Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Showing posts with label Generation Z. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Generation Z. Show all posts

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Time and Politics 26: The Age of Divergence

Image Source: 8 tracks radio.

Last week, Michael Morgenstern intellectualized disinformation at The Chronicle of Higher Education: Dear Humanities Profs: We Are the Problem. Dismayed about American politics? Look in the mirror.

Morgenstern stated that postmodern theorists attacked the canon in the second half of the 20th century. According to these theorists, the western canon in arts and literature (and science) was a story of oppression, often intended, sometimes unconscious. This dominant account was written by Dead White Males. The period from the 1970s to 2010s was spent dismantling that canon, attacking power and privilege in the name of liberal civil rights and equality.

This approach extolled cultural relativism: there was no objective truth, no higher class of knowledge, no text, no vision of cultural superiority which could be offered as a mode of control (subtext: unless it was the new, divergent, relativist, postmodernist canon).

The Age of Divergence

Morgenstern has realized that this attack on cultural and intellectual convergence brought about our present circumstances. Postmodern literary critics had stated that every text was equal. Every text had its own 'civil rights.' Boomer intellectuals and their Gen X students recovered silenced voices, women writers, slave poets, indigenous histories, minority views. This was understandable and justified, because so many people had been mistreated and oppressed for decades, centuries, millennia. Without their voices, our histories were incomplete and our whole understanding of reality would be based on injustice and immorality.

However, this recovery of lost texts was also done in the name of undermining established experts and authorities. This was really a generational power struggle inside the academic profession, but it was dressed up in and justified with theory. Old tenured professors were unseated, early-retired, or pushed out. The aim was to supplant the older generation of intellectuals (viewed as 'the 1950s') with a radical new generation (defined as '1968'). But time has finally caught up with the 1968ers, who are now retired or retiring.

It's not as simple as this, but broadly speaking, this is Morgenstern's summary of how radical liberals attacked conservative authorities of the 1950s and built new intellectual value systems from the 1970s onward.

Morgenstern concluded that the liberals were successful. As a result, we now live in a world where no text is taken as true or accepted solely on the basis of the authority of its author or publisher. Unfortunately for this stratum of intellectuals, they now claim expertise, and by their own logic find themselves attacked, just as they once dismantled the institutional and cultural structures which came before them. Only one Chronicle reader, rebek13, pinned down Moregenstern's idea:
"I'm confused by other commenters who seem to have missed the main points I took from this, which were not so much about 'the canon' at all, which the author admits had exclusionary tendencies (though it need not).

What I see here is a critique of our abdication of the very idea of expertise, excellence, and beauty--literary studies serving as a prime example, but only that. We have in a postmodern haze suggested that tweets are just as good as texts, and that anyone's opinion on literature, philosophy, or history is really probably just as good as the expert who has spent years studying these fields. In doing so, we have made ourselves absolutely pointless and suggested the uselessness of our very fields.

Isn't it very odd that professors of literature have such poor defenses of the study of long, dense literary texts? Isn't it odd that many of my colleagues have turned to facebook comments and recipe books as objects of study (not scrutiny, ever, but study) as though these articles were just as precious as a novel? Why should students understand the value of a long text if we are saying 'everything is literature; nothing is any more worthwhile than anything else'?

It's funny. Colleagues with creative writing backgrounds seem to have a much more profound and certain appreciation of literature than those who spend their lives studying it. They would never suggest that a tweet could achieve the same things as a book. They are not that far gone.

The solution as I see it is not a return to canon as much as a return to the idea that some modes of thought and expression ARE better than others, and that experts are in a pretty good position to tell people how and why. Then we need to be those experts."
In short, due to the Internet, we are awash in oceans of information; and the very people who were supposed to decide what information was authoritative staked their own authority over the past fifty odd years on the deconstruction of privilege around information. This overhaul was supposed to offer new freedom for disempowered liberals in the old, conservative system. It was not supposed to spell freedom for disempowered conservatives in the new, liberal system.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Saudi Arabia in the Age of Open Information

Video Source: Youtube.

A new documentary, Saudi Arabia Uncovered (2016), shows footage secretly filmed inside the kingdom, and highlights the tension between state oppression and freedom of speech embodied in global technology. The film was broadcast in Britain on ITV on 22 March 2016. You can see reports on the film herehere and here. Circulation of the film online coincides this week with a US State Department Country Report (here) damning human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. On 12 April 2016, a jailed blogger profiled in the above film, Raif Badawi, was awarded the PEN Pinter Prize, which recognizes courageous writers who defend freedom of speech. In 2013, Badawi was sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for writing a liberal blog. He started a hunger strike from prison in December 2015; his sister was briefly imprisoned in January 2016. Badawi's family fled and took refuge in Canada.

"Ensaf Haidar, wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, will collect the freedom of speech award on his behalf." Image Source: Patrick Seeger/EPA via The Guardian.

The documentary is part of a flurry of negative American and UK media coverage of Saudi Arabia this spring. In March 2016, a University of Waterloo talk and a Washington DC Codepink conference revealed brewing western speculation that Saudi Arabia is not sustainable. In part, that is due to falling oil prices, and an unfolding "Shakespearean story ... over who will be the next king." There were negative reports on the kingdom in Foreign Affairs and The Atlantic in March and April 2016.

