WE ARE ALL NOW DATA PRISONERS, LEFT TO OUR OWN DEVICES

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Now that we are all moving at the ‘speed of byte’, there are a lot of questions to be asked about this new Digital Age in which so many (about 5 billion now) of us find ourselves…and some casual observations.  As a cyberlibrarian, focusing on digital culture, I cannot help but opine. Bear with me.

WEAPONS OF MASS DISTRACTION:

Screens – tvs, monitors, smart phones, tablets all have virtually and quite literally sucked us in to this world of bits and bytes…

We need to learn how to cope with our own devices  —  if left to them we are doomed…they really are smarter than us. And, not necessarily friendly…they spy, give away our information and locations to NSA, marketers, and the algorithmic cesspool we currently call “intelligence”. But, hey, that’s just me:)

Apps – these freakin’ things are ruling the datasphere and our lives…how do you get Google off your smart phone?…it just takes over everything, with NO apologies…I don’t want Google Now, I want Google Gone. They stopped playing nice a long time ago.

AI’s – These things are not our friends, they could be, maybe, but right now they are not; they rule and overrule, and you constantly are in battle with them (autopost for example, totally sucks), unless of course, you are a happy sheep, working as a ‘sheeple’ in some corporate box…then, you are just the cannon fodder everyone is looking for…can you say  BAAAA!!? Can you say BRAND?? We are becoming the avatars for a monstrous future if we don’t put a stop to all this and turn it around…really, the SERVERS have become the Masters.

FIRST QUESTION:

CAN WE TRUST THIS STUFF TO ACT ON OUR BEHALF AND WISHES:

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

We have to defend ourselves, get NETSMART, as my good friend Howard Rheingold writes. We need to become educated about cyberspace, about how these ‘digital lights’ go on when we flip the switch…don’t count on mom or dad, THE STACKS (Google, FB, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, et.al.) to help you…mom and dad are almost ‘out of it’, the Stacks are totally into it – using all our data to cross-market and demographic us to pieces, quite literally – we have become data slices, served up instantaneously to “third parties” – what a phrase that is, I challenge you to unpack it and discover the third, fourth, fifth, ad naseum parties now tracking and merchandising our every move. Its sick!! and not in a good way.

DEFEND YOURSELVES!!!

SECOND QUESTION:

What’s the NET effect of all this social media, and what could it be potentially? Right now it sucks, big time. See above…However, it’s potential for good is overwhelming and that is where we should all be focusing our attention. By now you pretty much have your devices synced…have you notices your life has become synced along with them? How much time are you spending in the screen? Can you leave home alone? No phone, no tablet, no crappy MP3 music in your ears? Can you even remember what it was like to  bop along your neighborhood and town, meeting and greeting other humans, looking them in the eyes, rather than all of you sitting or standing together looking at your screens? Take a fuc**ng break…we call them Digital Sabatticals…get off the freakin’ screens, away from your devices….”left to our own devices” has a whole new meaning now….get back to basics; that’s me as well as you…

If you do, if you only spend an hour in screens and then breakaway, you will discover something truly important….you have a life, in real time and space, here on the planet – which by the way is going to Hell at breakneck speeds…it needs your help, we need each other’s help, and what’s the solution:

Here’s the ironic part – DIGITAL….now go back to your devices, get (g)local — NETWORK, hook up with all the good people you have on your social media sites and whatever other groups you are in –gamers, tubers, tinderers and grindrs, snapchatters, redditors, 4chans, hackers and slackers, bloggers and froggers – there’s no end to all the digital sub-cultures out there now — hook up, and shake it up…work for and demand a future that makes sense, that puts the planet and people first, that has these AIs and Stacks as servants for a better world.

Start with Howard’s The Virtual Community, and maybe something like the Digital Divide, I’m not here to tell you what to think, or be some  digital guru, or to make a dime! I’m just here to tell you the future is already here, it’s going by us at a rapid pace, and we need to get onboard this digital train and start telling the conductors where we want to go…right now we are all just along for the ride.

 

 

 

 

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REIMAGINING

I’m taking a class with Howard Rheingold, Think-Know Tools, with some fantastic folk and this is my morning’s meditation which I’ll share more widely.

I like the word reimagining….we grow by getting out of our boxes, finding new paradigms, new perceptions, new tools, new people who challenge us, but reimagining is a skill that often gets overlooked or left behind. Fundamentally it’s a different way of looking at your tool sets and convictions – all that you have left in your wheelhouse after applying the forementioned processes, and there are many others – it’s a lifelong journey of wonder and learning. You can’t help but get to a place of , not complacency, really, but a kind of compentency – where you become comfortable with your skills and the responsibilities that they entail. And then you commit yourself to 1) yourself, 2) your family, 3) your friends, 4) your community, 5) your world. And you shift along the line of being and doing and establish a kind of freqency pattern as to how you go about your business. Hopefully being grounded, and mindful, and in the moment. Having said all that, I find reimagining to be quite powerful…Both metaphorically as well as practically. I have tried to incorporate it into my morning meditations and to be open to it as I bop around my day.

