tag : bright yellow-green apples: satisfied to

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Monday, August 01, 2005

satisfied to

figure 45.5. at the end of the street

Two quotes, that could have a similar inspiration in mind.

The first is from an article in todays Observer, discussing what the author thinks are the implications of new media - such as mobile phones, ipods, and these ubiquitous webloggs:

"As the proprietor of MeWorld, your privileges extend beyond access to everything and selections of anything. You get to be the creator - and the star performer. Actual reality shows and personal blogs are only the most obvious manifestations of the democratisation of celebrity that the multiplication of media venues made possible."

It disturbs me a lot, to think of this side - that so much might be invested in creating our personal worlds, places of our own fancy. And that indwelling media in some ways might lead to strange relationships - where people are filtered according to whims and desires. Our mores. I'd hate to loose the unpredictability and uncontrollability, that comes from looking at things other than through a plastic device. Something to keep an eye on, there.

The second is from Summer in Algiers, a beautiful collection of short writings that're published as part of the Penguin 70th anniversary. This is the title piece, moving through the town that concerns Albert Camus:

"The loves we share with a city are often secret loves. Old walled towns like Paris, Prague, and even Florence are closed in on themselves and hence limit the world that belongs to them. But Algiers (together with certain other privileged places such as cities on the sea) opens to the sky like a mouth or a wound. In Algiers one loves the commonplace: the sea at the end of the street, a certain volume of sunlight, the beauty of the race. And, as always, in that unashamed offering there is a secret fragrance. In Paris it is possible to be homesick for space and a beating of wings. Here, at least, man is gratified in every wish and, sure of his desires, can at last measure his possessions.

Probably one has to live in Algiers for some time in order to realize how paralysing an excess of nature's bounty can be. There is nothing here for whoever would learn, educate himself, or better himself. This country has no lessons to teach. It neither promises nor affords glimpses. It is satisfied to give, but in abundance. It is completely accessible to the eyes, and you know it the moment you enjoy it. Its pleasures are without remedy and its joys without hope."

This captures the experiences of a place, with all it's serendipity and discovery -even in somewhere loved as a familiar - so well. It reminds me to be eager for surprise, to be careful never to allow myself the final arbitration in all that life might be, and what it might involve for me. Because I could miss the strangest of 'the other', the intensity of what might be brought.

Today’s lesson? You guessed it - get out more! Luckily I’ll be gardening for much of the week...


Anonymous James Stewart said...

I've read a number of articles such as the one quoted from the Observer (though not, I confess, that one, yet), and agree that it's something to keep an eye on, but it often feels like those writers are watching from the sidelines and not getting involved in what's happening amongst the early adopter community.

The use of digital music (iPods et al) has led to the birth of services like audioscrobbler, which, while providing a personal service, are inherently social in their desire to observe trends, and connect fans. In the world of video gaming the tendency for several years now has been to find ways that players can interact with other human players. Witness the recent involvement of sci-fi author (and digital rights activist) Cory Doctorow in a book party based within an MMORPG as evidence that these are becoming serious communities.

One key thing that all of these creations could lack is true physicality, but as a recent Guardian report about live music indicates, when music fans meet online they usually seem to want to meet in person, and that's one of the reasons for the bouyant live music scene at present. I suspect that such behaviours will increasingly be transportable to other areas of life.

There can also be a danger of producing communities that are still more self-selecting and insular than those we currently build for ourselves, but I've been surprised by the variety of people I've seen connected by eg. their love of a single band.

What is needed from the writers of these sorts of reports is not a "woe is me, the old ways are passing away" attitude, but a more constructive engagement with new forms of community and new technologies. We technologists do need more input and more engagement in order to really tailor our strategies to support and enhance community but ill-informed "it's all about individualism" diatribes aren't too helpful.

2:16 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Actually, selectivity aside, he does seem to be trying to counter some of the rather worrisom reactions of people like me. For example:

If you are of a certain age and inclined to curmudgeonly carping, you might construe all this as anti-social because you are biased toward what brash techies call the 'meat world'. As in flesh and blood. But that blanket judgment smothers the distinction that matters and overlooks a new form of sociality and the manifold ways it confers centrality on everyone involved. It's that centrality - as intense, in its own way, as monarchs once enjoyed - that we should be thinking about, not the myth of isolation.

Perhaps I just need to be persuaded to see how technology might be turned to posative and consstructive ends - with enough imagination and awaremess. But at the same time I need to be taught how to actually use so much of the availible technology, and see it's potential! ;)

3:47 PM  
Anonymous James Stewart said...

You'll be wanting to come to my workshop at Greenbelt then ;) (it's on ways to use technology to increase participation in governmental deliberations). I believe it will be Monday afternoon in Tank, though have yet to have all the details finalised.

4:08 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Well plugged there James - you're a scrupulous example to us all! :P

I may well pop along to your thing, so long as you don't clash with the great Karen Armstrong...

4:56 PM  
Blogger Barnabas said...

Gardening!!! Well I guess it gets you out of the house.

7:00 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Yes! I may keep it well hidden most days, but plants are my vocation (or whatever it is they call it when you become interested in something when 12/13 and go through to study it at university - geekdom perhaps?)

12:45 AM  
Blogger Barnabas said...

Great picture.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Today’s lesson? You guessed it - get out more! Luckily I’ll be gardening for much of the week...

I'm not, and if you were doing a Masters you wouldn't be either...

Just a thought, I believe you have permitted my whingeing on this occasion!

9:44 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Whilst my chances of doing so this year, after a year's delay already, hang in the balance I will not permit ANY winging from those who're doing one right now!

11:06 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

I'll write down our agreement from yesterday - I won't whinge about my course if you don't write 'La la la la I get to play out in the garden' posts...

12:31 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

What? Now hang on there - I may agree not to mention my plantyness for a while, but there's no need to cast me as either smug or hippyfied. I do that enough as it is :P

It's not just play, anyway, I do it for a reason too...here endeth todays selfrightous justification...

12:33 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

I'm not casting you as anything, I'm just saying don't teach me the 'lesson' of getting out more when I'm constrained by the need to work... :-p

12:51 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

If I don't, you might forget the delights of frolicking in the meadows, and soforth ;)

1:18 AM  

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