"In this lecture Bruce Riedel discusses Middle East policy with a focus on Saudi Arabia and its evolving role in the region. Riedel is director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution. ... Riedel was a senior advisor on South Asia and the Middle East to the last four presidents of the United States in the staff of the National Security Council at the White House." Centre for International Governance Innovation, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (31 March 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

At the centre that debate is Hillary Clinton and her American presidential bid, which should raise some red flags on the timing and tone of information releases. One Codepink conference participant reported in HuffPo last month that Clinton had overseen billions in arms deals to Saudi Arabia to enable attacks on Yemen (this was reported at The Intercept in February 2016). Saudi Arabia heavily funded Clinton's presidential campaign and Clinton Foundation donors concluded related weapons deals via the US State Department while Clinton was Secretary of State. This spring, journalists and blogs began reading Clinton's leaked, released and hacked emails. WikiLeaks released PDFs of secret Saudi diplomatic cables in November 2015 and Clinton's Secretary-of-State declassified emails on 29 February 2016. On 9 March 2016, Zero Hedge sifted through different releases of the Clinton emails and found that the 2012 Benghazi incident was funded by the Saudis:
"This means we have an e-mail from a trusted Clinton adviser that claims the Saudis funded the Benghazi attack, and not only was this not followed up on, but there is not any record of this e-mail ever existing except for the Russia Today leak."
Other conservative reports claim there is a phone conversation transcript, released 14 April 2016 (here), apparently confirming that Clinton knew that Benghazi was planned and not a spontaneous protest.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Love in the New Millennium 11: An Indigo-Anonymous Valentine

Image Source: Beneath Blindfold.

A surprise Valentine's post was inspired by a search on computer hackers and Julian Assange's latest media scrum. Some days, writing the cultural history of the new Millennium is like being on a game show. Do a search on a random topic and find a giant world mushrooming behind the label. "What's behind Door Number 6, Bob?" Then you look, and you're sorry you did.

Today, behind Door Number 6, we find Indigo Children. This is one of those 1970s' Baby Boomer spiritual entertainment franchises which got out of control and has now created a New Age revolution in parent-child consciousness. With apologies to all those who positively self-identify as Indigo Children, the term came from books written by three Silent Gen and Boomer authors: Nancy Ann Tappe, Jan Tober, and Lee Carroll. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Tappe combined visual arts colour theory with eastern spiritual ideas about coloured chakras and auras. She claimed that a new type of people were appearing on the planet, and their indigo-coloured auras revealed their soul missions. Sometimes, they were infused with alien spirits from the stars; either way, they were meant to change the world with superhuman psychic abilities. This was a profitable mash-up of many ideas from that time, and adapted the egomania of the Me Generation.

The Indigo Child combined the 1970s' extra-sensory perception fad with space aliens (a quasi-futuristic update of Roman Catholic demonology), sexual liberation, angel worship, New Age occultism, Wicca, and environmental eco-faith. In Tappe's mythos, Indigo people now walking the earth were and are on a gnostic spiritual path. Tappe warned that as heralds and iconoclasts of the Age of Aquarius, Indigo Children might be hard to take!
Top Indigo Characteristics:
  • Brilliant with technology
  • Relaxed and casual
  • Peer-oriented
  • Love junk food
  • High energy
  • Bored in school and easily distracted
  • Multi-task effortlessly
  • Blunt in communication
  • Unswayed by previous social norms
  • View entitlement as a right
  • Androgynous
Indigo Children were and are rebellious non-conformists, but we have to forgive them for it, since they are destined to unite us all in peaceful, loving understanding of ever-broader realities and dimensions of existence. From Tappe's Website:
Indigos is a label associated with recent generations of individuals born around the globe. They were originally seen and identified by Nancy Ann Tappe (1931-2012) as a part of the color system which evolved from her synesthetic perceptions. Nancy's lifetime work with the science of color has persuaded her and thousands of others that color is one language that can be used to distinguish and identify elements of the human personality.

Indigos bring change to every level of the human experience through their universal task: to globalize humanity through technology. Their energy today is constantly changing and fast, almost hyperactive. Technology is an innate talent and skill for them; cellphones are an extension of their body.

There are four groups or types of Indigo: Humanists, Artists, Conceptualists, and Catalysts. ...

Indigo was only one of twelve life colors that Nancy Tappe has seen her entire life in the human electromagnetic energy field. Originally Nancy saw eleven colors, but that changed in the late 1960's and early 1970's when she noticed another color among infants. She called it indigo, a color between blue and violet in the color spectrum. It took her forty years to identify and clarify consistent patterns of Indigo behavior and influence. Her information system about life colors came from her study of color and the human personality.
Over the subsequent decades, the idea of Indigo Children influenced the Boomer credo that their children were special, unique and gifted. This was particularly the case if the children suffered from learning disabilities or behavioural problems, many of which had been newly conceptualized as well.

For Gen X parents, Indigo Child spiritual parenting techniques have evolved as part of so-called 'meta-gifted education.' Little did Tappe realize that the Me Generation's ego worship would create a new generation of people who worshipped their own souls, to become demi-gods in the new Millennium's online spiritual explosion. In March 2012, Cracked numbered Indigo Children among one of the "five creepiest progressive parenting fads": "Declaring Bratty Kids to Be Magical Superhumans." Indigo Children inspired a film in 2012 and resonates strongly with people who have grown up with, and are living much of their lives in, the dream spaces of virtual reality.

