Sunday, September 28, 2003

On addicted to the internet

We live in a world of addiction. What is the purpose of addiction? Too much connection with a projected object. It is a problem of connection. Since connectivity is a major issue in this new electric world, maybe its connection to addiction should be seriously looked at? Because addiction is a serious, destructive problem when the object of addiction has such a consuming power, like drugs, booze, sex, work (workaholics), and who knows, maybe eventually the internet. Our censorship, or social acceptance of which object of addiction we allow seems to be connected to what the society values as being supportive or destructive to the society. Alchohol, for example, at one time, in some societies was used as a way to be connected to the holy and communing. It served a function of a bringing together of the community. Now it is not. The addict feels his disconnectivity with the world, his self, the 'single consciousness' at such a deep and compelling level that he becomes destructively addicted to his chosen substance. The degree of one's forgetting of oneself and other selves, is also relative to the degree of one's destructiveness. Sometimes the addiction brings about a reversal and starts a healing process, sometimes the substance consumes him instead. Could a computer addict get into the same destructive cycles as in other forms of addiction?

It was painful for me to see the word "addiction" being battered around so carelessly. So I had to respond with this message. As for my own danger of being destructively addicted to our class blogs? My cat just gave me the answer by trying to sit on my ibook. Lately he's been very jealous of it. I wonder if he thinks it's another pet or knows that he needs to keep reminding me of disconnecting? Anyway, all I need to do is, give him his appropriate attention, and I'm saved from being hooked.

Ps. about "reversal", there's a simple and clear description of its process in "Making the Media the Business Message" from Investment Executive found in Mark's homepage.


Saturday, September 27, 2003

A Poem inspired by thoughts of electricity...


Electromagnetic Waves,

Light !

We are moving blobs of light!

blinking and non-blinking bytes,

day and night,

good and evil,

absence of light

only exists because

of the presence of light.

In the end, isn't it all the same...

Is it futile or not?


On Media, Mediums, and the Ultimate Transformers..

"If the work of the city is the remaking or translating of man into a more suitable form than his nomadic ancestors achieved, then might not our current translation of our entire lives into the spirittual form of information seem to make the entire globe, and of the human family, a single conscious?" ...from "Understanding Media", pg. 61.

These words of McLuhan might help answer the unspoken question that I feel is floating around out there under the currents of our class blogs, "Where is it all leading towards"?

"A single conscious", he says. That was mind boggling for me when I first considered that idea. What would that imply? No individuality? No privacy? Determined by the masses? My deep sense of self-indpendence suddenly felt threatened. So I dug into the reading, or maybe readings. As you can see from the introduction of my blog page, it led me into the exploration of the cocepts of language, philosophy, history, mythology, and eventually into... quantum physics (that took a couple of years to digest), holographic principes, Chaos, fractals, and now "blogs"!!

After considerable time (like some 5 years), it didn't scare me so much anymore. What I discovered was that - hey, there're all saying the same thing! Only with different vocabularies.

It was all about "making whole", like in "healing", "single consciousness", "holograms", "all-in-one, one-in-all", "the undifferentiated ground of being", "the implicate order"... I'm sure all of you have your own words to add to this list!

Now if electricity is the medium, therefore "the message" - the transforming agent, as McLuhan is it transforming us? That's being discussed in class: blogs and attoseconds (was that the correct word?).

I go back and forth between re-reading McLuhan's words, to the internet, to my musings on the blogs...and suddenly, it dawned onto me...Well, aren't we, human beings, the ultimate media, the constant transforming agent in all of this? We've transformed our environment through the different medias we've created. Whether it was language, philosophy, science, wheels, cities, the printing press, the horrifying inhuman factories, machines and electriciy, megabytes and transformed us in return. So we come back to the question again. What are we transforming into?

We transform our environment, our environment transforms us...It goes on and on, looping and re-looping into itself. Doesn't that ring a bell somewhere? Anybody "see" the symbol of the Tao here, that half black, half white within the circle with the opposite colored dots within it?...The dancing Kali who tramples on the dead as she dances the dance that creates life? The hermaphrodite surrounded by a wreath in the "World" card of the Tarot?...The non-ending dance of creation?

