Category Archives: confounded

unfinished business

today is the anniversary of the horrific events that transpired in the United States on the morning of  September 11, 2001 and i would like to take a few moments to look at some internationally famous comedy duos from American entertainment history and then discuss an important topic that comes to mind while thinking about the strange juxtaposition between 911 and legendary comedy teams

 

laurelHardy

who can forget the hilarious interpersonal dynamics and madcap antics of Laurel and Hardy?

 

Annex - Martin and Lewis_NRFPT_01

or the classic onscreen and off exchange between Martin and Lewis?

 

Abbott & Costello (Buck Privates)_01

Abbott and Costello performed some of the earliest duetic comedics i personally recall from my telemediated early childhood while growing up in America

 

sc0024fea0

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz made love and marriage so fun to watch on screen

 

wilder-and-pryor

and several humorous filmic couplings of Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder still seem to resonate and bring a smile even on occasions such as these steeped in an echoed solace, memory and national self-reflection

 

with all of these teams of highly skilled comedic talent, as an American audience we watch the famous duos along the continuum of comedy history perform on celluloid — the comedians through their act take us on a journey with them, and sometimes the situation gets dire, dark and almost Surrealistically ridiculous — although our temporal and physical distance from the stage or scenario documented in these films puts us in a safe and impersonal observational mode, we identify with the characters the comedians portray, and the pain that can oftentimes feel like tragedy somehow, through a genius mixing with the rhythm, pace, gesture and delivery of comedy as a craft puts us in a safe zone that transfers the tragic situational darkness into a laughable lightness that touches a universal heart and soul in each member of the audience

at the end of the night — after watching a movie, we can leave the theatre, go home and sleep after the release of tensions and energies these comedies helped expulse from our physiological internal systems — after watching a stand-up routine or humorous film on television, we can turn off the television with our remotes, pick up around the living room and similarly head off to the land of nod with a certain sense of calmness after the storm

 

and now i’d like to reflect upon
a different kind of comedy duo for a few minutes

and for some, this might feel inappropriate or controversial, but i think this sort of opinion still needs to be expressed and these unresolved feelings still need further thoughtful but diligent investigation and some serious consideration

 

asshats_n_chielf-bush-cheney

and who, my friends, could ever forget the rather sadly comedic antics of perhaps the most deviously misunderstood dynamic duo of international humor, Dick and Bush?

unforgettable, that’s what you are

some might mistake my inclusion of former Vice President Richard Bruce ‘Dick’ Cheney and former President George Walker ‘Dubya’ Bush in this tribute to legendary American comedy duos as some sort of anti-patriotic slander or blame for 911 on the administration that supposedly represented and led the country at the time of the horrific and tragic times surrounding and following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001

but i don’t think we can really blame the administration or these clowns at the helm for 911

that wouldn’t be fair or even remotely accurate if we looked to the known remaining evidence with any sense of reasonable logic

we can, however, reflect on a plain and simple fact

the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 represent a significant and tragic failure of the United States government to discover, analyze and act upon readily available information to effectively prevent or avert an infamous, violent terrorist plot as carried out by 19 Saudi Arabian nationals that were trained in al-Qaeda military training camps that were once located in the desert wilds of Afghanistan

another fact for us to consider

The attacks resulted in the deaths of 2,996 people, including the 19 hijackers and 2,977 victims ( Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks )

and one more fact that i am sure changes on an hourly basis and is probably impossible to quantitatively measure at this point in history

more than 8,000 US and coalition forces died as a result of the US War on Terror on both Afghanistan and Iraq — i can’t understand why i can’t seem to find a combined body count of all the casualties of war due to the War on Terror, including, of course, soldiers, terrorists and civilians from Afghanistan and Iraq WITH the numeric statistics we see for Americans and our allies

see Home and Away for further details and visualizations

and here are some simple surface information sources that show the potential civilian death count in Afghanistan and Iraq

i’m not sure your average person can realistically comprehend the quantities of people that died as discussed in these very basic online sources — and i bet that digging deeper into the data to get a more accurate depiction of the overall international devastation initiated by The Bush Administration might make us stop for a few moments to pause and reflect in a different, less tribally divided manner

i don’t know how anyone can take any of this historic information lightly — or — how anyone can continue to live life on planet earth avoiding certain big questions of accountability, war and the very strange relationship between government, citizens, violence and terrorism

