Saturday, February 6, 2010

Expressways and Networks

I. Focus

Filming through the wire mesh of a highway overpass during evening rush hour, I finally discovered how to mess with the videocam's focus, on purpose. (How can I practice shifting my inner focus?)

I think this is my most beautiful micromovie yet.
Light is just so, so amazing... What is it?

Expressway (1:01 min.)

Making these flicks is like creating building blocks or learning basic vocabulary words.
They become the components of possibility.

II. Social Networking without a Phone

[This part of the post got edited for legal reasons, so it may not make a lot of sense, but I wanted to keep the image references anyway.]

As I've been thinking about the connections between ideas and design, I've been looking at design books and came across the designer Charles Eames's diagram of the "social network" (what used to be called friends and acquaintances) of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

(Wouldn't these big talkers have loved a BlackBerry like Obama's?)

I've been wondering if I should get back on FB--at least for a while--and start twittering (is that the verb?).
What am I missing?

BELOW: Eames's diagram "Friends and Acquaintances" for the 1976 U.S. bicentennial exhibition The World of Franklin and Jefferson.
Ben and Jeff in the middle, and the names around them are J. Adams, T. Paine, Lafayette, Washington, etc. [click to embiggen]

I wonder if anyone has done a text message/twitter version of something like the Constitutional Convention, the way people have done Twitter versions of Jane Austen novels, say.

Here's a sample of Pride and Twitterverse, from Under the Mad Hat:
@JaneB Get this! We have to review Darcy’s blog. He has the most beautiful template I’ve ever seen.
@JaneB Holy crap! He just tracked my IP through site meter. AM MORTIFIED!!!
@JaneB But for some strange reason, he friended me on FB instead of getting mad. Colour me confused.

* Diagram from The Work of Charles and Ray Eames (Abrams 1997), posted at Ask Edward Tufte (author of Beautiful Evidence).

Philip Morrison, in an interview on Ray and Charles Eames:
"They really loved the world and how it looked and they tried to understand why it looked that way and what it meant for people and what it meant to see beauty and to see form and to see the absence of those things and everything else and they just went around the world doing that for people--in buildings, and in text, and in film..."


Krista said...

1. What a fascinating topic. (I'm totally fascinated with *your* book too, and have had a window open for days to tell you so. Have I typed in it? No.) I'd love to see what you'd do with it.

2. And my life would be at least 17% better if you were on Twitter. You don't need a phone for it -- you can just tweet from your laptop.

ArtSparker said...

It sounds like it would be a fun book to research and write, I must say.

momo said...

LOVE the Jefferson Franklin network image!
If you do this book, def should check out what danah boyd has to say--she's the best on what young people are really doing as opposed to what the media says they're doing.

Jennifer said...

Oh, OH! The cascade of amber! *dies* How beautiful...

Also, I just finished a biography of Thomas Paine, how odd, and was also struck by all the friendships between the Founders. I wonder if there's any Jefferson/Adams fic out there...

Twitter is one of those things that trips the Luddite in my, I do not know why but I can't abide it. But you can even write microfic with it, I've seen some fascinating experiments in that direction. It just...makes me itchy and jumpy in my brain.

Fresca said...

KRISTA: You were the first person I thought of when I considered doing the networking book.
(Here's what I thought: "Krista, help!")

I'm going to give Twitter a try, either way, with an eye to that 17%...

ARTS: The research is always fun--the writing is harder, but yeah, it's tempting.

MOMO: I was sure you'd have good tips: thanks!
Though the book would be about pre-Internet culture, I'd be writing to teens and need to understand what they are doing now.

JENNIFER: A cascade of amber--yes! Thank you.

OMG: Here's Jefferson/Adams for you: Do You Want To?, a mashup of "1776" and the song by Franz Ferdinand.

My fave: Adams holding out a quill pen and seductively twirling it while the lyrics ask, "Do you wanna?"

I've never been tempted to try Twitter, though I do like the idea of brevity.
If it makes my brain twitch, I'll hop off. Like I tried FB for a couple weeks and it did make me crazy.

rr said...

