Posts tagged ‘identity’
“Of all the objects in the world, the human body has a peculiar status: it is not only possessed by the person who has it, it also possesses and constitutes him. Our body is quite different from all the other things we claim as our own… Although we speak of our bodies as premises that we live in, it is a special form of tenancy: our body is where we can always be contacted, but our continued presence in it is more than a radical form of being a stick-in-the-mud. Our body is not, in short, something we have, it is a large part of what we actually are .…” Jonathan Miller, The Body in Question
More people around the globe own a mobile phone than own a toothbrush. By the end of 2012 connected devices will outnumber humans on planet earth. It’s is an ideal time to ask: how do these tools change the oldest way we have always communicated—by telling stories? As an introduction to this evolving narration, here is the Preface from my recently published book The Tool That Tells the Story.
For a century we went to the movies. Now we’re going into them.
Condition One is an embeddable immersive video player that allows you to experience previously recorded video as though you are there as the video is happening. No longer content with some producer’s notion of plot and character; the notions now are all ours. With an iPad app we become a gadgeted auteur: My Life, the Rockumentary.
“The imaginary universe is a place of astonishing richness and diversity: here are worlds created to satisfy an urgent desire for perfection, immaculate utopias such as Christianopolis or Victoria that hardly breathe; others, like Narnia or Wonderland, brought to life to find a home for magic, where the impossible does not clash with its surroundings; yet others, like Dream Kingdom, built to satisfy travellers bored with reality ….”
– Alberto Manguel, The Dictionary of Imaginary Places
Now was once an unconsidered state. It was undistinguished as air, valueless as belly lint. Now was whatever you were doing at the moment, whatever was happening around you or somewhere else at a given instant. It was an adverb, not a place like Cleveland.
“That means that in the next few years (maybe much sooner), any camera that sees you will know who you are. You are your face, and your face is public. If not today, then very, very soon.” — Aaron Saenz
Your face is currently under renovation. You won’t see the change in a mirror, but looking around closely you may catch a glimpse of what’s happening. No longer merely the canvas where you express who you are, your face is now what semiotics terms a sign. What once was ‘yours’ exclusively today is “something that stands for something, to someone in some capacity.” This sign, your face, now functions as an interface—“a point of interaction between components … [in] both hardware and software.”
In Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 prescient masterpiece, Persona, a thin young boy awakens in a hospital. He pulls a single, ill-fitting sheet over him and turns restlessly, tellingly, taking up his eyeglasses to read a book. Then, by deliberate contrast, he reaches to the camera lens. Next he walks over to blurry images of the faces of an actress (Liv Ullmann) and a nurse (Bibi Andersson) and his hand traces those images as though to understand them, to see if they are as real as they seem. The faces of the two women merge as the boy reaches out, trying to comprehend what he’s seeing.
Few people have as fully realized a Metalife as Hasan Elahi. Its necessity, a case of mistaken identity, was the mother of considerable invention. In 2002, when he stepped off a flight from the Netherlands, he was detained at the Detroit airport. FBI agents later told him they had been tipped off that he was hoarding explosives in a Florida storage unit. While subsequent lie detector tests convinced them he wasn’t their man, Elahi knew after this detention he would be carefully watched.
Most of us give little consideration to the further life of our digital explorations—the messages we text, the files we send, the photos we store. That is, until something that we thought was ‘ours’ becomes evidence of something else.
Douglas Brush is Founder and Chief Forensic Examiner of The Digital Forensic Group in New York City. The company’s mission is to use specialized computer forensic methodologies and tools for the identification, extraction, preservation, analysis and documentation of electronic evidence as it is used in civil and criminal matters. The Digital Forensic Group provides its services to law firms, corporations, government agencies, and individuals. In essence they devise a framework for investigating moments captured on digital devices in order to provide clarity and ultimately a report of what happened.
As we will see, Brush’s work is fundamentally about the unearthing and documenting of a Metalife. This life is a shadow digital existence with our name and footprints all over it.
“Would you have a drink with you?” the Stoli Vodka ad taunts us. “Create your alter-ego at Facebook.com/Stoli.” Alter-egos are all the rage now that 12 million people play World of Warcraft, and 500 million more have a second life on Facebook. Or perhaps, given the mounting evidence of how we are changing our lives, there’s more going on with this alter-egoing than meets the eye, or the I. We are all engaged in massively multiplayer online and offline role-playing. Is it a game, or a ruse resembling a game resembling a life? Whatever is happening as we evolve our identity, our tools and technologies, this is as good a time as any to ask a few questions. The following is an interview of the interviewer. The subject is Metalife. The Stoli’s on us. Both of us.
A recent burglary at the home of Washington Post writer and editor Marc Fisher was documented by a Facebook boast. The burglar took Fisher’s new coat, his son’s iPod, savings bonds, cash and a laptop. Then the burglar opened his son’s laptop computer and posted a photo of himself to the boy’s Facebook page. In the photo, the burglar flashes the stolen cash and is wearing Fisher’s winter coat.