[iDC] scattered resonances, re: Electrosmog and Mobility Shifts

john sobol john at johnsobol.com
Sun Jul 31 15:58:37 UTC 2011

On 28-Jul-11, at 10:08 AM, Eric Kluitenberg wrote:
> The question is, is this a matter of social convention, of  
> audiences not being used yet to the idea of a remote interaction as  
> meaningful and significant, or is there another process going on  
> underneath the exchange that only blossoms in physical, embodied  
> exchange.

Great question, Eric. So is this:

> Is the idea of embodied exchange itself phantasmatic or is the  
> suggestion of electronic mediation leading to physical encounter  
> the phantasmatic?
> (this is not rhetorical, I honestly don't have the answer to this  
> question)

My answer to the first is that yes, absolutely there are other  
processes that only blossom in physical embodied exchange. Long-time  
list members will know that I believe that those working in the  
digital realm have a great deal to learn from the oral realm. Because  
both oral and literate technologies are dialogical, as opposed to  
literacy, which is monological. But the dynamics of oral performance  
are often ignored by individuals developing new digital models, who  
impose literate values and thinking on their digital initiatives. I'd  
say that is what happened with your talk show, Eric, which was a very  
cool experiment but one that appears to be deeply indebted to  
monological communication. For example, the simple act of having  
everyone in the room stand around watching the radio show on a big  
screen in silence (as I saw in your archival videos) without any  
horizontal interaction that would actually allow that blossoming of  
embodied exchange, is already a major indicator that oral imperatives  
are not being respected. And I understand that there must have been  
discussions afterwards and whatnot, but generally the show's  
structure seemed to me to frame dialogue within monological contexts.  
The disintermediation of the host is another example of this. In my  
experience a live improvising host is essential to the success of any  
group event in the physical, embodied world. I wonder why you made  
this choice? What did it add? What did it take away?

To the second question I would reply that this remains in many  
respects an open question but that we do know some things already.  
For example, we know with certainty that electronic mediation can  
lead to physical encounters, and that it does, all the time. My niece  
learned this the hard way after her houseparty went viral on Twitter  
and hundreds of people showed up. And of course there are countless  
other examples. So I don't think there is really any question about  
this. If you are referring to real-time remote embodiedness  
(teledildonic type stuff, for example) then that to my mind is a  
different - and much less important - question. Because while that  
may - and probably will - come to pass in the coming years (10? 20?),  
it is in fact the interweaving of local oral and remote digital  
dialogues that has the greatest potential to transform any social  
situation or environment. So I believe that in general the optimal  
use of digital networks should be to create feedback loops beween  
oral and digital narratives and experiences that facilitate  
relationships by straddling both realms authentically, resulting in  
sweaty local collaborations with a global reach, rather than seeking  
to unite these two very different technologies in some kind of AI  
phantasy. (Not that you were suggesting this.)

It sounds like you have undertaken a series of very ambitious  
projects, Eric. If I am offering critiques it is only because you  
asked for them...

John Sobol

bluesology • printopolis • digitopia

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