So, currently struck by this one – reimagining the Internet as a mosaic of cultures:

“We mapped usage of the Internet, as distinct from its technical features. Viewed this way, the Internet is much less West-centric, and rapidly diversifying as the world’s populations engage with it in their own ways…Mapping sites based on how much traffic they share with each other revealed interconnected clusters or communities of shared Web use. These corresponded well with major geo-linguistic regions, and we called them “online regional cultures.“ In addition, there are a few online cultures that span geographic regions; they tend to include either user-generated or adult content….In general, we find that geographical regions where people speak languages not widely spoken elsewhere (such as Japan and Korea) are the most distinct online cultures; regions with geographically dispersed languages (such as Spanish or Russian) or those of multilingual geographies (such as India) less so….In such maps, the Internet is becoming more decentralized, or to be more precise, de-Westernizing, as more users from disparate cultures are taking over its topography by bringing in their own cultural identities. Between 2009 and 2013 the Web witnessed a gradual process of “de-Americanization”; the cluster corresponding to the U.S. has separated from the “global” websites such as Twitter and Instagram – primarily user-generated websites, which are neither centered in North America nor on the English language….Compared to the prevalent technological Internet maps, our user-centric maps from 2009 to 2013 challenge, rather than reinforce, the existing concept of an Internet anchored by Western knowledge, norms and activities. They encourage the (Anglophone, especially) general public to confront the narrow online world with which it is familiar. Further, the trend captured by our maps may encourage Westerners to refresh their own preconceptions by exploring the vastly heterogeneous cyberspace…Technical connectivity alone is not enough. For online regional cultures around the globe to strengthen, users must be able to build and shape the content they find appealing. For this to happen, local governments need to introduce civic, economic and social opportunities with new technologies. Left to a market dominated by West-based transnational corporations, the global South may not achieve healthy domestic Internet landscapes and online cultures.”

I curate on the sociololgy of cyberspace, within digital culture(s). Firstly, we haven’t always recognized nor reinforced different cultures….there has been an underlying assumption that the digital world(s) are shaping us toward a monoculture – but enthnology and anthropology, on the ground, teach us differently. So I am glad to see that thinking extended to the digital realms of cyberspace. And I am glad to have rid myself of that assumption. Secondly, I am wondering if I bought into that assumption due to some of the other assumptions about the Singularity. Another point where it is generally agreed by a lot of folk that we are moving towards. (btw, I do not agree with that, and it is not a polestar in my cyberfuture(s) maps. It is is some, you have to consider all the possibilities.  Thirdly, whoopee, the more the merrier I say, Party on dudes! It is nice to see that the WEST does not rule in cyberspace and the western values of ripping off all the resources purely for their own capital gain and dominance have little traction there. Howard is way ahead of the curve on this stuff. Fourthly, as I am coming to realize that cyberspace does and will continue to have its own political powers that may well be gamechangers, a whole world of possible futures loom large and may well require some action on my part. I feel a bit like Kit Carson in cyberspace here. I alluded to William Gibson’s most excellent No Maps for these Territories, in a post somewhere on this site. Well, some of us have been making maps… now… where can we share them and with whom, and in what ways that they might be most effective? And there are quite a few folk in the DeepWeb worth reaching out to.

So, that’s the first pass on my meditaion re this reimagining. Much to think about. And at a grander scale I will try and bump reimagining up a notch or two in my metaphysical musings🙂 What can I say? I’m a bit of a polymath and these things can’t be helped. This is the kind of stuff I chew on all day, I realize it may not be of any value to others, but I like these blogs to organize myself a bit better.

P.S. As we have been introduced to the historical evolvement of the NET we have seen that it generated from a small handful of folk with a primarily western-centric bias…Not fair to include the big thinkers here, like Doug, or Tim, or Linus, or JPB, etc.  But after their shared visions and manifestos it was left to the underlaborers, as the British like to say, to actually build and develop the thing. And that WEB has all kinds of biases built into it, hence the movement of so many of Jah people to the DarkNet and other places no one talks about and won’t🙂 (so don’t ask Charles). So that’s top down. But now we are seeing bottom up – a web of subcultures being built on social media platforms by the actual users. Gonna have to incorporate all this into my(our) whopper Mindmap. Nice.

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SOCIAL MEDIA – THE DOLDRUMS

From my point of view there is now a convergence of Social Media Platforms and Networks that have been formed over time that have resulted in what I am calling The Doldrums (a state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art). I think this best summarizes the kinds of things we see going on among the stacks – baffling decisions being made by Apple, Google, and Twitter. And it even emanates out into the political race (an oxymoron for certain) going on in America. People and platforms have lost their moorings and come to a complete standstill, waiting for the next trendy breeze, next event, next anything, to tell them where to set sail.