Anonymous Message to the Indigo Children of the world (28 January 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

None of this has escaped the attention of computer hackers, who spend a lot of time online and know virtual cultures well. In 2015, an Anonymous hacker posted a video with a proposal to Indigo Children. "Look, you Indigo Children [girls]," the hacker said, "it's time for us to join forces." From the video description:
"Attention Indigo, crystal, and rainbow children of the world. Greetings from anonymous. We are contacting you today as there are those who say you and those like you are here to usher in the new era. An era of peace and enlightenment. It has been said you are here to challenge the tyranny that has so long plagued our world. To rise up against injustice and make way for a new, harmonious world.

However, the planet seems to be going in the other direction. Corporations have corrupted nearly every government in the world. Our politicians our controlled by money. The people who are sworn to protect us are now beating and killing us. Greed and indifference are glorified while generosity and tolerance are mocked. The media are nothing more than pawns in a world where our fundamental right to knowledge and expression are being censored. Children are starving in the streets. The elderly are homeless, cold and hungry. Things are only going to get worse.

the time for talking is over. It is time for action. No longer can we turn a blind eye to uncensured greed and corruption. No longer can we afford the luxury of not paying attention to the world around us. Our futures, and our childrens futures depend on it. We must act now. We must take to the streets, we must take to the internet. We must let the powers at be know that this is our world and will will not sit idly by as they enslave and destroy it.

Many believe Anonymous is nothing more than a group of hacker activists. This is not exactly true. Anonymous is not a group or organization per say. There is no central leadership. There is no membership. There is no one sole purpose behind our actions. Rather, we are a movement. An idea. We are everyone and we are no one. We are anyone who wishes to stand up against injustice. We are the passerby who records police brutality on their phone. We are the reporter who exposes a corrupt politician, we are your friend that constantly posts activists posts and news stories on social media, we are the protesters in the streets and, yes, sometimes we are the hackers taking down terrorist websites. We believe that the indigo children can add greatly to our movement. To help us achieve a better world for everyone. Join the cause today."
Anonymous lads: young hacker vigilantes. Image Source: Hacker News Bulletin.

I suspect this has less to do with toppling the Illuminati and more to do with getting laid. This goes to show that no matter how crazy the crazy gets, nature finds a way. But it's not going to be that easy (the follow-up video is here). One Indigo girl who commented on the Anonymous guy's video was skeptical:
"I am indigo and I get a negative vibe from them. Its like they are the face of what right sounds like but isn't. The change is not about fighting. It's about loving. Indigo children are free spirits. They do not have one solid belief or group or thought for which they support. They simply act on what feels right inside. I am suspicious of this post. Police brutality isn't even a major issue. There's brutality everywhere in every race and occupation in the world. There is nothing wrong with police or blacks or whites. We as a people are the problem. we each have two wolves. one of love and one of hate. the one that wins the fight is the one you feed. stop labeling police and groups and people. take self responsibility and stop encouraging the media. treat each negative case as an individual issue. stop playing victim. do not wine because the milk has spilled. feed it to the cat so that you can save a days worth of cat food and in turn a days worth of money. see the positive and feed the positive."
Perhaps Indigo Children should just lie back, close their third eyes, and think of England. More likely, the hackers will be ensnared in their Indigo lovers' harrowing spiritual awakenings and ascensions to the fifth dimension of existence.

Image Source: tumblr.

See all posts on Love in the New Millennium.
Click here for my posts on 60s' Legacies.
Posts on spiritual technology in the New Millennium are here.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Rewrite the History of the 1960s

Unpacking the head of the Statue of Liberty (1885). Image Source.

This week, my post on Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder was highlighted on one of Gen X's best blogs, Are You There, God? It's Me, Generation X. While thanking Jennifer James and checking the other links she listed, I was struck by the way Generation X remains ensnared as an echo generation, its identity projected upon from the outside by a narcissistic Boomer narrative. Jen writes: "Part of my intention is to maintain a tiny space on the Internet where evidence of Gen X society can be preserved." Why is her mission such a struggle?

Head of the Statue of Liberty, displayed in 1878 after completion at the Third Universal Exhibition, or World's Fair, in Paris. It was exhibited in Paris for several years before being shipped to the United States. Image Source: Albert Fernique (born c. 1841, died 1898) / LOC via pinterest. Published in 1883 in Frédéric Bartholdi's Album des Travaux de Construction de la Statue Colossale de la Liberté destinée au Port de New-York (Paris).

The Boomer narrative, that blinkered, one-track view of history, started as a story about 1960s' youth counterculture and fighting for liberty from the establishment. Boomers' liberties made them into libertines, who erected a monument to their own whims and pleasures around the period from the 1967 Summer of Love through 1969. The entire world now seemingly turns around that temporal pivot. Sometimes, it is also treated as a historical bottleneck. For the post-war period, 1967-1969 becomes a shorthand for the social, political and economic history of what happened in developed countries, and everything must go through that chokepoint, as it relates to the Boomer story. But what if everything didn't go through that chokepoint? What if that is not the way things happened? What if other histories ran concurrently from the 1940s through to the present that go unacknowledged because they don't fit the generational story? What if this is not a story about generations at all? What if you can find millions of individuals who don't fit the generational idea, and what if constructing a whole new social order around social alignments based on horizontal categories like 'age' is fake? If any of these suggestions are possible, then the history of the 1960s needs to be radically overturned and rewritten.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Maturation Expiration

Annie Leibowitz's Peter Pan photo composition, with Mikhail Baryshnikov as Peter Pan, Tina Fey as Tinker Bell and Gisele Bündchen as Wendy. Image Source: Business Insider.

