Noah J Nelson on Friday, Apr. 20th
Opinions expressed in Game of Buzz are those of the author alone.
Just a few brief thoughts on some things I’m working on and that have come across the desk in the past week.
It’s pretty clear to me at this point that we’re all still just figuring out how to use the internet as a communications medium. Yesterday, during a site visit to Fourth Wall Studios that I’m dying to tell you about in a way that won’t come across as the ravings of a madman who had a religious conversion, I had a pretty good sound bite dropped on me by more than one member of the team.
The Fourth Wall group is comprised of a lot of the talent that was behind the rise of Alternate Reality Games in the past decade. Now they’re turning their attention to using the techniques they’ve learned to create experiences that don’t require access to spectrometers or working knowledge of an abacus. [Not kidding about either of those two.]
Yet despite the fact that they have all this experience working on this kind of thing they feel like they’re still “flying the plane while we’re building it”. Which is, really, what makes their venture exciting.
On the other hand we get blowouts like yesterday’s tweet bombing by the followers of Bachir (Chiren) Boumaaz, aka “Athene”, which led to a host of trolls hurling horrible insults on Twitter at someone who happens to be undergoing chemotherapy right now. All in the name of trying to raise awareness about starvation in the Horn of Africa. Xeni Jardin noted on Boing Boing that she’s now okay with the Boumaaz and Reese Leysen, who were organizing the awareness campaign. Ethan Zuckerman has a solid analysis of the incident, and the whole thing points to some real problems the collective we has when it comes to using these tools for communication.
Sometimes I can’t help but think that maybe the fault really is in our tech. That it allows us to abstract the person on the other end of the line as purely “other”. As less than human.
Then I read a thread on Reddit with multiple stories about parents freaking out on people who’ve saved their kids from being hit by cars, drowning, etc. Which is when I remember that it’s not the technology, but people who are the problem.
Sure, trolls have more tools at their disposal than ever, but so do those who believe in the power of empathy. It’s just a little harder to act on those impulses than the other kind. Which means I’m coming back around to what has to be my favorite theme in the past few years: always try and broaden your perspective. Look at things from the other guy’s point of view. Best of all: champion any piece of technology that makes it easier to do just that.
We’ve only got each other, people. For better or worse.