Good Luck. Hope you have as much fun trying to access it as I did trying to post it. Cheers.
In Krapp’s Terror and Play, or What was Hacktivism, there is an excellent description of our obsessive consumerist society. The “cyberterrorism” of 2000, Krapp says, was “to distract anyone from the giant shopping-channel-experiment-on-steroids—pumping up the American economy on anabolic expectations that people would be doped up by the rapturous possibility of spending entire paychecks, with a click of a mouse, on stuff they could see only in pixels (29). It is, in my opinion, a brilliant evaluation of society’s reaction to our obsession with convenience. Anything that tries to thwart this avenue is labeled as villianistic and is met with resistance if not instant anger.
However, it is more than the desire for convenience that makes the web problematic (obviously) but it is also unabashed blind faith that society follows the Web with and the incredible dependence that is now apparent in our culture. As citizens in the new globalized culture, knowledge and resources are abundant and ubiquitous if conscious and literate in the Web. But, as Krapp quotes, “Web actually endangers the ideal of the public because it eliminates the possibility of the secret” (36) that is necessary to keep the interest of the public. Once the secret is out, we have the need to transfer to another venue of entertainment, the previous one being exhausted of all that it has to offer. Although I do not see this occurring holistically in the Web due to its limitless spectrum of possibilities but also because I believe it is the launching pad of everything we are unaware of. The curious appeal of the Web is nested in the fact that as the formats and security features are figured out by amateur (and some not so amateur) hackers, new and improved elements are implemented therefore continuing the interest. As the hackers get better, inspiration for secure measures get better. They are the driving force for each other. “Although the omnipresent sensurround of technical media seems to promise instant disclosure, their structure also harbors at its core the asymmetries of privacy and its monitoring, of surveillance and its screening over, of archives and their preservation” and revelation of newer coding and decoding methods. It is inevitably a search that will continue considering the depths of the sea of possibility.
Raley brings up excellent questions in Tactical Media concerning humanistic boundaries implemented as a form of control, physical or imaginary. After going into detail about the security forms in place along the border of Mexico and the United States, she then brings up how many “slip through” and therefore questions the position and purpose of security. She laments that in fact, there are historically large numbers of people coming in illegally and therefore the security measures are in noway fulfilling their purpose. “In other words, the performance of security is more important than actual security, and the theatrical serves as a substitute for the real” (34). This supplements the discussion for separation and human divides.
America has always been the ‘go to it’ and life in the states is comparatively good when contrasted with other countries. But it has allowed for an untouchable attitude which sets the nation up for a potential violent and fatal fall that is looming in the shadows of government. The uncertainty of future relationships and cultural changes is frightening. “The alarmist quality of mainstream media news may make us feel as if risk has increased, but in fact, Beck explains, risk has simply been spatially, temporally, and socially unbounded. Pollution, climate change, infectious diseases: these are risks that are no longer limited to region, territory, of nation-state and are now spatially unbounded. Risks have become temporally unbounded in that we are not able accurately to predict future damage or assess the long-term dangers of, for example, toxic materials or genetically modified foods” (35). In other words, we are no more powerful in reference to the new globalized community that is the world than any other situation. Technology has created links and communities that allow for mutual human exposure to all levels of population. As Raley later discusses, technology is a new medium that inserts the individual into a situation that relies on individual interpretation dependent on ” identification with the artificial” (149). Exposure to events that would have otherwise been hidden opens a path of relatibility between individuals and their (natural or unnatural) surroundings. This synthetic bond gives us false security, much like the fences and surveillance on the border of Mexico. We are in a society that is misleadingly stable and attentive to individual needs and yet “while we each hold to the illusion of our agency in relation to the market, the illusion of our capacity individually to manage capitalist markets, we are always caught within a paradigm that is too complex and that in effect manages us” (149) even and especially in the use of “virtuoisic performance and cultural critique” that “occupies a psectrum ranging from direct action (e.g denial-of-service acts and game space interventions) to symbolic performance (e.g. data visualization). We, the revered “individual” continue to be at the mercy the “They”’s that continually direct social movements and emotion.
