“Offering of One’s Senses”: a prayer by Dr. Phan

Offering of One’s Senses

“Lord, 
sometimes I have a hard time finding something to pray about, 
yet the reasons to give you thanks are not lacking.

Aren’t there young people whose life’s wish is found in these words: 
“God, I wish I could see!” or 
“Lord, I wish I could hear!”

Yet, Lord, I who see, hear, speak with such ease, 
often forget to thank You for these gifts which I take for granted.

Today, I thank you for my eyes which see light, colors, 
and the faces of those who love me.

I thank you for my hearing which allows me to enjoy people’s voice 
and music.

I thank you for my voice which allows me to express my thoughts and 
innermost feelings.

I thank you also for the sense of smell, and the sense of touch ….

Lord, you have given me the senses. I now offer them back to You. 
Help me to use my senses sensibly,

to see your beauty in the beauty of human faces and bodies, 
of flowers and rainbows, of nature and art;

to use my eyes to read what will enrich my mind, ennoble my soul;

to use my ears to listen to your Word 
and to what philosophers and scientists have to say 
about the mysteries of man, 
of the universe, of creation, 
so that I may better understand myself, 
others, and You, the Creator of all things 
seen and unseen, known and unknowable;

about the past and the present, 
so that I may better understand myself, others, and You;

to use my voice to proclaim the truth and to spread the joy around me.

Amen.”

Translated and adapted from French by Dr. Chau T. Phan, Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey 08648-3099, from Fernand Lelotte, S.J. Rabboni: Consignes et prieres pour mieux servir, 9e edition, 1958 (Paris, Casterman; Bruxelles, Foyer Notre-Dame. Imprimatur, 1955.)

DFW’s NBC affiliate featured my INSITE mixed reality design

Working with Dr. Marge Zielke of the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at the University of Texas at Dallas, I wrote the sixty-page design document for a virtual simulator to train law enforcement officers on how to conduct nystagmus tests as part of the standardized field sobriety test battery. I handed the design document to modelers, artists, and computer programmers, who made the virtual simulator. This 2019 video shows NBC5’s segment about INSITE (Individual Nystagmus Simulated Training Experience). https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/DWI-Tech_Dallas-Fort-Worth-507344262.html

“Where two or more avatars are gathered …”

NRUMC Sanctuary“Pastor’s dissertation explores attending church via virtual reality.

By Linda Johnson

Rev. John Kay of Kavanaugh UMC in Greenville is peering into the future of the church and virtual reality. What he sees are more inclusive services and ways to attract new members, especially 18- to 35-year-olds, to The United Methodist Church.

Virtual reality renderingRev. Kay recently earned his doctorate from the University of Texas at Dallas. His dissertation, “Virtual Environments as Communication Technologies of Faith,” explores whether virtual reality and variations of it “could communicate dimensions of the Christian faith that earlier technologies could not convey or convey as well.”

Virtual reality, or VR, is an immersive technology that makes game players or other users feel like they are someplace else. Wearing a VR headset, a person gets the sensation of, say, touring through a house, slipping around its furniture, hearing the sounds from the street and, in some cases, picking up objects. It can feel so real that the wearer may be startled by bumping into the couch in his or her actual home.

Rev. Kay visited eight virtual environment labs — virtual environment includes virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual simulations — across the U.S.

“Video games are virtual environment. Most of those are shoot-’em-up games — I couldn’t care less about those. I learned about positive uses for these technologies,” he said.

Rev. John Kay

Among the labs he toured, he was inspired by a project at the University of Texas at San Antonio, which created a VR walk to raise money for multiple sclerosis research. The professor in charge, who has MS, wanted to create a technology through which MS patients at home could join in the walk around AT&T Center, where the San Antonio Spurs play basketball.

Using a microphone and headphones, they could communicate with each other in VR as they took part in the walk, “all from the comfort of their own bedroom,” he said.

From his research, Rev. Kay came up with two ideas for the UMC: SUMMA SERVE and the Virtual Faith-Explorer. Here’s how they work.

SUMMA SERVE: For his dissertation, Rev. Kay proposed North Raleigh UMC in Raleigh, N.C., as the setting for a traditional service in virtual reality. “Congregants who are physically there would participate,” appearing as avatars to people who have donned their VR gear and logged in from home. “They would be doing worship together, except for communion,” he said. He envisions churches scheduling a time for VR services, such as 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays. “Potentially, the online congregation could grow to reach hundreds or thousands of new people,” the dissertation says.

