How simple. This piece takes certain social interactions and turns them into something peaceful. How simple. Each piece has a different kind of interaction. The first two are utter simplifications of what an argument is: only taking 3 words that could possible occur (Yes, No and Maybe.) This piece is completely devoid of sound – which reads to me as a sort of paradox in the argument setting. All the pieces are soundless, which have the same sort of enigma. The two flirt pieces, use the same words from “argument,” which reads to me as a funny comparison between the two situations. Often times, human interaction can be very convoluted, but bringing into a digital world often strips it of (possibly?) gratuitous emotion and connotation – making it apathetic and empty. These first five pieces are calling to this apathy. The last two pieces become more poetic and metaphorical. “arms” is quite poignant: the text turns from the words “your arms” to a representation of arms and then to “me.” The last piece explains the metaphor of the title “Strings,” how words are like strings coming out of a mouth. The real emotion seems to seep back into the piece at the end. Words can mean nothing- but they can also connote a myriad of feelings.
This Chapter in “How We Think,” Hayles went deeper into the structures of education pertaining to digital reading. She acknowledges the novel aspect of this mode of thinking and avoids making very definitive statements about it, and even looks down upon a few examples of rash judgements on minds which are filled with the internet. There is a good amount of research on the subject, but she also brushes on the point that the research could be flawed. I was specifically interested in the research of where our minds go when we are reading. Letters were adapted by humans, and they happened to be constructed in a way that our heads can wrap around. “Over time, scribes developed increasingly efficient notions that fitted the organization of our brains.” We often see these structures that we are completely acclimated to and don’t consider an alternative. Yet there does exist an alternative – other languages. The English alphabet seems to have been constructed in a pretty efficient way (although a non-english speaker may disagree.) This research seemed that it specifically pertains to English writing. I am curious about how this research would turn out with, let’s say, the Chinese alphabet. It does not seem to me that scribes created the most efficient alphabet in this case. To recognize over thousands of characters seems to be extremely inefficient. Yet a Chinese speaker may completely disagree. When the english alphabet was developed it may have completely fitted the english speaker mentality, and possibly likewise with the Chinese speaker mentality.
Print calls for he eyes to move back and forth down the page, consistently, but digital writing is a whole different story. The research that concluded that the average reader goes down a web page in an F pattern, struck me as very interesting. Whenever I read a list, I have trouble reading it in order, I hop around throughout the list. I am not sure if this is because of my scattered mind or if it is the hyper-reading influence from the internet. For me, a list is an exciting opportunity to read in a different way.
A very odd area indeed is the intersection of Zen Buddhism and the internet. In some ways, they seem to be polar opposites. The internet is this ever expanding web of all things - a completely and utterly chaotic mess. Zen highlights the importance of meditation and clearing the mind. To make the two things meet seems like a paradox. The digital poem “Tao” is creating this juxtaposition and sort of offers a peaceful meeting point.
A common format which I see in digital literature, is the expanding web; options that can be clicked which lead the reader to following a certain path (kind of like a choose your own adventure book.) As I go through these pieces, I find myself wondering what the other options could have been, and I personally find this frustrating. (maybe if I were an enlightened zen buddhist I would accept the unknown.) “Tao” is a piece with basically one iteration, that maybe could be anything. The user can switch the moving imagery (shot through a moving car) to its mirrored version; the car can go either direction. When the poem finishes you can watch it again, but at first it deletes it self. The poem is watched backwards and forwards and can continue forever. The poem’s content is about placing earth somewhere in the universe, amongst the starts. The last line mentions “baghdad” - and this sort of disrupts the anonymous nature of the poems objects. Written in 2004, this was right after the invasion in Iraq, that marked the beginning of the Iraq war. I have to admit that this part confuses me – I could offer up an explanation, but it would not be sincere. One thing that I know that this poem does is to shed light on acceptance of infinite options, and seeing that deciding to be in one place you can find peace, and it does not matter which place it is. A Zen master must accept the pages of the internet and take it in how it is. The internet may be the ultimate challenge for a buddhist; but if you ask me if you can find peace within the internet, than you certainly can find it anywhere.
I was working on a film set this winter and they housed the entire crew in a hotel. On the night of my arrival, I met some of the crew and we conversed about the movie and I asked some questions. I asked if there was wifi in the rooms, I immediately received the answer “no.” My initial response was to laugh, but once i realized he was not joking, I nearly vomited. Everywhere. But I did not. I need the internet. I have grown up with it. This moment was similar to Katherine Hayles discussion as media as “protheses,” yet in my case it is a healthy stomache.
Back track: Maybe I am a “hyper-reader” (most likely, I mean I AM a millennial) but I had to do some serious digging through references of digital media writers and theorists and her very own chapters to really get to the point of this reading. I am sorry Katherine, but I don’t really want to hear about 20 different colleagues amidst the meat of every paragraph. Kathy, was it a self aware choice to force the reader into realizing this dichotomy between close reading and hyper reading by the mere style of your language? She does in fact mention that this book is very conscious of itself being a printed text… so probably, yes. The writing is multi-faceted in speaks to you about the things that it is making you do. A hard mesh of the commendable facets of both media and print.
In this chapter, she is clearly offering a very intelligent look on the media generation, rather than a excessively typical look at how millennials are apathetic and stupid degenerates, slaves to the internet’s dirty core. This seems to be a popular topic amongst internet journalists and bloggers. Hayles rarely considered the negative effects and was speaking of an intermarriage between the positive aspects of digital and print writing, which I found refreshing. Rather than looking at the evils of this new life, she is just look and discussing how we can talk about it and study it. As technology sticks around and becomes more and more and integral part of out species it will intermingle with our genetics and there will certain be outcomes: the wonder of technogenisis. I am aware of media’s neurall plasticity in my life. Certainly, I am horribly impatient and my eyesight has probably been effected by the amount of time I look at a screen, and my mind immediately leaps to google for an answer. I often think to myself “CTRL Z” when I make a mistake in my non-digital life. I am very aware of all of this. But one thing we cannot grasp at this moment is how humans will evolve with this (relatively) new way of interacting with life. It may become a life necessity more than it is for me. Internet as protheses may become more an more of a reality. A literally look at this may just be the idea of a computer chip implanted in ones brain, yet who knows how our health may be affected by the internet or the lack thereof.