Wednesday, December 20, 2006

disturbed; shaken not stirred

Sherry Turkle has expressed concern, a rest home she had left Hasbro's 'my real baby' dolls thought they were so useful they bought 25 more.
She cites how a depressed elderly woman projected her own depression on to one of these robot toys saying that it was also sad.
In a Wired article on the making of these interactive toys irobot CEO Colin Angle said "You need to create a life-form that understands that it's being played with... A lot of interactive toys simply drive the conversation. You push a button, it talks. My Real Baby had to be a life-form, not a forced march."

I see a forced march.
I am relieved that Turkle is disturbed. In who am we, she wrote of whether our use of IT extends or constrains us.
I am disturbed, under what conditions can or should a human touch be replaced with a robotics? The move from toy to human substitute begins insidiously.
ITs not just a doll, ITs not just a toy. This a political animal.
This is not ai, this is real life, a real world absence of care; a lack of human resourcing masked as care.
IT is seductive, not only because it is beautiful, but because it is cheap (when compared with staff, time, love, affection).
To quote a famous self confessed cyborg, Donna Haraway, - and to bring forward a critical social thread into the discussion- it could be otherwise. An aggragation of actors is required for care to be replaced by toys, this could be otherwise. The world's 'most therapeutic robot' should be contested, surely it depends on how IT is used as to whether there is therapeutic value or harm?
Techtoys blogsite links to paro seal with a beautiful movie clip of this 'toy' set to the music of Zeeche. "If you love her...mamma said... don't do it. ' or at least, do IT alongside care not as a substitute.

Paro fur seal

lost or added to; a disturbed existence?

I am quivering, my disturbance being prompted by a social commentary on Bebo produced by Daxon & students at DCU Dublin City University, Ireland. Bebo: The Movie portrays some moments of a life online. If most of us wouldnt do it in 'real life' how come we do it online? From little throw away lines- post it comments, a flame war, photos and video clips, 'show us your flashbox revealed as flashing photos through to videos of pole dancing! Plus the pun intended i assume with polls and poll masters. In addition are the on/off nuances of the medium. Whose online or offline and when and for how long being choreographed.
The medium in this instance is very much the message /massage. Marshall McLuhan identified how a new invention or innovation "introduces into human affairs'. Not just the channel or media used, but the change in interpersonal dynamics that the innovation brings with it [the massage]. The medium as culture, simplified right down to a cultural medium (like agar) growing change in the people, change in attitudes and in behaviour, in interpersonal dynamics. Changes occurring both interpersonally and intrapersonally, and if i go a little cosmic here, transpersonally also.
On one level its about Bebo, with its fixtures as well as its social mores shaping what is/isnt done.
And at the same time, I am feeling lost in the funhouse (Barth, 1988). This raw little movie prompted my multi mirrored experience with actors out of context and still embedded within. And my own online blogging about life on the screen on life on the screen on the screen.
Calling on and repeating a previous quoting from Max van Manen (1990) "... realizing that the meanings we bring to the surface from the depths of life's oceans have already lost the natural quiver of their disturbed existence. (p. 54)
In bringing to the surface, making whatever 'it' is more overt, I dont think that there is a loss to a natural quiver, there is something quivering, altered definitely, but I am not convinced that it is an unnatural quiver, though different- and it does disturb.
It is these moments of insight into the human condition that provide reason for my doctoral studies- how are we both shaped and shaping? What influence do we bring to communicating and how are we communicated with, and altered by, the technologies we choose to use.
You can view this at youtube,
Bebo: The Movie

Friday, December 08, 2006

small (a)musings for a doctoral student

While staying on the theme of how I am bumped and bumped back in the use of IT, I am amused by the God(dess) of small things: trying to put Donna Haraway's book
Modest-Witness@Second_Millenium.FemaleMan©_Meets_Oncomouse™ into my endnote library involved at least half an hours concurrent meditation on the subtlety of how come she didn't give up on a title that was so difficult to type in to software that was less than pliable? How come I didnt? And on this software associated with Blogger, i cant make the script fot the copyright symbol behave but rather than place more time on the trivia...
These are the very small pleasures that put a smile on my face- success at making something I could have written by hand in 2 seconds, can be produced by the wonders of technoscience in 1800 seconds!!!!
How I am shaped! I smile when i can make an un intuitive package behave! I smile when my own obedience to form entices me into trivial successes, and then I'm left wondering, how much am i shaped when i think i am the creator...and then i get very humble and realize being a modest witness is important (and there's another tautology in the making...)

AND THEN BLOGGER ALTERS ALL THE LITTLE HIEROGLYPHS ANYWAY! There are always translation, I just didnt expect this literal lesson today... got to laugh....back to work...