us. It is a wake up call.

I think Marx is talking about Communism as the order of the working class where common man becomes aware that he is being dominated by the bourgeois (fooled). Once aware, man rises up, asks questions with a social voice and questions our cultural norms. When the common man is the majority, the group creates a new voice, a new language, a new code, we hold agreement, and speak a common language and revolt against what is seen as injustice from those who hold power, property, wealth, and control. We make a change.

The problem with this is that there is always someone that wants power, control, and dominance. When someone perceives that they know what is good or best for someone else, then they impose a code, speak a language of control and hold it over others. Then a culture is formed, and power is welded. Sheep/man follow what they perceive is right and acceptable and flock together, even if it is right off a cliff such as that of capitalism.

With communication, and television as spoken about in Stuart Hall’s piece, the coders or producers, discerns what they think is the audience, what the audience will “perceive, reason, internalize, make a behavioral modification and act on as a result.”

In the Bible there was an event similar to this change. People found the Way. In Acts, everyone joined together, had a common code, sold everything, pooled the money together, shared the wealth, helped everyone, and live a peaceful unified life. There was an inversion in that day...an awakening.

Really, no one owns anything. God rules all. For man, he may hold a deed and pass it on to his children. But man lives a very short moment in time, like a blade of grass, and then the land goes to someone else. It is really a circular game.

I think life, like language and discourse, have levels of understanding. Some think deeper than others. No matter how deep you may go to understand it, no matter how much you may think about something, and try to figure things out, it still remains a code, a chain of discourse that goes on and on and on…

Friday, October 9, 2009

new site...

http://www.deadphotographerssociety.com/member_galleries/members/levin_mel/photo_gallery.htm

Monday, October 5, 2009

a new media event...a liquid cultural interface

As I read Lev Manovich and think about new media, cultural interface, variability, choices and appealing to the uniqueness of the audience, I can't help but comment on my weekend. I just got home from the mud fest...yes...ACL Music Festival in Austin, Tx. This physical event was loaded with new media options. Although it was promoted as a music festival, a performance-based media extravaganza is a better description. It rained, it poured, it flooded new media.

Bus transportation, pedicabs, and biking was encouraged via broadcast prior to the event to reduce pollution and traffic congestion. Maps were distributed by volunteers who also handed out 40 free downloads along with the printed venue. But this was not really necessary as everything was provided via digital media.

Each ticket holder was given a link to a special app created for the event developed by Seed Labs. This little app enabled viewers to be totally connected at all times via iPhone or electronic device. I could view the lineup, create my schedule, and check the audience counts at any given time. I could view who was currently playing at each stage, locate the food, activities, and even recycle locations from my e-map. And yes I could sync up my phone with my FaceBook account while experiencing the event and even follow Dave’s Tweets although I must admit, I did not during the shows.

Online, I could see how many people were scheduled to attend each event and the numbers changed as the crowd changed their schedules real-time and as the storm clouds blew in. No worries, weather was no detourant for this crowd.

While there, we texted, recorded video using iPhones and cameras, and shared live songs feeds with our friends.

The acts were more performance based to reach the mass appeal of the primarily 25 to 35 demographics. Large screens, techno- lighting, and video feeds accompanied the audio events. Acts were short and sweet. Those longer than 1 hour seemed too long for the short attention spans of those in the crowd (mine included).

By coming equipped with an iPhone, one could locate who is Now Playing, easily switch venues, and circulate to all of the corresponding events while drinking a beverage, and planning the next event or the rest of your day.

It was digital. It was textual, visual, audio, personal, yet public at the same time. It allowed each viewer random access and provided interactivity.
Phones and small cameras were allowed, so the viewer could be a co-authors to the event. Digital access was real-time and participation was made-to-order.

