#CCK11 out of place

I’d be curious to know how many people prefer the disengagement of online life over the place they physically occupy in the real world. It still is the real world, network theory or not.

Two threads here. First I’ve hit a wall on trying to sustain belief in the highly abstracted notion of networks being anything other than metaphor or simulation.  How many steps away from living in the apparent manifestation of the universe where I can Actually kick my computer and Hurt my foot do I have to go to support something that’s only here when the electricity is working?

The second thread is I would trade activity on the net for real human contact unmediated by this damn machine (sorry folks) in a second were I a better person and more tolerant of the people I come in contact with daily.

As a new resident in an unfamiliar town the first thing I did was get very ill and fell back on contact through the net as a substitute for actual physical contacts. With out a doubt I’ve met some fabulous people who I hope to be in contact with for many years to come (or in internet years anyway, which are measured in weeks like dog years).

But none of these people are real. Only contacts that reside, I’m not sure where, as ideas of people who populate abstractions in service of metaphors and I wonder if this is some sort of cyber alienation that will come over all of us when our brains tire of this corner of the carnival?

Alternately, this could all be driven by being too far north, too far into the winter and having too many deadlines to meet.

Is it rude to wish to spend more time with real people? To stop trying to make sense of the net by inflating to a level of importance in human history when in the experience of human existance here and now has become so compelling as to be irresistible?

I propose we declare week 3 a Screw Theory and Cut Class week! Cast your role as compliant node aside and just be deliriously unconnected!

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  • Thbeth  On February 4, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    Olá, calma!!

    Eu no meu trabalho necessito muito mais de pessoas reais do que as virtuais, mas o conhecimento está na rede social.
    Entre pessoas diferentes e que ultrapassam o seu ambiente comum. Seja mais flexível e se deixe levar, coloque as suas ideias as suas memórias, e quem sabe tudo fica mais luminoso! 🙂

  • Rebecca Ophelia Court  On February 4, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    It is very easy to get seduced by internet connections and conversations into believing that we are connecting in a “better” way than in normal day to day conversations with real people around us. It is because we feel omnipotent at our desks with no one to challenge us as we put out our ideas and theories and we are at liberty to ignore and delete any answers that don’t fit with our way of thinking.

    The more we connect on the internet the less satisfying daily transactions may become. So a healthy balance is needed between real people and those you only meet on the internet.

  • gbl55  On February 4, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    I agree that disengagement brought by life online can sometimes be preferable to ‘real life’, but sometimes not, and the same applies in the reverse direction – everything in moderation! Also, the interface between the two is becoming fuzzier (mobile technology, ‘Augmented Reality’ etc) so, for better or worse, significant parts of real life and the ‘carnival’ are going to merge – let’s work to make it better!

    As for networks, they’ve been around for a long time in many guises and, given a spare year or two, there are tons of books on the subject waiting to be absorbed. As an ex-engineer I’ve a built-in suspicion of highly abstracted anything unless something tangible can be achieved (Let Dr Johnson stub his toe on a power transformer in an electrical supply network!) so I’m skeptical of accepting anything about social networks purely on trust. The weirder the abstraction, the greater the need for caution. There’s nothing weirder than relativity or quantum theories and they took years to be verified and widely accepted.

    An interesting and reflective post – I’ve only addressed a couple of good points.

    Gordon Lockhart

    • Kevin  On February 14, 2011 at 4:46 PM

      “everything in moderation”

      I couldn’t agree more! It always bothers me when people take an either-or stance. Practitioners tend to land in the middle, as opposed to theorists and arm chair quarterbacks.


  • Kevin Wilcoxon  On February 10, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    I too lament the real-world disconnect the net seems to have imposed on us. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve pined for a group of like-minded folks to gather with over drinks. Alas, I’ve not been able to connect, in my real world, with more than one like-minded individual at a time within the past ten years. If that.

    I went through belonging to and being active in several organizations along the way, but eventually reached the point where everything seemed recycled and, sorry, sophomoric. This is where the net has filled a hole. I am able to connect with like-minded folks who have the learning, experience, and most of all, passion that I seek.

    • scottx5  On February 14, 2011 at 12:36 AM

      I have a perpetual complaint about net connections abruptly ending. Form a relationship of mutual interest in (usually for me) an online course and eventually it just ends. In my case there seem to be these characteristics:

      I poorly phrase a piece of irony that in a “normal” face to face relationship could be easily fixed. Online, the repair takes effort and I may decide that if the receiver took such offense the relationship really isn’t based on much and into the garbage I toss it.

      Divergent interest. Given the net is such a circus of delights who needs to have a sustained relationship over a particular interest? This might grow from a similar situation in Life Itself (I’m having trouble with a name for offline life and figured this looked good–especially with copyright bug at the end) when friends drift apart, only accelerated by the tenuous nature of the net.

      Belonging is a difficult thing to sustain. It relies on the good will of others to carry you when you fail as it does on you to not abandon them. Human needs on the net are subject to the same abstracting any media imposes on the characteristics of human connection. “What’s on this channel? Why it’s my old pal Bob–think I’ll switch to Jane.”

      None of this is real. The whole net thing is a simulation that with lots of practice could become a really convincing substitute for Life Itself.


      • Kevin  On February 14, 2011 at 4:51 PM

        “None of this is real. The whole net thing is a simulation that with lots of practice could become a really convincing substitute for Life Itself.”

        Scott –

        Do you propose to say that everything in “real life” is genuine? I’ve found that professional relationships in organizations, with few exceptions, are every bit as transitory as online ones. Join a professional organization, stay awhile, then leave. What do you find? Same thing.

        Interests converge, then they diverge. Maybe a little sad but entirely true in my life.


      • scottx5  On February 15, 2011 at 5:31 AM

        Everything in real life is as genuine as it gets. As a sub-contractor my “professional” life exists entirely on the border looking in. In the building construction world it was fine because everyone knew projects came and went and membership was based on proven performance.

        The academic world is diffent. The whole thing is built on an imaginary world full of mission statements, “inclusiveness” claims and territories. All surface, appearance and posturing but genuine for what it is.

        My reactions are of course clouded by the fact that I was in construction for nearly 40 years and had reached a level where I likely din’t notice I was an entrenched insider. At the college, none of who I was or accomplished matters, I’m just the new guy who doesn’t have any paper qualifications and doesn’t follow any rules.

        There’s a quote found in Studs Terkels book ‘Working’ from nurse he interviewed: “Work is too small for people.” She was talking about the difference between work and a true calling but I sometimes just invision work as a small toy farmyard. Too small to worry about.

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