Friday, February 23, 2007

The Desert of the Real (Digital Sobjects, part II)

In The Memex Reloaded, I have discussed a certain spec (The Memex) and mentioned several of its implementations (such as MyLifeBits) that bring into existence a new kind of human – a Sobject – which is a real-time digi-replication/reflection/representation of a real human. Whatever we sense, whatever we do, whatever we produce, as well as whatever we think is being digi-replicated into a virtual container, labeled with our name.

As for that last activity – thinking – I think that as long as all our actions, senses and productions are digi-replicated in real-time, it doesn’t really matter what "we may think" (as is the title of Bush' spec), because no one gives a ___ about what “I” thinks, as long as “I” behaves, obeys or, using the web2.0 lingua franca, participates accordingly.

Surprisingly, though, we do care about what we think and we do feel like sharing our thoughts with others. We are willingly opening up our thoughts to the world through blogging, podcasting, videocasting etc., subjecting ourselves to the social pressure of becoming transparent. In other words, we are digi-replicating our thoughts, by ourselves, in order to become…

Real. We’re doing it because everything which is real happens now over there in the virtual-o-sphere. If I ain’t digi-replicated then, soon enough, I won’t be able to participate, and consequently I’d be left alone, an insignificant individual in the desert of the real, as Baudrillard once said and Morpheus echoed afterwards (see notes).

Which is why we’re not waiting for Micosoft’s MyLifeBits project to come to an end: we’re using whatever means available to us already today in order to digi-replicate any possible aspect of our Self, using digital devices to record our activities and digital services to store-then-share the produced artifacts.

Here’s a map by Fred Cavazza, a very good web2.0 mediator, where we can see all those web2.0 services into which we divide, classify then digi-replicate our “Self”.

Let’s stop here, by this point where the common sense tells us that this digi-replication of ourselves into SObjects is an inevitable process; that it is cool – it allows us to participate; that there’s nothing wrong with it – we’re doing it for ourselves, by ourselves. Let’s stop here and take a break.

A short commercial and we’re back.

This is the 2nd post in the Digital SObjects' series: The Memex Reloaded, The Desert of the Real, Reality, as told by the Machine


1. Jean Baudrillard is known for his theory of the hyperreality, and more recently that of the Integral Reality. He maintains that the apocalypse is not a future event, but rather our present; “it is happening now!”.
2. I don’t pretend to understand Baudrillard, or to know his theory – I’m just borrowing his metaphors. Baudrillard has produced some great such quoteables, “the Desert of the Real” being one that is extensively reused, including in the Matrix, which is full of Baudrillardism, where Morpheus is showing Neo to the “real” world, that which remained after “The Bomb”: “Welcome to desert of the real” Morpheus thus spoke.
3. Baudrillard is also known for maintaining that marketing has replaced philosophy, and that ads are not representing goods but rather themselves. He envisioned a day where ads would compete one against each other, and this is indeed happening now in Google’s ad placement bidding process.
4. In another post of mine, “Organizing the Information of the World”, I quote Dan Farber who said in a podcast of the Gillmor Gang that Google, along with the other moguls, wants to turn us into a Google Person, a molecule, I'd say, in the genetics of an ad/World.


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