If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there does it still make a noise? The question of technological ontology.

Keywords: opt-out, ontology, recognition, authenticity, documentations, sharing, visibility, rhetorical velocity, instinctual habits, continuous partial attention, multitasking, secondary orality, tribalism, reticence, implications, personal versus professional, permanence, temporary photography, scarcity, death, life, preserving.

Summary:

In The Guardian article, we encounter arguments that focus on social media’s impact on our culture. In the article on Facebook usage, we find a thoughtful discussion on how Facebook is currently used and who its used by based on some helpful PEW reports. In the final article, we realized the impact Snapchat has on human memory and the art of photography.

Quotations:

Continuous partial attention, “is motivated by a desire to be a live node on the network. Another way of saying this is that we want to connect and be connected. We want to effectively scan for opportunity and optimise for the best opportunities, activities, and contacts, in any given moment. To be busy, to be connected, is to be alive, to be recognized and to matter” (The Gaurdian)

“In this way, social media can resemble traditional pre-literate societies where communication is purely oral and everything — culture, news, gossip, history — is comminucated through speech. When we retweet someone, we are just speaking their words again — ensuring that they are passed on and do not get lost in the flurry of communication.” (The Guardian)

“To understand the emergence of temporary photography, one must understand it in relation to the inflating archive of persistent images and their significance on how we perceive and remember the world.” (Jurgenson)

Commentary:

The Gaurdian article begins with a discussion of how social media leads to insecurity based on the desire for recongnition, sharing, and the continuous partial attention as discussed by Stone. It also discusses the idea of ephemeral interest being almost a cultural practice or goal. However, the most compelling part of the article focuses on the specific idea of retrival or reversal. The idea of reverting back to old mediums. The article states, “In this way, social media can resemble traditional pre-literate societies where communication is purely oral and everything — culture, news, gossip, history — is comminucated through speech. When we retweet someone, we are just speaking their words again — ensuring that they are passed on and do not get lost in the flurry of communication.” This quote is probably the more interesting note in the piece that really hones in on the way in which technology is extending our voices. I truly had never considered such an idea until reading this article and considering the concepts of reversal and retrival and how technology is never really obsolesced.

In the article about Facebook usage I found the most compelling aspect was that about permanence and ephemerality. I think these concepts have always been on my mind much to the point of the author about college aged students considering the implications of Facebook in contrast to that of Snapchat. These technologies seem to have a prescribed temporal purpose. Facebook has its temporal relationship to the persona of permanence while Snapchat is fleeting. Sum your life up in snipets of 10 seconds or less. Then let the world watch for 24 hours at a time. Then you must start again. The prescription of rules or conventions deters or empowers users to subscribe to certain social media platforms because they realize the implications of the actual utility of it however, I still believe we are completely in the dark about its implications on us socially, intellectually, and culturally. McLuhan’s point of needing deep reflection still holds for me after reading this article.

Further, we can see one such deep reflection in the piece by Jergunson in which they writer discusses the notion of how temporary photography such as Snapchat has changed the way we perceive and remember the world. One such point where Jergunson deeply engages me as a reader is in their various citations of Sontag. Sontag states, “there is something predatory in the act of taking a picture. To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed.” This is so profound yet I think the nostalgic gaze is lost when were experiencing for documentation as Jergunson points out. We can be nostalgic about something we truly never experienced. Further, I think the concept of seeing someone as they never see themselves truly disapiates when we have a fecundity in technology that has never before been possible. That fecund send button. That moment where we can share across space and time is altered. Except in the instance of Snapchat its fecundity has a limitation. While this might allow for a more experience for itself kind of situation it also sheds light on the very tension or the fine line that technological changes to our memory and our temporary ephemeral relationship with tehcnology create. I think the question that remains is the idea that while photography has always hinted at death and preserved life as Jergunson explains it does leave the notion that we dont truly know how we will memorialize those whose moments are permanently fleeting. How will we remember our generation? Snap stories are gone and Facebook usage is decreasing. Or does maturating change the way we use our technologies? Regardless, how will we be remembered? What is our legacy?

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, did it really happen? If I tweet, snap, share, and no one interacts with it did I exist? Will I be remembered?

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