FEELS LIKE KNOWLEDGE: THE ROAD FROM BLOGS TO ECHRONICLES
Doug GAGE, Jim GEMMELL, Ramesh JAIN, Thad STARNER
FROM our current perspective, it seems natural to regard the electronic chronicle as some not-too-distant phase in the evolution of blogs. Rather than require, as a blog does now, long hours laboring at a keyboard finding the right words to describe an experience, electronic chronicles (or eChronicles) promise that our mere presence at an event might soak up and fully document the experience in all its richness. This episode can be subsequently examined and reexamined, not in text punctuated by amateur graphics, but in increasingly high-definition media, which contribute to a simulacrum, not only of this experience, but of the totality of one’s own experiences, as well as those of one’s family, friends, colleagues, and possibly even total strangers.
This evolution of the blogosphere to an experience simulacrum, while driven by clear-cut factors such as ease-of-use, convenience, completeness, accuracy, and simple usefulness, nonetheless may be poised to shift our relationship with the world. Almost thirty years ago, the critic Susan Sontag convincingly argued that photographs have a fundamentally different relationship with the reality that they purport to represent than does text. Her reasoning went something like this: Print is linear, and frequently shapes a narrative with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Photography is antilinear; as a slice of something larger, it is skeptical of conclusions, endings, and even stories. Print incorporates a point of view, and involves analysis and interpretation. Photographed images are not so much statements about the world, but rather pieces of it; they are “miniatures of reality that anyone can make or acquire….To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge -- and, therefore, like power.”
As text-based blogs embody many of the qualities Sontag ascribes to print, so do electronic chronicles appear to inherit and then magnify many of the qualities she sees in photographs. This panel will focus on the anticipated evolution from our current text-heavy blogs to the rich media made available by electronic chronicling technologies, and the consequent personal and social changes that this might bring about. As we capture more and more experiences, will the ways we regard these experiences change? What will happen to the way we recount our experiences to others? Will our social behavior change? What about our personal behavior? Will some public behaviors become more private as they are captured and some private behaviors become more public? What will privacy mean in the context of these technologies? How will our relation to our exploding archives of digital captures change? How dependent will we become on them for simple tasks like locating the car? Will an economy of captured experiences emerge? If so, how might it function?
Gage is an independent consultant based in
is a researcher in Microsoft's Next Media research group. His current research focus is on
personal lifetime storage, as architect of the MyLifeBits
project and chair of the First and Second ACM Workshops on Capture, Archival and Retrieval of Personal
Experience (CARPE). Dr. Gemmell received his Ph.D.
Ramesh Jain is an educator,
researcher, and entrepreneur. Currently he is the Donald Bren Professor
in Information & Computer Sciences at
Starner is an Assistant Professor in Georgia Tech's