I will have to admit that what came up when I opened the link to electronic anthology was nothing near what I expected. I was fascinated. It is certainly not a familiar way of reading literature and I was completely enraptured with the concept of interactive texts and the limitless possibilities that are allowed. I looked through several and picked one that I liked and one that I thought was a good concept but I wasn’t able to connect with (in the hopes that it can be explained ha).
Deep Surface by Stuart Moulthrop is meant to simulate a reader’s submersion into a text as presented as a dive into water. The text is set up as a “game” in which the participant selects a depth in which to submerge and as the participant “dives” a voice is heard amidst the aquatic sounds that speaks of surface and depth. There are also words that scroll up the screen fading as they roll. There is text that simultaneously “falls” and fades upon its descent. Unfortunately, the experiment fails, at least this was the case in my own experience. I was stubbornly aware of the computer as the medium I was using to attempt my “dive”. It is necessary to continuously “breath” with a random arrow button that changes with each dive (it is a ‘hint’ that appears, briefly, with one of the random lines of texts) and therefore becomes a constant reminder that the relaxing sounds I was hearing were in fact being produced by the speakers of the same medium allowing me life sustaining air in my virtual dive. Virtual, the land of infinite potential. And yet, I must still breath on my own.
Sooth is an amazing poetic device that incorporates sound, interactive text (in which you, as the reader, must click on the playing video to create lines of texts that appear and gravitate to the location of your click. The poems are passionate and raw and by delivering them one line at a time, each line becomes a powerful independent while at the same time, sutured to the previous and following line by following a continuous path of disappearance. The audio is interesting in the way that it seems to be brief clips of randomness, following the erratic behavior of the lines of texts. The poems are offered in both English and French and when interacting with the poetry in French, after experiencing it in my native tongue, it offers an even more intriguing interaction being foreign in both language and format.
There were others that I also found interesting and may add a few sentences about them as well. I would like to learn a little about the creation of these because I see it being an excellent form of expression for current and younger generations. This is the art of the era.
Historically speaking, I could make reference to an incredible amount of examples in which there was a societal uprising and rebellion against “the powers that be”. Often, what I have found, is that when the population receives what they so valiantly fought for it is not met with relief, but merely with more frustration of it not being ‘enough’. Therefore, the people ask for more, relentless in their thirst for what they label equality but in actually is not even close. Instead, they want to present a list to the higher ups with a set of demands and have those demands instantaneously met with no effort or responsibility on the part of the people.
But that was a little soap box-ish. What I mean to consider is that of the The Occupy Movement being the rebellion of this generation, this very digital generation. More specifically, I will address the historical notion of Occupy in the sense of what it has patterned after. From what lesson (or historical event/movement) did Occupy learn that this (as in passive resistance) is a method that works? I will take into consideration examples limited to the last 100 years (As of now, however, there is a chance that I will narrow it further to a more recent history depending on the amount of information that I come across in my research. I do not want to bore with droning on and on for 30 pages on a history lesson). What I am hoping to find is the sentiment of the people prior to the movement taking place. In other words, what events led up to the action/reaction? In the context of Occupy, what were the actions that sparked the sentiment of society and drove a desire to influence change? How do the causes vary or mimic each other? What were methods of communication between activists historically as compared to methods of Occupy? Futuristically, how will this type of movement be affected? What new voice does the digital age give to the common people?
Chances are, I will be writing an essay. My deepest apologies to those that are going to make this project amazing with technical talent- I missed out on that gene, unfortunately. But I do intend to do something other than text…what that ’something’ is has not been a revelation to me, yet.
