Tag Archives: facebook

Google Game: What’s so great about…

Every era has its fascinations, zeigeists that intrigue and often confuse. The most complex or enigmatic of these will persist in popular interest as the ages progress, placing time’s most enduring allurements in fraternity with today’s spurious obsessions.

And therefore we see our fellow man searching for an explanation for the defining strengths of our great nation (or is it?), da Vinci’s beguiling brunette and the whole of Christianity, while also probing the cloud for explanations of the buzziest of current concerns: Facebook, Twitter and Twilight, for instance.

Will Avatar be our generation’s Mona Lisa? When time obscures the context in which the movie represents a monumental step forward for technology and industry, will Googlers of Christmas Future wonder what so ensnared the collective imagination? Will James Cameron’s perplexing smirk make the coming generations wonder what he knows that they don’t? Or will they be too busy downloading pictures of Robert Pattinson to care?

I’m willing to wager, in any event, that Windows 7 will be long-replaced, BluRay gone the way of the laser disc, Twitter and Faceboook reduced to prominent points on an internet time line. And the iPhone will probably be made in America — a great place for cheap labor and manufacturing outsourcing — and shipped to China.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson Would Probably Call You a Pussy

Logic leads to advancements, which in turn dictate logic. Why call someone when you can Facebook them? Why scan the street for an address when you can check the location on your iPhone? You could pick up a book on a subject of interest, but instead you’ll search for a few sufficient snippets online. Could you plan a trip without Orbitz or Kayak or Google Maps?

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “Self-Reliance” in 1841, praising the strength of the individual, the value of unadulterated opinion, and revealing the folly of blind following. In it Emerson provides a poignant vision of technology’s subtle and subversive shifting of priorities and perceptions. More than a century and a half later it is still a vital reminder that whatever our tools and acquired facilities, we must rely, ultimately, on ourselves.

This passage may as well have been written today, about the Internet and cell phones. The message hasn’t lost a bit of relevance — OK, maybe a bit; Kiwis are, today, largely clothed, I reckon:

Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For every thing that is given something is taken. Society acquires new arts and loses old instincts. What a contrast between the well-clad, reading, writing, thinking American, with a watch, a pencil and a bill of exchange in his pocket, and the naked New Zealander, whose property is a club, a spear, a mat and an undivided twentieth of a shed to sleep under! But compare the health of the two men and you shall see that the white man has lost his aboriginal strength. If the traveller tell us truly, strike the savage with a broad-axe and in a day or two the flesh shall unite and heal as if you struck the blow into soft pitch, and the same blow shall send the white to his grave.

The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. He is supported on crutches, but lacks so much support of muscle. He has a fine Geneva watch, but he fails of the skill to tell the hour by the sun. A Greenwich nautical almanac he has, and so being sure of the information when he wants it, the man in the street does not know a star in the sky. The solstice he does not observe; the equinox he knows as little; and the whole bright calendar of the year is without a dial in his mind. His note-books impair his memory; his libraries overload his wit; the insurance-office increases the number of accidents; and it may be a question whether machinery does not encumber whether we have not lost by refinements some energy, by a Christianity, entrenched in establishments and forms, some vigor of wild virtue.

We kneel at the altar of information on atrophied legs. Occasionally it would behoove us to get up and walk around.

Unhappy On On Langage On Un-Language

This weekend’s New York Times Magazine On Language column, written by Ben Zimmer (in for Sir Safire) looks at what Zimmer calls “the age of undoing,” the preponderance of backformed words created by tacking a convenient un- to the front of everything.

The article begins:

“What’s done cannot be undone,” moaned Lady Macbeth in her famous sleepwalking scene. If she woke up in the 21st century, she would be pleased to discover that whatever can be done can be undone, too.

Or perhaps it just seems that way in the new social spaces we are carving for ourselves online. On popular Web sites devoted to social networking, innovative verbs have been springing up to describe equally innovative forms of interaction: you can friend someone on Facebook; follow a fellow user on Twitter; or favorite a video on YouTube. Change your mind? You can just as easily unfriend, unfollow or unfavorite with a click of the mouse.

The recent un- trend has also seeped into the world of advertising. KFC is marketing its new Kentucky Grilled Chicken with the tagline “UNthink: Taste the UNfried Side of KFC.” The cellphone company MetroPCS challenges you to “Unlimit Yourself,” while its competitor Boost Mobile wants you to get “UNoverage’D” and “UNcontract’D” (ridding yourself of burdensome overage fees and contracts). Even victims of the financial downturn can seek solace in un-: ABC broadcast a special report in May telling viewers how to get “Un-Broke.”

It goes on to trace the un-ing of words back to some linguistic genesis, one rooted largely in the electronic world. Forsooth, there once was a time when the “Undo” command was novel. But what interests me more than their digital-etymological rise are the cultural connotations of these words, and what they signify beyond their definitions.

Take, first, Zimmer’s advertising and ABC examples: UNfried, UNlimit, UNoverage’D, UNcontract’D and Un-Broke. What I see here is more than clever marketing, but the display of a pervading sense of dissatisfaction. Typically, branding serves consumers (that’s us) with aspirational images. Beer will make you cool and popular, makeup will make you beautiful, etcetera, ad infinitum. Buy this, become better. But these un- slogans are not about becoming what you want; they’re about un-becoming what you are and wish you weren’t.

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Facebook Status Reveals Humanity’s Descent Down (Storm) Drain

Janey Collins is digitally debunking Darwinism

Janey Collins is digitally debunking Darwinism

A recent news story: Two Australian girls, ages 10 and 12, were lost in a storm drain. Rather than use their phones to call for help, they changed their facebook statuses. A friend saw the message and called emergency services.

You’d think I’d go off on the runaway oversaturation of facebook in daily life. No, I’m going to turn this on families, the original social network. You might not be able to control what your jittery tweens do online, but it’s still your responsibility to impart common sense lessons for the real world. Like how to dial 911, or 116 or whatever they have down there.

Open letter to parents: Do your fucking job, wouldja?

[via ABC News]