I think this was a perfect example of a new media event that Manovich is speaking about in his book. More importantly the words variable, mutable, and liquid (no pun intended) would apply to this event. It appealed to the cultural consumers of today and I was one of the masses.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Nexus Series

When I read these pieces, I think about connections -artistic, mechanical/cybernetic, and culture connections. What is lacking is the physical. It is about attempting to communicate or connect with others in this age of virtual time and space. A strange thread runs through these articles in that the more we try to mentally connect to others through new cybernetic social mechanisms, the more we grow physically distant afraid to connect . Maybe it is because we experience this world of fear to connect, be it exclusion, fear of AIDS, or other factors resulting from fear, control, and power.

“institute a less individuated, more communal form of perception similar to that which was attendant upon face-to-face ritual and aura but which is now mediated by anonymous circuitry and the simulation of direct encounter?” pg 26.

The process of virtual media and creating with virtual tools to make virtual productions is ethereal. It (the moment of conceptual) is here, experienced, and then it is gone with little or no trace. Once virtual access is present, the creator can remain physically absent. The concept can be misinterpreted, reinvented and beat into a frenzy by the virtual public. I am probably moving into the realm of sociology here and the demise of social interaction. I guess I am speaking of the demise of the aura… the absences of essence. The age of the replica.

“The authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible from its, beginning, ranging from its substantive duration to its testimony to the history which it has experienced.” Walter Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, in Illuminations, translated by Harry Zohn, New York, Schocken Books, 1969, p.221.

I think about photographs made from old school cameras using film. At least the photograph had a beginning, the participant's staged or natural state, the actual image on the negative and/or print, and then the remaining record of the historical reference - the aura.

Now we have digital files which can be edited, enhanced, appropriated into a totally different context, and then deleted from existence.

A few of my favorite artists who create(d) in this conceptual manner using time, the aura, and space as their response to culture, the Other, and historical reference include:
Albert Chong www.albertchong.com
Sophie Calle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie_Calle
and Ana Mendieta www.angelfire.com/ia/tridar/ana.html

Each of these artists attempted to connect with their environment, deal with their cultural heritage and issues, and link a moment of their existence with acts, installations, temporal constructions and events that connect to their past, present, and, in at least one case – horrific demise. They record the mystical and ritual, remenants, people they had seen which is more about the aura or essence of the person rather than the actual physical being. The physical was not enough, the artist was connecting with the spirit, the soul.

Aura is something that is not tangible but we try to communicate it, recreate it, and transport others through our own skin. Is essence unobtainable? Aura is a substance of what was but no longer is… an afterglow, a memory, a thought. Is aura a precursor to virtual?

Photography, literature, and film attempt to create essence. It is fully cultural, political, and personal. However, the replica always ends up a fabrication of the original. The moment we try to reproduce essence, it no longer remains true to the original. It is just a copy. We try to recreate, inspect, analyze, and reinvent but we fall short.

Dadaist rejected the aura. But in doing so, they made a political statement about “anti” art and created a cult following…which represented the very thing they were rejecting.

We inspect to connect. But in doing so, there is risk that we will repel and are rejected. When one creates something (reproduce if you will), there is always intent to change the focus from what was once perceived to something more dominate. Money becomes a issue.

If you produce/create a work out of a deep desire to communicate, without price attached, you are attempting to express essence or aura of something. When economy becomes attached to it, the work loses its essence and intrigue.

Then if one applies worship to the object, things go astray…We try to own, objectify, and capitalize.

These things are all tied to trying to touch, connect, relate to others, but if there is only one perception…singular in form, then is the attempt always going to fall short? If we do not have to be present (as cybernetics allows) then we do not have to be responsible for the shortcomings of the original – our bare human self - flaws and all. We hide from accountability, vulnerability, and shroud ourselves in the “tissue” of the perfect virtual being.

Remember Blade Runner? We have surpassed this to something else, the social demise of the physical connection with others. We select the virtual over the mortal because it is safe, distant,and virtually obtainable.

“The chip is pure surface, pure simulation of thought. Its material surface is its meaning – without history, without depth, without aura, affect or feeling. The copy reproduces the world, the chip simulates it.” The Work of Culture in the Age of Cybernetic Systems by Bill Nichols. Pg 34.

