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I woke to a dream of damask landscapes atangle on protrusions from behind the curtain. Jagged things in the shape of a thousandfold different blades I had seen before now making as if to split cerulean hills and violet waterfalls at the seams. A pinhole brought itself into existence, folding out from itself ten thousand times until it filled the width of my vision.

That morning the sun was alive and well. In a waking haze I swatted at it and drew aside my pallet’s gauze sheet. The east wall was not a wall at all, rather a free-standing thing of four thin wood pillars carved with simple water reptiles and a small multitude of other flourishes. Past those and the sloped lip of the green tile roof hung the veranda, adorned with little else but the simple rhomboid table at which I conducted most of my duties that were not of a classified nature (many of them indeed).

The rattan rolls that deployed between those pillars were the sturdiest walls I needed towards the east until the typhoon season returned. I had left them rolled up throughout the evening, wishing for a measure more of cooling wind from the adjacent ocean. In the suffusion of morning sunlight I was then tempted to draw them back down.

Instead I pulled up the hem of the mosquito tent and set my feet on the floor. The polished mahogany was still sharp with a hint of evening chill. As per my morning pattern at the time, I drained myself into the unadorned tubular that led into the town’s new simplistic cloacae system. Dawn Master said, “no patterns but the Inevitable,” but at moment as in moments to follow they provided me with a grounded solace towards most things.

My personal room featured a rather complex home shrine on the one wall to the north. I did not care for it, but in such a town as River Origin, it would be very much improbable for any man, no matter his merits, to hold a public office without any sort of visible appreciation towards the logos. Finishing the water remaining in my table pitcher, I remember examining the thing in an idle fashion. The scrimshaws and the hermits from Snow Breadth Mountain had designed and carved it, a frankly gaudy thing rife with more articulation and facades than the rest of my home. Ensconced at the center (with a token offering of a limp kiwi and cup of raw rice) was Blue Light, the warrior/arbiter representative of the Castellan’s (vast) retinue. A ceramic flurry of shifting blue chiton, scarves and kaffiyeh he was, green eyes set in a divine fury and yanyue dao held in a one-handed stance of port-arms that would realistically require upper body strength of an impossible proportion.

– California, 2007


space is the place

Data aggrandizers.

I don’t know. I do know that i’m skeptical about the thick hubub that currently coagulates around “Web 2.0”; in particular, Web 2.0 in direct relation to the school of journalism.

I know there is a progressively thin line between skepticism and reactionary these days. I like to think of myself as merely a skeptic (and of journalism as a craft steeped in an ethic of methodical skepticism). I am not a Luddite; I have multiple computers, this weblog, a account, a account, membership on a few forums, an overloaded RSS feed aggregator and a personalized Google homepage complete with the Buddhist aphorism of the day. It is a broad rift in logic to pretend that the Internet is not part of the social reality in the First World at least.

However, I am no positivist. Neither am I a technological neutralist. The idea that technologies only have the potential to better the human condition and exist simply to that is, in my opinion, supremely arrogant and childish. To think that new technologies have no effect on the way you think and henceforth perceive the world around you is awful folly. Perhaps i’ve just taken too many philosophy of technology classes and read too many articles by Albert Borgmann and David Strong.

We’ve already seen this technological effect on perception in Time’s decision for Person of the Year. With a pithy retort of “You!”, Time puts on display just how detached from reality the First World has finally become. Computers are indeed better distributed and cheaper than they ever were before. But they are still not the “truly democratic medium” that many evangelists make them out to be. I imagine it would be difficult to set aside a Powerbook fund when you’re already amassing a month’s worth of family income to afford enough gruel to feed the family for the next week.

Global Voices Online is a big step in the right direction. GBV perhaps more than any other source has sold me on the virtues of the citizen journalism craze. GBV, except maybe YouTube, is the one site that I think capitalizes on the Web 2.0 promises of democratization of data and communication, of invoking Derrida and attempting to deconstruct what is truly an informational oligarchy.

But until there is some way for every person from every social demographic and walk of life to have unfettered access to computers, Internet and freedom of speech, Web 2.0 will simply be another consumer oligarchy, methinks. An oligarchy of those with computers, with reliable Internet access, with a literacy in the technologies to work them, with just plain literacy.

Because for now, what do we see coming from those young turks privileged enough to find some succor from the overdriven globalized corporate hyper-capitalist consumer state plutocracy? Stories about celebrities showing their genitalia, of the latest little pieces of useless plastic and LCD to spend their liberated totally non-consumer-state Adbusters! currency on with a fervor that matches that of a junkie spending money to give their life meaning.

I’d like to see aggregators take a step in the direction of GBV’s main RSS feed: a rich and varied panoply of stories that are not hemmed in by regional, cultural, linguistic or otherwise divisive categorical borders created for the sake of “neatness”. An aggregator that lets you read from that rich variety, things that interest you and, maybe, just maybe, god forbid– some things that you may not have been interested in otherwise beforehand? Or is that a cardinal sin against the very essence of what news aggregation is supposed to be “achieving”?

That’s what i’m afraid of. Call me a lame reactionary old guard classicist, but I think journalism, no matter what its permutation may be, has an intrinsic obligation to tell people what is important to them and what they should know about the world, not simply want they want to hear, read, view at any given moment.

I’m afraid of my generation aggregating themselves into two-dimensional ignoramuses.

– California (2007)

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January 2007
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