 

but now, let’s return to comedy for a minute

 

so, like the REAL comedy duo greats i started this blogPost off with — Dick and Bush took their American audience on a journey, too, right?

at one of the most sorrowful and tragically vulnerable points in modern American history, as the entire world watched on with genuine empathy, concern and a previously unfelt sense of globally united care — we paused to commemorate the lives lost and to recognize the utter frailty of human life despite our supposedly advanced civilization

i think we all knew, the entire world knew, unfortunately, that the US would soon take military action in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda — this almost seemed inevitable and even predictable, perhaps even the underlying objective of a terrorist attack plot on US soil by Bin Laden and ‘the bad guys’

but the journey they’ve taken us on — this US War on Terror initiated by Cheney and Bush without any inkling of accountability back to very rulership of the United States that made the decision to go into Afghanistan and then into Iraq to fight Evil and terrorism everywhere forever and ever amen — this journey, too, is dire, dark and almost Surrealistically ridiculous

where are Dick and Bush now?

what kind of sick joke are we left with in the world as the aftermath of the fucking fine mess they’ve gotten us into? how come nobody seems angry about these very disturbing circumstances and rather dangerous conditions that administration led us into? and why can’t the majority of people see through the bullshit i seem to cut through so easily as i reflect on the sequence of events following September 11, 2001 and the rather poorly acted show business snake-oil politics orchestrated by the Cheney-Bush Administration?

President Obama’s rather timely speech last night around taking a more cautious and thoughtful approach regarding the current alleged Syrian issues we’re hearing about on the news from time to time at least feels leaderly and responsible and smart — but what of the missing war criminals that still currently reside on US soil without any reasonable manner of wonderment from the general public? are we THAT fucked?

 

and now, i just have to ask all Americans
and the entire world
this question

20080829_palin_mccain_33

does anyone at this point, in retrospect, really think that John Sydney McCain III and Sarah Louise ‘Who’s Nailin’ Palin could’ve kept the country together and headed back to recovery and perchance near future prosperity in the effective and wise way that our current President Barrack Hussein Obama II did?

and if so, uhm, are you fucking kidding me?

but that’s another infamous comedy duo that can simply teabag each other into the American sunset of the GOP if you ask me { and i know you didn’t ask me, but hey, its my blog and i can rile if i want to }

 

there still seems to be some unfinished business for the citizens of the United States of America and the entire world to seriously consider

i don’t think this blogPost or comments on Facebook or tweets are gonna cut it this time around, either — in order to bring some semblance to the decade and a half of Bushian disorder and injustice, we as the peoples of the world and as the participating citizens of the US need to really start participating

voting doesn’t do it either — that’s not enough, not anymore

the philosophy that used to be embedded in the principles of Democracy dissolved a long, long time ago — Democracy, much like Communism in its actual applied practice as a government, missed the mark and its original intention — and then, somewhere along the way the philosophy and moral integrity of our national objectives devolved into a mere economic corporation-led Capitalistic Consumer Military Global Complex

once again, i’m trailing off the topic of this rantflow, but i want to know this — how do we start to really fix all of this?

how do we take the time to calm down the drumbeat of global war initiatives cleverly disguised as: a new moral crusade to promote regime change and nationbuilding; the spread of a free democratic spirit { through occupation } — and then begin to heal and reawaken as more peacefully-minded and self-aware, genuinely human citizens of the global village? how do we even begin to get beyond the horrific exploitation of our trust in our weakest moment? and then how do we get beyond the campaign of mass destruction for the sake of promoting ‘Freedom vs Terrorism’?

does anyone else finding this just a little ridiculous

its funny, isn’t it?

 

 

just not funny ha ha

nobody’s laughing

there’s really no reason to laugh about any of this

i think we can all agree on this point

its more funny peculiar than funny ha ha

it still just feels funny

bush_cheney_evil

and, so, unlike the feelings and journey our REAL comedic duos take us on through film, television and live performance — with the journey Dick and Bush took their international audience on through their ‘act,’ we cannot leave the theatre or turn off the television or computer — The Bushstrz have left the building and they’ve left us all on stage and in the audience and there’s no script, there’s no sense of completion ala Dubya’s famous ‘Mission Accomplished!‘ proclamation about Operation Iraqi Freedom or even around our presence and fighting in Afghanistan — and there’s no leaving this Theatre of Cruelty these bastards left us with — we cannot simply ‘go home’ with a clear and calm conscience — and we’re not exactly feeling any safer in the world after a dozen years of fighting terrorism with security and information and drones and military attacks around the world

what a stupid plan

a series of rather irresponsible reactionary reflexes to the attacks

no plan at all, really

what fucking total idiots

thanks Dick

thank you Dubya

now what are we gonna do about it?

