Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Final Installment of the 2012 Summer Blather Series

The slow unwitting descent into my digital coffin is a sentence that cries out to be corrected. Or at least understood within the nuances of the digital medium itself. Because really, it wasn't slow. By digiweb standards the fourteen or so years it has taken me from the moment I put my digits to keyboard in employ of my very first digital manipulation software to the last Instagram I tweeted is an eternity. And truth be told, I lucidly pursued the digital medium with a sort of single minded fervor for the last decade. I can even admit that the whole time I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into. The loss of privacy, both in terms of the tangible external as well as the personal conceptual was not something I hadn't foreseen to a degree. I knew what I was doing would be recorded forever and I looked to it as a sort of personal diary that anyone could read at any moment, and specifically, at some point, that "anyone" became my son. I was even prepared for the slight shifts in perception that might occur with a sort of constantly running public commentary. I had planned on it, even, hoping that my powers of observation, both literary and visually, might be enhanced; that I might learn to pay attention more; keep my eyes and ears open for those snippets of happenstance I could turn into a plausible web log. I created a whole mini-network of related portals: an art and writing blog for a kind of running, chaptered journal of projects, the portfolio-ish blog for more one-time ideas, a community video blog for friendly musical dalliances, a Tumblr where I collect "inspirational" images, this very blog to help stoke my passion for surfing, a LinkedIn account and a Facebook account where I could carefully cultivate my online personality, two separate Vimeo accounts to showcase all the video work I do, countless friends and family fantasy sports leagues I have interacted through, a business website that even has a blog attached to that to update recent projects and a website umbrella sort of entity thing to list each one in case anyone ever wanted it all under one roof. And now, lately, I've started a Twitter account that I still can't wrap my brain around, but likely will, and an Instagram page that has easily become something of an obsession. And throughout all this, I knew what I was getting into. I knew I'd be accepting the inevitable fate of our generation and those generations to come of full inter-connected chuminess. I bowed to the realization that there is little that will halt the march toward total information surrender. I was prepared, I thought, for everything. But not quite. What I wasn't prepared for, that is, what I'm not prepared for, as it hits me with successive waves of mental nausea, is how all this really has changed my perception, not the observational sort interacting with the world around me in a literary and engaged way, but my perception of time and my existence in it. It is an existential thing, perception of time. For now, as I zip around on my bicycle, taking my son to school, running errands, I stop and check my email. Now as I drive out to the beach for a surf, or to pick up groceries, I glance at my phone to see if I've got any texts. Now, with the world happening all around me in big bold colors, loud crashes and pungent smells, somehow now I wonder if I'm missing something else happening online or elsewhere. I wonder if such and such a thing I just saw would translate from this world here, into that world there quickly enough. And frankly, I think I am subconsciously starting to consider that world there to be the primary one. The world of universal, inclusive communication has started to become the real world. And this world here, the old "real" world, with its slow moving time frames, its increasingly hampered and disjointed series of communicated events, is starting to move too slow. I'm not getting enough, fast enough. That red building isn't telling me enough. That barking dog isn't saying enough to me. That poopy smell isn't bequeathing me enough current events. I need to know more, and faster. I need to stay tuned in. I need constant updates and I need to be able to comment on them, not these. And this might very well change my understanding of life and existence and what it means to be. The digiweb world is reaching out through my phone and my computer and even my car and starting to alter my perceptions of the non-digiweb world, embedding itself there in the process. An incredible thing, this.  An incredible thing that no matter how cognizant I am of it happening, I am not cognizant enough.


curran said...

i just heard Eric Topol, a prominent cardiologist, give a talk on the digital future of medicine - emphasizing the role of bio-sensors, iphone apps and personal genomic information as to revolutionizing medicine -
he asked the crowd - Salk scientists - How many people are on twitter?
and nobody raised their hand.
He was shocked

- he said that is where the best information is.

...Now, I'm not jumping on that meat wagon just yet, but Eric is probably right.

EditorialBoard said...

It is not so much about where that sort of information is, it is more about how it is I translate that the concept of information into my daily existence. Part of the definition of "information" seems to have picked up this quotient of time frame, which has always been the case in various ways, yet I can't help but feel like this whole thing has become mind altering in some insidious way.

Sourcing and parsing useful information is a skill. As is keeping your head.

How's the boat?

curran said...

My take is that - absorbing info for the sake of absorbing, or because it can be so easily done while sitting down - is a net negative - creating passive cultural homogenization - or regression to the mean - but absorbing high quality info actively then folding it into one's future plan is a net positive.

I know this is a simple idea -
i know - almost too simple...

the boat is super comfortable - much different experience than moving aboard in seattle -
it is not about me anymore - its not a lark, not an adventure.
it feels more permanent - like i've come back to where i belong.

Freaky Born Wings said...

Todd, I love that you're taking on these questions. Mind altering is certainly an appropriate phrase, but swimming as we are in that medium, I struggle to see outside of it, to remember or imagine what life might be without it.

The new Cronenberg movie "Cosmopolis" (based on the Don DeLillo book) takes a stab at the issue, with characters drowning so completely in information they can barely comprehend the flesh and blood world.

And now I also fully understand why you haven't had time to watch the Chicken Petter video, ha ha.

EditorialBoard said...

It's not about absorbing the info, or gathering it or that sort of thing. It is the shift in perception of active engagement with the info. I think there is a new sort of thing happening lately, in the last five years or so... everyone has become a publisher of some sort, everyone is presenting themselves, or their "voice" on such a scale and with such consistency that, as a whole, that segment of society, the one that participates in all this, could be starting to judge reality in a different way, using different filters. This could be a fundamental change in our interaction with the world around us. At least that's what I extrapolate from my small experience.

Shit Freaky! I gotta watch that video! I started to at some point and got called off and didn't get back!
But don't get me started on Cronenberg. There is something about his filmmaking that is just cartoonish enough in a certain way to put me off. I just can't get into his movies. Though I admit, all I've heard of Cosmopolis makes me wanna see it.

Mr. Lentini said...

toddy thinks Don DeLillo is a pile of dog doo doo, and please for the love of god(or bukowski) do not ever get toddy going on cronenburg, I made that mistake and learned what someone looks like on the verge of a mental breakdown, spitting arms flailing speech was fabulous and horrible

EditorialBoard said...

F'ing Cronenberg.