It’s difficult to even recognize the landscapes, if I may press the metaphor. America looks more like Russia every day. Google stopped playing nice a long time ago and had to rename itself Alphabet so that we might forget. (Kind of like Blackwater – anyone know what their name is now?, Academi, – try and get your head around that one). Apple has offended three of their user bases in one month – putting out a ridiculously sized tablet for the price of an iMac, watches that don’t do anything anyone thought they would, and killing off the 4s by upgrading it to IOS9 (company response, “well, you’ll just have to move up to the 6s”). National response – class action lawsuit. Users 0/ Lawyers 10. Amazon won’t sell Apple products.Twitter abandoning their user base in favor of marketing algorithms. And on and on.

It’s all rudderless – CEO’s bailing from Yahoo, etc. to points North. The dreamers and visionaries who started this revolution are dead or retired and Boards now run the show. We know how that works out – see Wallstreet. And the users and sheep (Applers, can you say, “Baa, baa, baa?”) left behind, caught in the doldrums as well. And as companies disappear over the virtual horizon users will discover that clicking on that “Accept” button gave away all their content in the EULA. And now the company is around the bend, under some new name, some new merger, some new corporate ‘personhood’ no longer accountable for nor responsible for all your data. Lovely.

Time for users to set their own sails, form their own networks and agree to an ethos that promotes sustainability, resiliency, (g)local ground-up action within the communities in which they live, a collection of collaborators, cooperators, team players, forward thinkers committed to enabling and enhancing a world in which their children and my grandchildren and children unseen and unmet can live a life of freedom in order to fulfill their dreams and visions, whatever they might be. The user base on Facebook now outnumbers the population of China. Time to envision Digital Democracy, or maybe some entirely new political platform – Holocracy perhaps? Who knows. But it is definitely time for something new, NOW!

So maybe it’s a good place to be right now – The DOLDRUMS. Set your sails and pray for a mighty wind.

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Real Virtuality – Siggraph 2015 Immersive Realities finalist – Gameplay footage

Source: Real Virtuality – Siggraph 2015 Immersive Realities finalist – Gameplay footage

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“Real feels what rumbles.” Virtual Reality and Real Virtuality

Source: “Real feels what rumbles.” Virtual Reality and Real Virtuality

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DIGITAL PAPER

Okay, let’s face it, school is a complete waste of time, as it stands now….no internet connections, students light years ahead of their teachers, waiting to get to the nearest hot spot so they can crank out their homework with their friends. Real learning taking place here.

I’m not even going to talk about secondary and post-secondary education, its going to take a generation to fix this shit.

I’m a life-long learner with a curious thirst for just about everything in the catalogs. You could lock me up in the Bodleian and I’d never come out. If you are tired of this game, jump into Howard Rheingold’s Think-Know Tools class, offered from HRU. You’ll even get a digital diploma, worth it’s weight in gold in cyberspace. Six more spots left, starting February 3rd at a terminal near you. Warning, this is not for the faint of heart; seriously intense participatory co-learning and collaboration going on here. Take it and you will come out of your cyberport with mad skillz.

Shift….I was riding on the subway during ‘snowmageddon’ in NYC last weekend, on my way to see a good friend in Brooklyn. Overheard two 14 year olds talking about how pitiful their school was and how they have got their parents completely snowed as to what they are pursuing in school. Typical brilliant teen hackers. So I made a joke and said why don’t we just let you two test out for your PhD’s now and let you get on with your lives. Bonded immediately and they just smiled and said, “Exactly”, what a waste time this is. Theirs and ours. We need to let that potential become dynamic before they lose their enthusiasm.

Let’s provide the digital paper these kids need so they can get on with their dreams and visions. Who needs brick and mortar anymore…the only point of it was and is personal connections. Don’t know if you’ve trotted by any campuses lately, but they are all in the screen, no connections being made.

Educators, thinkers, policy makers……Talk among yourselves.

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Same Time Next Year

Well,  this has been fun for me and I hope it was fun for you. But I’m quite busy for the rest of the year, so I’ll see you next year, same time, same bat channel.  I’ll be moving my original posts – for the newbies – up to the top of the blog; probably one a week. But I’m not going to be creating any new content on this blog for the rest of the year. At this particular point in my life I’d rather be with the space cadets than the cybernauts, and I hope I was clear in my last blog  —You just can’t get there from here. So I’m going to be doing a whole lot less screen time for awhile.  You’ll notice I went two years on this blog w/o posting anything. So this is not new for me. I need a digital sabbatical, just too much in my pipeline and too many commitments. Love you all, and when I have something to say I’ll be back.

Wishing you all more than you hope for in your every endeavor. May your lives, families and friends stay close and blessed.  Peace Out!

Pronaically yours,

the original space cowboy, no matter what Stevie sings🙂

Just ask R. U. Sirius

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