Week 11: The Past Haunts the Future Taunts the Present

We are inundated by technology constantly demanding our attention-currency in a sort of anti-zen digital hyper-current. Our minds experience the immediate past after the brain processes the present and this reflects how we use information streams on the internet; dynamically filtering, categorising, storing and sharing. The result is our patience is sapped, constantly multi-tasking, the phenomenology of reality distorted. The railroads only breached space-time, with media-technology we can traverse limitations effortlessly.


The spectre of lectures past are back to haunt us this week, but theories are mere shadows when we fire up the chronomachines to bend and distort the streams of media time. Bring on the visuals! Through time-lapse we can layer satellite imaging and gauge how Anthropocene – coined the man-affected geological era – marks our beautiful earth with ever expanding city grids. Anthropocene.info has some incredible visualizations and integrates Google’s Earth Engine well, but it is when our cities incadescent infrastructure shines that shows the real spread of humanity:

These ‘light-neurons’ above got me into grandiose thinking about technological determinism and how an era’s dominant entertainment media structures socio-cultural interaction and value. There is a sort of Hauntology at work here, whereby the preceding century shapes the conventions extended by the succeeding media that reappropriates it. Pre 19th century was the theatre and classical narrative, amplified in the 20th by cinema ( & later domesticated in the TV) so the 21st will be the century of gaming. I hope gaming’s characteristics of open-endedness, creative problem-solving and social connectedness (with some excellent ideas from Jane McGonigal) inform a new organisational paradigm for society’s institutions and allow us to explore past and present in creative, interactive ways. Hauntology in gaming is a major theme, particularly in the retro-nuclear aesthetic of the Fallout series, but this article on Ghosts & Time in the Legend of Zelda (Mike, 2013) is without peer.

Bruce McCall’s hilarious presentation on his famous retro-futuristic art (hypberbolic-overkill is a gem). I was introduced to the hauntology of Retro-futurism (seeing how yesterday viewed tomorrow) by the Fallout series as a kid. The tension between mechanical progress and nuclear destruction sealed the 50’s in Vaults and cemented post-apocalyptic fiction as my favourite social commentary genre because the spectre of mass-extinction is fertile ground to explore and understand the restructuring of human society and the psyche; the annihilation of historical time for a new conception. Science-fiction in general has the imaginative power to explore a plausible techno-future, often through the spectral vision of present-day cultural values, Cartographies of the Past or Hallucinatory Urbanism. Now, who doesn’t enjoy a good timeline? Check out these comprehensive compilations based on Famous Fiction and Films. Don’t even get me started on time-travel…

So Ubiquitous Computing is going to augment objects and physical environments with invisible (or visible with AR-tech) and networked computing functionality, heralded by micro-electronics, wireless infrastructure and cloud computing used by today’s Smartphones (Reality 2.0?). The internet of everything’ (Maney, 2013) and its supporting infrastructure constitutes a hyper-connected Reality 3.0 not limited to a device’s screen, where we could instantly access layers of data-streams at micro and macro levels. While Wired presents some interesting implications for developing the programmable world (Wasik, 2013), the internet of things (Easterling, 2012) goes into the techo-psychogeography of augmented city spaces with ‘open-source architecture.’ This brings data-mining and digital-footprints to whole new levels of surveillance vs privacy.

To end I want to highlight some of the future media developments from 150+ of the worlds smartest scientists are worried about (Merchant, 2013) that might come back to haunt us one day. Click the number for the Edge’s original entries or find your own reasons not to sleep at night…
12. “That search engines will become arbiters of truth.”
– W. Daniel Hillis, physicist
49. “We should all be worried about the gaping psychological chasm separating humanity from nature.”
– Scott Sampson, dinosaur paleontologist.
52. “We are increasingly enmeshed in incompetent systems exhibiting pathological behaviour that can’t fix themselves.”
– John Naughton, Edge editor
81. “We should be worried about online silos. They make us stupid and hostile toward each other.”
– Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia
85. “A worry that is not yet on the scientific or cultural agenda is neural data privacy rights”
– Melanie Swan, systems-level thinker, futurist
115. “In one or two generations children will grow up to be adults who will not be able to tell reality from imagination.”
– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, psychologist
125. “That authorities and companies will soon be able to read people’s brains.”
–Stanislas Dehaene, neuroscientist

Tachy-on Time…

Wikimedia Commons: Tachyon04s – TxAlien [altered]

Easterling, Keller (2012) ‘An Internet of Things’ E-flux <http://www.e-flux.com/journal/an-internet-of-things/>
Maney, Kevin (2013) ‘Everything Changes with the Internet of Everything’ Techonomy <http://www.forbes.com/sites/techonomy/2013/05/09/everything-changes-with-the-internet-of-everything/>
Merchant, Bryan (2013) ‘The 150 Things the World’s Smartest People are Afraid of’ Vice <http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/what-150-of-the-worlds-smartest-scientists-are-worried-about>
Mike (2013) ‘The Hauntology of the Legend of Zelda’ ZeldaInformer <http://www.zeldainformer.com/articles/the-hauntology-of-the-legend-of-zelda>
Wasik, Bill (2013) ‘Welcome to the Programmable World’ Wired <http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/05/internet-of-things/all/>

AetheismLogicReason ‘Stephen Hawking – What It Takes to Time Travel’ Youtube <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Bf2B7DN3tqc&gt;
Hauntology, ‘Hauntology’ SoundCloud <https://soundcloud.com/hauntology/hauntology>
Peterson, Daivd ‘All Alone in the Night, Time-lapse footage of the Earth as seen from the ISS [NASA] Youtube <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FG0fTKAqZ5g>
TxAlien ‘Tachyon04s’ Wikimedia Commons <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tachyon04s.gif> [Colour Corrected, Looped]
TEDtalksdirector (2009) ‘Bruce McCall: Nostalgia for a future that never happened’ Youtube/TED <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fOk6HQaNpdE>
TheCiscoindia ‘Cisco humanity – Internet of everything’ Youtube <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdmJW8bSsqo>


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