In the end, a sim is just a sim no matter how visually perfect, mentally collaborative, and intellectual stimulating it may be. A sim is a safe substitute for the risk posed with a flawed original but it is still lacking the aura.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Walter Benjamin - skins, signs, space, essence,

aura...what is authentic and what is a repo? I think of time and space...I think of movies and films that I connect with. I have memories of these. They become a part of who I am...like the time I watched Psycho all night long and couldn't close my eyes when I showered for days...months...years...The shadowy figure appearing, the eyes, the sound of the attack, the blood down the drain. How can anyone shower with their eyes closed ever again...how?

Films do have an impact...photo stills are manipulated by the photographer...by time and space but I still love the tangible artifact. At least there is a trace for a few hundred years. I love the memories...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Revolution...evolution

This is really a very interesting book on many levels.

First, I am writing system application training for adults for medical research. I get the ordering, cataloging, and methodology process. This is the way I think. I am an artist, but I am also very systematic. I think people think systematically, orderly - whatever you call it. It is a way to connect. It makes sense. I get it. The book makes you wonder, what if?

Also, about the Bible...I believe the Word is alive and inspired from God. People that read it (whatever translation) and get it, are Spirit filled. God says in His Word that before He returns, all mankind will know who He is - they will recognize Him when He returns. I think that it was no accident or coincidence that the Bible was the first widely published book. I think God is in control. I think humans have the choice to believe or not. It is their choice. The dissemination of the Word was part of the plan.

God is love and peace. He requires respect. Most people do not choose this as they want to be in control of their life. Once you understand His power and acknowledge He is in control, you submit to His will, you are one of His.

Some get it, and some don't. Whether you think it is some code, some conspiracy or some cult...I don't really care. I am Spirit filled. I understand that the WORD is alive. I dig it, understand it, and know I am His.

The book doesn't really make a stand or not. She is a great objective observer. I love how she presents how everything has unfolded. It is part of a bigger plan.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

(R)evolution in the printed word

Instead of writing one piece at 11:59 PM the night it is due, I am evolving... I'll write a bit each night...What a concept! This piece by Elizabeth L. Eisenstein is an easier read and I can relate it to my current circumstance with my job. I am a change agent. My job is to collaborate with others to develop new electronic processes to expedite the review and management of research data to a conclusion. Along the way, we communicate the new processes, make updates, and train the new procedures. (pg xiv)

Research is contingent on data collection, storage, and retrieval of information. By using systems to collect, filter, sort, and retrieve different combination of data, the researcher(s) makes a hypothesis and reaches a conclusion. In addition, by developing communication networks, information is disseminated, and shared to learner communities...to make further conclusions...what a concept! Like those stated in the first part of the book.

Isn't that the purpose of the university? To teach, explore, expand knowledge, come to conclusions, tear them apart, then rethink them... isn't this the progress of growth? Yet, universities, and corporations as well, hold fast to old methodologies. I am not saying that tried and true is not good but aren't institutions of learning supposed to be progressive? If so, why are they so resistant to change? Because we all are. This is definitely where I stand today...in this quagmire. But I am an optimist.

But it is untimely to now consider the shift that occurred with the advent of the printing press, where thoughts were first shared orally, then written on paper, printed, and then published to the masses, as discussed in this text. Maybe not in such an organized manner and maybe not succently as this but it was done.

I begin to think about our need to preserve...we write because we want to recall thoughts, save ideas, record possibilities in the form of composed words of text into a stream of thoughts that others build on like art and media. These recordings are living archives, long preserved after we are gone - if they are noteworthy. Maybe this is why it is so important to create and record the word, hand written, twitter, email, printed, audio, video, film or otherwise. Because it will outlive us if what is said is worth of keeping. To be continued...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thoughts on Remediation

We try to make connections so we can understand and communicate with others. We use different forms of media as our tools to communicate. We take our human perspective and layer it into the things we know, the things we see, the way we understand the world, and how we relate with those around us. We try to create that which has meaning by creating relationships with those around us. Immediacy, hypermediacy, and remediation result from our interaction with media and experience. We are in a world full of others, trying to grow, live and experience life. Our culture, lifestyles, privileges, and sometimes limitations dictate the evolution of our use of media and the way in which we use it. What we do with it seems to continually expand and grow like a living organism. We seek constant stimulation but yet wish to remain at a distance from it.

