Monday, November 12, 2007

Texting and Space

In reading Vicente Rafael’s essay, I was most struck by the way he envisions the relationship of space and technology. He lays out the ways that cell phones both allow their users to distance themselves from the crowd and become immersed in it. Yet as his discussion of the protests spurred by texting goes on, the cell phone itself disappears as the medium, replaced by first the camera and then the crowd itself as technology. It seems as though this physical movement and coming together of the crowd is the necessary or at least ideal consequence of a certain sort of cell phone use – to bring people together not just imaginarily but physically, to make its own purpose momentarily obsolete. Throughout, Rafael seems to see the cell phone and the crowd, or the person, as extensions of one another, not as opposed forms. This taps into an issue we keep dealing with this semester – how do technology and physicality relate? How do virtual or imagined spaces compare to “real” or physical ones?

I thought it was interesting that in his essay Rafael refers to several people who live primarily outside the Philippines but did not address how these technologies affect those trans-national interactions. Obviously, this is partly because text messaging is not an international medium (I think?). But what is the relation of those who are physically removed but connected through technology, unable to become a part of the crowd but able to hear the call? Perhaps texting is specific to this cause precisely because it is limited in a way that telephones and the internet are not? Is texting than a “local” medium, one more connected to the spaces it inhabits? Or is this just a question of availability, since it seems technologically possible for texts to cross long distances? These are some of the questions I am grappling with.

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