June 5, 2006

TechnoLustFullNess

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"I can dream I'm a rabbit (Bugs Bunny) but when I wake up, I'm Daffy."

-Chuck Jones

I came across somthing whilst surfing Gizmodo:
Check this out:


Thanks to a missed Giants game back in 2002, a man by the name of Krikorian decided to write video streaming code that would allow him to watch his TV wherever he was at. His famous quote goes something like: ?I?m already paying for my cable at home, why can?t I watch it somewhere else?? This is where the term ?place shifting? was born. VCR?s allowed for ?time shifting? ?record now, watch later. Sling Media invented ?place shifting?.

I tremble with anticipation.

New word: "Place Shifting".

UPDATE:

The fever broke.

The time it took to drive over to CompUSA was enough to let me question just how I would use this apparent technological advantage. If we had broadband in Spain (we shut our service down when we left last year... I wish we didn't, but we did) then that would be the clincher. The idea of one entertainment system serving two domiciles is very, very appealing.

We really don't need a TV screen on our laptop at home since we already have two TV sets in the house, a small house as it is already. And I don't need to watch TV at the studio, I prefer radio and podcasting in that realm. Stephanie might be amused by watching our TV/DVR while she is traveling (Asia or the EU), but then she's a road warrior without much time left for amusements.

It looks like I woke up to find myself a little daffy.

***

But underlying all this is an appreciation for revolution. Usually, talk of revolution in the arts takes us to agitprop; general avant-garde-ness; assertive ideas like appropriation and interrogation; the shaken fist of "speaking truth to power"; Che Guevarra's classic image, a strange sympathy for Fidel or the ability to see Kim Jong Ill as a cute character; and generally ...the Marxist legacy et al.

I think the idea of revolution naturally springs from the continuing emergence of freedom in human history. The role of Marx in describing the transition from Fuedalism to Democracy is undeniable, but the story of freedom's unfolding is bigger than that and it's a drag on our collective thinking to peg our ideas in terms set in the first industrial revolution (I'm holding a mental image of giant rusting steel machinery), while we are now in a third or fourth evolution of this continuously rolling industrial revolution. I mean, isn't it ironic after all, that most of the immerseration in the 20th century came from attempts to accelerate the Marxist storylline? It is as if that we, whose cultural authority comes from the ability to recognise and define irony, have slouched in our hubris to think that we could control irony's turn.


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The first inkling of this idea came to me in my first structures class in architecture school: Free Body Diagrams.

One of the most useful aids for solving a statics problem is the free body diagram (FBD). A free body diagram is a graphic, dematerialized, symbolic representation of the body (structure, element or segment of an element) in which all connecting "pieces" have been removed. A FBD is a convenient method to model the structure, structural element, or segment that is under scrutiny. It is a way in which to conceptualize the structure, and its composite elements, so that an analysis may be initialized.

Around about this time, I had an epic encounter with my grandfather on my mother's side of my family, Papang. This is too big of a story to relate in full here, something best rolled out in another future blogpost. But the short story is that one day when I was twentysomething, my grandfather forgave me for being an American, a Yanqui.

It was probably the best gift he ever gave me.

Being a former lawyer and school teacher, he rolled out his thesis in grand style. The gist: it's all about the East versus the West, the society composed of families versus the society composed of individuals. He resented the presence of a Westerner in his family because they/we are as solvent that threatens to dissolve the glue of family. Our very existence is a threat to them. It was at that moment that I knew concretely that I was a Westerner. I realised that that is why the Philippines has so much trouble with graft and governmental corruption. Marcos ferried out billions out of the country because when he came to a position of power, he favored his family (blood and extensions) over the country... because tribalism places family at such a prime value. Most Filipinos understand this at a deep level, they don't blame Marcos for what he did, they would have done the same themselves. Indeed, the guy whom Marcos trusted the most to do the deed, stole most of that money for himself ... and his own family. Successive presidents have not fared much better and the Philippines will be hobbled and lame until the idea of individualism and freedom --and thus, strategies for guarding against tyranny seep deeper into the their mentality.

Free body diagrams. Freedom was born in the West, an amalgam of ancient Greece and the Judeo-Christian legacy (more Judeo than Christian as far as I can tell right now), but it belongs to the world. Freedom in the human condition is the closest thing we can call an absolute value. I had an inkling back then with Papang and structures class that it wasn't just Papang who had a beef with the West, but every other collectivism ...family-centric, tribalistic ...and therefore atavisitic. All that is left is power and the anxiety* to preserve it, to amplify it. Tribalism is constrained by scale, the scale of hunter-gatherer groups (plus or minus a hundred perhaps). Tribalism, when applied to scales of nation states (millions), becomes tyrannical. And every tribe has a chief, a grand papa. And every chief can get a little... bossy.

Free body diagrams. A Chinese beam in a traditional architecture cannot be separated from its' context, I imagine this would be an inconcievable effort. But in the West, we excelled with this. With freedom and individualism, we created nation, and now market states. With freedom and free body diagrams, we created science and technology. First, to send cannon balls, steel delivered precisely on target. In my lifetime -now spanning so long- I remember the reel to reel tape recorder my mother used to learn stenography so she could get a job. (My father didn't like the idea of her independence. Later, after my folks divorced, he advised me to find a woman who was "...barefoot and pregnant...". Bless his soul, he was a prisoner of the past.) My Navy days were a peek into the future with all that Combat Systems stuff. In college, we had to learn computer language and code punch cards. And afterward, devices like answering machines, beepers, fax machines, desktop computing and cell phones accelerated a trend of business offices doing more with less. So an architect can build bigger projects with fewer staff. Behemoth corporate oragnizations became dinosaurs. And now, the internet.

Doing more with less. That's a key idea of our times.

Revolution? I like the world we've built so far. It's a good one and it's getting better. Much of the ideas about radical change and social disruption and attacking the system, the shaking fist "speaking truth to power"... are worse than antiquated, they are fast becoming riduculous. Real revolution comes with every technological innovation. Like the name of the thing that pained the Luddites, each technological turn disrupts established systems of social organization. Like scraping the barnacles off a ship's hull, the job isn't pleasant but the ship travels so much better once it's done. And like barnacles, society tends to encrust layers of hierarchy and social position that would resent change.

A new gadget that might help me do more with less? Bring it on. Time shift? Yea. Place shift? Oh yea.

Bring the real revolution on like thunder.


They just stare at each other a beat as it sinks in.

EXLEY
Pierce Patchett figures in, too.
That's the angle Jack was working.
Dudley must work for Patchett.

BUD
Let's just kill them.

EXLEY
What?

BUD
For Jack, for Stensland, for
anybody else who got in the way.
I've been trying to be smart. A
detective. But killing those two
fuckers, that would be justice.

EXLEY
Stay smart, Bud. We build a case.
We play by the rules.

BUD
There are no rules! Why the fuck
are you doing this? The Nite Owl
made you. You want to tear all
that down.

EXLEY
With a wrecking ball. You want to
help me swing it?

Bud smiles. For a second he likes Exley.

* I remember my promise to write about anxiety in our art world. Please alloe a couple of organic beats so I can wind up for it.

Posted by Dennis at June 5, 2006 5:12 PM

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