VIRTUAL FAITH-EXPLORER: Rev. Kay envisions an evangelistic website where people could see a list of religions and experience them in a low-pressure way. The site “would allow religious faiths to meet 18- to 35-year-olds where these young adults are: in front of a screen,” his dissertation says. The visitor clicking on the United Methodist link would be welcomed by a virtual agent, a computer-generated character powered by artificial intelligence. The virtual agent might ask the visitor to “follow me down the hallway” to a classroom to learn about the faith and then to a worship service. The technology would “serve as an evangelistic tool that would not leave people in cyberspace but would help them to find a local congregation in the physical world and encourage their involvement in that grounded house of worship,” the dissertation says.

 

Published: Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Reporter Linda Johnson for the North Texas Conference.

Bullets or trust? Fear or love?

A privilege that I have had over the years has been the opportunity to deliver the address at baccalaureate services of various high schools in north Texas.  Baccalaureate organizers hand me the task of imparting words of wisdom to graduating seniors.  I do not take this responsibility lightly.  A common theme of my addresses involves how these eighteen-year-olds will face the future.  Will they approach the years ahead with fear or with love?  

Sadly, a wider audience needs to hear this message in 2013 because signs indicate an increase of fear among Americans.  Reminiscent of drivers’ makingImage a mad dash to the gasoline stations after 9/11 in order to fill up their tanks, people are hoarding, not fuel for their vehicles, but ammunition for their guns.  Ammunition supplies cannot meet the high demand.  A Texas news media outlet reported last week that gun ranges cannot buy enough bullets for their classes because gun owners are stockpiling ammunition.  Many Americans are buying guns and bullets in response to both the Sandy Hook Elementary School’s massacre and the Obama administration’s desire for stricter gun laws.

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported last week, “As Barack Obama begins his second term in office, trust in federal government remains mired near a historic low and frustration with government remains high.”  When asked, “How much of the time do you trust the government in Washington?”only 26 percent of Americans surveyed in January, 2013, responded, “Just about always or most of the time.”  In comparison, a similar survey in November, 1958, found that 73 percent of the respondents trusted the federal government.

 

A lack of trust in the national government and a run on guns and ammunition indicate fear, not just in the air, but in the hearts of people.  Nineteen-hundred years before F.D.R., the writer of the First Epistle of John had something to say about fear in the human heart—“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear”  (I John 4:18, N.R.S.V.).  Love and fear sit at opposite ends of the spectrums of how we can view the future and of how we can view other people.  For example, it is very hard to love others when we are fearful of them.

 

We have a choice:  fear or love.  Consider fear as a noun and love as a verb.  Fear shows distrust.  Love shows trust.  Fear turns us inward.  Love turns us outward.  May we Americans allow God’s perfect love to cast out our fear.

Spam, Pornography, and Cancer as Anomalies

FINAL PAPER FOR PORTFOLIO
EMAC 6374 Digital Textualities
By John Kay
December 13, 2011

I went to my family physician in September, 2007, for my annual physical. I looked forward to the examination because I had lengthened my aerobic exercise to sixty minutes per day as she had recommended at the previous physical. Unfortunately, the results of the blood-work showed something “abnormal.” Follow-up testing revealed that I had multiple myeloma, which is cancer of the plasma cells. Normal cells contain 46 chromosomes, but the cells of multiple myeloma patients have 53 or more. The Mayo Clinic classifies cells that do not contain 46 chromosomes as chromosomal anomalies (Mayo). Here and in many other topics, anomaly connotes problem because such outliers sit in a danger zone; however, a dictionary defines anomaly as an “irregularity” or “deviation from the common rule” (Merriam-Webster). In The Spam Book: On Viruses, Porn, and Other Anomalies from the Dark Side of Digital Culture, editors Jussi Parikka and Tony D. Sampson use the anomaly. Anomaly serves as an appropriate descriptor for spam, pornography, and computer viruses.
Academic study of a subject requires the suspension of value judgment. Emotions swirling around hot-button issues can distort or color the analysis. The words spam, virus, and pornography illicit strong opinions, which can prevent an objective analysis. As I wrote in the Text Object (“Terrorism and Spam”), when analyzing “things,” the seventeenth-century philosopher Benedictus Spinoza would caution me that “things” are not “more or less perfect because they delight or offend the human senses, or because they are beneficial or prejudicial to human nature” (Parrika and Sampson, 11). As with Spinoza, Jussi Parikka and Tony D. Sampson want to move “‘beyond good and evil’ and instead focus on the forces constituent to such moral subjects” (11).

