Futures and the Intersemiotic Condition

Futures and the Intersemiotic Condition
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    Futures and the Intersemiotic Condition Aug’09   ‘Anagnorisis  with Timestamps’ (in some few words)   All ideas presented here will demand corrections or expansions and just intend to stimulate furher discussion. In times of ‘nano’ achievements, microblogging appears behind a set of useful, curious or entertaining tools and activities receiving attention from professionals and from any interested Internet user. A stream of few characters or few seconds of sound or video published online and linked to personal, group or institutional profiles provides dynamic spaces for expressing feelings, comments, ideas, etc., as well as to start up other major topics to receive in-depth analysis. Within this ‘universe of few words’, we would think of microblogging  by using a 25-letters expression:  ‘  Anagnorisis  with Timestamps’. The curious is the fact that, as we try to expand what these 25 letters intend to express from the viewpoint of who writes here, as well as their possible relationships with the broader topic of ‘futures and the intersemiotic condition’, some pages are expected below for us to accomplish this task. Would it be enough, instead, to leave just these 25 letters here and simply let our potential readers be inspired to ‘textualize’ them further (or not) ? When we realise the average time considered for some Internet reading situations nowadays (e.g. banners, start pages, etc.) can range from 5 to 30 seconds, we must immediately be grateful to our readers right here as they probably spent more than 10 seconds so far. Shall we continue together with these notes ? As ONG(1991, p.102) explains, the audience of a traditional writer “is always a fiction” as long as any piece of conventional writing is deemed as autonomous discourse  which was created and fixed in the absence of the huge majority of future readers 1 . What would be different, then, in the case of microblogging ? 1  We could remember Cervantes’ foreword in his Don Quijote de la Mancha , acknowledging the valuable advice from a ‘first reader’ in a similar way we nowadays can find editors, reviewers, referees, content managers, etc.    Futures and the Intersemiotic Condition If we pay attention to what microblogging  represents nowadays as it springs within a contemporary environment enabling interactive and extended writing 2  – the conditions under which texts (in the broader sense of meaningful elements articulated with aid of any kind, or mix, of accessible media) published electronically through the Web 3  can be edited/expanded anytime and their empirical authors (i.e. real writers, even with fictional/diffused identities) might receive direct comments from readers/users about a piece of text and even be reached online – the idea of  “audience as fiction” would not match exactly the reception of writing as derived from typography, but instead it comes to embrace, by the adoption of mobile, Web-enhanced social networking practices like microblogging , a wider complex of t ransducting environments 4   which reveals a growing number of romanticised spaces of living together   (BARTHES, 2003) thereby fostering a sense of future comprising competing objective, subjective and in-process approaches as indicated by PETRANKER(2005). In such a way, the “here I am” essence of human experience is not simply the one provided by revival of a mythical and timeless ‘no-where’ as cultivated in narratives, nor by a rational plan with developmental timegrids and articulated procedures anchored in linguistic, technological and cultural conventions, nor by an expectable range of outcomes and behaviours found by abstraction or influence of habits. But perhaps, using 25 letters, we would propose ‘anagnorisis with timestamps’ to summarize some features of microblogging practice and its possible relationships with a broader set of trends already recognizable as part of the intersemiotic condition (HEISKALA, 1993), as long as we could be successful in clarifying what is about. Certain phenomena around our everyday life might seem very simple : someone presents a new idea, and this idea spreads very quickly as something already expected by a growing number of adopters, or just as a curious thing. Social networking would not be an exception, following the main trends devised by HEISKALA(1993) and others concerning the intersemiotic condition of society i.e. as 2  ONG(1991, p. 79) notes that one would have for computers the same objections Plato is said to have had against printing. Perhaps current and future levels of interactivity as well as the popularization of videoconferencing might invite us to reassess some of these objections concerning the contemporay use of electronic media. 3  Although we could find applications that can publish a number of microblogging entries in the absence of a ‘real writer’ online at the same time. 4  Namely, the websites which enable users to create microblogging profiles and act upon someone else’s entries and profiles as provided by software applications.    Futures and the Intersemiotic Condition part of the intensive effects of several communication tools interacting across territories and cultural identities. This at first would induce us to think of microblogging as a trivial phenomenon if one assumes it as some kind of amplification related to already established habits concerning the use of electronic media. But, from another viewpoint, one could view this same phenomenon as a spin-off for differentiated epistemological potentials with interest in future studies 5 , i.e. with links to other trends, technologies, scenarios, methods, etc. It would be hard to imagine our contemporary world without writing, as probably it would be equally unfeasible to conceive some procedures today without the use of computers. Both might be coexisting modalities of ‘intelligence technologies’ (LÉVY, 1993) taking place in several urban centers and beyond, where the effects of the intersemiotic condition departing from some trends devised by HEISKALA(1993) and others would offer some additional pathways for us to conceive modern citizenship being fostered by advanced capitalism i.e. devising some possible scenarios where it would be desirable to conceal social identities, mythical narratives or ethnocentric-localised solutions for anything which would appear ‘complex’ or ‘challenging’ outside the frames of reference rooted in any restricted core set of beliefs 6 , and in the case of microblogging a core set of beliefs around ‘privacy’ would be highlighted. From an ideal situation, a citizen would write anything from anywhere and anytime from a ‘no-where’ virtual place which seems available ‘every-where’ as e.g. a mobile microblogging service or technology. However, this same situation would reveal a  ‘writing without place’ stance when one finds empirical writers using microblogging tools to communicate from ‘challenging’ places and times, so that some macro-level  ‘challenging factors’ might not be readily understandable for potential readers of microblogging entries (e.g. censorship, civil struggles, restricted group-level codes,  ‘viral marketing’ strategies, etc.). In other words, perhaps the contexts of appearance and reception of ‘signifying wholes’ (HEISKALA, 1993, p. 581) might not be proved as existent in the same way it was said in a ‘traditional’ anthropological sense, or they might reveal themselves less persistent than it has been found for other studied communication phenomena. 