As lifespans have extended, so has the age of emotional maturation. Evidence for this fact is more than anecdotal. A 2013 British study of male psychology found that new generations of Peter Pan men now finally reach emotional maturity at age 43, eleven years after women, who emotionally mature by age 32.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bitcoin's Origins: Generational Circumstances and Mentalities

Image Source and © Scenes from a Multiverse (27 December 2013).

Today's post explains the origins of cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin's alarming headlines. Under what circumstances was Bitcoin conceived? What do its proponents believe? And why do they think they are ahead of the curve?

This post does not deal with Satoshi Nakamoto's founding Bitcoin white paper, so much as its context. To understand the rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is to understand the perspective of younger generations - X and Y - coming out of the Great Recession. They reacted to this crisis in a most unexpected and radical way, by developing a whole new digitized financial system. This post reveals Bitcoin in terms of how its users see it, and is part of a continuing series on this blog on the pros and cons of cryptocurrencies.

What follows is an observation of a series of trends which contributed to the way younger cryptocurrency enthusiasts look at Bitcoin. While this post looks at positive aspects of this technology - as seen by its supporters - a future post will deal with its problems, other perspectives, and Bitcoin's theoretical challenges to the system of western economics.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Time and Politics 10: Police State Futures

"Monuments to Kiev's founders burn as anti-government protesters clash with riot police in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest in Kiev, Ukraine" on 18 February 2014. Image Source: PzFeed.

According to Plato, the régime that inevitably follows democracy is tyranny (the cycle is: Aristocracy, Timocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy, and Tyranny.). Wiki:
The Kyklos (Ancient Greek: κύκλος, IPA: [kýklos], "cycle") is a term used by some classical Greek authors to describe what they saw as the political cycle of governments in a society. It was roughly based on the history of Greek city-states in the same period. The concept of "The Kyklos" is first elaborated in Plato's Republic, chapters VIII and IX. Polybius calls it the anakyklosis or "anacyclosis". According to Polybius, who has the most fully developed version of the cycle, it rotates through the three basic forms of government, democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy and the three degenerate forms of each of these governments ochlocracy, oligarchy, and tyranny.
Aristotle defined the cycle as: "the rule of One, the second as rule of the Few, the third as the rule of the Many. It keeps repeating."

Tyranny. It would be so nice if we could just skip that stage. I don't relish the notion of some future Gen Z technocrat perusing this post in 2033, deciding that it violates the latest advisories, and concluding that something needs to be done about future me at three in the morning because of my early 2010s' blog. And so, in light of a day I hope never arrives, today's post concerns how to avoid the establishment of 21st century police states.

Kiev on 18 February 2014. Image Source: PzFeed.

A father and son confront a police officer. Kiev on 18 February 2014. Image Source: Anonymous.

The explosion of the Internet in 2000s gave birth to two great, competing behemoths: statism and anti-statism. On the one hand, there is the potential rise of totalitarian super-states, which will mobilize data-gathering to control their citizens. This is the subject of today's post. On the other, the Internet has fueled a fascination with anarchy and giddy infatuation with libertarianism. Many users on the Web are mesmerized by the lure of stateless chaos and total, Net-driven freedoms; they rejoice in a complete sweeping away of the moribund establishment and the creation of unregulated interactions, whether in communications or trade. That will be the subject of an upcoming post.

You don't need to visit an oracle to understand that everything is in flux, and in this period speeding toward the 2020s, "it's all up for grabs, it really is."

Everything is up for grabs. It's like watching an animated chess board; all the pieces are moving and we don't know where they will land. Reactionary attempts to control, regulate, monitor, misinform, obfuscate around emerging trends are well under way. So are radical counter-efforts. It is impossible to gauge how things will appear when the movement stops. Borders will shift. Struggles erupt between those in power and those seeking power. Everywhere, there are protests and crackdowns. Expect resurgences of radical nationalism, irredentism in places like Crimea, Taiwan, bits of the Middle East  and Africa - and separatism in previously placid places, like Scotland and Quebec. Far-sighted agents rush to anticipate and seize the position of final control after this period of upheaval.

Kiev on 18 February 2014. Image Source: HuffPo.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cryptocurrencies: Doge-ing the Economic Bullet

Image Source: Geek Culture / Joy of Tech (2013) via Syes Wide Shut.

In February 2014, the Financial Times argued that the older generation is monopolizing positions of power and authority while enjoying dwindling fruits of the economy to the detriment younger people. In the summer of last year, Pope Francis warned against the impact of unemployment and reduced opportunities on the younger generation. Other reports similarly state that during the Great Recession, generations X and Y felt betrayed by their Boomer elders.

Under these conditions, members of the younger generations are making a lateral move, building different areas of economic activity and new financial institutions which by-pass the established spheres of economic authority. Can they really dodge the economic bullet?

Among these shifts, none is moving more quickly or explosively than the advent of cryptocurrency (which started in 2008). But does the very youthfulness of cryptocurrency, both in terms of how new it is, and in terms of the geeky culture around it, prevent it from being used and taken seriously? Also, there is a question of criminality, hacking and total ineptitude in this nascent financial area. This is one of several upcoming posts on the meaning and long term viability of cryptocurrency.

In the wake of the Mt. Gox exchange collapse, this joke isn't so cute anymore. Image Source: Vice.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Boomer Legacies: The Employee-less Society

James Altucher: "People with jobs are like 'the walking dead.'" (2013) Video Source: Youtube.