In some ways the book’s subtitle almost contradicts itself and their premise. They refer to anomalies as irregularities but then add the value-laden nomenclature “the dark side.” Spam, computer viruses, and pornography are anomalies in digital culture but not anomalies in the “dark side of digital culture.” They belong, rather, to the dark side of digital culture, where they are regularities. The authors solve this rhetorical confusion with the word from. Scamming spam, computer viruses, and pornography are anomalies from “the dark side of digital culture.” Such clarification might sound like an unimportant exercise in semantics but lies central to the argument that spam, computer viruses, and pornography are anomalies in digital culture, in whose dark side they reside.

Topological analysis shows that spam, computer viruses, and pornography are anomalies. The editors write, “we use the term topology to address the complex assemblages of network society, which … encompasses the complex foldings of technological components with other aspects of social and cultural reality” (5). The Internet allows international communication for profitable and non-profitable uses. People of varying societies, subcultures and cultures (including languages) around the globe may and do utilize this technology. To put it another way, topological analysis shows that the Internet is a system, not just of networked computers, but also, of international users. This complex system, which affords usage by many different types of people of different ideologies and pathologies, includes spammers, scammers, hackers, and pornographers: it makes possible their operation on the Internet. Spam, viruses, and pornography thus come with the system. By volume they certainly are not irregular or abnormal. Topological analysis reguirs the consideration of cultural and societal forces as well as of technologies. This perspective shows that spam, viruses, and pornography are anomalies, which “are understood as expressing another kind of topological structuring that is not necessarily derived from the success of friction-free ideals as a horizon of expectancy” (7). Therefore, glitched media objects also are anomalies. My Still Images Object (“Descent into Glitch”), for example, shows a progression from controlled, manipulated photographs in which the focus is on the finished picture to glitched photographs in which the focus is on the creative process. Instead of being considered as irregular or abnormal, the resulting anomalous glitches produce works of art.

After conducting a topological analysis, analysts may consider the ethics involved. Pornography can help adult viewers in practicing some sex therapies and in achieving semen samples for medical purposes, but such examples comprise only a minute fraction of porn’s uses. Watching pornography can give people, especially children and teenagers, an inaccurate understanding of body image, sexual relations, and interpersonal relationships. Porn can lead people to think of others as only sources of sexual gratification. Porn can hurt marriages by encouraging spouses to view it, rather than interact with each other, for sexual satisfaction. Porn consumption can harm one’s spiritual and emotional maturities. An analysis of the ethics of pornography needs to include its effects on those involved with its production and distribution. Young adults, especially women, wanting to land acting jobs resort to starring in pornographic productions. By actually doing what they are portraying, the “actors” subject themselves to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies and feel/are sexually, physically, socially, and spiritually degraded. They involve themselves in an industry replete with illegal drugs and criminal activity.

Spam and viruses can harm more than harddrives of personal-computer users. Malicious code can damage hard-drives of businesses and organizations. The damage can financially cost them for equipment repairs and personnel power of, not just repair technicians, but also, the users who lose productivity. Users of networks might include physician offices or law enforcement agencies or the military, for whom damaged networks could result in the communication of wrong information or no information in times of emergencies. Potential customers might switch to competitors if they have problems ordering from damaged websites. Employees lose productivity by sorting through inboxes clogged with spam. As some of the hyperlinks on the Text Object show, individuals have lost billions of dollars from scammers, such as from Nigeria. On the other side, scammers, hackers, virus distributors, and some spam makers are harming themselves and their families by participating. Thus, pornography, some spam, scamming spam, and computer viruses truly do belong to the dark side.

Combining the topological approach with an ethical analysis yields a more-complete understanding of spam, viruses, and pornography. They are anomalies from the digital network culture but not benign ones. After learning that I had multiple myeloma, I traveled in 2007 to M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital in Houston. They confirmed my diagnosis but would not do anything about it. I switched to the Myeloma Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. My oncologist could have said, “Yes, you have a malignant chromosomal anomaly. It eventually will kill you, but we are not going to treat you.” Fortunately, he not only recognized the anomaly, but also, successfully treated it with tandem autologous stem cell transplants. The description of proposed treatment for scamming spam, viruses, and pornography extends beyond the scope of this paper and involves a thorough analysis of the structures that make possible their existence. I appreciate this book’s insistence on analysis.