how are we gonna fix this?

let’s focus on what we can actually do

just the smallest glimmers of hope and progress can start the healing

but what the fuck, right?

what the fuck?

moving on { from Mobiquity }

mMobiquitySmall

so, its in a somewhat sad and self-reflective mood that i leave Mobiquity, the enterprise-class, start up mobile services agency i’ve worked for over the last year and a half out in Wellesley and Waltham

i truly love so much about Mobiquity

and my final decision to leave the organization, believe it or not, was not one made in great haste or with any sense of impulsivity or reactionary spirit on my part

this was a difficult decision, and i actually leave the firm for so many very excruciatingly painful reasons, many of which are purely personal and life-design related

as i leave, i would like to take a few moments to quickly bullet-list reflect on those positive aspects i can think about and keep with me in my heart and soul as i start a new chapter in my career

here are some Lessons Learned — nearly spiritual concepts and observations — i can bring with me and thank Mobiquity for as i move forward { and I am truly appreciative in every way for the opportunity to work at Mobiquity over the last 17 or so months of my life, its been truly wonderful in so many ways }:

  • hire, trust and empower truly amazing and talented people
  • think of your company { or your department } as a prototype and iteratively optimize the experience of the company using a truly human-centered design methodology
  • take the time to listen to each other, truly listen to each other
  • collaborate as often as possible, and do so with an eclectic human involvement in each project or process as often as possible — it is appsolutely VITAL to understand each and every business challenge involved in each engagement from as many unique perspectives { from the POV of Sales, Business, Design, Development and Delviery } as the organization can afford to invest into the flow of a project at every single step of the process
  • everything is far more complicated than it seems on paper, especially if what’s been put on paper is too vague at the beginning to promote any reasonable sense of business accountability on the part of each partner involved in the engagement
  • professionally drive and guide each process in both a thoughtful and respectful way as a true leader for each and every project / engagement / partnership / relationship
  • learn from both success and failure — its the only way to evolve and grow as an organization { and as professional, talented and honest individuals }, so do not be so utterly afraid of ‘The F Word’
  • transparency — much-like the terms innovation and collaboration — is overrated, under-delivered and over-promised { in other words, if you can’t truly be totally transparent as an organization, don’t even bring up the term, it only hurts everyone involved, including the company, at the end of the day }
  • do everything in the most human way possible — people really appreciate it when you take the time to just talk with them face-to-face or when you try to solve an unsmooth situation by doing everything within your truly human power to show you love what you do and you love and respect the people you’re currently collaborating with
  • live in the moment and appreciate the good and bad of: each and every moment; each and every challenge; each and every opportunity
  • everything is possible

i’ll admit, i’ve been learning some of these things along the way regardless of my shortish tenure with Mobiquity — but i’ve been driving to consciously communicate these fundamental discoveries and understandings of experience design and industry in general in a far more articulate and effective manner to help deepen my understanding of myself, my business and my approach

thanks again for these last 17 or so months at Mobiquity

while working with The Mob, i focused on personally promoting a professional sense of fun, collaborative energy while simultaneously bringing the work to a higher place — and as much as i felt like a complete failure to celebrate my departure from such an amazing collection of talented individuals over a glass of wine and some humorous toasts with the crew, i do feel that i, at the very least, accomplished and embodied those 2 concepts — collaborative fun-making and over the top, professional project results — while contributing at the highest level allowed by the organization

thank you Mobiquity

much continued hope, love, success and happiness

[: long live The Mob :]

on Tracking Happiness

womanhappiness

‘… people have been debating the causes of happiness’ — an interesting quote from this TEDxCambridge Talk from Matt Killingsworth — examine the phrase ’causes of happiness’ — it almost implies happiness, like fear, diabetes or paper cuts, is somewhat like an epidemic, a disease or a physical injury

i would like to suggest that the mystery of happiness is that its a quality that is not remotely scientifically measurable or investigable in the least — its more spiritual than that — it might be epidemic or habitual at some levels — i think its definitely a choice, a lifestyle, something we can decide to be — happiness is a state of being, which means its more of a philosophy, an existential philosophy, or a state of mind

he also asks at one point, ‘How do you feel?’ and then gives the person a scale of 1 to 10, as if feeling or happiness are in any fucking way mathematically measurable qualities of our human existence