5  The writer of this text is not a specialist in future studies. However, we share some interests and topics as they would at least inspire other students and readers. 6  See e.g. HIMMERFARB(1996).    Futures and the Intersemiotic Condition As the pursuit of writing abilities derives from a humanistic concern with the natural rights of individuals, the very possibility of online publishing of detached pieces of writing (namely, microblogging entries in virtual spaces) from ‘challenging’ situations which empirical readers could not assess, might pose difficult epistemological questions about how to find the actual “here I am” essence behind microblogging entries, as specialists still discuss if Homer really existed and was the single writer of The Odyssey (e.g. ONG, 1991, p. 17-19). Even as ‘virtual witnesses’ with some idea of how people make use of microblogging to express ‘challenges’ of any kind, and being puzzled with these paradoxical writing which both gives freedom and bound people to those situations being described, in a more general way we are learning for centuries how to read and cultivate some narratives around us without seeking any proof of authorship or legitimacy 7 , and by doing so, experiencing texts and let them ‘talk’ by themselves according to our expectations and departing from the aesthetical features of each given text. A biblical Psalm, a fairytale, a personal story might become part of our emotional memories in the same way microblogging entries would do. Our ‘narrative selves’ collect stories and recall them as ‘living libraries’ (as would say Amadou Hampate Ba), as moving and ‘totalizing’ contexts for what we would do next. The orality of the past, in the same way, organized worldviews around the ongoing perspectives of a narrator (ONG, 1991). This moving perspective and by extension the perceived changes affecting the “here I am” who tells the story, or the characters brought into life with the skills of a living storyteller emulating “voices of the past”, remain at the core of what one retains as ‘narrative’. In the Greek tragedy, anagnorisis   refers to those 'moments of awareness' (McLEISH, 2000) by which a character develops its  journey, or reveals traces of identity or consciousness. In his Poetics  (ch. XVI), Aristotle refers to four modalities 8  of anagnorisis : through explicit signals, by self-assurance, by evoking memories or dejá vu  sensations, or by syllogisms or allusions. Would it be possible to imagine these modalities as coherent with contemporary microblogging activities ? Let us try: Explicit signals. Microblogging spaces are spreading quickly across mobile, Web-enhanced fields so that specific microblogging tools and corresponding sites become 7  The Positivist influence and the ‘information explosion’ in the 20 th  Century can be viewed as very recent phenomena within this perspective. 8  Here we are just providing tentative categories by using free translation, awaiting further corrections.    Futures and the Intersemiotic Condition marks for those who expect direct and personal feedback through electronic communication, a ‘non-telegraphic freedom’ to express feelings in a few words in short loops of time. It would be curious to see people in face-to-face contact doing microblogging at the same time, or even ‘non-personal’ entities (companies, news agencies, celebrity ghost writers) offering links to microblogging profiles as they would expect this same personal contact. Above all, there is a real possibility of giving and receiving “here I am” personal marks, all participating together, but with their own individual way in some macro-level plot with no prevailing meaning, as a metaphoric ‘Tamara-Land’ of multivoicedness (Boje apud   BELOVA, KING & SLIWA, 2008, p.495). Self-assurance . As ONG(1991) explains how conventional writing restructures counsciousness, it would be expected an even higher effect for contemporary transducting places enabled by microblogging applicatons i.e. both writing and orality become embedded in semiotic processes giving place to intrapsychic and external identity sedimentations of individual practice. Reflectivity levels of microblogging reading/writing would enable these same transducting places to fulfill fundamental or aesthetic needs for those “here I am” marks of style which will spark new narratives and start dialogue among competing narrators. Memories.  Our times of desirable ‘mobile digital life’ certainly do not offer the same physical memory concerns that forced our ancestors to select a few codifying rules for some special events, genealogy records and so on. However, memories today could be even more emotionally-linked (just remember a Frank Sinatra’s song) and urban lifestyles tend to foster the use and preservation of recorded memories of all kinds (ONG, 1991 ; BURKE, 2003). In the sense memories tend to ‘textualize’ life events, they also fix codes and reassure preferred interpretations. ‘Dynamic memories’ of the past carried a sense of past-present-future given by orality-based cultures, whereas a ‘mobile urban life’ with a mix of available memories in our 21 st  Century invite us to make use of a broader span of ‘context awareness services’ (e.g. COSCHURBA ET AL, 2000) outside the borders of former mythical-based structures that relied on retold stories and corresponding practices. One would note that multivoiced, oral-literary memories of all kinds published today through microblogging engage us in the same perceptual challenges of our ancestors which had to ‘map the field’ in their own style and seek reasonable solutions to some urgent problems, while concealing indentity issues through long-term memories (perhaps one could refer to those early drawings inside pre-Historic caves as
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