Throwback Tuesday: “Snail Mail”

My first Major Studio project in MFADT, “Snail Mail”. It was a “network” to create connections between people through the act of writing and sending letters. This came back into my mind from a quote in “Alone Together.”

“An extended telephone call or a letter-these rare and difficult things–demonstrate full attention.” (271)

In the digital age, letter writing has become a “throwback.” Who does this anymore when you can text, e-mail, or instant message?

How this relates to my thesis? Well, I think it has something to do with that “full attention.” While sitting at a dinner table, you are forced to give the people there your “full attention.”

The “network” at the dinner table is based on the people sitting there. It is ONLY those people who are sitting there. That’s the only network you have in that moment.

 

 

“Alone Together”

Networked, we are together, but so lessened are our expectations of each other that we can feel utterly alone. And there is the risk that we come to see others as objects to be accessed and only for the parts we find useful, comforting or amusing.” –Sherry Turkle

This weekend I have been busy reading this book, “Alone Together,” by Sherry Turkle. I started it a week or so ago, but finally started getting into the parts that really got me thinking about how it relates to my thesis. As I find myself in this space of “i’m not sure” what I am going to do, I do know the aspects that are important to me. I feel like I am moving like a turtle, but I am hoping that slow and steady will win the race.

Here are some quick notes, with longer notes to follow:

  • Everyone is “tethered” to a mobile device
  • Sense of “privacy” when talking in a public space is a presumption.
  • Technology offers us substitutes for connecting face-to-face

What I enjoyed about this book so far is the conversation between how to deal with new technology and the connectivity. Turkle does not just say that the new forms of communication are “great!” and “awesome!” but she also looks at the faults. She analyzing how something helps and hurts us at the same time, bringing up valid points about how society is changing.

Hmm…

“It Takes a Village” by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Louisa recommended this book to me so today I went to Bobst to pick it up. I started reading it on the subway ride home and I thought it was very relevant to my current themes I am tossing around. Although they are not yet concrete, I am talking about family relationships, family dinner conversation, and possibly my relationship to my mother.

In the first couple pages Hillary states the title comes from an African proverb. She writes:

I chose that old African proverb to title this book because ti offers a timeless reminder that children will thrive only if their families thrive and if the whole of society cares enough to provide for them. (Page 12)

Hillary goes on to further explain that the “village” today is no longer a specific place and now we have a “modern village.”

The village can no longer be defined as a place on a map, or a list of people or organizations, but its essence remains the same: it is the network of values and relationships that support and affect our lives.”

I see my family as my village and I want to read more about the villages Hillary has to talk about.

Meeting with Louisa

Today we had individual meetings for writing class with Louisa, our professor.

Here are some things for me to think about:

  • Is this actually autobiographical? I have been struggling with this idea to move beyond myself, but as Katherine, my thesis teacher suggested yesterday, and Louisa again today, maybe it is about me and my experiences, and that is completely OK. The problem is that I need to accept that it is more about a personal exploration and finding conventions to do this to relate it back out to other people if I want to
  • Ultimately, thesis is something I want to do and if I am not being true to myself it will not be successful.
  • “Reclaiming conversation”  is something that Louisa sees as being central to my ideas.
  • Nostalgia, longing
  • Relationship with my Mom? Louisa pointed out that my Mom always comes up in these conversations that I have and in my presentations. My mom has been a big part of my life and as one of the strongest women I know, has a lot to do with the way I was brought up and the values that I have. Maybe she is right and this is about close we are and why that is?
  • More questions: What are the experiences you want to create for your participant? what feelings do you want to elicit?

Related references:

It Takes a Village, by Hillary Rodham Clinton

No longer Bowling Alone, Henry Jenkins

“I Love the Way You Hold Your Gadget” GQ, Letter from the editor

Sometimes I wonder if my friends are really paying attention to me when I talk or just doing something crazy on their computers as they listen. Today when I received the e-mail below I realized, I am lucky enough to have some friends who gets me and listens, especially when I talked about my thesis in a recent conversation.

This is an example of a good use of technology. I don’t think I would ever pick up a GQ magazine ‘just because’ so without my friend Matt, I would never have read this article that is so relevant to my thesis ideas. This is where technology does us good–with the help of copy & paste and e-mail at the touch of our fingers, Matt could send me the articles instantly. He didn’t have to write me a letter or call me to tell me about it, but I got it! I didn’t have to buy the magazine to read it, but I could just get linked to it…amazing!

The article is the letter from the editor, Jim Nelson, titled, I Love the Way You Hold Your Gadget (GQ, October 2012). 

The editor jokingly talks about how he was on a hike in California and wished he had his iPhone with him to experience the view. Funny right? But so true. Some people can’t live, and laugh at the idea of not having a cellphone. He goes on to talk about how everyone is on their phones in the city, looking down not up at where they are going. We are all guilty of it–checking our phones as we walk and not paying attention to the things around us. I know I am.

This got me thinking back to my conversation with Dr. Levinson about how the use of technology is an evolutionary process. I think it’s already clear that technology is not going anywhere and it is how we use it that we need to think about. Find our own balance as all this new information comes our way.

What was even more intriguing to me was what Nelson had to say about online dating that shows how technology is already evolving itself.  He said that he read an article in the Times about how online dating can only take you so far because these online dating sites realized that “algorithms will only take you so far, and that the best way to find a potential mate is in person.” So already, the technology is finding flaws in itself. Clearly an algorithm can’t solve everyone’s problems and we still need to find that balance.

So to tend this little thought trail, (which I am not sure made any sense now that I look back at it) here are the final paragraphs from the article.  Who thought that meeting someone in person would be called retroWe can’t rely on technology for everything, but as Dr. Levinson pointed out to me in our interview, it’s a learned behavior that we will figure out, eventually.

 

 

from “What is Media Archaeology?”

“New media might be here and slowly changing our user habits, but old media never left us. They are continuously remediated, resurfacing, finding new uses, contexts, adaptations.”

–Jussi Parikka

Media archaeology brings together the old and the new. Studying old media to understand the new media, and how they overlap one another. Just because there is something new, doesn’t mean the old gets replaced…it’s just another layer to what we already have. More of my reading notes help me figure out what exactly media technology is, and how it is related to my thesis themes.

What is Media Archaeology?

20120921-022741.jpg

Went to the NYU library and picked up this book along with a couple others. I am looking forward to reading more about this topic and even more excited that I was the first person to ever borrow this book! Ever! That’s a nerd thing to be excited about but what can I say, I am kinda a nerd sometimes.