Immediacy is the “contact point between the medium and what it represents.” (Bolter) It is like the moment when light hits a thunderhead. We see many colors of the storm that remind us of a painting or a photograph. We take this visual image and make a song, video, or photo of it to fulfill something within us.

Hypermediacy is experiencing the moment as it occurs, with as many possible media elements as imaginable. “Hypermediacy like other media since the Renaissance –perspective painting, photography, film, and TV, new digital media oscillate between immediacy and hypermediacy, between transparency and opacity.” (Bolter)
Here is an example of this: Patrick Swayze dies at 57. I see this news flash on the screen as I write this. I am listening to the sound of the TV, reading Facebook messages from friends, checking out Yahoo news…I see it, his picture instantly… he has died, he is gone and the news is now old. I remember him, his movies, moments my personal life with reference to him, and publicized moments in his professional life. It is as if he were a part of our family as we connect that point of reference with him to us. Yet we never really knew him as a man. He was just a person in the media. This is how media can saturate your life. Someone you don’t even know can touch your life, and pass away, leaving a mark in your life.

We are saturated, continually bombarded with media. Moving from moment to moment faster, quicker, with all senses stimulated, connected by the media but at the same time tactilely detached. That is why virtual reality is so appealing. We want the contact without actual commitment. We want the control without the responsibility.

We can participate by watching a movie, cry, become emotionally involved and then instantly remove ourselves. We are part of a disposable age. We consume, become bored and discard. We desire more, bigger, faster, and better. New cameras, new phone, new GPS, to get us where we want to be and stay connected while we are there. The virtual world with digital components allows us to create that which pushes the boundaries of our human capabilities.

We can be immersed in something yet maintain a distance. We can be the object of the gaze, detest it, desire it, or see from the perspective of the viewer (gazer). We assume a point of view through different forms of media, see through the eyes of the protestors of the September 12th march on the Capitol, or hear the viewpoint of a film critique from the Toronto Film Festival in the same day. We can follow a video crew through the Tour de France using twitter or text messages and see photos and video from a phone operated by a friend who is actually there following the race. All of this is possible. We are morphing continually as we find new ways to track, report, capture, and communicate what we see, feel, hear, smell and perceive.

Even music can be composed without instruments. We can download free software (Audacity) with synthesized sounds (Freesound) to create pieces of music without even knowing how to play an instrument. It may not be great but who cares? It is ours and we created it. It is a file that can instantly disposed of.

I guess that is the transparent immediacy of it all. Like a photograph, you are there and connect with the medium. You put yourself into it, but the moment is no longer there. It is gone the moment the image it made. Even TV tonight…the huge production of Michael Jackson’s key moments in music, his dance and his video on the music awards. He was here and now he is gone, the moment is gone, the production is gone. We may talk about it with others tomorrow and remember the event of tonight, but the visual images, sound, and production of the moment is over. We can record the event but he will never be here again. It was a moment, a connection, an illusion and now he is gone.

Finally remediation is not trying to improve on some one thing that was but building on many by merging and combining what was and continuing to create new media forms morphing into something new.

