Thursday, March 20, 2008

Real Virtuality

It’s funny that advertising still remains. So materialistic/capitalistic.
This crash, over-exposure, seems to mean that advertising is less opportunistic. No longer will everyone be watching the Superbowl at the same time from the same camera angle on the same network. Every ‘real’ place is watched, presumably equally, and so every spot is as ripe for the exploitation by advertisers. Even if everyone is forced to tune in to TBS for the Superbowl because of licensing, what is to stop licensing from pervading every area of the globe? It is already considered unlawful to photograph or film on subways or in government buildings. Sure, it may seem hard to enforce, but on a universal data network on which algorithms can operate in near infinite efficiency, it seems like nearly every transgressive instance could be easily detected and prosecuted. YouTube shuts you down if you post a clip from last week’s episode of Lost, yet ABC lets you watch all of the episodes on their website for free, interspersed with some ads. What is stopping this from being the case everywhere? In a way, TV channels have had at least moderate success at maintaining the limited amount of places to go for information. It comes down to (painfully shrewd) economic things like substitute goods versus complementary goods. You can get news about a developing tragedy from any of several sources and garner a comparable amount of information. You can only watch Lost on ABC. Some homegrown web TV business might try to make a show like Lost, but it sure as heck will not be the same thing. What does this say about the relationship between knowledge and entertainment? It’s almost disgusting how capitalistic this all is…

Globalization and virtualization, by saying that everything happens now, implies that everyone lives such that everything can be accessed instantaneously, simultaneously. This may be technologically possible, but humans must still sleep, eat, defecate, etc. So while we may not have to wait for the newspaper or the 8 o’clock news, we’re still not going to live in front of a computer. We have more needs. In a way the internet has become a competition for who can minimize the rest of their needs, and who can, in fact, live in front of a computer, accessing everything as it becomes accessible. There is (perhaps perverse) credibility and reputation to be had in knowing (/seeing/reading/responding to) things before others do.

While this is hilarious, it’s relevant, I think, to what I was saying, and as well as to Virilio’s idea of over-stimulation and dis-information, a loss of context and frame of reference. The realm of reason is no longer defined through the TELEscope, but is pushed right up to our face and into our eyes and mind, and we lose the ability to differentiate between ‘true’ and ‘false,’ ‘worthwhile’ and ‘waste of time,’ ‘valid’ and ‘invalid,’ etc.

Some of Many Questions:
Is the fully realized ideology of Virilio the ability of any person to experience anything at any time, at any whimsical command? Are images really the future? It appeals to the uneducated, maybe, but as far as intellectual value, the internet is re-privileging text, it seems, albeit in a different form, requiring different style (no online novels, but blog posts, comments, etc.) Will intellect and academia recenter itself around images? Will abstract concepts be better explained and understood through some as yet unproliferated visual process? Classic television supposedly focalized the attention of spectators, but what, exactly, are things like Wikipedia doing? And Google? For example, how so many people in class supposedly linked to the same things in their first assignment?

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