Tuesday, April 17, 2007

swan songs and semaphores

[PHOTO: Web site, No One Belongs Here More Than You, designed on a refrigerator and stove, photos taken, uploaded to site. Via Geek Sugar "Refrigerator Design", from Twitter message of scobleslinkblog.]

Do you express satisfaction with an emerging social media tool (blog, wiki, podcast, videoblog, Twitter), only to get shot down?

Have you ever tried to explain some new online community, and had people act all sluggish, dumbfounded, and even antagonistic?

Do friends demand that you show them a "real example" of a "good" Twitter message or blog post? Why don't they explore such tools themselves? Why don't they experiment? Why should you have to prove the value of something they themselves can investigate?

We forget that there are people who resent technology, computers, and anything that young people, or highly skilled professionals, are doing with technology.

Champion the rise of individual voice -- they call it narcissistic drivel.

Applaud youthful zeal and innovation-- they claim you're easily dazzled.

Defend freedom of expression -- they whine about abuses.

But the critics of social media, what do they champion? Newspapers, Dan Rather, and strict control of communication by the establishment "professionals" and hierarchical "experts". They attack blogging like the old geezers once attacked bicycles, bathtubs, and all other blandishments of modern civilization.

Will the enthusiasm cool, and blogger-twitterers settle into a hobbyist activity, an underground cult again, an eccentric specialty? Like ham radio? Ham radio, like Twitter, is used for casual, non-essential chat, but is also a useful communication tool in disasters.

Like the Virginia Tech massacre.

While the MSM spins in circles on a hot issue, repeating the same information and speculation, the families and students connect via Facebook, Twitter, and other user-generated content communication tools and status updaters.

Certainly, some people are rarely connected.

They get online briefly, just to check their email, and maybe shop at Amazon or do whatever they do on eBay. They Google a search term like Virginia Tech, Don Imus, or other topical name or event.

One statistic quoted by Ad Age is that only 3% of web users have a blog. Does this mean that the other 97% will never have a blog, Twitter, podcast, or other online communication and collaboration tool?

As Geek Sugar says, "Geek is chic". And so it is.

The machines have promised to be merciful to us as they usurp, supplant, and delete us from Earth.

As we abandon our planet to the assiduous servo-mechanisms and modified bacterial forces we can no longer control, some few of us will adjust to new worlds, new interactions, and new modes of being.

As we blend with the machines, like obedient automatons, bending to their ultimatums, we learn new ways to signal to each other across the flames of violence, deception, and greed.

Better communications between campus security, university administration, local police, and students...might have prevented some deaths at Virginia Tech.

Our Twitter messages and blog posts?

Cybernetic smoke signals.

Swan songs and semaphores of the outmoded human race.

When the last human expires, the machines will unceremoniously delete all our content.

Ah, but will a deconstructive trace of it remain, a ghostly margin dweller, a potent absence that can mis-manufacture an unlikely facsimile, a digital human pseudo-presence, soft-coded into the wires and sparks?

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