Interestingly SonOne, away for the weekend with a flat fone and no charger therefore deprived of SMS to check up on the particulars of his putative theatre trip with school this evening, has just used his iPod & twitter to contact me and FB to contact his friends.

Ok, so it was interesting to me :-) I "switch on" facebook and twitter very seldom, follow few people and utterly ignore anything that's happened while I've been switched off. Anything else might rip a hole in the fabric of the space-time continuum as a result of attempting to pack multiple-temporality into a single linear mode.

(and don't tell anyone I said so but it's often terribly, terribly boring)

Margaret said...

Sounds like quite an interesting topic! Social Networking has certainly changed the world in a few good ways, some sad ways, and a lot of eerie ways. I de-facebooked myself a few months back and really haven't missed it. Something about knowing what an acquaintance you last saw three years ago is having for breakfast creeps me out. (....says I who present a snapshot of my personal life for the world to see via The Internets. Heheh).

This whole topic reminds me of the song "I Can't Get Behind That" from Shat's new album. Perhaps you've heard it?

Anonymous said...

Hey Fresca,

I was intrigued by your comment on 10 things..

and I wanted to make sure I understood it correctly.

Then I watched the micro movie... oh my goodness. You achive an altered focus internally by watching the movie, yes? It's like a hypnotic tool. And

let me tell you the universe provided the soundtrack as I watched. Way across two streets a man is renovating his house..ther was a regular pulse of, aslow heartbeat or pulse as the movie rolled.

Gotta love that.

Anyway, I wanted to know if what turned you off commenting was when the author never replied

a) in the comment section

b) by email, personally

c) on your blog, like here?

deanna said...

Interesting how ideas and opportunities come in bunches sometimes. It can make one feel a bit crazy but also rich. I'm on FB and Twitter, though I don't check the latter but will see if I can see or follow you in those spheres...just have fun. :o)

deanna said...

Oh, and meant to say that video is quite beautiful. It was worth waiting for my dear old computer to load it...

bink said...

Beautiful film.

Looking forward to exploring the world with all sorts of new focus, vis-a-vis the camera.

Fresca said...

RR: No, you're right-- SonOne's communication mode *is* interesting--I mean, it boggles my mind, the difference between how kids communicate now vs. the options I (we) had---when I went off on a school trip, for instance, there was no question of contacting home.
In many ways, I liked that....

Social networking boring?
Im shocked, shocked! How could that be?!? : )
Reminds me of Dave Barry years ago saying that the "information superhighway" was just CB radio with typing.
Turned out to be more to it, but not necessarily.

I was very afraid to listen to Shatner's album---friends had to force me--but when I heard "I Can't Get Behind That", I was hooked. This was the turning point---I realized I maybe liked Bill too, and not just Jim.
Yeah--FB--I feel like, if we haven't seen each other in years, there's maybe a good reason.

Hey, GRRL!
Thanks for writing. You're right- the camera's external shift in focus is not unconnected to the internal.

As for my comment about blog comments--thanks for checking.
Your "10 Things I Hate About Blogs" really got me thinking about--among other things--What are comments for?
I should maybe write a whole post about this...

When I first started blogging, I imagined a series of conversations in the comment section. But that kind of thing mostly happens off-blog, I'd say--on e-mail or in person.

So I no longer expect in-depth discussion (nor am I always up for it, in truth);
but I still am not sure what to make of people who never reply to comments on their own blog's comment section, where everyone who reads it can see.
It's like a spider web with no spider.

Fair enough; but personally I like to get some response, at least *sometimes*, and to see responses to other people's comments too, or else why should people bother to comment?

I understand this more when people get a ton of comments--it's overwhelming!--but some people don't respond to even a couple comments.
To me, it feels like never writing a letter or returning a phone call.

In those cases, when I see on repeated visits that the blogger doesn't comment on comments, I don't bother to comment, though I may continue to enjoy the blog, as a passive reader.
I figure the blogger doesn't mind.

DEANNA: You are lovely to ask your old computer to work so hard, and I'm glad the micromovie was worth it.
The idea of taking on more social networking *is* making me feel "a bit crazy" so I think I need to wait before launching myself into it.

BINK: Thanks! Let's do some more exploring together.