[iDC] Interactive City: irrelevant mobile entertainment?

John Hopkins jhopkins at neoscenes.net
Tue Aug 22 14:11:06 EDT 2006

Hi Kevin:

>Also - a question for John - can you say more about what you hope 
>for from a "direct human connection" compared to a technologically 
>mediated exchange? I'm not sure I know what you mean by that. I 
>understand from your tourism example that some technologies are 
>easily applied towards distancing, othering, even colonizing ends. 
>But what is it exactly that happens in your picture when the tech 
>goes away?

My own definition of technology is any constructed form of mediation 
(that-which-carries-between) which attenuates the embodied energy of 
self in the process of transmitting to and receiving from the Other. 
This is an idiosyncratic definition which would include the body (as 
system), language (special case which merits a whole other discussion 
about systems of abstracted expression), and of course, the rest of 
the range of (often awkwardly defined/described materially) human 
constructed configurations (pathways) available in the world which 
carry energy to and from the self and Other.

Working from this definition (too briefly circumscribed here for 
simplicity), there is a sliding scale of attenuation -- from much to 

Example of little attenuation of exchange energy (which also has 
surprisingly creative outcomes ;-):


(the possibility for minimal intervention and mediation via socially 
constructed technologies -- although this form of fundamental human 
"dialogue" is the object of substantial technological intervention in 
this time...)  (and also the body may also be considered a 
'technology' from some points of view).  possible outcomes: intense 
and integrated interaction,  new life!...  talk about creative 

An example at another extreme, for the sake of illustration:

using a weapon to kill the Other

In this case, the Self acquires a device -- a discrete configuration 
of energy arising from a large social infrastructure (weapons 
industry, mining, energy sector, etc, etc) which re-configures that 
infrastructure and affords the Self possessing the device a way of 
projecting energy in large quantities into the embodied presence of 
the Other, to the degree of destroying the Other.  Heavy attenuation 
(only a muscle twitch required), possible outcomes: little human 
contact (cartesian distance is great!), complete alienation, not much 
reciprocal dialogue, destructive vs creative...

There are infinite ranges of levels of mediation (via technology) in 
between these polarities which attenuate to greater or lesser 
degrees.  Without the possibilities in the moment to present the 
entire argument here, I would make the qualitative observation that 
the greater the amount of attenuation of the mediative device (or 
pathway) the greater the risk for alienation.

The 'form' or pathway of attenuation is applied by the embedded 
social system in which one participates.  The social systems demands 
dialogues that comply with the accepted forms of attenuation -- this 
is a primary element in the genesis of a hierarchy -- patterned and 
highly formalized levels of attenuation that govern the human 
relation of participants

Now using the gun as an example perhaps makes it more difficult to 
explore the nuanced gradations of attenuation which occur in every 
moment when participating in a social system like ours.  It is 
complex, but I believe the principle remains -- greater attenuation, 
the greater the possibility (or actuality) of alienation. 
Conversely, the less the attenuation, the greater the possibility of 
unknown outcomes (which for me are the essence of personal evolution 
-- facing and dealing with the unknown Other)

Of course, we come to re-form ourselves to accept the attenuation as 
a 'natural' precondition -- how many people overtly 'stress' over the 
attenuation applied by (the social infrastructure of) the telephone? 

Yet there is a gradual encroachment over time which seems to apply 
ever-increasing attenuations to our possibilities of less attenuated 

IMHO, less attenuation presents more of the challenge of the unknown 
which in turn relates to possibilities for personal growth/learning 
when interacting with the Other.  More attenuation and social 
directedness of the encounter, the less the possibility of 
encountering the unknown...

Okay, some partial answers...  it is a complex issue, and any 
definition of technology rests on more fundamental assumptions and 
world-views that you might make/have.


PS -- I'm looking for a somewhat attenuated working situation these 
days, any leads, contact me off list...
tentative roving through the states that are united by constitution only
domain: http://neoscenes.net
travelog: http://neoscenes.net/travelog/weblog.php
new DVD: http://neoscenes.net/aud-vid/video/indeter.html

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