Terrorism and Spam

DIGITAL MEDIA OBJECT: TEXT
Version 2.0
By John Kay
December 12, 2011

The Obama administration in April, 2010, placed an American on the C.I.A.’s “kill or capture” list. Anwar al-Awlaki grew up in New Mexico but moved overseas to Yemen. He became an evangelistic leader for al-Quaeda. His speeches allegedly encouraged a Pakistani-American to join and then botch a car bombing in Times Square in New York City. His messages also allegedly enticed a Nigerian young man to join the terrorist group and then unsuccessfully try to down an American passenger jet on Christmas Day in 2009 in Detroit. American officials say that Ibrahim al-Asiri from Saudi Arabia made the bomb for that attack. Another American, Samir Khan published an internet-based magazine called Inspire. This English-language media object promoted the ideology of al-Quaeda, such as by including articles like “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”
In September, 2011, from inside the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia, C.I.A. personnel watched the movement of Anwar al-Awlaki half a world away in the African nation of Yemen. Undercover or embedded C.I.A. agents might have used their own eyes to keep watch on al-Awlaki, but they spied on him from aircraft high overhead. Personnel in Langley had reviewed the overhead images of where he was staying. Although these images might have resembled what a B-25 bombardier saw when he looked down to the ground from the plane’s glass bombsite in World War II, these electronic images represented what the twenty-first century drone saw and transmitted back to Virginia. In other words, C.I.A. personnel analyzed the situation by examining visual representations of what the cameras of an unmanned aircraft saw on the other side of the globe. When the C.I.A. personnel looked at the representational images, they spotted his riding in a car, and they ordered the drone to shoot a missile, which reached its intended target and killed leader Anwar al-Awlaki and publicist Samir Khan (Associated Press, October 1, 2011). Bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri might or might not have been killed in the air strike (Associated Press, October 3, 2011).
The C.I.A. used representational analysis to effect the assassination of a terrorist and what President Obama called “a major blow to al-Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate” (A.P., October 1, 2011). In representational analysis “any proposition that correctly represents the ‘real’ world is true,” and “knowledge, in turn is the compilation of correct propositions” (Stanley J. Grenz, A Primer on Postmodernism, p. 153); therefore, when C.I.A. personnel examined the visual representations of al-Awlaki’s movements in Yemen, they assumed that the images “re-presented” the actual circumstances overseas, that is, that they were seeing the “real” world in which the proposition that Awlaki was ripe for picking was true. The C.I.A. then acted on their knowledge of the correct propositions by pulling the trigger from thousands of miles away from Africa.
In The Spam Book: On Viruses, Porn, and Other Anomalies from the Dark Side of Digital Culture, editors Jussi Parikka and Tony D. Sampson observe that scholars have used representational analysis for their examinations of spam, computer viruses, and pornography. Our nine-year-old son could explain that the now-ubiquitous reference to “the Dark Side” refers to the evil side or the side of the bad guys from Star Wars. I would classify computer viruses and pornography—things that damage equipment, networks, bank accounts, human models (mainly women), and families—as belonging to the dark side. But when analyzing “things,” the seventeenth-century philosopher Benedictus Spinoza would caution me that “things” are not “more or less perfect because they delight or offend the human senses, or because they are beneficial or prejudicial to human nature” (Parrika and Sampson, p. 11). Representational analysis might consider perfection of the subject, for example, but like Spinoza, Jussi Parikka and Tony D. Sampson want to move “‘beyond good and evil’ and instead focus on the forces constituent to such moral subjects” (p. 11). As a result the dark side of the book’s subtitle refers to the representational analysis that many earlier scholars have used to describe spam (p. 5).
Parrika and Sampson prefer topological analysis to representation analysis when examining spam. Topological—in the sense of space and networks—analysis shows that anomalies in the digital environment are not abnormalities but part of the structure. Such a definition helps me study anomalies more objectively. Spam (although funny and unpleasant to eat or irritating to e-mailboxes) and porn and computer viruses (although still detrimental) are, therefore, anomalies in digital culture. As the power law depicts, most network nodes have few hits or links to them, while some (such as Google) have many hits. The “Google sites” and the pornographic sites are the “highly-linked anomalies” (p. 52).
Application of the topological approach to the subject of terrorism reveals some similarities to the issues of spam, pornography, and hacking. Terrorism functions as anomalies in the global power structure. That Yemen cell, acting a node in the terrorism network, was a “highly-linked anomaly.” As scamming spammers seek to extract money from recipients by creatively deceiving them, as operators of pornographic websites seek to take money from internet users by displaying tempting, titillating photographs and videos in order to lure them to pay to enter their site, and as hackers seek to gain notoriety, satisfaction, or sometimes money by exploiting weaknesses in the internet system, terrorists seek to violently exploit vulnerabilities of those people whose foundational, ideological beliefs differ from theirs. As scamming spamming, pornography, and hacking come with an internet system that affords generativity and profit-making, terrorism unfortunately comes with a global power structure in which some of the world’s marginalized turn to violent means to have their names, causes, desires, and beliefs known. Terrorism thus is an anomaly.
Governments will continue have to battle terrorism as long as current global power structures remain intact. Governments such as those in the United States and Europe might value the current global power structure more than they abhor the violence of the terrorists. In other words, they would rather keep the current world order in which terrorism is an anomaly and they remain on top rather than change to a more-level playing field, on which all of the world’s players—including the terrorists—have equal playing time.