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why do we force so much of this stuff into the closed-box thinking of Scientific Inquiry? maybe there’s no measurement to any of this, right? some of this stuff is actually offensive or dangerous to quantitatively examine — suffering, for instance, should never be poured into graduated cylinders to help us compare my suffering to your suffering to the suffering of one people or another — i’m sure the degree of suffering varies significantly depending upon factors that are well beyond any sense of what we can humanly control — but we all suffer, that’s a fact, and it doesn’t need to be measured in any way whatsoever — even those that seem to live their lives without any sense of suffering may be suffering from a lack of suffering, they might not understand the world and the dynamics of life in the same deep and rich way their brothers and sisters understand due to circumstances of their pre-destiny surrounding: the geographic worldly region of your birth; the amount of fingers, toes and limbs you were lucky enough to be born with or without; the time and place in which you live and breathe in

Track Your Happiness sounds clever as a prototypic data-collection tool — but is this really Science? Is Matt Killingsworth really a Scientist? He says at one point, ‘… as a Scientist …’ but he never gives us a definition of how he is defining the concept of Happiness. How do we define Happiness? How do we really measure true Happiness? In what context did Killingsworth track his version of Happiness? How objective are these tests he’s conducting? If someone is really focused in the moment, focused on their Happiness in the moment, how do they have time to be truly happy and simultaneously track their happiness? Its an obvious diversion from enjoying the moment, using this Track Your Happiness app, right?

I'M Happy

I mean, I get what he’s trying to do … what he’s trying to get at. Fantastic stuff, right? Happiness and data, skipping gleefully down the tree-lined avenue, hand-in-hand, tracking little moments of happiness in daily life as we all experience them, in the moment.

I think that the moment to moment approach Kiilingsworth is taking with these studies makes a HUGE assumption. He’s assuming that all moments have something in common. That moments are neutral before we experience them. And then he’s assuming that the way happiness works is a totally separate and divorced mechanism from the moment to moment experience of our lives.

But, any asshole walking down the street knows — even unScientific people { those poor, poor souls } — that not all moments are equal. Moments are NOT neutral — and, in fact, moments might contain some qualities of Happiness or unHappiness all unto themselves. Moments themselves effect the emotional state of people. Qualities of the moment effect our emotional state, too. I think I might be happier to be distracted a bit from painful moments, right? If my mind wanders a bit while I’m visiting a dying relative in the hospital — if my mind actually travels back to a happy memory, the memory of a happier moment coming back to me from the past that reminds me of a happy experience I had together with this suffering relative now struggling to live through a few more weeks in dignity at the end of life’s journey — is there even anything wrong with that happy distraction? And am I NOT happy in that distracted moment, that moment of wandering? I’m definitely not going to pull out a fucking app to track that shit in the moment, though, that’s one thing we’re sure of in THIS moment.

I’m not digging this guy’s illogical rants. They’re not Scientific to me at all. And they’re not thoughtful or significant or helpful. I hope he decides to deepen his thinking in this area. My hope is that over time Killingsworth rethinks his ‘Scientific Approach’ and thinking about Happiness to go beyond the mere ’causes of happiness,’ beyond the concept of faux-metric tracking of supposed happiness in the moment, to reach beyond the mere knowledge of numbers, scales and surveys he’s using as a shallow toolbox to perhaps strive for a less Scientific examination of life’s mysterious forces such as Happiness to hopefully start living an emotionally richer, healthier and happier, more valuable life with less data. Thank you.

happiness-wide

the decision

CruelShoesFirst

i’m re-reading Luke Wroblewski’s A Book Apart instant UX classic Mobile First while traveling to New York City on an Amtrak train and simultaneously reading Cruel Shoes by Steve Martin — i sort of take a break from one by reading a bit from the other — i’ll admit, its an early ride in to The City and i’m kind of nodding off from time to time, wiping the drool out of the left corner of my mouth from time to time, but its an interesting little ping pong combination of intellectual consumption to start the mind to wonder

i think a lot about mobile experiences

i design for mobile, ubiquitous and cross-domain experiences at Mobiquity, which is like the best job i’ve had so far as a design professional and as someone who is personally interested in influencing the way we think, design and ultimately use our technological advancements and innovations

