December 10, 2007
The Red Fork of Enclosure
My/our symbol of enclosure for English 280 is a red fork. The red fork presents itself with a variety of meanings and faces. The color red, for example can symbolize love, passion, and romance. However, it can also represent death (blood) and rage (red in the face with anger). Looking beyond color, the fork itself can also take on opposite meanings. The fork can be perceived as a tool to facilitate delicate eating, but we might also view it as a hindrance that slows down our food intake. On a more philosophical/poetic level, Thylias Moss' Limited Fork Poetics asks us to study the interacting language systems of our senses. BUT, she emphasizes that the fork is Limited. Thus, it seems that even when we pay attention to how systems interact, we still fail to fully comprehend the reality of a situation.
Just as there is more than one way to view a to view a red fork and any situation in general, there are multiple ways to view the impact of technology. Throughout my blogs, I have attempted to give more than one point of view in regards to how technology influences and shapes us. I feel that both the positives and negatives of technology are apparent in the various current events and topics I blog about. On the upside, technology has allowed us to connect to people we might never have met, it allows us to access information in an instant, it lets people independently publish their work/art, it facilitates our awareness of world news/situations/disasters, and it saves many lives. However, technology also creates e-waste, may cause us to be isolated from one-on-one human contact, may give us unreliable information, threatens our privacy, and may end up taking away traditional novelties such as paper books.
Here is a video I have published on YouTube to illustrate the positive and negatives impacts of technology across generations.
Though there is more than one face of technology, it most definitely has an incredible impact on our lives. But we must keep in mind that every situation comes with its positives and negatives - some of which we remain unaware of.
December 05, 2007
What is genuine? Does it matter?
"Fakes" take on a variety of forms: children's stories, works of art, novels, news stories, plays, politicians, etc. Some, such as children's stories, are seemingly innocent. For example, fables merely fabricate a tale in order to teach some important moral lesson or cultural value. Likewise, novelists often make up stories to establish a specific theme or propose an idea. Art is also "fake," in that it often creates new "realities" and draws us into them. So the question is, if such fabrications are beneficial, is it necessary to distinguish the "fake" and the "genuine"? Is it even possible to make this distinction?
Our "reality" makes it very difficult to distinguish what is real and what is fake. The novelists Alan Sokal and Stephen Glass certainly proved to us that it is easy to fabricate stories and successfully package them as true. Their sagas also suggest that people truly want to be able to determine what is true and what is false. But why? If it seems nearly impossible to determine, why should we even try?
The reason to want to know the truth lies in our fear that fabrications lead to unwanted consequences. At times, this fear is unwaranted. For example, the story of Rigoberta Menchu comes to mind. Menchu's memoir regarding the Guatamalan Civil War and the atrocities/genocide committed by the Gautamalan army from 1960 to 1996 was criticized for its embellishments. It seems that Menchu changed several parts of her life story in order to gain some extra attention. However, the tragedies she suffered were real - she lost both her parents, two brothers, a sister-in-law and three nieces and nephews to the Guatemalan army. The embellishments surely did nothing more than add a bit of drama to the story. Furthermore, her novel put the Guatamalan crisis and the plight of indigenous people on an international scale. Perhaps her fabrication should in fact be praised for its positive effects.
And yet there are instances in which fabrications lead to negative consequences. A good example here is that of the conflicting National Intelligence Estimates of 2005 and 2007. It was reported yesterday that Iran halted its nuclear arms program in 2003. However, in 2005, U.S. national intelligence agencies proclaimed Iran's nuclear program a serious threat - a good article on this topic can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/05/washington/05intel.html?_r=1&oref=slogin. The 2005 report contributed to sanctions placed on Iran, America's fear of attack, an anti-Iranian diplomacy by the administration, and discrimination of Middle Eastern nations and peoples. These were serious consequences, all caused by not unawareness of the truth.
So with examples like these, I think that it can be safely concluded that knowing what is true matters - at times. It is entirely dependent of the consequences that particular fabrications lead to. If an ingenuine tale leads to empowerment of an oppressed people, then fabrications is a good thing. But if it leads to oppression, then the truth must be exposed.
December 02, 2007
"MYSPACEBOOK.PAST: Friending, Ancient or Otherwise"
"MYSPACEBOOK.PAST: Friending, Ancient or Otherwise" is the title of an article published today in the New York Times. The author, Alex Wright, contends that sites such as Facebook are not necessarily brand new methods of communication. He compares them with ancient communication methods, rituals, and ways that our ancestors made friends. Here is a short excerpt from his article:
"The growing popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Second Life has thrust many of us into a new world where we make “friends” with people we barely know, scrawl messages on each other’s walls and project our identities using totem-like visual symbols.
We’re making up the rules as we go. But is this world as new as it seems?
Academic researchers are starting to examine that question by taking an unusual tack: exploring the parallels between online social networks and tribal societies. In the collective patter of profile-surfing, messaging and “friending,” they see the resurgence of ancient patterns of oral communication." -Alex Wright
If you're interested, the rest of the article is accessible at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/02/weekinreview/02wright.html?em&ex=1196744400&en=a6d2efd9a3ec07fa&ei=5087%0A
I find this research quite refreshing. It highlights humans primary need to establish connections with each other. I see the internet as a wonderful communication tool. However, as the article suggests, the importance of face-to-face interaction should not be underestimated. I think that true, lasting relationships are more likely to be established only after personal, real-life meetings. Therefore, perhaps the internet should be viewed as a beneficial supplement to human communication.