Tuesday, 31 July 2007

The Sky is Falling Or Hadn't You Read?

"But the real consequence – unintended or otherwise – of Silicon Valley’s “participatory” media revolution is a culture of digital narcissicism in which our most meaningful cultural reference is ourself. ... Everywhere we look, we are faced with 70 million versions of ourselves: our own electronic diaries, our own half-informed opinions, our own stupidity and ignorance. This antisocial outcome of the social software revolution will be the reverse of the nightmare in George Orwell’s dystopian Nineteen Eighty-four. Big Brother — what Silicon Valley idealists eulogize as “citizen media” — is turning out to be ourselves."

- Andrew Keen

I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Keen on the radio yesterday and have been pondering his comments ever since. Mr. Keen suggests that we modern peoples are very bad at battling seduction and that the internet represents a seduction of the opinions of amateurs. He fears we will stop listening to experts, will no longer support the main stream media and will lose many of the valuable cultural pillars that give us informed direction.

Before you start fuming, please note that Mr. Keen is a polite, educated gentleman, who is no luddite. He appreciates technology and seems to be concerned that we will lose the press along with respect for certain educated authorities in a tide of democratic, anti-elitist, utopian enamorment with the internet.

Whenever I hear the doom-and-gloomsayers speak of the internet, I can't help but think of a quote from Socrates' Phaedrus , concerning writing. He believed it...

“... destroys memory [and] weakens the mind, relieving it of…work that makes it strong [and] is an inhuman thing.”

Of course it is undeniably true that because we can write things down we commit fewer details to memory - thus our mind is indeed weakened. On the other hand, we are able to do so much more work of other kinds these days because we can look up data we could never commit to memory. We can decide what is important to memorize and relegate everything else to a library of records.

I have been hearing for years that the internet will bring the end of the era of the book: That we will no longer want to read from nondigital sources - that publishing and printing will disappear. Of course this is an old trope, one that has been repeated frequently about a variety of entities - most memorably about the movie with the invention of television first and then the video recorder. The film industry it seems has yet to be appraised of its own demise. I seriously doubt that we will see the end of the newspaper, the professor or the author paid for his/her writings and opinions either.

I confess, I am one who appreciates the democratization of publishing and information brought about by the internet. I am a teacher (and yes, I frequently feel unappreciated for my expertise.) I, nonetheless, live by the conviction that the more information that is out there - the more likely we are to be able to fathom a meaningful truth. It is when information is hidden and repressed that we can not get a well rounded picture of the situation and we err in our important decisions.

This means letting everyone have a chance at his or her say - no matter how ridiculous, outrageous, uninformed, biggoted or scary. Need we worry that the public will take their ideas from uninformed and ignorant sources?

Perhaps. History (as wella s current American politics) certainly offers plenty of moral lessons about people who acted on too little, and flawed information. I think, however, that the more information we find "out there", the more likely we are to recognize the need for and to seek out those very experts that Andrew Keen feels are being obviated by the prepondrance of internet information. Jefferson said it better, "Information is the currency of democracy." Perchance we will have a brief period of confusion and being led astray - but when I encounter an issue on the web with too much conflicting data, I seek out multiple sources and then I start to look for the experts. Who has a degree, what does the New York Times , say about it, can the detractors' position be supported by credible sources? I doubt that I am so different from all the other users of the internet.

Will people read less nonvirtual material? Maybe for a while. Children are reading less and less we are told. I agree this is probably not a good thing. Still - it took only one unemployed woman writer on a train to get a generation (or more?) of children back to devouring books avidly. Could they read Harry Potter illegally on the net? Probably, but seriously, is that the way you want to spend your time reading?

Thomas Jefferson also said, "I cannot live without books." When I curl up in bed with something good to read, my laptop is nowhere in sight. There is nothing better than a newspaper or book, an overstuffed chair and a cup of tea or coffee in the morning. Yes, I could be fighting Dragon riding necromancers, and there is certainly a time and place for that, but there are times when I prefer a nice magazine and a glass of iced tea to tap tap tapping onthe keyboard. I love my computer, but there are times when I would rather have a cat in my lap and instead of a mouse in hand - sometimes I'll take a book.

I have faith that this is so and will be so not just for myself, but for many, many people for a long, long time.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Page 759

Would these books have been so popular if a girl had been the main character?

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Where We Lived in Australia

I'm posting this for a colleague at work because I don't have away to get these pictures to him any other way. It is a beautiful apartment so perhaps blog readers may find this somewhat interesting.

The flat used to be an old warehouse and it has been made into a beautiful nautical apartment. The main floor (one story up frpm the street is one single space but divided into living room, dining room and kitchen. This is the living room area:

Here are a few more shots of the living room area

Here yuu can see the dining area and kitchen (the shot was taken from the living room area).

Here is the kitchen area a bit closer up.

Here are the stairs going up tp the loft area which has a bedroom a walk in closet area and a bathroom.

This is how the living room area looks from the stairs. (The bedroom on the top flooor is above the kitchen dining room area.)

And here it is from a slightly different perspective.