i mean, for the first time in more than a decade i actually get to DESIGN with a capital D

there’s no time for the typical politics and the dreadful corporate trumpings that come with the terrain of egomaniacal VP opinions and Jobsian self-proclaimed geniusness on the part of this marketing guru or that cSuite idea killer — we’re simply trusted to do our job and amazing shit gets done because of this sort of setup in the workplace

but this isn’t an endorsement for the firm i currently work for { well, i guess its a micro-endorsement of sorts, right? we’re growing, let me know if you’re interested in joining The Mob, aight? }

back to the topic, back to the wondering

i sometimes think that all of this anywhere, anytime connectedness afforded us as modern people has more negatives than pluses — i hate to say it, but i’m not the kind of person that simply drinks the kool-aid and just loves every device, every software, every social web experience, all technology — i hope you don’t mind

having this sort of critical pessimism for our progress via technological innovation, as much as it might seem to conflict with the very core of being an experience designer for mobile technologies, actually helps me scrutinize every aspect of the experiences i design on a day-to-day basis

makes a lot of sense, right?

i don’t ever simply agree with the latest interaction paradigm and stick it into my design work just because its at the bleeding edge — or, if its something that works for the Facebook app, i don’t necessarily think its some experiential interaction we should simply copy-paste and plop over into an entirely different experience

although cookie cutter approaches can sometimes save a client money and cut corners off of the edge of time, i don’t bake like that at all

hope you don’t mind, but i think we should really craft these experiences in very thoughtful and deliberate ways — and we should review and assess each design in an iterative fashion and see how that design work or doesn’t work and adjust it along the way using real human decision-making processes as informed by smart interpretation of the findings we gather from usability, data collection from embedded metric reporting mechanisms, qualitative observation and interviewing, all that amazing stuff that makes us more like cartoonish forensic scientists and crime scene investigators with pockets full of pixels as opposed to little DaVinci’s with a big paint-by-number outlook on how to cobble together the Mona Lisa 2.0

ya know?

so, back to Wroblewski and Martin, now, perhaps?

depending on your outlook, your mood and the people you socially experience along the journey of your day, you might view the new push to mobilize just about damned near everything as either extremely negative or extremely positive — if we translate that to the theatrical equivalents of asking something like:

do our mobile devices result in a future social story of our technohumanic tragedy or comedy?

well, i tend to think of it all from Steve Martin’s perspective

what wonderful opportunity to gather new material for farce and spoof and stand-up hilarity

but then, like the stand-up comedian, we should perhaps learn to see how the audience immediately receives the jokes we live while we’re talkin’ on the phone, texting or accessing the web in highly public situations, right? and then, uhm, we can hopefully all learn to adjust the act a little bit, in a more intentional and consciously aware sort of way

humor that’s been carefully honed, crafted and developed is almost always bound to be far funnier and enjoyable than the potentially risky and tragic alternative of improvised and unthoughtful mayhem

at least that’s my humble opinion as a semi-professional humorist and lifelong late-blooming technologist

don’t forget

medium-is-the-massage

the wheel
is an extension of the foot
the book
is an extension of the eye
clothing, an extension of the skin,
electric circuitry,
an extension of
the
central
nervous
system

The Medium is The Massage, Marshall McLuhan

i think we can all interpret these effects, as McLuhan calls them, in various extremes, dimensions, and ways

one way i interpret some of our extensions as influenced by books like The Body has a Mind of Its Own and The Moving Body: Teaching Creative Theatre is that in some way, the tools we use become a part of us, and likewise the other way, too — we become part of the tools we use

i specifically think of the performance art and new media works of the Australian artist Stelarc — in his piece called Muscle Memory { seen in the image included in this post, below }, the artist installs himself into a robotic, spider-like structure that augments and extends his physical abilities as a human being through this strange, science fiction-like machine contraption

003_mm_stelarc

a question i think about a LOT recently is — well, what’s so controversial and different about this performance and the gadgetry involved and, let’s say, the average commuter driving to work at 6:34 AM?

