How It Feels [Through Glass]
The way technology becomes a part of us is horrifying because it does so stealthily. It just happens so naturally, it seems. Everything becomes bleached in a technological configuration. As Walter Ong writes ever so elegantly back in 1977 in his book Interfaces of the Word:
As I look out of my twelfth-story room over metropolitan St. Louis, virtually everything I see on the surface of the earth to the horizon above the limestone Illinois bluffs across the Mississippi River to the north and east and the low rolling hills of Missouri to the west is, directly or indirectly, under the conscious control of human beings, men and women: thousands of buildings, homes and commercial and manufacturing units, bridges, marvelously coded traffic lights, thousands of miles of pavement, acres of lawns and trees and shrubs, (not growing where nature would have had them, but placed and tended by men and women), the clothes on the people in the streets, the thousands of automobiles, Saint Louis University’s Pius XII Memorial Library with its hundreds of thousands of books carefully indexed in its card catalogs and with its millions of microfilmed pages of manuscripts from the Vatican Library and elsewhere, many of which are over one thousand or fifteen hundred years old—all this witnesses not just to man’s physical presence but also to the omnipresence of conscious human activity. So do other things under the surface of the landscape that I cannot see—tunnels, basements, subbasements, sewers, electric and gas conduits—and above the surface, where the atmosphere is being worked on to free it from the fumes man pours into it and is streaked with the vapor trails of planes in which and between which human consciousness has established incredibly complex controls and information patterns.
And I couldn’t help but feeling this uncanny dread/excitement watching the Google Glass video. Humans have taken nature and turned it into a controlled environment with the aid of technology. Now, technology’s invisible hand is beginning to tinker with our bodies directly. The cell phone is now an appendage of the hand and the eye. Google Glass takes this a step further, integrating like a chip directly into our face. Just like the environment has been harvested by technology, so too will our brains and bodies.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”