These are all topic discussed in Bolter’s book, Remediation. This is our culture, our life, our living art form.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Medium is the Message - a personal response to new technology, learning, and ideas on morphing, slavery to and freedom with technology. I will comment on the effects on morphing, learning, and personal connections within the electronic age.
Earlier this year, I was laid off after working for a company for almost two years. It was a contracting company that designed web-based training solutions for large corporations that provided soft skills and technical training. I had previously worked for 9 years for a large corporation and purposely left with hopes to learn new technologies and expand my skill sets. I thought I was blazing new trails (MORPHING) by working from home. I would save travel dollars, be green because I had no commute. I saved money on clothes because I did not have to dress to work. I used multiple lap tops at a time – multi-tasking my days away. I thought I was being progressive. That’s what I thought. HA!
One of my yearly responsibilities at the web training development sweat shop, in addition to my required billable tasks, was to create a presentation for our team that discussed new trends and technologies. My presentation suggested that our current modes of teaching are outdated and that there were many new ideas, free applications, and new learning collaboration options that we could offer our customers to engage learners in schools and the workplace. See link http://www.rheingold.com/ I presented my findings via webinar and did not receive any feedback. (DISCONNECTED) This presentation was very close to the information presented in your YouTube – Did you know? I don’t know if the group was stunned unimpressed or just bored. Then shortly after my presentation I was laid off…my group (training solutions) was downsized. But I feel that my presentation was spot on, insightful and predicted our demise.
I thought I was escaping the corporate machine…but actually I became more of a slave to the corporate production machine – I was just detached. Unfortunately, I ended up working longer hours, had multiple deadlines at any given time, and consequently did not report many additional hours that I worked. I was stressed all the time, isolated, and almost went nutty from social deprivation. This was a real example of some of the growing pains that McLuhan speaks of in his articles when you make sudden and rapid changes as communication and technology morph our world and work.
You see, even with technology, we had a clearly defined quality process that met government standards (automation) but was so cumbersome that it crippled our marketability. As a result, even when using new technology we were restrained by the process and our turnaround time was so long that we essentially eliminated ourselves from winning any new contracts. We became extinct.
I embraced technology by jumping out of the comfortable corporate life, and experienced the pain of failing but learned a great deal about myself in the process. Often embracing new things as Marshal McLuhan suggested does not mean it is easy or without pain as it requires change. Most people do not embrace change. They want to remain as is. They do not think “What if?” and are basically lazy, afraid or both. That is why I believe the artist as McLuhan says, is able to visualize a new different way of seeing, doing, sensing, feeling, and creating possibilities that other are not able to grasp. “The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception.”
As information is more available and shared at an accelerated rate due to alternative modes of communication, we must see that traditional modes of creative teaching must change as well.
Moving on, I MORPH into my new career. Having a Masters degree, I sought to gain accelerated certification as an art and technology teacher. I have ideas of a collaborative learning environment where the teacher is merely a facilitator. The student are given multiple modes and methods of learning and the learning experience is exploratory, experimentally, and investigative. With this said, this idea of creating a challenging environment where student are encouraged to go beyond traditional linear learning paths, is not fully embraced now as it requires hours of planning, experimentation, and research along with creativity. I can image what administrators would think about my ideas. I did pass the tests, get interviews but eventually was hired by UT Southwestern and am working with some of my ideas to deliver technically training in my new role.
Actually this is a better environment for me as this idea and delivery method eliminates the superior/inferior role of the teacher/professor as the keeper of knowledge. This idea of learning collaboratively puts the students and facilitator on the same plans/level which is contradictory to the current hierarchy system found in our education environment. But could it work? Think of place which is more like a think tank where everyone is there to expand their level of thinking, and learn together. Everyone bring information to the table. Everyone contributes and the media is the format for gathering information, transmitting research, and collaborating to come to a conclusion. The teacher provides the facilitation for learning.
What a new way of thinking! I am glad I got laid off. I am free, to create…I am morphing again.
Part 2: The Internet affair. We went to see a friend of ours who recently (around the same time I lost my job) lost his wife as a result of a medical mishap. After 9 months, he is dating again…choosing his next possible mate from selections via eBay style found on the Internet. How glad I am not out there. After careful consideration, he screened his applicants and made selection on one Barbie style blond. We made a delicious meal, and with anticipation, awaited her arrival. She arrived and exceeded the image of this age’s epitome of “the plastic perfection” –long blond hair, long legs, perfectly toned and sculpted body, and beautiful in every way. She had a high sing-song voice and a long list of adventurous experiences that richly added to the less than stupendous meal we had created…We delivered our part, the meal, and the rest is up to the two of them. Will there be the lover and the non-lover?
Yes, the medium is the message.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

