Sunday, May 06, 2007

Who killed Pandora? A partial perspective

The picture of Pandora by Rossetti is held by the Liverpool museum

Pandora: Or my love of technology (borrowing heavily from and acknowledging the influence of Bruno Latour's Aramis).
The following is a lightweight ANT (actor-network theory) informed analysis.

A starting point is called for, and maybe I am being a little node-centric but I have to start somewhere, and Latour suggests: Follow the actors.

The actors (and I could have called these actants so there was less assumption re human or not, and no intention is made of gender excluding language). These include-
myself (obviously)
Pandora (a rather nebulous entity, a piece of software, a treasure, who by the way is not dead, just dead to me and to others who live outside of the USA)
The actors that created her (again, a superficial analysis so somewhat limited in naming entities). Tim Westergren is one founding father.
The juggernaughts of copyright enforcement (faceless, nameless at this point, certainly I can in my partial perspective cast these as villains)
cj, the person who led me to Pandora

A point of passage, my ibook, or any computer with broadband. Without this, my connection is literally impossible.

Some archeology and chronology
Pandora existed without me, she still does, but we are no longer together :(
I was enticed, cj described her so I went visiting and became enamored, seduced and enrolled, inscribing not on paper but online, a prenuptial agreement offering limited durability, reads as free trial, and then a need for an American address for a sustained relationship (my best friends brother obliged, two more actants)(Susan Leigh Star might call this some invisible work, Law might suggest a little subversion, others maybe a little translation on the instructions, maybe a workaround, nudging here and there to make accommodations and enrollment possible, preventing her asphyxiation momentarily). And I enrolled others.

I have the artefact of my amusingspace Nov 2006 weblog to point to.
And our relationship was somewhat real for a time.
Then somewhat abruptly the relationship was terminated.
Not because I want this, and not it seems because Pandora wants this. Nor Pandora’s makers.
Again, I have artefacts to point to, an emailed Dear Pandora visitor letter.

The juggernaughts of copyright would seem to require the makers of Pandora to look for IPS addresses where residency is not consistent with the address provided. I presume another actant of a software search engine let loose in the 'blackbox' that contains Pandora, can seek and destroy. There is also the actant of USA based legislation to suggest copyright infringement. Presumably there are fiscally driven actants driving this.

The copyright juggernaughts require Pandora to disengage certain assemblages, myself included.
Perhaps our alignment and disengagement was inscripted, thou shalt not covert American Goddesses, no USA citizenship, no marriage. The juggernaughts placed pressure on Pandora’s makers and have suggested her continued existence is contingent on the policing of her relationships. Her future love affairs needs be xenophobic until such times as further negotiations allow such prejudice to be reduced.

This relationship changed me. I learnt of musicians and artists that I otherwise would not have. I bought CDs based on my relationship with Pandora. As much as I thought I could use her, she also used me. We enjoyed and enhanced each other. A symbiotic sociotechnical love affair, and to paraphrase Latour, this relationship was as solid as it gets.
I will get over it, and believe she's already over me.
This relationship is more ephemeral than ever and is now love lost. Faint hope is held of more negotiations that will renew the relationship.
My first love as cyborg is beyond my grasp.


  1. Anonymous9:16 AM

    "Based on what you have told us so far we are playing this track because it features extensive vamping, major key tonality, electric guitar riffs, prominent bass rifts, and an emotional female lead vocal performance”

    Got a small community of fellow mourners over our place too.

  2. my condolences.
    And then I got a bit carried away: imagine if there was a Pandora like tool for fielding worth reading research,
    based on what you have told us we will provide you with research by this person and that person because they feature similar methodology, simplicity of language, themes shared, a passion for education as freedom...
    I could stay in a comfortable niche for ever.... but so could 'they'....
    Maybe its just as well,
    change seems to need cross roads.