Reflection on My Remediation

FINAL PROJECT – REMEDIATION
PART III – REFLECTION
For Dr. Sara Steger in HUSL 6384 Digital Rhetoric
By John Kay
October 24, 2011

Because I had emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix, missed a month of classes, and took Incompletes in all three of my courses, I returned to my original essay long after I wrote it. Entitled “Watson to Watson: The Social Effects of One-to-One Communication Technologies,” the essay looked at how people’s use of telephones, pagers, mobile phones for speaking, mobile phones for texting, instant messaging on computers, and email. My later fresh set of eyes and additional studying during the interim allowed me to modify my original essay. For example, I removed a mention of technological determinism because I learned that I had taken a social constructivism approach by analyzing the social effects.
For Part II, I chose video ( WATCH VIDEO HERE ) as my medium because I wanted to use the affordances of video. This medium allowed me to incorporate written text, still visual images, moving images, and music. I could order and pace the presentation of the material. I realized that I could neither just restate the words of the essay nor cover all of the topics of that paper; therefore, I selected one main point, i.e., the overblown fears arising from society’s prevalent technologically-deterministic approach to understanding the social effects of new one-on-one communication technologies have existed since the introduction of the telephone. Video’s “hybridity” (Mary Hocks, “Understanding Visual Rhetorics in Digital Writing Environments,” 637) allowed me to show, for instance, a scene from the movie You’ve Got Mail, display text, and play music.
I wanted the construction of the composition to put the viewer in the “audience stance” (Hocks, 635) of seeing that movie clip, reading about fears of meeting someone on the other end of the one-to-one communication technology, and concluding that the discussion was about email and instant messaging while creating the tension of showing visual images from the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s about the telephone and fears surrounding it. The reason for such juxtaposition was to illustrate and have the viewer experience the fact that the worries people have had about the social effects of email and instant messaging are nothing new. Video afforded me the opportunity to run two parallel vectors of rhetoric in ways that a strictly printed essay might not be able to do as effectively. Mary Hocks would say that video is a very “transparent” medium because audiences are very familiar with it and its use (Hocks, 632), such as for narratives.
The remediation of my essay into video altered my message because the affordances of video prompted me to emphasize the main point. It allowed the reader to become a viewer and hearer and experience the message in a new way. Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin write, “What is new about new media comes from the particular ways in which they refashion older media and the ways in which older media refashion themselves to answer the challenges of new media” (Bolter and Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media, 15). My video refashioned my initial printed essay, film, and music by including parts of them and placing them in the digital audio/visual environment. My final printed essay refashioned my ideas for the video because the video alerted me to my need to more clearly focus my argument. I thought that the experience of writing an essay, remediating it, and then reflecting on it was an appropriate way to bring a Digital Rhetoric course to a conclusion.

Watson to Watson: The Social Effects of One-to-One Communication Technologies

Part I of Final Project: Remediation Essay
The University of Texas at Dallas, HUSL 6384
May 10, 2011