The Baby Boomers inspire a long list of social and economic generational legacies which they do not care to acknowledge. As mentioned in this post, On Declaring Moral Bankruptcy, one of these legacies is the gutting of the liberal professions and the move to an employee-less society, in which employers feel no moral obligation or loyalty to their workers. The old concept of professional decency never worked very well, often was patriarchal or sexist and encouraged nepotism and other forms of patronage. Despite these deep flaws, there was at least a culture of professional behaviour which suggested loyalty ran up and down the workplace hierarchy. Increasingly, we see the opposite; workers are held to ever higher and more demanding standards, while employers wash their hands of responsibility to their underlings.

From Yahoo: the Daily Ticker's Aaron Task talks to James Altucher about why you should quit your job. See Altucher's site here, and his view in the video above that across all sectors in the economy, employers are moving toward temporary employees with no job security and no benefits. When employment numbers finally improve significantly, what you will not see in the stats is that we will be living in a new economy. In that new economy, there will be no job security.

The Great Recession, Altucher maintains, was just an excuse to get rid of expensive permanent employees whom employers wanted to remove anyway, due to outsourcing, technology and globalization. Your permanent job (if you (still) have one), Altucher insists, is going to disappear anyway, so start looking at what your parallel alternatives are as a solo-entrepreneur.

For the Baby Boomers who are seeking to cut costs, this is a remarkably short-sighted policy. It grounds the entire economy in the bottom dollar and ruthless soulless efficiency. But anyone could tell you that money is just an idea, and as such it reflects a philosophy of existence. Remove the humane aspects from the very human act of work and the society will overall become less humane. Could we not have made the transition to a more mobile and globalized economy without pulling the temple down upon our heads? That choice, which Baby Boomer employers made and are still making in the 2000s and 2010s, will have long term implications.

After being treated like this, I really wonder how eager Generations X, Y and Z will be to support Baby Boomers' exploding pension, health and other social welfare costs over the coming decades. Isn't there a chance that these generations might remember the 2000s-2010s, when they were casually fired and the culture of workplace concern for their welfare and futures was destroyed without a second thought? See my posts on Boomer workplace legacies with regard to Gen X here and here; Gen Y here and here and here; and Gen Z here.

For all my posts on 60s Legacies, go here

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Saudade for the Pre-Tech World

Youtube has a lot of great twentieth century media, which let us know just how different things were only 15 years ago.  One Youtube channel called Retrontario plays snippets from television shows and advertisements played locally in the Canadian province of Ontario in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. For those familiar with the area and time, Retrontario particularly conjures up the way Toronto used to be, when it still deserved the nickname 'Toronto the Good' (see my related post here).

Retrontario also carries several examples of TVOntario's public television offerings. Founded in 1970, TVOntario was and is Ontario's answer to America's PBS. It flourished in the 1970s and 1980s, when public TV was at its height. For decades, TVO's Elwy Yost hosted popular highbrow chatter about cinema and movie-making on Magic Shadows (1974-mid-1980s; see the opening here) and Saturday Night at the Movies (Yost hosted SNAM from 1974-1999; the show will be cancelled at the end of the 2012-2013 season due to budget cuts).  The end of a show like this symbolizes the end of an era on public television, pioneered by the so-called Silent Generation.

The province of Ontario has sometimes epitomized a negative stereotype of the Canadian character: stodgy, stuffy, earnest, traditional. The mentality of Toronto's sober, cautious, polite and well-fed burghers prompted Jan Morris to call ending up in Toronto, "second prize in life" in her book, Among the Cities.

However, on the positive side, it was that same stolid propriety that saw TVOntario cultivate in Ontario's public TV audience a civic attitude and responsibility toward intellectual engagement with culture. In a way similar to some efforts in the United States at this time, on PBS, and notably by Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show, TVO saw television as a medium of education. The aim was to depict a desired, prosperous and cultivated society. Television programs which dealt with popular and mainstream culture were crafted toward this larger purpose of higher culture.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Generation Z's Revenge

Image Source: Mediahunter.

Picture this. It is 2045. The focus is on Generation Z, born roughly between the late 1990s and the late 2010s.  They are almost exclusively the children of Generation X and are already known for their total immersion in technology. The oldest members of this cohort are now almost fifty years old, the youngest are about to turn thirty. Some commentators imagine today's children will enjoy future prosperity, thanks to the arrival of the Singularity. But no matter what their opportunities, like every other generation, they will be helped, hampered or hindered by their elders' legacies. Those legacies could be dire. Assuming the members of Generation Z are not dying in World War III or its aftermath, here is a snapshot of some problems today's children could face. The following is a purely hypothetical scenario, based on some ideas, perspectives and facts that are currently available.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bully For You

The Vancouver Observer asks: Is Facebook culpable in Amanda Todd's death?

The Internet is a magnificent tool, but the Web has an ugly side. In its side alleys and social networking corners, anonymity and lawlessness combine. People show what they are when they fear no repercussions and no connections between their online actions and the real world. My friend, C., comments that the Internet is like the island in Lord of the Flies. Anything can happen, there are no rules and no adults. (Even many of the adults aren't adults.) The only decencies to be found are ones that online users consciously seek to preserve, as here.

Sometimes, the lawless online mentality rampages full force into the real world. In those cases, the shameless vicious hatefulness of those born and bred in the cyberverse - who don't care if they remain anonymous or not - is astonishing.

This week, the Canadian media and parliament are discussing the suicide on 10 October 2012 of a British Columbia teenager, 15-year-old Amanda Todd, a victim of cyber- and real world bullying over the past several years. Her tragic problems began when she was apparently ran across an cyber-pedo stalker online, who destroyed her life, blackmailed her and poisoned every new start she made. The Vancouver Observer remarks: "Amanda's death, at least in part, was a result of our society's inability to bridge the divide between digital and 'real' lives."

