On Not Being There

[Spoiler alert: If you haven’t read William Gibson’s The Peripheral this article contains spoilers.]

A few excerpts from a fascinating article by Rebecca Lemon in The Hedgehog Review:

Almost daily, we encounter people who are there but not there, flickering in and out of what we think of as presence. A growing body of research explores the question of how users interact with their gadgets and media outlets, and how in turn these interactions transform social relationships. The defining feature of this heavily mediated reality is our presence “elsewhere,” a removal of at least part of our conscious awareness from wherever our bodies happen to be.

I recently spent 90 minutes in a video Hangout with +Steve Brown. He was in Tucson and I was here in Jefferson City, MO in a coffee shop. That’s were our respective bodies were but I’m not sure where my awareness or consciousness was. In the cloud? Cyberspace? Somewhere other than that coffee shop. Back to Ms. Lemon’s article:

Mark Carranza—[who] makes his living with computers—has been keeping a detailed, searchable archive of all the ideas he has had since he was 21. That was in 1984. I realize that this seems impossible. But I have seen his archive, with its million plus entries, and observed him using it… Most thoughts are tagged with date, time, and location.

(This is where I would comment on that but I can’t think of anything to say)

“clickworkers, gold farmers, porn zappers” – Many of them based in suburban Manila in former elementary schools and other unlikely sites, the content moderators perform the unsavory job of repeatedly adjudicating whether images posted to Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, or other social networking sites are sufficiently offensive to be eliminated from view. Moderators at PCs sit at long tables for hours, an “army of workers employed to soak up the worst of humanity in order to protect the rest of us.” By some estimates, the content-moderating army is 100,000 strong, twice the size of Google’s labor pool, and many of its members have college degrees.

You need a little context for that and the article provides it. “The data-drive body at work and at play.”