So I have a few more words...I forgot to mention seeing Philip Haas' videos at the Kimbell - Butchers, Dragons, Gods & Skeletons. This is yet another form of current communication using a different form of media. The films represented the reaction the artist had with specific classical paintings on exhibit. There was very little dialog yet the installation communicated a deeply personal interpretation of the artist's experience, feeling, and reaction with the paintings. Haas's multi-layered visual dialog shows how current forms of media can expanded the author's voice by demonstrating yet another dimension of human communication that is sometimes void of the written or spoken word.

Monday, August 31, 2009

semiotics & Plato

About Plato...in summary, through the dialogue, I would say Plato feels the spoken word, the art of speaking is more powerful than the written word. To be successful, the orator should be skillful. Before speaking, an orator should be intimately knowledgeable about the subject. The speaker should know the character and diversity of his/her audience so that he can divide, and divide further into multiple minute forms and attach the topic at all sides – free form, yet not. Plato talks of an order and a unity and form. Additionally, the speaker should know his/her soul and be prepared to speak about the subject from personal experience and from the depths of his or her soul (I would definitely include spirit here) on the matter. To be effective, the speaker must be passionate about the subject, know how to relay thoughts, feelings and ideas about the subject so that the audience can relate at many different levels to and possible connect with the speaker to the point of participation so the audience can respond to the speaker to illicit a dialogue. The speaker should be able to lift the audience to levels of highs and lows relative to the content of the topic…such as the discourse on the lover and the non-lover. The speaker finally, must know when to speak and when not to speak...

About the lover and non-lover...that is only a topic one could comment on, if one has been in both positions of the love relationship equation...both positions require courage to take risk, accept the highs and lows of emotion and passion, and risk the pain and pleasure of it even to point of temperance and even disgrace. Plato expresses the results of the lover/non-lover relationship as it declines, the embarrassment of the one who loves too much, the ugly events that transpire with time, suffocation, and exclusion that results from imbalance, excess, and disgust. This may be more pleasurable. He seemed to struggle with temperance, wisdom, justice, and purity…moral issues that surrounding this love relationship. I think he took a long time skirting his feeling about the issue and never really spoke freely about it. But maybe I just am not philosophical enough to understand the underlying meaning. He seemed to be in love with his audience… He concludes that to avoid the entire experience is best, and even better to have a really good friendship in place of the messy relationship of love.

To comment on the two readings, Phaedrus and Saussure, in relation to current media and digital communication...I see they both have something to say that has a point and counter point. Plato says the spoken word is more powerful...Plato says that "oratory is the art of enchanting the soul" the discourse between people is where the power lies. You have a moment in time where interactions take place...written word cannot possible express this. Spoken work is like digital words, they have a specific moment in time. They are transitory, and cannot be preserved...like digital images. They must be experienced at the moment in time that includes the conditions that exist with the people and surroundings you are experiencing. It is best enjoyed with the emotions of the person who is expressing the ideas and can be shared with those who receive the information and can interact and respond. On the other hand, the written counterpart is more of a document and can be reviewed, revisited and preserved. However, it can be interpreted in many more different ways, depending on the person reading the document, their interpretation of what you said, and the experiences and conditions which they bring to the moment in time of the reading of it. Twitter and blogging can be shared and does contain the time elements but lacks the face to face impact that the spoken word holds for the receiver. Digital media can be lost in an instance. And with the sheer volume of messages that are transmitted at a given moment in time, the impact is less impressive. The value of the message is essentially devalued because the quantity and quality of a well written discourse is rare these days.