Posts Tagged ‘ psychology ’

Twitter, tagging, and the T.O. blackout

cbc.ca | Blog Watch | Twitter shines in T.O. blackout

Tonight, I’m watching the power of Twitter in action. At around 10 p.m., the power went out in west Toronto. People started Twittering about it almost immediately.

Eventually, one Twitter-er, Ryan Coleman, suggested a hash-tag, a Twitter channel, for updates on the blackout:

propose #darkTO for power outage tweets.

Twitter users know a good tag when they see one…

This is really pretty neat. It beats getting people phoning the operator because they’re reaching a busy circuit for the Hydro outages line.

What’s really amazing is that these Twitterers all had to be either outside of the blackout area, running a backup generator, or in possession of an aircard w/laptop and/or (most likely) a cell. (Presents some interesting insights into how Twitter is actually getting used.)

For more about the outage in Toronto: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2009/01/15/power-outage.html?ref=rss

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The Human-Robot Relationship

W I R E D | Experiments Test Human-Robot Harmony

Wired Science 13: Relationships between humans and robots are destined to change as technology advances, and it may prove useful to understand how we react to them.

httpv://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=EoW1ui056-A&feature=PlayList&p=DDD8128A2BCDB386&playnext=1&index=63

This is some pretty fascinating research by Stanford U. about how we interact with robots (and esp. why it’s important).

Robot Visions – Someday

I have a new favorite robot story. Read it yesterday morning on the bus ride home. It’s called “Someday”, and can be found in Asimov’s collection Robot Visions. “Someday” is an incisive, almost frighteningly prophetic account of a future in which we as a species are on the path to becoming wholly dependent on machines, and are happily ignorant to the consequences.

[warning: you may want to read the story before continuing, lest I ruin it for you.]

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Fast, Cheap, and out of Control

During our meeting the other day, Q gave me some interesting insight into this documentary by Errol Morris. One of Morris’s more interesting choices is to intertwine the interviews with apparently random scenes of the circus. He told me the key was to listen to what was being said in the interviews during these interludes, and to ask myself what the significance of these scenes might have in that context.

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I am a chimera (Part 2)

Every junkie, he thought, is a recording. (Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly, 159)

And, according to Christopher Isherwood in Goodbye to Berlin, perhaps he is more specifically a camera.

I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Someday all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.

Like a machine. Isherwood gives us the view of a posthuman subject. In this way, Isherwood’s detached self-as-camera and the perspective of the posthuman as addict agree. As indicated in part 1, the posthuman subject is a culture junkie, addicted to feeling. Without input to record, without images to photograph, he is like a blank disk, an unused roll of film. We see, perhaps we see more, but we feel only on cue, we feel what the image tells us to feel. And that is one interpretation.

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The Corporation as a posthuman construct

So, in a clever if misguided tactic designed to avoid work yesterday, I decided to watch The Corporation. Within the first five minutes, however– and a testament to how university has only exacerbated my chronic poindexterishness– the documentary had me sitting up scrabbling for a pen and a scrap of paper to take notes.

The Corporation is a documentary about “the rise of the dominant institution of our time.” It investigates the psychology (or psychosis) of the corporation by drawing on its legal status as “a person” and then asking “what kind of person is it?” The documentary is based on the book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan.

What struck me immediately as I was watching was indeed this social construction of the corporate as a “person”, an individual entity. This entity is made up of other individuals, other consciousnesses, and the whole construction resembles something not unlike Hayles’ posthuman.

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Where can I get some of that?

When I started Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? one of my first thoughts was, “a mood organ? I wish I had one of those!”

The mood organ (or Penfield artificial brain stimulation) is an invention that allows you to “dial” a given mood or feeling. The possibilities for such a device are enormous; the possibilities of abuse are even greater. The urge for me to dial a 481– awareness of the manifold possibilities open to me in the future– would be overwhelming and, like the novel’s protagonist, Rick Deckard, no doubt it would become a regular indulgence. An addiction.

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