Tuesday, November 27, 2012

chutes and ladders is boring

If an area is blacked out on google earth I ask for a second why? and then move my cursor compass somewhere else.

Google Earth shows us a layered archive of spatial depths and empirical evidence of places. I think that in this mediation our emotional engagement is even further mediated by this register of empirical evidence. In this process of addition, things add up already, and the seeming ease of this legibility ends up detracting from pur personal investment in the thing, because the visual capital is in global hands and not our own. Even though the interface seems interactive, the interaction is cursory and boring. It's no fun if we can see everything. It feels like the worst type of flying videogame, where all the levels have been beaten. Our agency is played out, our objectives obscure, anachronistic.Touring Google Earth sucks.  When we click from place to place we distance ourselves further from an imagining of the spatial reality because we see that spatial (virtual) reality in front of us.  So much has already been done for us by technophiles who rule the skies and take spectacular photographs on the fly that the impetus is for us to recline and watch rather than to act. The interface is interactive, but our action is not. It's a programmatic bore that's far away, our impact will make little difference.  I don't buy it.

A temporal logic is revoked, and so too is our recognition of (crisis) time sensitivity and causal relations. The interface, itself a spectacular amnesiac time suck perpetuates this repudiation. Because The layers between we fly can quickly and easily be rescaled, diverted and I can see my house from here. You are already there so you might as well X it out. This relational logic is inebriating, it feels like your favorite flight simulator slowly sinking into the Atlantic with you in it. The panoptic spectacle of the interface is a roaring centrifuge that has already been seen and so we move in its great wake. Or we can't see it but know that it's there.

"...This testimony is geo-referenced so that the user understands where it came from. The capacity to situate testimony and evidence within geographic space is one of the distinguishing characteristics of Google Earth. That is, the archive represents the potential to articulate testimony not only within a temporal logic of the historic, but in relation to the spatial logic of the geopolitical as well."

The potential to reproduce and transfer the signal, but what happens when that signal becomes noise trapped inside the archive like a paranoid soundtrack bouncing off of the walls. And information's the air itself we're flying through.  What part of that signal is absorbed? How do these interfaces discourage absorption? How does google earth suspend conditions?  i.e. "a historical logic that presumes there are never changes to conditions there."

When I see a map of Africa on google Earth I don't say, "Wow! This could happen to me at home because it isn't and it couldn't  because I see it all and we have the satellites and the computers and the presidents. But it's more than that.  There is a feeling of empathy, however deferred or discouraged it may be by the more encumbering task of technological manipulation.  Isn't it wild what we can do on our computers I mean wrap your head around that and then the clicking to donate stuff makes a lot more sense. People helping people.

The abstraction of the interface's complicated modelling depends on a rhetorical defense relay.  In explaining its programmatics the interface is reified and its dedicated logic reproduced. There is a consistent process of translation from real time monitoring to the real life on the ground unfolding of circumstances. This is affecting people's everyday lives. This is what we should be seeing this rupture/ disconnect, the mediation itself.  The danger lies in the smoothness of the translation and the effacement of translation and signal flow.  And we see the personality of the thing mapped directly and verified by a click which is easy and reminds us that some time has passed. 

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