This is the bedroom upstairs from the bathroom through to the closet. Tne bedroom area is completely open with only qa railing separating it from the downstairs room. (It was hard to get a photograph of this. One would need to stand on air above the living room area.)

This is the shower in the upstairs bathroom. (Downstairs had a tub and full laundry facilities.)

and this is the downstairs bedroom. This area has a little foyer with bikes and two small bedrooms and a nice little sitting area with cable TV.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Art Car Parade part Two

Here is part Two of the Art Car Parade with more pictures of some of the amazing cars!!

The most spectacular cars have been chronicled on other photo sites and blogs, but there are some other cars that were so creative and fun and deserve special mention! In this photo taken by my mother Lynn, you can see a very colorful car:

I believe it is Patty and Dean Raeker's Chinese New Year Good Luck, Good Fortune car!

Here are the Zombie and padfoot captured by my Mom

This is Claire. She has a lot of things glued on,

I especially love the silicon glue tubes which look like gun turrets on the front sides and the eye balls on the bumper!

My Mom captured this street scene

and also this bystander (or perhaps art car artist) with the most awesome belt of all time!

Here is more of my entourage standing in front of da Kuntry pedlur

and Jan Elftmann, the Mother of the Art Car Parade (She has the cork truck - can you tell?)

This car focuses on the loss of the polar bear.

I believe this one is called the Vdub in Studs . The guy said his other car broke down so he had to bring this one instead.

Here is a better look at Pam and Rich Molden's Da Kuntry Pedlur.

Here's the nationally famous Camera Van (Yes the cameras work)

These "women" helped with crowd control.

This huge dog puppet was pulled on a wagon behind the Turf mobile,

...and here is the House of Balls entry.

Some of the art cars weren't cars, but bikes, like Gus Fenton's Tiki bar bike.

We got to get a closer look at some of the cars afterwards in the Intermedia Arts parking lot.

Anne Chenette named her car after a Shakespeare monologue.

Sorry, I don't know the name of this entry!

Here is Ainishinable whch had lovely Mayan (I think) style figures on the hood and sides.

This is the wind Up car .

And no parade is complete without the Roller Derby Girls!

This is my favorite car of the parade! (I can't help it! They did a lot of work to get it exact!!)

The sign on the back says, "Yes, everything really works!" I'm glad to know we'll be safe from the Sta-Puff marshmallow man!

Who ya gonna call?

The detail was amazing!

The dash board even had a model of the car.

Here are a few links to other websites about the Art Cars.
First this goes back to my first art car post.

This , this , this , this , and this s go to other people 's sites about the parade.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Return of the Prodigal Son

I got a phone call from some people about three miles away and was able to go pick up Bart in the car.

He is dirty and smelly but he is also safe!! Thank goodness!

I Hate When that Happens!

It wasn't a good evening. I left the cell phone in my office so I could not place my daily call to my sister Min. I agreed to watch one episode of Deadwood (my husband's favorite video pick of the moment instead of doing what I wanted to do, which is reading the new HP book)

...but hubby played two episodes instead of one which got me off on my walk with the dog late. I admit I was a bit miffed (my OWN fault!! I could have said something or just gone off to read - but of course since Deadwood is a tv SERIES and there are only 5 episodes left for us to watch inthe last season, missing one could make the end confusing).

Since the dog had already had an "accident" in the house, I took him on a 20 minute walk instead of a 45 minute one (It was BEASTLY hot - he is covered with thick fur and I thought I was doing him (and me) a favor!)

It wasn't enough! At 4:00 AM guess who was standing at the bed nosing me (no, not my husband) - the dog needed something! I got up and slipped on my husband's big boots and walked the dog without my contact lenses in my underwear (It is beastly hot, remember!) (Woulden't that make a great photo?!)

20 minutes and no dog action (lots of mosquitos, though)! Then the dog wanted to go to his kennel outside, Normally I will not put him there at night lest he bark and disturb the far away neighbors, but last night called for desperate measures!

The dog thought so too. Since I had not clipped him in (I heard no thunder or scary noises that would require this (and actually had felt around in the dirt for 10 minutes since I couldn't see without my contact lenses) SO, I thought he would be fine for the 1 and 1/2 hours until my husband got up. I was tired! I wanted to sleep! So I went inside and did just that.

Well, 1 and 1/2 hours later there is my husband in front of me leash in hand, wondering where the dog is. He had escaped! So now here I am worried and frustrated (and worried)!!(In fact I just burned my breakfast egg because I was just going to type only one or two quick lines - Have you ever seen what happens to an egg that you fry for 33 minutes? They blow up real big in the middle and get brown and crusty around the edges! You have to chisel them out of the teflon pan! Yum!! (No, I did not eat it - I am not a being with super powers!)

Sorry to whinge but I needed to - Now I'm worried (did I mention that already?)- I did my drive around to look for Bart the Dog, but no sign - It will be the hottest day of the year - he is very old, there is a dangerous algae out there that is killing dogs!! (Cue monster cam!!) Waaaah! Rats, Can you believe it? I just burned some more eggs!! I hope Beccy doesn't read this? Can't even fry an egg - pretty sad!! Well, things have to get better, right!?