[-empyre-] [-empyre-} Reflections on Cross-domain collaboration

Anne Balsamo annebalsamo at gmail.com
Tue May 8 06:02:14 EST 2012

Thanks Mark for kicking up the dust!

Some comments and dark observations follow:

On 5/5/12 1:14 PM, "Mark Stephen Meadows" <mark at markmeadows.com> wrote:

> since you started this i'll pick on your gmail address.

Glad I could start the provocation!

> you are what you search, right?

Yes and no.  What gets reflected back (based on the gleanings of my digital
wanderings) is a reflection in a cracked mirror.  I still believe it to be a
case of garbage in = garbage out.  Do I feel important, understood or
recognized when the sidebars on my search or FB page reflect back to me my
recent digital preoccupations: horses, dating sites for women over 50,
non-prescription sleeping aids?  Does anyone even pay attention to that
slice of digital wall paper?  Image saturation and obsessive repetition
makes me inured to the message.

I built a prototype of a reverse oracle:  When you enter a technology-based
search term, what gets "returned" is not results & instances of usage in
random contexts, but rather questions.

I am my questions, not my search terms. SIRI notwithstanding, this may be my
last defense against the singularity.

> true form and function of today's social media architecture are to FUNNEL and
> ANALYZE. and > it is a malevolent design, at that.

But remember, this was the marxist cultural and political critique of radio,
magazines, and television (and other forms of mass culture) in the US
context.  The real business of these cultural industries (so argued) was NOT
providing information to the masses, but making the MASSES available for the
advertisers, state propaganda offices, and other disciplinary capitalist
structures.  Selling my attention, my address, my buying habits, my travel
patterns, my relationship status, my zipcode, my phone number have been
tried and true methods of capitalist wealth-making since the beginning of
the advertising age. Getting me to volunteer this information, and then to
pay for the privilege of "being on the mailing list" were simple refinements
of the 20th c. business model.

> i think it's great that social media systems are used for political changes,
> and i can say 
> (i met him while i was in Baghdad) that people like Salaam Pax - the Baghdad
> Blogger - 
> made real change via their media art. but by our artistic and social desire to
> publish our 
> lives we're unintentionally improving malevolent architectures so that they
> better funnel 
> and analyze us. the design of the culture is something that is herding us and
> i, for one, 
> do not welcome our new robotic overlords.

I don't KNOW what will happen when privacy becomes the next commodity (it
already is, of course); how much will I pay to be scrubbed from the
databases?  More refinements of the model?

>i forgot about history and how technology has always been used. when we worked
together a decade ago i wouldn't have expected to see what we have now, but
if i
project in another decade, i wonder  what we'll have then.

I went to parc BECAUSE of my understanding of history and how technology is
implicated in the reproduction of culture.  I went there--via Rich's
invitation--to learn about the conditions in which technologies are first
imagined, so that I could better IMAGINE how the process of cultural
reproduction might be disturbed or detourned.

That's why I wrote the book, and continue the non-money-making projects:  my
personal moments of "optimism of the will."

> What comes next?

But this is when my "pessimism of the intellect" comes through.  To the
question, what comes next? I can only believe: more of the same, only worse.

Ever seen the movie, DEAD-END DRIVE-IN?

One way the dots connect:  The virtual mobilities that people enjoy deflect
from the recognition of the way in which bodies are increasingly FIXED in
place and time.  (We used to refer to this as "the ideological work" of
mobile media.)  Our data will move freely, but we will not. As economic
disparities become more pronounced in the US, bodies become immobilized,
borders (geographic, class, corporeal) are policed with greater violence.
Retreat to game worlds & an infantile embrace of play as a cultural logic,
offer some relief; self-fashioned avatars can fly anywhere, eventually
defeat all bosses; velocity is riskless, unlimited do-overs, alone together
is the new weird form of sociality.

Repression is a pain-management technique.


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