The Implications of a Post-Pulse America

While engaging with the DIGC202 lecture this week and thinking about the dematerialisation of labour, product, money, etc. I couldn’t help but be reminded of that old sci-fi favourite of mine, which I love the way Christopher Robin loves his silly duffer, Winnie the Pooh: James Cameron’s Dark Angel.

The show is semi-apocalyptic dystopian, taking place after “The Pulse” – a massive terrorist electromagnetic strike which took out all computers in the US at once and effectively destroyed the electronic economy. Just going by what this class has taught me so far, it seems like that would have to be a REALLY, non-existantly, powerful blast to actually collapse the entire system, however, it is interesting to ponder the implications of an economy, and even society, which is becoming increasingly dematerialised and liquefied. Much of this does, after all, mean that we are putting an awful lot of faith into the IDEA of money, and the IDEA of goods or services, rather than actually purchasing solid, tangible items with solid, tangible currency.

Not that those things weren’t half constructs before the digital age came along anyway.

Buying books gets really weird when you think about it too hard...
Buying books gets really weird when you think about it too hard…

Whether this dematerialisation is a good or a bad thing, I think, is up for discussion. Feel free to leave your two cents in the comments below.

The Phantom Limb Dimension

Another week, another lecture, another blog post for DIGC202. This time I’ve made a short video talking about the strange relationship between people, the web and the 3rd dimension.

There are a few things which I know I could have explained better or fleshed out more, but given the word/time limit on these posts, I edited a bundle of those things out for the sake of brevity. I am, after all, infuriatingly verbose. Perhaps instead we can talk about those things and more in the comment section below.

But what about the SOUP!?

Tracking the developments in communications technology through this week’s lecture and texts has been interesting, but most interesting to me have been the developments in human response towards this technology.

We see in A Short History of the Internet Bruce Sterling’s excited response to the beginning of web culture. Everything was so shiny and new to him that you can more or less pick out quotes from the article and put them straight onto any internet themed meme and they’ll work!

Technologically Impaired Duck

First Day on the Internet Kid

Grandma Finds the Internet

Sterling is not only enthusiastic himself, but also anticipates enthusiasm from others, citing at the end of his piece ways for readers to get involved in the exciting and growing cyberculture of the 90s. This response is a marked difference from that of the early 20th century we saw cited in the lecture, in which people were eager to use this new speedy technology, but dubious of how exactly it worked (“Why haven’t you sent the message? Why is my soup still here?”). It’s even further still from the responses of earlier society, the society which feared the consequences of dabbling with electricity (see: Frankenstein), suspected that gramophones would enable communication with the dead, and deemed leaps in technological discovery as akin to the supernatural.

It seems almost as if the more communications technology grows to a resemblance of humanness, carrying messages across the globe like our nervous system does through our bodies, the more people are able to integrate themselves eagerly into that system.