in the case of Stelarc’s Muscle Memory, the artist demonstrates the sheer power and new capabilities afforded the machine operator to an audience in a gallerySpace — its a performance and a demonstration, and its very future-forward and cyberSurreal and interesting in a way that might inform the audience in both a positive and negative way — we might be able to very obviously see how Stelarc, now living and breathing within the confines of this ginormous metal robot, might start to behave, well, like a ginormous metal robot — he, in many ways, becomes the machine, and he learns and adapts and adjusts to both the new things he can do with it while simultaneously sacrificing his own human experience along the way — or, maybe i’m thinking far too much like a transitional, if that’s even a term — i’m not sure that he evolves in any literal way by using the robotic equipment as part of his Muscle Memory performance piece, but his discussions on the topic of this Singularity between man and machine, the combination of the biological and the technological extensions of the previously nearly-pure physical human form, put us in the typical uncanny valley of confrontational wonderment — what does this all mean for us as human beings — will we all need to put on a robotic suit in the near future to perform our on-the-job tasks and assignments? or are our human capabilities ‘man’ enough to get the job done? perhaps it depends upon the line of work you’re in, not sure though, but i’m sure we’ll find out in 10 to 15 years

now let’s take the case of driving to work in the morning — i embed myself into my maroon Honda Accord every morning and drive from Boxford to Waltham every day and i would like to argue that while i am in the car i actually become the car — i adopt the personality, the feelings and the mentality of driving to work, at least for 40 minutes to an hour, twice a day — and, depending on traffic and the flow of traffic and other automobiles on the highway as i drive down Route 95 South, and depending on my mood as a human being now living and breathing as a wetware organ beating inside the machine like a nearly obsolete heart of meat, i act quite differently than i normally do when we talk face-to-face in the office or when i’m at home playing with my son or my grandchildren on the floor — i really think i can become the car in a very literal way, at least if you let yourself follow the subconscious flow of desire that stands in front of you like the temptress you know she is

let’s say you’re in a hurry and you know that if you stay in your conscious state as a person sitting at the wheel that you’ll get to work in about an hour and 15 minutes — not bad, not bad

but why not trust you’re own muscle memory as a driver, as a commuter that’s gotta get shit done, as a worker bee that’s gotta shake the tree and make the magic happen today, ya know? that care now becomes far more than a mere vehicle for rapid movement across a peripherally streaked landscape of trees and jersey barriers and guardrails flying by at 80 miles an hour

that’s right, think about it

from a human-centered perspective, you’re not really moving at all — in fact, you may move here and there, adjust the ball of your foot to move from brake to gas, click the direction into the left position to send a signal to the 20 people behind you as you course like blood through the body that is the highway, but for the most part you’re parked solid and still on your ass, sunk into a quite comfortable chair that let’s you command your magic journey some 30 to 50 miles away from where you live

if you let go a bit and begin to think and behave like the car, you start to decipher new rules of the road that can be leveraged to your advantage — little openings in the flow of traffic beckon you to quickly shift lanes and push ahead of the losers driving slowly in the passing lane to the left — sure, they’re supposed to pass you, but for whatever reason the first and second lanes are wide open and you can make better progress by ignoring the implicit rules of the road — let’s get moving, right? and so on, and so forth

your a little less human when you drive, and more like the pilot of a zombie robot that’s bolting to the office, zipping in and out of the lanes that help you make it all happen

the wheel is an extension of the foot is what McLuhan said in the original quote from The Media is the Massage, but i beg to differ

with our newly adapted and evolved modern lives and our commonplace daily use of machines and devices like cars and trains and other vehicles, the person becomes and extension of the automobile — we become the force that operates a vehicle such as a car, a forklift or an airplane — we become a reverse-extension of it, or them, and we do all the adjusting and discover the new terrains now opened up by our technological progress

i’m not sure where that leaves us as human beings

but i think we should all exercise, at times, a little more conscious awareness and control over our newly-extended selves

cyberSurrealism is about looking at the self by psychoanalyzing the human element through our cybernetic machine influence back on the wetware components of our society — how do our machines change our behavior? how do they then influence: our culture; our interactions with each other as people; and our capabilities on a more holistic scale? as certain capabilities improve, is it inevitable for us to lose other very valuable skills and qualities as human beings? and, in all of this, these thoughts and experiments and explorations through progress and innovation, do we still have any control whatsoever over the evolution and invention of the tools we create and use? or do these things almost subconsciously invent themselves now? how do we keep focusing on the valuable potentials of these human ingenuities and foster more humanly helpful technologies and progress? and most importantly, what the fuck does 4G mean? 

