Tuesday, June 03, 2008

77 - Issues too difficult to ignore, too horrible to contemplate

In a couple of years, owning a 'personal life recorder' will be commonplace. For the first time in history, the average citizen will be able to conveniently document the minutiae of their lives as never before: streaming video, surround sound, speech-to-text, delivered from anywhere and at anytime. Even all the time. Your whole life?

Some will embrace the new authority: voluntary, edited, self-surveillance (with commentary) while others may give up cell phones altogether (the most likely hardware platform) while still others will engage in varying degrees with the new tools but in the end, it's a politicizing question because it's unavoidable to have an opinion on such a tectonic shift in how we organize ourselves as human beings in society. How engaged in your life are you? Link me to your proof and I'll link you to mine. Couples considering romantic involvments will be able to investigate potential mates as never before. Think he or she is cute and smart? Check out their blog, check out their social networks, are they honest, forthright and true or are they lying pieces of shit?

In the near future, the record will literally speak for itself. Even now, Social networks are interesting sources of socialogical insight: how many friends? where are they? do people have more friends in their hometown or around the world? what are their friends views?

Show me who your friends are and I'll show you who you are, right? Well, yes. Although sometimes not really.

Social Networking lets people 'manage' their friends (Can a person really have +300 really close friends?) asynchronously and across the globe as a matter of daily fact, has it really brought us closer together or is it now simply easier and far more convenient to ignore whole stretches of people and places at a time?

Unburdened of the obligation to meet each other in the real world in order to maintain contacts, is it possible that our vaunted social networks of friends are really just thinly disguised contact databases? Someone to call when you neeed something done?

It can be safely assumed that the warm fuzzy feeling is gone when your list of friends is over +1000.

I can think of a few close friends with zero net-presence at all. Are they enlightened or simply the new dispossessed?

When personal lifestyle recorders enter the marketplace, what new strange behaviours will begin to be exhibited? Will people increasingly spend time 'alone' while surrounded by a virtual halo of friends in a bluetoothed ad hoc wi-max networked partial hallucination? Can I have breakfast in Reality 2.0 with all my friends and family at once? Even the dead ones?

The ancient Romans prepared death masks of the recently dead, a wax impression of the deceased's face which was then used to make a plaster cast of startling vividness and detail. At special family functions, a respected member of the family would wear the mask of the departed ancestor so that he or she could attend the festivities.

Technology can ultimately do the Romans one better, a simulacrum of a person, based on a lifetime's data from their Personal Lifestyle Recorder could (theoretically at least) bring a dead person back, for most intents and purposes, from the dead.

This is a future ruled by ghosts. This is a future of distributed ego and wide area self-concept.

The Earth is growing a central nervous system, is a planetary brain far behind?

1 comment:

Patricia said...

Life is one - and only. I think those things should stay like they're now. But I have impression that most of people don't think so. What next?...

I wrote sth on my myspace! woah!