Todd's own testimonial, posted 7 September 2012, is below the jump. The tool through which Todd was hounded from school after school and from town to town was the happy friendly marketing vehicle of Facebook. Ironically, the very pivot of her demise hosts a memorial site to her here. On that Facebook page and on Youtube, the bullies have continued to jeer at this poor girl, even after they drove her to her death.

I haven' t confirmed this, but according to Vice, autopsy photos of Amanda Todd were then leaked to the Internet:
Unfortunately the Amanda Todd story gets worse, as her exploitation did not end at death. After autopsy photos of Amanda, naked and deceased, leaked onto the internet, the hacktivist group Anonymous responded. Anonymous claimed that a teenager named Alex Ramos distributed the photos, and proceeded to bomb his Twitter account. In what was publicly available on Alex’s Twitter timeline yesterday night, he insisted that what he found was simply available over Google Images. The biography of his Twitter account has now been hacked to say “Raging faggot that loves posting nudes of a dead suicide victim.” ...  
In what can best be described as extremely bad taste, Hunter Moore has thrown a handful of horrible tweets into the Amanda Todd discussion. Hunter, the creator of IsAnyoneUp, a now defunct website that allowed guys to post photos of their naked ex-girlfriends with public links to their Facebook profiles, is an online architect that has helped people like Kody Maxson reach girls like Amanda Todd.
After tweeting shit like “I wonder if Amanda Todd will be on walking dead tonight” and “Life’s a Bleach - Amanda Todd” which is a reference to Amanda’s first bleach drinking suicide attempt (it’s not clear if this is how she committed suicide on the 10th), he was met with the usual torrent of hatred and disgust that the man has grown accustomed to. In response to the backlash, Hunter tweeted: “i lost 200 followers from my amanda todd joke. then gained 250 from making fun of a girl for wanting me to take her buttonhole virginity. <3 .="." strong="strong">” 
On 14-15 October 2012, the hacker group Anonymous responded and claimed to have tracked down the man who allegedly had blackmailed and stalked Todd, and published his name and address on the Internet. By 15 October, hackers had already bookmarked a Wikipedia page for the alleged stalker, Kody Maxson:
Anonymous' Identiy Configuration
Amanda Todd's Punisher

Extorted amanda todd for pictures. This is the pedophile that social engineered Amanda Todd into supplying him nude pictures.

Identity: Kody Maxson
Online Username: kody1206
Location:Sapper St, New westminster,BC
Birthdate 1980, age 30
We Are Anonymous.
We Are Legion.
We Do Not Forgive.
We Do Not Forget.
Kody Maxson.
Expect us!
Anonymous evidently used an underground 2010 Capper Awards Youtube video to identify Todd's stalker. Urban Dictionary:
"Capper: In fansubbing, a person who captures audio and video directly from a television broadcast and saves it to their computer to later be downloaded by a fansubbing group. Most cappers are located in Japan, since they have easier access to anime broadcasts there." 
The man Anonymous named, who goes by the username, Kody1206, was nominated in these awards as the 2010 Blackmailer of the Year: 
  1. Anonymous' Identiy Configuration
  2. Amanda Todd's Punisher
  3. Extorted amanda todd for pictures. This is the pedophile that social engineered Amanda Todd into supplying him nude pictures.
  4. Identity: Kody Maxson
  5. Online Username: kody1206
  6. Location:Sapper St, New westminster,BC
  7. Birthdate 1980, age 30

According to one Website, Kody Maxon is a former (?) Facebook employee. Using the information that Anonymous provided, the Website Vice tracked down more of Maxon's information. Jezebel:
If Maxson is the creep who Anonymous alleges him to be, he's in for a world of pain, as Facebook groups have already popped up with names like, 'Kody maxson WILL die,' and 'Kody Maxson Better Sleep With 1 Eye Open.'

Later on 15 October, the Gaming Central Channel on Youtube posted a video claiming that Kody Maxson had been arrested by the police. Gather:
Amanda Todd may soon get justice for the torment and sexual blackmail she endured the last couple of years. Although police are investigating the case and claim to have more than 400 tips with 20 to 25 investigators prioritizing those tips, their work is done.

According to the Twitterverse, Amanda's tormenter has been tracked down and identified. It is amazing how these savvy computer users managed to do something the police haven't. This report, which is very informative and thorough, reveals Anonymous managed to unearth the identity of the troll who made Amanda's life a living hell. At this point, this information has not been definitely confirmed, but Anonymous names the perpetrator as Kody Maxson of New Westminster, British Columbia.

This is a map of sorts to back up the theory that Kody Maxson is the guy who drove Amanda to suicide. According to this news report, it sounds as if people have actually gone to this man's house in an attempt to confront him. This is not the way this situation needs to be handled. A lynching is not acceptable. Let the authorities handle it. If Kody Maxson is indeed the man behind Amanda Todd's torment, it is likely he is doing the same thing to other females. He will get put away.
Topsy reports today that Vancouver police arrested a Dakota Maxson on sexual assault charges. But local news reports that hackers posted the wrong address online, and would-be lynchers are showing up at the wrong house.

Image Source: Topsy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Generational Snap Shots

Multiple photos of family generations: pinterest via Are You There God? It's Me Generation X.