A knock on the door announced an unexpected visitor to the home on a peaceful Sunday afternoon. Father arose from his favorite chair and answered the door. “Welcome Reverend. How good it is to see you. Won’t you please come inside?” “Family, the Reverend is here,” he bellowed. Father, Mother, and the children gathered in the foyer to greet their pastor. Father said, “Please have a seat in the front parlor.” The family and their visitor took their seats. Mother asked, “Can I bring you some tea or lemonade?” “Tea, thank you.”
Similar scenes took place in large metropolitan areas, county seat towns, and rural areas. Pastors, friends, family, and others stopped by houses unexpectedly, and the homeowners gladly welcomed them. An invention in 1876 threatened to curtail these social customs in the United States. From the time of the introduction of the telephone up to the advent of email, Americans have responded to the inventions of one-to-one communication technologies by allowing their use to impact society and by allowing them to act as extensions of themselves.
Certainly, Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone would allow people to speak to people down the street or out at a farmhouse. People could quickly summon help during an emergency, place orders for home delivery, arrange meetings and visits, and deepen friendships by talking on the phone; however, not everyone appreciated Bell’s invention. Some Americans worried that this new technology would discourage home visitations. If potential visitors could gain the information they needed or could schedule visitation times by talking on the telephone, then fewer people would visit because they no longer could just stop by a home unannounced.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s in north Texas, residential architects designed the Dallas plan. The front door of the house stood in the middle of the one-story elevation, while large picture windows flanked either side. The door opened into a foyer, with a formal dining room on one side of the foyer and an equally-sized formal living room on the other side. The twelve-foot by twelve-foot formal living room resembled the parlor of Victorian homes. The homeowners knew that even if the rest of the house resembled a pigsty that the living room would remain clean and welcoming to visitors. By the 1980’s and 1990’s, many architects stopped designing formal living rooms because very few people still used those rooms, which had turned into closed museums. Fewer formal visits meant that homes did not need formal living rooms. People “visited” each other on the telephone; in other words, conversations on Bell’s invention turned the phone into the living room.
Some people—mainly for business or organizational purposes—have arranged conference calls or utilized automatic phone dialers; for example, principals at schools have recorded messages about the school’s closing for bad winter weather and then had the automatic phone dialer call all of the households of the students in order to deliver that recorded message. Most people, however, have used the telephone for one-to-one communication, in which one person calls another person one at a time. In broadcast media the message goes from the one to the many. The term “broadcast media” was synonymous with “mass media.” The masses of radio listeners, television viewers, newspaper readers, magazine readers, billboard readers, sign readers, and Web 1.0 readers all received the same message in their respective media. Until the advent of Web 2.0, it was cost prohibitive for individual people to use one-to-many communication, except for a newspaper classified ad or a “Nicole, will you marry me?” billboard.
The invention of the pager freed people from a landline in some respects. Physicians and employees who worked outside the office wore pagers so that the office staff or others could reach them wherever they were. Pager users were free to travel, but they were tied to a landline in the sense that they would have to locate a landline in order to return the call indicated on the pager. Even since the introduction of cell phones, some people have both pagers and cell phones. The one-to-one communication technology of pagers allows people to work in the “field,” to be contacted in emergencies (such as a fire for a firefighter) or urgent situations (such as the birth of baby for an obstetrician), and to be reached when needed. However, such access comes with costs. Pager users cannot truly relax when they know that they are “on call” or can be reached at anytime, including the middle of the night. Pages can call users away from their families or social situations and thus take a toll on relationships.
Cell phones have had even more social effects than have pagers. Manufacturers introduced $1,500 car phones in the 1980’s, when users could call anyone; on the other hand, people wanting to call car-phone users had to reach them when they were in the car. As technology improved, phones became much smaller, and prices dropped significantly, the “car phone” evolved in the 1990’s into the portable “cell phone,” which needed no automobile to work. Sales of cell phones have exploded to the point where more than 91 percent of Americans use them. Parents wrestle with the question of how old do their boys and girls need to be before the children are allowed to have cell phones. People from older children to senior adults have them. As with pager users, cell phone users can be reached at anytime and at any place that the device is working. Unlike pager users, cell phone users can call back from their mobile device.
Teens might feel like they have freedom with a cell phone because, like pagers, cell phones allow the users to travel and still be reached. Author Sherry Turkle says that teens have a “tethered adolescence.” They think that they have more freedom, but their parents can reach them wherever they are, and they might have to check in with them. She said that the use of cell phones is changing a rite of passage. Between the ages of 12 and 14, children began navigating the city and life itself on their own. They apply what they learned as children. However, they use their cell phones to contact their parents or friends in order to learn what to do. The teen might receive better instructions from their parents than they would have from friends or from their own education. But by being tethered to their parents, they might not have received a needed maturation experience, which would have helped them in the future.
As a feature of cell phones, texting has changed the way that youth communicate. A 2010 Pew Research study found that texting is the number one way that young people aged 12 to 17 communicate. Youth text more to each other than they speak to each other in person. Jennifer Valentino-DeVries of The Wall Street Journal comments, “Although e-mail is considered relatively informal by adults, teenagers in the Pew survey said they see it as formal, something used mainly by teachers and parents.”
The read/write web, also called “Web 2.0,” has enabled individuals to augment their one-to-one communication by producing one-to-many communication. Online communities such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and many others and email blasts allow individuals to broadcast their news. But those sites allow one-to-one communication, such as instant messaging on Facebook and direct messaging on Twitter.
Teens might not prefer email, but millions of Americans use email for one-to-one communication. Email users can write a message right when they are thinking of an idea and send it at no charge to another person. The recipient can read it when he or she desires.
Some people have complained that the use of email has reduced letter writing, and thus recipients miss seeing the handwriting of the sender. People without computers or people who do not use computers or people who do not know how to use computers feel ostracized. They feel that they are not receiving the same news or conversations that email users receive. Such people might or might not be considered twenty-first-century Luddites; rather, they prefer other forms of communication. Famous writer Wendell Berry even declared, “I am not going to [buy a computer].” Those of us who prefer digital forms of communication need to be cognizant of the fact that not everyone has jumped online. If we want to communicate with them, we need to communicate with them in the manner that they, not we, prefer and thus follow the “Platinum Rule,” which declares, “Do unto others as they wish to be done unto.” We need to ask them for their preference.
Much current research describes the societal changes accompanying the rise of digital communication technologies. Numerous are their benefits: scalability, accessibility, transferability, low costs, ubiquity, and ease of searching, copying, storing, and archiving. Opponents cite the loss or devaluing of earlier communication technologies, the widening of the gap between the have’s and the have-not’s of digital communication technologies, the potential for cheating, fraud or terrorism, the increase of vice, isolation because of cocooning, the decrease of face-to-face communication, and the rise of secularism. Author Diana Butler Bass states, “The U.S. is no longer the exception to the rule that when a society acquires more technology it becomes more secular.”

