12 Apr 20171 Comment
The Sea, The Waves and The Ocean
Not a single day goes by I hear and talk about the strategies to cope with the expectations of the present and the concept of time. In an effort to be present at the moment, we surround ourselves with the socially induced prescriptions of self-care techniques such as yoga, meditation, and herbal and natural remedies to reduce stress or medical prescriptions, which enables us to basically function. We face with the force of the expectancy of efficiency and speed in replying e-mails, preparing course materials, keeping up with our research and courses. And there is the rest of our life as well… While we are required to navigate between the actuality of our past knowledge and potentiality of the knowledge waiting to be grasped by us in the future, the present imposes its own priorities on us. As we move on to one black screen to another, we juggle with images, models, texts, applications, websites, to do lists, calendars, taking notes, and etc. How well are we wired to juggle? What do we do in the gap between focusing and multi-tasking?
In his article Is Google Making Us Stupid Carr discusses the impact of the NET as a universal medium, which has been shaping our lives. Carr argues that while the NET is subsuming different mediums, it re-creates them in its own image, allowing multiple distracting elements to scatter and diffuse our attention. Furthermore, the good old media seems to be forced to comply with the thresholds set by the new media. Before this radical change, Carr refers to a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick to address the contradiction embedded in the way efficiency shapes our lives in somewhere between human and machine. As the line between the human and the machine is blurring, should we be concerned about our intelligence as Carr underlined?
Farman problematizes the way we interact with the black screens and argues that the anxiety triggered by the effect of disconnection with the “real world” is not a new phenomenon. Referring to Plato’s denunciation on writing, which causes an interruption in the “meaningful presence that comes from face-to-face interactions.” Is the effect, which digital media creates, similar to that of writing? Or is it just a naïve reaction to a new and mesmerizing gadget such as a kaleidoscope?
Reviewing the responses to Carr’s article, I realize the diversity of opinions concerning our relationship with the digital world. Thompson presents an optimistic perspective focusing on the benefits of collaboration between the human and the machines. Addressing the monumental chess game between Kasparov and the computer Deep Blue, he argues that the result of this game paved the way for a new form of intelligence in the making, rather than the beginning of a dystopic future.
I agree that we need to come up with new ways to talk about the digital world and breaking the monopoly of the companies, which are shaping the aesthetics and the politics of this new social realm. Furthermore, in order to access to this new territory, we not only rely on economic means but also our social and cultural capital, which enables to create strategies to experience the benedictions and the maleficence of the new world.
Digital media users across many oceans back and forth countless times every day. What have we been doing before sailing in the ocean? We taught ourselves how to swim, we built canoes, boats, sailboats, ships, catamarans to travel from one territory of thought to another. As we explore the ways to reach the open seas to grab our surfboards to enjoy gliding on bigger waves. As we reached the oceans, we started building better equipped and faster ships to map this limitless world, which made up of imaginary units.
I believe what we deal with is not the questions concerning digital media or how we adapt to this change or whether it is bad or not. I believe the real issue is the pervasiveness of the idea of what we may become within this new realm. Remembering not to forget the historical link between discovery, territory, and domination, I suggest that our desires should not be fixed on being the captain of a grandiose ship. We should allow ourselves to enjoy watching the ocean, to have the joy of swimming, to experience the serenity of spending the whole afternoon in an old boat anchored in the middle of a beautiful lake. I found these moments to be the mediums, which we can create to fill the affective gap between the necessity to pay attention and to multi-task.
 Carr, N. 2017. Is Google making us stupid?
 Farman, J. 2017. The myth of the disconnected life.
 Thompson, C. 2013. Smarter than you think. New York: The Penguin Press.
May 3, 2017 @ 4:58 pm
I think I somehow missed your post the week we did this topic–I really appreciate what you say here and I wonder if you have any more thoughts about the domination piece you mention at the end. One of the thoughts bouncing around philosophy is the question of whether or not objects can serve as the extensions of our minds and “offload” elements to free up space for other things. Some folks (myself included I think) think that people can be extensions of other folks minds in systems of domination and suppression… Do you have any thoughts on whether domination and oppression are tightly interwoven with the ability to discover and explore beyond our own limited capacities as individuals?