Several of my posts deal with how people are using cameras and video to place their identities in time, and are then reconstructing their personal lives' time flow through computers. There are some interesting generational photos appearing on pinterest. Similarly, Dear Photograph (selections below) plays with familial photographic memories of the way places used to be, partly superimposed over new photos of the way the same places look now (Hat tip for both references: main post by JenX67). Dear Photograph is so popular that it is now a book.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

DC's Batman Shooter: The Day Evil Won

Cover art for DC Comics' Final Crisis (2008) by J. G. Jones © DC Comics. Image Source: Wiki.

In 2008, DC Comics, publishers of Batman, continued a pattern of pumping dwindling sales by publishing a crossover multi-title event called Final Crisis. The publicity motto for that series was: the day evil won. Top editor and now Co-Publisher of DC Comics, Dan Didio, commented that the series examined the question: "What happens when evil wins?" It is a good question, and an ironic one for Mr. Didio to ask. The answer appears to be: evil wins the day that DC's Millennial virtual fantasies become a reality. What happens on the pulp pages and the movie screen now happens in the cinema itself. Reality has become just like a graphic novel.

In an Aurora, Colorado shooting 20 July 2012 at the Batman: The Dark Knight Rises midnight movie première, 12 people died and 70 were tragically injured. Predictably, America's media have launched into a heavily politicized and polarized debate about the right to bear arms, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

But this election-related argument will take public discussion far off track from the meaning and origins of this tragedy. Guns were not the only weapons used here, since Holmes lobbed tear gas grenades at the crowd, and his apartment is still sealed and under investigation by bomb experts. The apartment is booby-trapped and full of jars of liquid, mortar rounds, trip wires, bombs and incendiary devices, which Holmes likely learned how to make by searching for information on the Web. He also purchased his ammunition over the Internet. Thus, some commentators might begin to ask if we should censor the Internet as we control guns. In this crime, guns and bombs and the information on the Web were not the purpose, but means, to an end.

That end is a social malaise which saw the suspected shooter, James Holmes, tell police that he was "the Joker." And in fact, everything, from the gas lobbed into the cinema prior to the shooting, to Holmes's booby-trapped apartment, is very Joker-like.

The governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, sees this crime as an act of "senseless violence." But labeling 24-year-old Holmes, a graduate student who was in the process of abandoning his PhD in Neuroscience at University of Colorado, as 'insane' does not help to explain this crime. How did someone who was described by his old California neighbours as "clean cut, responsible and studied hard," and who graduated at the top in his undergraduate class in Neuroscience at University of California, Riverside, become someone who said he was "the Joker"?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Millennial Horrors: Flu Research Moratorium in Effect

Image Source: WHO via Charcoal Handwriting.

I had already seen reports on this floating around in academic discussions, but recent news on controversial research on the deadly Bird Influenza H5N1 has become mainstream.  Slate notes that scientists have tweaked the virus so that it can jump between mammals. This was done to understand the virus better and prepare a vaccine, but it's not like nature and Bioterrorists needed help with the human contagion aspect of the disease. Ian Lipkin, Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University, stated that, “publishing this information would give people a roadmap to creating Frankenstein viruses.”

Epidemiologists were worried enough by this research that the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity successfully demanded that all research in this direction stop publication for two months so that the scientific community can discuss its hazards. H1N1 broke out into a global pandemic in 2009 that was contained through mass vaccinations, although 14,286 people died. It was the second H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic in history (the virus actually combined several strains, including a Bird and two Swine Flu strains); it was not as lethal as its predecessor: the first H1N1 global pandemic was the 1918 Flu pandemic, which killed between 50 and 100 million people, or 3 to 6 per cent of the world population at the time. The 1918 pandemic killed 25 million people in its first 25 weeks. This type of Flu tends to affect healthy, younger adults most severely.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Imagine a Future

Imagine a future where we look back to 1995-2015 as the heyday of the free Web, a kind of wild west era before the clampdown.  I never would have imagined it, back in the heady 1990s when the Web exploded with wild idealism.  The Atlantic marveled today that Wikipedia, a site founded on the 'neutral point of view' (NPOV) took sides very clearly on protests against proposed American legislation that will censor copyright infringements online.  Wiki was never a democracy, but today, it entered into what the Atlantic writer Megan Garber calls "pseudo-democratic digital collaboration."  The train of thought that brought Wiki to this extraordinary decision ran as follows, according to Jay Walsh:
I thought about NPOV, but realized that NPOV won't matter if Wikipedia becomes too much of a liability to exist anyway. The way the bill is formulated reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how the internet works. The repercussions are global. ... The point of the temporary inconvenience is to raise awareness and therefore political participation. Without the blackout there will be no story, so no awareness. Political participation outside the US will be ineffective, so there is no point in creating the inconvenience for them. ... You can't be neutral when your very fabric of being is under threat of erasure.
Times are changing.  Today's protest could hint at future ways of organizing (and even governing) societies through altered administration of communication. Alternatively, today's anti-SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and anti-PIPA (Protect IP Act) protests made me think of a future where large parts of the Internet are available only by specialized subscription, or not available at all.  In MSM shorthand, this is a conflict between Hollywood and the Silicon Valley.

Image Source: Gizmodo.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Anti-Singularity - The Choice of the New Generation?

To Raise the Water Level in a Fishpond (1997; Performance) © Zhang Huan Studio. Image Source: Weimar Art.