Poster has an incredible knack for digital application. Who would think to bring in Teletubbies (gag) and Freud? He makes an excellent point, however, in guiding such a broad application in the sense that modern technology will always relate, and resonate, to past, present and future dependent on what that “modern” is defined as. Consider his example of the reaction the late 1800’s where the “readers of novels were warned of the dire consequences of print media” and compared to opium smokers. Ha. Find me the individual today that will tell me that reading a novel is equivalent to opium high? Calm down English majors- we are the exception, not the rule. In the context of its addictive nature, sure, everyone knows someone who simply “couldn’t put the book down”.
Modern culture has a new and fresh addiction in which to feed the need. Internet culture and modern technology should be compared to heroin addiction or whatever the latest drug offers. People can’t stop. It’s crazy. Myself included. But how can we? If we attempt to shield our children from technology then they will flat out be left behind and you have just succeeded in handicapping that child. The younger the better. Teletubbies is an example of the permeation of technology and the idea the hybrid human at almost an infant state. What they see is a hybrid creature that is both familiar (the TV that is in the belly on a recognizable body in the sense that they have two arms two legs etc.) and unfamiliar (for the exact reasons previously mentioned).
A concept that Poster has repeatedly mentioned, and rightly so, is the ethics of the Internet (pardon me, I almost forgot to capitalize the I). The notion that images, ideals, communications, private acts and things that should not be seen- are seen. And by any audience. It is often the introduction of things not before conceived by cultures of different morals. So what about anonymity? Poster says that “Net anonymity contributes to ethically questionable behavior” (151) This is where the 1800’s century reaction is warranted. The resource availability on the Net is extremely vast making a plethora of bad choices at your fingertips. Unfortunately, as Poster goes onto show, this raises the need for censorship, which raises another ethical notion in the right of expression. But the truth lies in Posters argument of identity in the sense that exposure to whatever “bag” thing can be an unwilling act. “Proof” of who is on the other side of the screen is indeterminable. As hungry as we are for more Internet, the powers that be are infiltrating the very existence of the culture that we consider the ‘norm’. Therefore, we accept the anonymity and don’t ask questions in case ‘they’ decide to take away our drug.
Identity is a sketchy topic in the context of the 21st century individual. With as much gumption as we can muster, we stand firm in the fact that we, as individuals, establish our own individuality, independent from the influence of external variances. “American culture generally regards identity as the basis of subjectivity, as the center of the self, its spiritual core”
(Mark Poster. Information Please: Culture and Politics in the Age of Digital Machines Kindle Locations 1014-1015. Kindle Edition). However, subconsciously, our culture must admit that this could not be any farther from the truth. Our identity is planted in a series of numbers that define who we are as a statistic, for example where we fall as a credit score, what our financial worth is to the government and how much of our labor is owed, our individual character as far as if we are trustworthy enough to be “granted” a loan from the powers that be, etc. In the context of a cultural identity, American society is lacking. Poster mentions the idea of “identity theft” as not being a let down of internal identity but a blame on technology as a new culture medium. Therefore, is it safe to assume that the identity of individualism prior to the onset of this new media was safe from theft? Maybe. Although once self-surveillance was implemented, protection of an individual identity in associated to one’s role in society is near impossible. It is the same number that identifies an individual as a citizen in a global culture that can misrepresent that individual and nobody would be the wiser. Therefore, a person’s identity can take the form of any thief that gains access to that person’s “information”. I like that Poster distinguishes credit card theft and identity theft. When a credit card is stolen, it is only the theft of the card that is taken. The identity of the actual owner remains in tact. The owner is able to call, verify his “private” and “secure” information and cancel card effectively ending the situation. In the case of identity theft, private and secure information do not exist. When the actual owner calls to verify and cancel, all of his private and secure information has been changed and he is effectively erased as a citizen. Now, his identity takes new form of the individual now in control of the information. And regarding the thief, “[W]ith the high frequency of the crime, even the criminal cannot be certain of the security of his or her own identity, or that the identity he steals is not already stolen”(Kindle Locations 1060-1061). I also agree with the need for financial institutions, the creditor and the credit bureau to be involved in the identity theft crisis. To these institutions, the value of an individual goes only as far as paper and a number and nowadays, a computer screen. The actual physical manifestation of that individual holds no value. It is only what information says on paper or the computer that they believe has agency. That’s a tough pill to swallow for that individual that thinks they can establish individuality independent from external influence.
