Monday, December 20, 2010

The Cold War II: Info-terrorism in the 21st Century (just kidding)

My original intention was to edit this down and present a more polished post. After a day or two of thinking about it I decided that I would go with a more free form publishing method that pretty much captures my stream of thought in one continues moment - sort of Gonzoesque. That being said, please ignore all spelling, grammar and logical errors but do let me know what you think.

Over the weekend I made it to my local theater for the release of Tron: Legacy. I will spare you the semi-negative review for two reasons - no body cares what I have to say about their grossly successful blockbuster movie and it really wasn't that bad. It was more of a "it was too long and they spent a lot of the budget on the CGI" type thing. Despite that, I will give a nod to Disney for prophetically green lighting this project a year and half ago. The amount of timely undertones and relevant messages, many not very Disneyesque in nature I might add, are almost overwhelming. From child abandonment and spoiled reckless youth sticking it to the man - the man being the company the protagonist majority owns but is too immature to run (so in essence sticking it to himself?), to mega-corporate greed and the threat of information monopolies and technology abuse; the pseudo-Tronian film served as more than a visual stimuli 3 layer (of dimensions) chocolate cake. This film may one day be more representative of this era than can currently be recognized.

Jeff Bridges drops a line in a short monologue about information being the key to power. It really struck a chord with me given the advent of Wikileak's mainstream infiltration the past few weeks as well as the rise of social media at the forefront of business, entertainment and art. The Grid is the location for which the perfect world is created within Tron world. The ultimate theme is that perfection in regard to life can not be created nor destroyed, but only observed. My immediate response to this was a comparison to the second life that many of us have created within our social networking circles. Mark Zuckerberg has been making some interesting moves lately - pledging to donate half his worth and also declaring his intentions to reformat the current entertainment climate. As a peer of his I understand the goal but I am not quite sure his intentions are pure. If he really wanted to clean up this societal construct why not destroy his own system - in this instance Facebook.

I have often thought about what the public reaction would be if Facebook decided to close the doors one morning. As a pessimist in an optimist's costume (Prime?) I assume that there would be mass hysteria and possibly even hostility. After the pandemonium died down people might come to grips with the fact that they were hopelessly addicted to a forum that literally serves no innovative purpose. If anything it has only devolved communication under the guise of efficiency. Humans were socially skilled long before communication was refined. By nature we gather to share time and promote our thought processes. For the first time in history our social interactions are packaged, formatted and circularly consumed to the extent that all aspects of our life need to be summarized on one digital page. Add in the privacy infringement, borderline Orwellian updates to facial recognition and the open market for serial stalking. The kicker is that we know this, accept it and really could care less.

I could care less. I am writing this and yet in another tab on the same window in Firefox I have Facebook open. I also intend on posting this on Facebook.

About a month before the movie release I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the movie's score done by French electronic DJ duo Daft Punk. I will go ahead and admit I am a fluffer when it comes to these guys, but what they put together was nothing short of impressive. A product of the awkward late '90s house and trance movement in the US and abroad, the group has managed to break past the barrier of fad and become one of the most revered enigmas in the music industry. The mystery is what draws me in. The lack of information and identity some how become the intrigue. Of course the music itself can stand on its own feet within the genre - but there are many just as talented electronic artists across the spectrum. Interestingly enough Daft Punk has always promoted a technologically infused themes - hell, they appear as robots on stage. At the same time, the message they send via subtle lyrics challenges the reliance on the same technology they encompass. A song titles like "Humans After All"  exemplify that even these electro-gods are still humans at heart and the point of all this is to create an energy between them and the fans - an idea that goes back to the genesis of music. The beat of a drum is so simple and primal yet serves as the cornerstone of modern electronic success. 

I remember being in the theater and thinking about the lyrics to Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" and my music-infused brain began connecting the dots until I reached the thought of Kanye West sampling the track for his famed Graduation album. Interestingly enough Mr. West released the critically acclaimed track Power  this year. The chorus includes a message that is both self-serving and observant of the artist surroundings: "No one man should have all that power." I wonder if Julian Assange ever second guessed himself. Don't get me wrong, I am a supporter of transparency and accountability when it comes to governing bodies - but it is obvious that this was a vendetta against the world at large as opposed to a noble move by a selfless media saint. He himself is a victim of the uncontrollable info-beast in his personal life. He may have once thought he had control, but he could never have imagined the magnitude of his WikiLeaks-bomb. For better or for less than better the story is now there and as Daft Punk puts it, "Television rules the nation." This is true, but what the Frenchmen did not see in their infinite wisdom is that the Internet rules the world. He who controls that forum wins. 

This leads me back to the idea that we should not let any man have that much power. The leader of the free world should still practice humility. The king of the digital realm must put aside his personal aspirations - stop trying to create a new world and change this one Mark. We have these digital tools that are really a miracle and they are being used, if not abused, for all the wrong intents and purposes. Apparently we learned nothing from the dot com era bust when every major start up in 2010 was some how affiliated with social networking. Reinvention is not innovation when it is fractionally enabling more efficiency. These things are not the destination. We have finally made it here. Now it is time to make that second giant leap that Neil Armstrong could have never imagined was possible in 1969. /end rant

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