Thu 9 Mar 2006 6:52 AM
Comments Off on Making the Virtual Physical
When I was in New York last November, I went to
a dorkbot meeting in SoHo (South of Houston). I got there late and the small presentation room had already filled up. I grabbed a folding chair that made it impossible to settle in quietly and as the discussions progressed, more late-comers had backed up into the entry hallway. The first presenter — whom I interrupted — wasÂ enthusiastic but boring and had some box that lit up and spewed sound if tilted a certain way. It kept accidentally going off during his talk.
The second presenter was Jonah Brucker-Cohen, a Ph.D. candidate at Trinity in Dublin. He calls what he does 'network subversion,' but what it amounts to is creating consequences — often physical ones — for network services.Â Some examples were a hand crank used to download a website, a jackhammer that pounded a wall anytime that someone visited his site, and a fleet of radio controlled police cars that got movement commands from information that the FBI monitors. The jarringness of these demonstrations illuminated the deep passivity that I, and I think most people, take towards the internet and technology in general. In many cases we act as if the net is not really there.Â A day spentÂ on the web, shopping and looking up information, is one wasted, while spending a day going to shops and the library, is actually accomplishing something. Many of the consequences of these two activities are the same but what's missing from the first example is a movement through physical space, with physical consequences. Perhaps this predicts not a shift from the physical to the virtual, but a melding of the two.
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