The ideological concept of the netizen is, indeed, an intriguing one. I have often thought before that the internet is a way of connecting people worldwide thereby creating and unified front of sorts. But front against whom? And who is regulating or in charge of “population control”? I can also see a unified resistance have binary causes: extremely purposeful and extremely dangerous. Consider the political aspects that Poster explains in Chapter 4, “Citizens, Digital Media, and Globalization”. He paints a strange picture with the explosion of the Internet, and much of it outside the United States. Along with this explosion comes exposure of non-Western culture to Western culture, which has apparently been labeled, by nonwestern cultures, as a horrendous occurrence. It is seen as merely a way that “enable[s] the West to impose its economic leverage and political will against nations with less-developed industrial structures and weaker systems of military protection” (67). The concern of non-Western culture is that a globalized netizenship will not “preserve and enhance’ what they regard as ‘cultural differences’ (81) but Poster counters this with the question alluding to the globalized exposure of these very differences that will “extend the presence of local cultural values” (81). But what is so fearfully fascinating about globalization is the creation of the new “local”. Poster points out that “[M]uch of the contemporary music is global music or at least a fusion of diverse musical cultures. Satellite technology and the Internet bring all media (especially television from the United States) across national boundaries as if those borders did not exist”(Poster 71). It is because of this that Poster sees the need to “reconfigure the political individual in relation to conditions of globalization” (Poster 71). Of course this can be hugely problematic starting with the concept of “citizen” being a western concept and spiraling from there encompassing a discussion that would be restricted by my post here so we will leave it at that.
I found myself smiling by the end of the introduction, entranced in a kind of nostalgic atmosphere for a synchronic environment that I have never experienced. Instead, being of the generation that I am, I am restricted to the my memories of technology as not having to dial an area code if it was a local call, or actually being able to dial “0” and get an operator (and that is what you did), or having a computer but never contemplating the internet (what did we do with computers before the internet?!?), and of course, actually using a phone book, not the app. Our technology consisted of cable, sometimes, and maybe a cell phone (not quite the streamline quality of the iPhone) by junior high. However, five years later, I had my own cell phone and five years after that I was spoiled on city internet and cursing country dial-up.
Moving on to another point that I found interesting was the cultural examination Poster put on national vs. global. He offers Homi Bhabha’s ideology “of culture in terns of misunderstandings that occur when different peoples interact” and Poster quotes him with “[C]ulture only merges as a problem, or a problematic, at the point at which there is a loss of meaning in the contestation and articulation of everyday life, between classes, genders, races, nations” (29). He arrives at this point by noticing that it was only after discovering other cultures was one able to identify it own. Only in comparison. However, now, nations are integrated within each other with the modern capabilities of technology. It is possible to study, research, communicate, virtual visit, and I don’t even know what else and have an excellent grasp on society and culture with never having physically gone. Even more so, using America as an example, “the peoples of the non-Western world are now, in large numbers, in the Western world, an outcome that has led to theories of multiculturalism and disapora” (31). Therefore there is a conflict of the identity as nation based on the “European” dominance of every other diverse culture. Those other diverse cultures are now heavily intertwined in American cultural aspects and societal norms.
Globalization via media is a gateway for exposure of all that encompasses a culture, both promising and despondent. Where this becomes problematic is when the exposure to another culture jeopardizes the foundation and characteristics specific to your own, as we saw in the traditionalist’s of Middle Eastern culture enraged at what exposure to Western culture has produced. This is applicable the framework of any society.
In fact, and to end with this, there is a correlation of this concept in Mark Poster’s book and the opinion of Varnelis who explores the loss of the autopoietic individual to one whose identity is now heavily defined by associations and access to social media with cyber relationships and hypothetical connections.