almost there

35272858-confounded_AmericanCheese

after another semi-hectic but productive weekend of writing, designing, editing, refining, thinking, reflecting, analyzing, fermenting — just about doing everything but sleeping — i am almost there, nearly done with my thesis for defense at Dynamic Media Institute at Massachusetts College of Art and Design

its been an amazing 3 and a half years — and looking over the book i’m astounded at how much work i got done in the program

and what’s funny, too, is the fact that i only now seem to fully understand the kind of games i play in my the majority of my design and creative processes

i’ll present the material from my book — aptly titled confounded — future fetish design performance for human advocacy — but i feel that only in the last 2 weeks have i truly whittled away all the extra conceptual baggage i’ve collected over the last few years to really pull it down to its solid core

anyhow, i will probably be back to blogging in some capacity now that i’m approaching the end

and i will probably write more about this core design principle that resides at the heart of my personal processes

i think this is gonna be fun :]

the laughter life

aight, aight, aight …

new concept … coming right outta this here Sound for Dynamic Media course @ The DMI …

so … lately … on my Facebook laugh group, i’ve been using the smile emoticon as a sort of parenthetical, visual naming element + convention … so, the name of the group + all that is surrounded [: like this :] in little smileys, right? … + then on the other more poetry-based Facebook group i started up ( an actual second attempt to eRessucitate the poetry round-robin open mike i had running back in the early ’90s, The Sound of Dolphins ) i used a slightly different, but subtly similar convention … |: something more like this :|, right? these are the written music symbols that surround a repeating set of bars …

… so …

… why not create a Score for Laughter? sections of the score would be surrounded by the old [: smiley emoticons like so :] … + i could use the pitch + other parameters of musicality to really demarcate what i might want a laugh ensemble to produce for me as the laugh conductor … might be ridiculous, but worth trying out, right? ;]

could be creepy-cool-fun

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Semantics Killed Social Media – Advertising and Marketing Blog – AdPulp.com

Semantics Killed Social Media

PORTLAND — Inside Nemo’s cavernous warehouse space on Southeast Belmont an after work crowd is gathered drinking Mirror Pond, noshing on cheese and talking shop.

Amber Case is here. Uncle Nate is here. Rick Turoczy is here. Everyone’s gathered to learn the answer to this rhetorical question: Who Killed Social Media?

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image courtesy of Rick Turoczy

Nemo’s Dave Allen has an answer. Sort of. Allen makes a semantic distinction between “Social Media” and “the Social Web.” He sees Social Media as just another push mechanism for marketers, whereas the Social Web is about life, peoples’ interests and what they’re busy doing day to day. In other words, the Social Web is about us, not them.

Marshall Kirkpatrick, Vice President of Read Write Web is moderating tonight’s panel, which also includes Tony Welch from Hewlett Packard; James Todd of Twine; Matt Savarino of K2 Sports; and action sports industry veteran Lee Crane.

Welch says, “SEO and SEM will be dead in six months,” which provokes several audible guffaws from the audience, for some in the room no doubt make a living by feeding The Google what it wants. But according to Welch, The Google is changing its diet and is increasingly returning results generated from the Social Web. “It’s about reputation management now, so distribute your assets,” warns Welch. In other words, what people say about a brand or a company is equal, if not superior, to what the brand or company says about itself.

Speaking of what people say, Dave Allen is fired up about what people are saying this week in response to radical changes at eMusic. eMusic unilaterally decided to add Sony’s back catalog to its offerings and concurrently altered their pricing structure for the worse. Allen, who helped build eMusic into the indie music source it has become for its 400,000 subscribers, believes the mess eMusic is in could have been avoided entirely if the company had simply taken out an insurance policy in the form of a $55,000/year Community Manager.

Allen mentions that he blogged about the eMusic issue on his Pampelmoose site and also on Social Cache, Nemo’s blog. eMusic’s PR dept. has been in touch as a result. This tidbit raises Kirkpatrick’s eyebrow. Kirkpatrick asks Allen how one can get away with being so outspoken in a business context.

“You must have an opinion,” declares Allen. “Why would I be asked to be on a panel or why would I blog, if I didn’t have anything to say?” Allen adds that generally people don’t take offense because the Social Web gives them a chance and a place to respond.

An audience member steps to the mic and asks,” If Social Media is dead, what’s next?”

Saravino says geolocating is next. He believes that geolocation will be built in to various services and apps and become a common place offering. If he’s correct, we won’t just know what our “friends” are thinking, we’ll know where they’re thinking it.