Conclusion
From Bell’s saying “Mr. Watson, come here,” to digital technologies, represented by IBM’s founder Thomas Watson, Americans have responded to one-to-one communication technologies. Our responses have been that: our choices rather than technological determinism. “With the arrival of electric technology [including the original telephone ],” Marshall McLuhan writes, “man extended or set outside himself, a live model of the central nervous system.” We have chosen to extend ourselves. Since 1876, Americans have seen new technologies for one-to-one communication: telephones, pagers, car phones, cell phones for speaking, cell phones for speaking and texting, instant messaging, and emails. People have responded to the use of each one of these technologies by changing the way that they communicate. Some people have incorporated the new technologies into their communication repertoire, while other people have ignored them or reluctantly agreed to use them. In any case, most Americans have allowed these one-to-one communication technologies to serve as extensions of themselves.
I contend that today’s digital communication technologies are not the only one-to-one communication technologies to have opponents as well as proponents. Some of the same arguments or variations of them could be used for or against each technology, beginning with the telephone. I agree with Fischer when he writes, “I chose to focus, however, on a technology [i.e., the telephone] that people used daily in private life, a technology that may have affected social relations, community, and culture.”

WORKS CITED
Berry, W. “Why I am Not Going to Buy a Computer.” http://home.btconnect.com/tipiglen/berrynot.html

Butler Bass, Diana. TCU Magazine, Spring 2011, p. 14.
Fischer, C. S. (1992). America calling: A social history of the telephone to 1940. Berkeley: University of California Press. Kindle version.

http://arstechnica.com/telecom/news/2010/03/wireless-survey-91-of-americans-have-cell-phones.ars

http://www.aolnews.com/2010/04/20/omg-teens-now-text-more-than-talk-face-to-face/

http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Teens-and-Mobile-Phones.aspx

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/03/dayintech_0310

Marvin, Carolyn in Fischer, C. S. (1992). America calling: A social history of the telephone to 1940. Berkeley: University of California Press. Kindle version.

McLuhan, Marshall. “The Gadget Lover: Narcissus as Narcosis.” Understanding Media. 43.

