Wednesday, October 8

the world we are creating

if there are things you love on the internet, save copies of them. this is advice that Dr. Sullivan is alway giving us with respect to our wandering research. if you even sort of think you might want to use it someday for an object lesson, class project, seminar paper, conference illustration, or article-fodder, download the thing. as endless and un-erasable as the internet seems most days, the stuff of it doesn't always stay there. you cannot trust the cloud.

(whether you can trust the integrity and/or longevity of your harddrive to any significantly greater extent is a separate though not unrelated question. all is temporary, and the scales of temporariness are complicated.)

if there are people you love on the internet, I don't know what to tell you. so far, there's no way to download people. that's probably a good thing.

early thismorning I saw people linking to a new post by Kathy Sierra. it is a long post, personal, a tad meandering, but it seems everso soul-questioningly, heart-wrenchingly important.

read it. go on. I've linked to it twice now, redundantly, asking you to read this long meandering story even if you have not been a Kathy Sierra fangirl since at least 2005, and even if you have no clue who this Andrew Auernheimer fellow (hm... he blogs on livejournal. how old-fashioned...) might think he is, and even if you, like me, find life much more effective without worrying very much about the hopeless-seeming, headache-inducing state of the universe.

Sierra's post might not be there very long. I have made a copy of it, in case the original disappears. it's also on Wired, for the moment. (if Wired and Dropbox disappear, who knows what we shall do).

two-thirds in, Sierra shifts into saying we. "This is the world we have created."

not only does that make us sound so implicated, so conspiratorially close to culpable... it also makes us sound so finished. so final. we've hit send. we've checked enough boxes. the world has been published. editing is over and this is the product we're stuck with.

not so. please, not so. I'd rather say "this is the world we are creating."

the we is still there. I don't see any ways of getting around that we, though parts of me are tempted to pick we apart and subdivide it into some sort of graph with axes like experience, influence, responsibility, investment, and such.

all the other words could stand to be picked at too. which exact this? creating how?

in one of those neat serendipitous internet moments, the following video was posted today. Mr. Rugnetta says a few things on cultural (re)production that answer that last question. the how is discourse. pens, not swords. writing and media, not sticks or stones or construction equipment. it's actions too, of course, but what we say about how we act, and how we storify things that happen = way incredibly powerful. Sierra's story similarly notes that stories with enough inertia and spin can permanently warp one's perspective. even the most disturbingly inaccurate stories, like the kind you might hear about scaly, murderous llamas, can stick in your head and tint everything you see. all the Pratchett you've ever read will say the same thing--narrativium is not to be trifled with.

I wonder sometimes if the stories we tell about the stories we tell carve ruts as deep or as damaging. those are thoughts for future blogposts, I think.

as long as I'm being redundant today, I'm going to include another video--yes, more of this silly Rugnetta fellow and his ponderings. it's relevant, I promise. and the followup comments/responses over here are also enlightening and chewy. (my brain has been particularly hung up over the 8:40 mark. it's a part of me that's been trained to meekly accept and swallow all things as somehow divinely-permitted-side-effects-of-this-fallen-mortal-experience-which-will-ultimately-all-work-together-for-my-everlasting-good that wants to say, "yeah, shrug off those death threats, everything will be fine." what does that mean? who does that make me? am I supposed to squash this attitude? or unravel it away? maybe all I can do is wait to see how I actual feel when or if death threats are ever made in my direction, and keep my mouth shut about the concept until then.)

anyway. this whole situation--trolls, women, internet, life--is more than a story. we can uses stories and conversations and videos and blogs to reach out for little parts of it, and build what we see into some sensible structure, with sections and headings and terms lined up for convenient deconstruction. but labels make me squirm, generally. what we mean by troll and or victim obviously isn't easy. it's not even always useful. the definitional blurriness between criticism/harassment is another thing that might deserve plenty of more discussion. my own experiences of such things aren't the same as anyone else's. that's why we need to tell the stories, after all. that's why we invented ways of sharing all the crazy insides of our heads.

maybe all this talking and thinking will help. somehow.

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