Wednesday, March 24, 2010

S03 - Machines and communication

It felt really amazing to listen to someone like Kelly Dobson who manages to establish a much more intimate connection to the machines than I have ever seen before. Perhaps that is the reason I am so terrible with computers and technology in general. For me, a machine was always a tool that helped me communicate better to other people or just made my life easier. It never occurred to me that I was communicating with the machine too.

I had a friend in high school who liked to somehow talk to his laptop (I'm not sure how he was doing this). The rest of us always thought it was because he didn't have any friends so we tried to hang out with him more. However, he sensed what we thought and never really wanted to hang out with us. Now, when I remember it, I know that I used to think that communication with the machine was a sign of increasing alienation, but Kelly Dobson's talk made me question that. Now I think that what she does is an amazing way of learning new modes of communication and I think that what my friend was doing was his way of finding the right mode of expression and that the mistake maybe wasn't his, but mine and all the others' around me who couldn't understand that.

However, the reason I never felt particularly attached to computers was probably because I was afraid of being too exposed. When I was really young and was using my mother's computer, I was always afraid she would be able to see that I was playing games too much or just downloading music illegally. I felt computers overexposed me and revealed parts of my personality I sometimes didn't want others to know about. Because of that, I tend to agree with the Cyborg Manifesto that cyborgs break the division between public and private. As Kirschenbaum points out, everything we do on our computers can probably be somehow traced. There is always a history of web sites we visited or terms we searched on Google. It is true that we can delete those (perhaps not completely), but the very notion of being forced to constantly delete something we do not want to be seen might give a strange feeling of being too exposed.

On the other hand, there is also a feeling of being just a number among other numbers. That is the feeling I have when I see how fast information circulates the Internet. For example, even on Facebook updates often disappear from News Feed very fast. If we google something a few times over time, the web sites that come up may change really fast. The notion of multitude of information balances the notion of being overexposed on the Internet for me.

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