Monthly Archives: May 2013

Blog #8: ‘The future is now.’ – Well… (Week 11)

Let us not forget that ‘Escape from New York’ is set in 1997.

In 1981 when that particular film was made, the prospect of what life would be like in 1997 was distant, exciting and alien. In the real world, Hanson’s equally catchy and annoying ‘MMMBop’ was released that year. 1997 doesn’t seem so futuristic now, does it?

The truth is that “the future” doesn’t exist. I mean, not technically. Usually, we tend to separate our idea of time into three; that of “the past”, “the present” and “the future”, but only one of the three actually exists: the present. However some would even argue that time moves in such a way that it’s impossible to determine an actual “present”. For instance if you start thinking now about snapping your fingers, the beginning of your thought is in the past, and the potential to snap your fingers is in the future, so where is the present? The present happens, and is gone so quickly, that you could almost say it never happened at all.

And this is why we have CHRONOPHOBIA: the fear of time passing, and time itself. Time is unbiased, unwavering and uncontrollable. It continually pushes forward without reprieve; with the rhythmic ticking of a clock constantly reminding us of the inescapabilty and immanency of our death. Or at least that’s how the chronophobics see it.

This is just a long-winded way of saying that I watched the ‘Xbox One’ reveal today and they kept saying that the device was “future-proofed” and I was all like “what does that even mean?” How does Microsoft know what the future holds? Do they know something we don’t? The answer is of course a resounding yes. I mean the future is all about better technology, right?

Anon, ‘Chronophobia’, viewed 22 May 2013, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronophobia

Anon, ‘Escape From New York’, viewed 22 May 2013, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escape_from_New_York

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Blog #7: Blogging and Science (Week 10)

Everybody has an opinion. This is both good and bad. Good in the sense that we have freedom of speech and can use tools such as blogs to voice our interests and/or concerns, but bad in the way it promotes the idea that every single person is a special snowflake who has something important to say. The cold truth is that some people just aren’t interesting. Yes I know this sounds harsh, but if ONE more person posts on Facebook that they’ve just started a blog and they’d love for me to give it a read, I am going to lose my shit ‘Scanners’-style. Oh terrific, another pretentious hipster living in the Inner-West musing on existential quandaries. FUCKING GREAT.

I started a blog once. Halfway through my first post I thought to myself: “Why should anybody care about what I have to say?” … and then I stopped. At that moment I realised that a good blog needs to be backed by real life experience, with the desire of adding something new to the conversation. This is where science can come in. Blogging can provide an invaluable tool for the sharing of information, but it isn’t yet being used to its full potential.

In regards to the topic of science, Gavin from RealClimate.org states that “blogs can be of tremendous value in bringing up more context and dispelling the various misapprehensions that exist,” but that as a whole science-blogging is underutilised and not yet equivalent to the peer-to-peer review process. Pisani believes that if scientists were more open to sharing data (perhaps even through blogging) it would result in “more and faster progress” which could help create more cures in a shorter amount of time.

So hopefully in the future we see more science, and less Instagram’d photos of soy decaf lattés.

Gavin 2011, ‘From blog to Science,’ viewed 15 May 2013, http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/02/from-blog-to-science/

Pisani, E 2011, ‘Medical Science will Benefit from the Research of Crowds,’ viewed 15 May 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/11/medical-research-data-sharing

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Blog #6: Socialised Evolution (Week 9)

Get this. Apparently the government can “turn off” the internet. I mean, not like a light, but if they really, really wanted to they could do it.

This idea seems unfathomable. We often picture the internet as being this ethereal, invincible ecosystem which seems to float around us like air, when really it’s just copper wires (or optic fibre for the lucky few) and servers. These are very much physical objects which need to be maintained by people, and without which the internet would cease to exist. But because modern society relies so heavily on the internet functioning, if it were to fail catastrophically the entire modern world would fall into chaos. If someone hacking a Twitter account and falsely stating that the White House had been blown up can cause billions of dollars to disappear from the stock market, imagine what the internet disappearing would do.

We are, then, beholden to our governments. If they control the internet, they control us. As Rushkoff states, “The Internet as built will always be subject to top-down government control and domination by the biggest corporations,” so he suggests creating a “fork” in the web-sphere which would give control of the internet back to the people. This would, however, require a brand new infrastructure (which would of course be prohibitively expensive), but could theoretically facilitate the restoration of true peer-to-peer commerce through a newly networked social media landscape.

Anonymous likes to think they have control over the internet. But if their governments didn’t dig those trenches and plant those wires, and if those corporations didn’t shoot those satellites into orbit, then there would be no internet. Activism would have to be done the old fashioned way with rallies, protests, posters and signs… Good ol’ fashioned elbow grease.

We are now conditioned to fight our fights behind the anonymity of a computer screen.

Rushkoff, D 2011, ‘The Evolution Will Be Socialised’, viewed 8th May 2013, http://www.shareable.net/blog/the-evolution-will-be-socialized

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Blog #5: Don’t Underestimate Us (Week 8)

Viva la Revolución!” … Yeah, I hate that phrase too. Do I hate it because I lack passion? Maybe. However if I was forced to pinpoint a singular reason, I would attribute this animosity to the simple yet important fact that because I live so comfortably in Australia, with my standard of living being so high, I simply do not care about politics. No matter who comes into power, my sense of well-being will most likely stay exactly the same. Because of this, I can’t ever see myself picking up a weapon and taking part in a bloody revolution, for instance. Does social media provide the answer for disinterested and cynical people like me? Is it helping us to become more politically engaged?

Yes. When the Labor government changed the rules for receiving Youth Allowance I created a Facebook page to bitch and complain like the over-privileged white person I am. But for more important, widespread issues, we see the power of the internet work wonders for social change.  In regards to the uprising in Egypt in 2011, Usher states that “social media was to some extent a way for people to organize in Egypt, and it was a way to get the word about the unrest out to a wider audience.” In this instance, social media was not only able to get everyone together, but it also informed the rest of the world as to what was happening.

The ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous has also used the power of the internet to instigate social change, including several attacks launched against the Israeli government in 2012. Leaderless organisations, Brafman and Beckstrom write, have the ability to challenge and defeat established institutions. “The rules of the game have changed,” they say. Let’s hope they never change back.

Brafman, O & Beckstrom, R 2010, ‘The Power of Leaderless Organisations’, viewed 1st May 2013, http://www.nationaljournal.com/njonline/the-power-of-leaderless-organizations-20100911

Usher, N 2011, ‘How Egypt’s Uprising is Helping Redefine the Idea of a Media Event,” viewed 1st May 2013, http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/02/how-egypts-uprising-is-helping-redefine-the-idea-of-a-media-event/

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