Saravino adds that while it’s not new, many brands have no mobile Web site. He doesn’t understand why, especially for brands going after a youth market. He says kids aren’t on smart phones, they’re using free flip phones and brands need to be there, where the kids are.

..:: datamummification + madness ::..

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Judith Donath stopped in at Media Tech Tonic sponsored at MassArt’s The Dynamic Media Insitute to discuss The Sociable Media Group’s latest exhibit ‘Connections’ at The MIT Museum. A lot of amazing work … I checked out some of the people involved in the project work earlier in the day … specifically looking deeper into some of the previous work in visualization and interface design. I particularly enjoyed Alex Dragulescu’s ‘Spam Architecture’ as I had previously attempted to approach the topic of troublesome eMeddlings in my own ‘Operation Enduring Email’ …

but seriously folks … the jist of the discourse tonight centered around a new ‘new media’ twist on the concept of portraiture … excellent lecture, fantastic work all around … i especially loved the participatory installation ‘metropath(ologies)’ … such a dream project for me … the overflow of information projected on a cityscape model, a veritable maze of data + architecture to get lost in … amazing work + the best of the collection shown at the talk … i gotta get down there + check it out

i’ve digressed once again … so, back to portraiture … a quick whirlwind history of the portrait as an artform … a golden bust of royalty from greco-roman times, renaissance-painted realism complete with symbolic items and less idealized facial features, 20th century cubistic renditions capturing a more abstract essence of Picasso’s art dealer, and for the 21st century …

the portrait of the micromoment involved feeds from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Seesmic and other multivariate social networking sites the your modernday eCitizen gladly pours information into with feverish up-to-the-minute details about the minutae of our daily lives … ‘Data Portraits’ took the unsuspecting tweets of the twitterverse to create a portrait visualization of each user … words { the smallest common denominator allowing some balance between private and public exposure } from the user | participant’s tweetstream make up the outline of head, neck and shoulders … words on the left are from recent tweets, words along the right of the datahead silhouette are the most-used throughout your tweetstream history … the words of each portrait pop forth from the black backdrop muchlike a smooth data-persona tagcloud, quite literally outlining your wordstream of the moment for you

what strikes me the most about these linear-textual gestural snapshots is the cocoonlike and ghostly bodily presence of each figure … there’s also a wonderful sense of swirling … the words seem to envelope or mummify a preset human form … besides certain key words that pop out { i am guessing the word size follows the same sort of rules of frequent use that most tagcloud methodologies implement }, there is little differentiation from portrait to portrait … the shape of the head, neck and shoulders remains the same … and the words simply outline or ‘contain’ the previously human form

at first i thought that the datamummification might be a purposeful artisitic and aesthetic choice … i don’t think i get the sense that my portrait would look that much different than anyone else as far as physical attributes are concerned … same height, same weight, same shape, same lack of eyes, mouth, ears and hair … you are your words in these portraits … you are the ghostly echo-trace of your micro-bloggings … a bit sobering … a little scary … and unless you are lucky enough to have micro-entered some emotionally-laden and unique words over the last year or so, you are just as unique as everyone else on Twitter …

part of me wants to think these implications are an intentional affect of the visualization as portraiture … and if nothing else, perhaps we can see this as a subconscious expression of the artists involved … maybe there is no true participatory auto-magical means to create this sort of portrait … or perhaps the effect is completely intentional … a statement about machine-produced { app-influenced } human behavioral modificationthe media we use shapes our behavior, and now we quite literally all itch to tell it all right now … a sort of electronic OCD …

another memorable concept that came up tonight was the notion of ‘pure knowledge’ … an amazing question from the crowd mentioned Elie Weisel’s Zalmen, Or the Madness of God … in the book a person comes to know God, but not as the bearded, old white guy in the clouds oft-depicted by Michelangelo … but instead as the concept of ‘pure knowledge’ … the question specifically asked tonight had to do with the current proliferation of information ‘out there’ for all of us to access and whether or not we, as humanity, are reaching a moment of ‘pure knowledge’ … my own answer to this concept delves into questioning ‘knowledge’ … information is not knowledge … accumulation of datapoints provides no higher wisdom to the individual or to society at large … consuming data alone, collecting data does not translate into knowledge or a deeper understanding … in fact, my personal belief is that knowledge and wisdom are not even closely related … and neither can ever be thought of as ‘pure’ …