Turkle, S. (2007). “Can You Hear Me Now?” Forbes. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/free_forbes/2007/0507/176.html

EMAC 6374: Digital Media Objects

DIGITAL MEDIA OBJECT:  TEXT

Version 1

By John Kay

October 3, 2011

 

 

The Obama administration in April, 2010, placed an American on the C.I.A.’s “kill or capture” list.   Anwar al-Awlaki grew up in New Mexico but moved overseas to Yemen.  He became an evangelistic leader for al-Quaeda. His speeches allegedly encouraged a Pakistani-American to join and then botch a car bombing in Times Square in New York City.  His messages also allegedly enticed a Nigerian young man to join the terrorist group and then unsuccessfully try to down an American passenger jet on Christmas Day in 2009 in Detroit.   American officials say that Ibrahim al-Asiri from Saudi Arabia made the bomb for that attack.  Another American, Samir Khan published an internet-based magazine called Inspire.  This English-language media object SPAM promoted the ideology of al-Quaeda, such as by including articles like “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”

In September, 2011, from inside the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia, C.I.A. personnel watched the movement of Anwar al-Awlaki half a world away in the African nation of Yemen.  Undercover or embedded C.I.A. agents might have used their own eyes to keep watch on al-Awlaki, but they spied on him from aircraft high overhead.  Personnel in Langley had reviewed the overhead images of where he was staying.  Although these images SPAM might have resembled what a B-25 bombardier saw when he looked down to the ground from the plane’s glass bombsite in World War II, these electronic images represented what the twenty-first century drone saw and transmitted back to Virginia.  In other words, C.I.A. personnel SPAM analyzed the situation by examining visual representations of what the cameras of an unmanned aircraft saw on the other side of the globe.  When the C.I.A. personnel looked at the representational images, they spotted his riding in a car, and they ordered the drone to shoot a missile, which reached its intended target and killed leader Anwar al-Awlaki and publicist Samir Khan (Associated Press, October 1, 2011).   Bomb-maker SPAM Ibrahim al-Asiri might or might not have been killed in the air strike (Associated Press, October 3, 2011).

The C.I.A. used representational analysis to effect the assassination of a terrorist and what President Obama called “a major blow to al-Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate” (A.P., October 1, 2011).  In representational analysis “any proposition that correctly represents the ‘real’ world is true,” SPAM and “knowledge, in turn is the compilation of correct propositions” (Stanley J. Grenz, A Primer on Postmodernism, p. 153); therefore, when C.I.A. personnel examined the visual representations of al-Awlaki’s movements in Yemen, they assumed that the images “re-presented” the actual circumstances overseas, that is, that they were seeing the “real” world in which the proposition that Awlaki was ripe for picking SPAMwas true.  The C.I.A. then acted on their knowledge of the correct propositions by pulling the trigger from thousands of miles away from Africa.

In The Spam Book:  On Viruses, Porn, and Other Anomalies from the Dark Side of Digital Culture, editors Jussi Parikka and Tony D. Sampson SPAMobserve that scholars have used representational analysis for their examinations of spam, computer viruses, and pornography.  Our nine-year-old son could explain that the now-ubiquitous reference to “the Dark Side” refers to the evil side or the side of the bad guys from Star Wars.  I would classify computer viruses SPAM and pornography—things that damage equipment, networks, bank accounts, human models (mainly women), and families—as belonging to the dark side.  But when analyzing “things,” the seventeenth-century philosopher Benedictus Spinoza would caution me that “things” are not “more or less perfect because they delight or offend the human senses, or because they are beneficial SPAM or prejudicial to human nature” (Parrika and Sampson, p. 11).  Representational analysis might consider perfection of the subject, for example, but like Spinoza, Jussi Parikka and Tony D. Sampson want to move “‘beyond good and evil’ and instead focus on the forces constituent to such moral subjects” (p. 11).  As a result SPAM the dark side of the book’s subtitle refers to the representational analysis that many earlier scholars have used to describe spam (p. 5).

Parrika and Sampson prefer topological analysis to representation analysis when examining spam.    Topological—in the sense not of a three-dimensional geographical map but of space and networks—analysis shows that anomalies in the digital environment are not abnormalities SPAM but part of the structure.  Such a definition helps me study anomalies more objectively.  Spam (although funny and unpleasant to eat or irritating to e-mailboxes) and porn and computer viruses (although still detrimental) are, therefore, anomalies in digital culture.   As the power law depicts, most network nodes have few hits or links to them, while some (such as Google) have many hits.  The “Google sites” SPAM and the pornographic sites are the “highly-linked anomalies” (p. 52).

Terrorist cells, such as those of Al-Quaeda, function as nodes in a network.  Their decentralization makes it difficult for American military leaders to locate and defeat them.  Hopefully, that Yemen cell SPAM was a “highly-linked anomaly,” one which has collapsed more than would have a lowly-linked cell.