Much ink has been spilt, or pixels for that matter, on the idea that Gen Y is too plugged in and knows nothing of the world as it was before it was riddled with high tech. Every week there is some piece deriding the new generation as passive, unthinking tech addicts. Here's a typical report that teenagers go into withdrawals like heroin users when their networks and gadgets are removed:
Researchers found 79 per cent of students subjected to a complete media blackout for just one day reported adverse reactions ranging from distress to confusion and isolation.

Teenagers spoke of overwhelming cravings while others reported symptoms such as ‘itcing’ which is a familiar sensation for drug addicts fighting to break an addiction.

Some even reported bulimia like symptoms where they would deprive themselves of their phones or laptops so they could binge for hours at a time later.

The study, focused on students aged between 17 and 23 in ten countries. Researchers banned them from using phones, social networking sites, the internet and TV for 24 hours.

They were allowed to use landline phones or read books and were asked to keep a diary.

One in five reported feelings of withdrawal like an addiction while 11 per cent said they were confused or felt like a failure. Nearly one in five (19 per cent) reported feelings of distress and 11 per cent felt isolated. Just 21 per cent said they could feel the benefits of being unplugged.

Some students even reported stress from simply not being able to touch their phone.

One participant reported: “I am an addict. I don’t need alcohol, cocaine or any other derailing form of social depravity.

“Media is my drug; without it I was lost.’

Another wrote: ‘I literally didn’t know what to do with myself. Going down to the kitchen to pointlessly look in the cupboards became regular routine, as did getting a drink.”
As a Gen X commenter, I am not going to join that chorus.  I am not going to walk the path my predecessors walked, and slam the generations coming up behind me.  Anyway, there are signs that this knee-jerk assumption about how people now in their teens and early twenties engage with technology is not entirely correct.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Internet Shadows in Broad, Sunlit Uplands

Image Source: Mac Tonnies Website.

On May 14, a blog devoted to the memory of the late Mac Tonnies, Post-Mac Blues, posted a fascinating piece (here) about how Tonnies's work lives on on the Web.  It refers to a German 3sat television production (which you can see here) that mentioned Tonnies as an example of a growing Millennial problem.  This connundrum will be unique in the history of humankind, and will start when the Internet generations - X, Y and Z - begin to die.  What will we do with the Web content legacies that once-active online users leave behind?

Because Tonnies was so young when he tragically passed away at the age of 34 in 2009, and he also had a strong online presence, his death highlights this problem.  The information that remains - his reviews, his Website, his blog Posthuman Blues, his tweets, and so on - act like a Platonic shadow.

Many films around the turn of the Millennium dealt with the gnostic idea that the camera can act like an objective, outside observer, which tells us the real truth beyond our subjective perceptions.  The same might be said for the Internet.  What comes from us as subjective reflections, tweets, Facebook updates, and e-mails can be later compiled into an objective existence of a 'self' beyond the Self.  This legacy somehow transcends the previous characteristics of personal records and private papers.  There really is a ghost in the machine now. I do not know how archivists and historians will even begin to grapple with the problem of sorting through the mess of pseudonyms, avatars and daily info-junk that everyone online now generates.  Nor can I imagine how our online presences will be interpreted as historical documents.

Ironically, some Baby Boomer proponents of radical anti-ageing concepts have suggested that downloading our consciousness into an online virtual reality will be the best way to live on after we die physically.  See my post on the idea of mind uploading, here.  Will this really free us from the incessant tension between the concrete world and our consciousness?  Is some virtual reality corner of the Internet going to become the dimension that houses a billion disembodied souls, forever?  Here's to the freedom of our shadows in broad, sunlit uplands ...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fountain of Youth 10: Attitudes toward Age, Ageing and the Elderly

Report: many elderly people live in isolation. Image © Alamy. Image Source: Daily Mail.

There's been a lot of hype in some circles about preserving youth and increasing our lifespans - often among Boomer futurists who look forward to the Singularity.  One can't really blame the Boomers for pouring money into anti-ageing research and cures for diseases that kill the elderly.  They were always a generation defined by their youth.  Now many of them seek to prolong that youth for as long as possible.  This '50 is the new 30' credo among the so-called 'Zoomers' and 'Quintastics' seeks to redefine ageing as zippy, hip and current.  Take no prisoners.  Whatever it takes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Embryo Born after Being Frozen for Twenty Years

The Star Child. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Image: MGM.

Phys.Org is reporting that two siblings have been born a generation apart, after one was frozen in embryo form for almost twenty years (hat tip: Lee Hamilton's blog): "The baby’s unnamed mother, 42, is from the US and had been undergoing IVF for 10 years without success. Then last year an embryo that had been kept frozen for almost 20 years was thawed out and implanted into her uterus. The baby boy was born in May and weighed 6 lb 15 oz (about 3 kg). The embryo, along with four others, was created as a result of IVF treatment that resulted in one of the embryos being successfully implanted in the mother and brought to full term. The remaining embryos were then donated anonymously for “adoption” by other couples, and frozen. ... The woman's doctor, Director of the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine at the Eastern Virginia medical school, Dr. Sergio Oehninger, said the patient had been receiving fertility treatment unsuccessfully for many years, but her persistence had now paid off. Dr. Oehninger’s research showed that keeping the embryos frozen for a long time does not affect their viability, and it may be possible for them to remain viable 40 years or more, although Oehninger said it would be unlikely such an old embryo would be used as this would mean a new generation using embryos of a previous generation. This issue has already been raised with a mother in 2007 freezing some of her own eggs for the use of her daughter (then 7), who has a medical problem that will probably leave her infertile. If she uses the eggs, her child would also be her own half-sister or brother."