Listening to myself preparing the composition of my blogs, I am suddenly attacked by a feeling of depression, of inertia. It does seem to be futile... (Bernard, I love this word you dropped in our class blog) the sense that it all goes round and round in a circle and comes back again to the beginning. What is the point of effort if it all goes round and round and you are stuck at the beginning again? If we are all going to be a single consciousness, why try to be different or the same? Makes me not want to do anything, which would eventually defeat the purpose of taking the course. So I came back to finish this 2nd blog.

I took the course to get out of myself, to meet people whom I could share my ideas with. But if everybody is more or less saying the same things, just in their own unique different ways, am I learning anything new? I have to confess. It seems to be the hope of hearing something new that lures me on. Well, it did lead me to the class. And now I have the blogs... lots of opportunities to share my ideas. Therapy, Bernard? It seems so. But what is the difference between putting yourself out there in cyberspace so you can see yourself better, and trying to find the 'ideal relationship' through exchange of ideas - which is also a projection of yourself in the other? Anybody want to make a psychological assessement of that?


Thursday, September 25, 2003

Decoding electronic "phonemes"

Did you know that to be able to read, you had to learn how to decode the phonological patterns of the written letters, called "phonemes"? That is,.. to connect the correct sound to the correct group of otherwise meaningless lines, circles and dots? From decoding, you then move on to word identification and then to comprehending the meaning of the words. Most people construct these basic phonological abilities between ages 4-7. However, during the past decades there has been increasing evidence that more and more children are not able to accomplish this. There is a probability that one of every five child has some form of reading disability. "Overcoming Dyslexia", by Sally Shaywitz was the best book I've read about this so far. That could mean that whole generations of childrens will never be really comfortable with reading. These children are also totally immersed in the electric medium. TV, cellphones, Walkman, Nintendo, Gameboy, email, chat, laptops, PDAs, etc, etc. It's also becoming more and more about images and sound than words. They may just never have the habit of reading that we have taken for granted? Could it also be that they are being born genetically 'wired' to be more adjusted for this new electric/electromagnetic environment and we are trying to choke them back into the archaic structure of linear language?

Speaking is natural, reading is not. It is an acquired act, an invention of man that must be learned at a conscious level. Using a computer must be even more of a deliberate action. A computer would not be as useful if you didn't master reading.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that understanding computer terminology or language requires a special effort (that tends to be taken for granted in an environment that is infused with electricity). It is extra effort on top of learning how to read English, which comes on top of learning how to speak it, which then must be overlaid with thinking and researching abilities as those required for this class. For someone who is not a native speaker of English, this process is layered on top of learning how to speak, read, write his own national language. (In my case that is Thai which, by the way, has its own unique script, and that came on top of learning my mother's tongue, a Northeastern Thai dialect.)

As a result of all that effort I don't take for granted my ability to speak (3-), read (4-), and write (3-) languages. Some words, translated back and forth in 3-4 different languages always gives me delightfully inspiring insights into each societies's thinking processes.

For a demonstration of the "gah-gah-goo-goo" of someone who is still trying to decode the electronic "phonemes", here's an example of my inner dialogue when reading Mark's instructions about how to set up a blog:

(By the way, I like to read 'blog' as "be log". It tickles me to "be logged" onto cyberspace logs. It invokes the part of my multi-Self that could be a member of the Star Trek crew!)

My inner dialogue went:

" Pardon me?! 'URL?' I guess from the context, that means the address of my blog... "

" 'IE?' That's probably 'Internet Explorer' since Netscape is a surf engine..."

" 'Link?!' I think it's got something to do with 'Favorites'? Maybe?...(gasp, gasp, gasp--Panic!! ) How come it's not there on my ibook's IE's barline? Why can't they produce computers or operating systems on the same planets? Why can't these software wizards check in on each other when they decide to name a concept? It is supposed to be English, isn't it? "

" 'Bookmarklet?!!!' What's that?! No! No! No! Don't get me into Javascript... (My eyes are now glazing over the way my dyslexic son's eyes do when they encounter a long word that he doesn't recognize)..."

Imagine... now I am in a seriously blocked mind mode, I can't do anything right. It took me 3 half-finished drafts that kept disappearing into thin air to realize that I can't do this live/on-line. I should pre-write my text and then paste them on the site later. Oh, ppplease... give me the spontaneity, and gratification of closure of a face-to-face conversation!!

The whole process took me some 4 hours, before I decided to give it some breathing space, and these above comments should leave enough food for thought until I compose my next blog....