Weird wired world

I have just returned from a walk around my local nature strip, a native plant reserve along the shores of Cremorne Point in Sydney Harbour. I couldn’t but notice how many other walkers I passed on the way were wired up to wireless systems: iPhones, Blackberries, iPods were in the ascendency. Instead of birdcalls or the lapping of waves on shore rocks, these people were listening to soandso playing suchandsuch, or having standard conversations on mobile phones. These things are happening because technology salespeople want them to happen. I mean, once you own one of these devices, how else are you going to use it? Thanks to modern technology, people are now in touch with their world more efficiently than ever. But it’s a bit narrower.

But I’m not writing advertising copy. I thought of a concept that should appeal to newscasters everywhere: the should have happened news. Journalists now routinely create news – ask a public figure a question arbitrarily labelled ‘controversial’ and treating that figure’s blank indifference as ‘evasive’ is a surefire way to invent a ‘scandal’. So the should have happened news might catch on. I thought of some examples.

At Sydney’s Cremorne Point reserve today a walker had a narrow escape when a 200 lb boulder, loosened by earth washed away during recent torrential rainfall, crashed across the pathway just seconds after 24 year old Sebastian Orwell passed by. Mr Orwell was engrossed with a Bon Jovi concert recording playing on his iPod at the time and was seemingly impervious to the near tragedy. When asked by a neighbouring walker how he felt about the accident, Mr Orwell replied that he might have had a ticket for the show, but had left it to his girlfriend to buy tickets, and she had forgotten. He seemed still irritated by that neglect.

A gentlemanly pickpocket took advantage of a man’s preoccupation with a mobile phone conversation in the Sydney CBD area today to remove his wallet. The man apparently was engaged in a dispute with his wife. Onlookers said he was shouting, and reiterating the information he would be “there in 10 minutes” when the pickpocket adroitly removed the man’s wallet from his back pocket. The thief then went through the wallet’s contents, removed a considerable amount of cash, then tapped the man on the shoulder and, having got his attention, returned the empty wallet to him. The man interrupted his call long enough to say thank you, then went off shouting, unaware he had been robbed.

Optus have announced a new subscriber service. For a small monthly fee mobile phone users will be able to use pre-recorded phrases when making standard phone calls. The service offers three so-called ‘standard’ groups of phrases at the moment, but a spokesman said many hundreds more are planned. A variety of pre-recorded voices are also available with this service. This means that for people who make many calls a day the monotony can be taken out of calls. The caller, for instance, merely presses the ‘standard 1’ onscreen button and a pre-recorded voice will say “Hi Shelby, it’s Merle. Where are you?” The person called merely need press the ‘standard 1’ button on his phone and a pre-recorded voice will say “I’m on the bus”. Many so called standard calls can thus be made automatically, leaving the callers free to watch “Days of Our Lives”, or play Space Invaders while pretending to look at recent SMS messages. The spokesperson said that newly developed smart technology would allow programming that would eventually make it unnecessary for humans to talk at all on the phone, as voice and phrase response would soon be generated automatically.

Home theatre enthusiasts will soon be able to take advantage of a recording studio package to be bundled as an optional extra with their new system. The package includes props and costumes to a small number of typical ‘real life’ situations often broadcast on television, such as the news, or celebrity interviews. Consumers will be able to stop broadcast of the news, for example, make up and costume themselves with the props provided in the package, then record themselves and edit the broadcast to include their own footage. The package will take advantage of all the possibilities inherent in digital broadcasting to bring the news closer to the man in the street by making him a part of the events described. The householder in this way can become his Congressman or even the President, and learn at first hand how to say “no comment!” in a convincing way. Plans are underway to drop conventional news broadcasting for orchestrated ‘participatory’ news designed with this facility in mind. There are no plans for police dramas to be treated this way.

A young woman ran her sedan into the rear of another vehicle which stopped at a Halt sign at a T intersection at Neutral Bay this morning. The woman explained to an investigating police officer that she had been poked by a person claiming to be a friend on her Facebook account and had been busy removing the messages on her wall at the time of the collision. The officer had some trouble getting a response from the woman apparently, as she insisted on sending emails to the local police station rather than winding her car window down. The officer booked the woman for the offense, stating that a poke was no excuse for a smash. The woman later reportedly made the tow truck operator who came to her rescue seconds after the collision her Friend.

Perhaps I’m getting a little fanciful. Technology, used in the sense I’ve used it, is just a method, a process. The medium, not the message. The message stills comes from the human brain, which generates something called ‘meaning’, correlating sensory data into a world picture. No technology could affect that. Could it? After all I use a mobile phone most days and I communicate all right. If you see what I mean?

©2011 Original material copyright Phillip Kay. Images and other material courtesy Creative Commons. Please inform post author of any violation.


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