Monday, November 30, 2009

How to Get Into Following Sports: Find a Narrative

From an interview with Author Nick Hornby in Prospect Magazine - this excerpt discussing British soccer (football) fan-dom and the narrative that keeps the fan (of any sport) engaged in it:    
People want to lose themselves in fiction.

And in football. Sport and art have that in common. “The anxiety and the anger, you know, all the conversational stuff that goes on. I think there’s a lack of self-consciousness in that—because people behave as if it really matters, and they don’t feel self-conscious about it.” Storytellers may have seven basic plots to work with but football fans have a more restricted set. At football matches, “Every conversation is a version of: ‘We need a goal; we need not to let in a goal,’ and that’s pretty much all it is but there are endless elaborations.”
He recalls a conversation with a friend at Arsenal’s title-clinching match with Everton at Highbury in 1998. “‘Everton need the points’ my friend says, ‘they could go down.’ So, we get an early goal and he relaxes for five minutes. ‘I’d really like to see another one go in before half-time,’ he says. We get another. He’s worried. ‘If it goes to 2-1,’ he says, ‘we’ll get panicky.’ So we score a third and he says, ‘be nice to get a fourth to wrap it up.’ And the moment the fourth one goes in he says, ‘If we don’t get two new centre halves next season we’re in trouble.’”
The perfect, egoless, moment of transcendence is when the ball hits the back of the net, as long as your team has put it there of course, but the moment soon expires and it’s back to the universal story. And there, crystallised, are the two dimensions of selfhood, the self of the present moment—GOAALL!—and the extended self, the narrative thread of subjective experience that gives us our sense of unity and continuity—our identity: We need a goal; we need not to let in a goal.
What better sport narratives in the Boston area to sink into than the Red Sox "Curse" and Sox/Yankees rivalry?
P.S. Post not guaranteed to get you into following sports.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Body Talk: Obama & Medvedev



Obama & Medvedev in Singapore for APEC summit, Source
Physical signal interpretation: Their eyes seem friendly though Barack's clenched jaw-area seems telling. I can't tell who's squeezing whose hand tighter (though it's definitely an intense hand-shake - look at that grippin'). Medvedev appears somewhat more relaxed than Barack, with (what appears to be) confidence in his gaze towards him. Anything else you're picking up here?
Or as Lainey calls it, "Photo Assumption"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Doritos Commercial - Paranormal Investigators (VIDEO)

Doritos is having a competition called "Crash The Superbowl". Doritos chooses a top six out of all the publicly-submitted 30-second spots. These six move on to voting, and the top three that win the votes are shown at the Superbowl.



This was put together over 3 days of filming in two locations (in Salem and Beverly). The original script had more lines and plot but needed to be edited down to its essentials to have it fit in a 30 second spot. Chris Peters (and David Ells/In The Car Media) did the major coordinating for this. Here's the link to it directly on the site (where comments & other videos can be viewed).

Monday, November 2, 2009

With All This Information, Does Theory Even Matter Anymore?

Žižek tells me a story about a friend of his going to meet Noam Chomsky, the "most influential public intellectual" in America. "My friend told me Chomsky said something very sad. He said that today we don't need theory. All we need to do is tell people, empirically, what is going on. Here, I violently disagree: facts are facts, and they are precious, but they can work in this way or that. Facts alone are not enough. You have to change the ideological background."
From The New Statesman interview with Slavoj Zizek

Because of the amount of information out there available/accessable on the internet, what's important is no longer the information but the filtering systems we use to sort and understand it.

Our human filtering systems are our theories, how we choose to see the world. These we cannot help but process information and events through. Even before we consciously process a decision or opinion, the concept has become laden with associations and past-opinions held about it.

This is why it theory is important, contrary to Chomsky above (or Brian Eno here in Prospect Magazine). The vast "synergy of information" (Eno's term) does open innumerable possibilities, but the frame for us to process and view it though can't be made of the facts as well --you can't define something by using itself.

Two posts in two days! My god! 































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Sunday, November 1, 2009

How the Internet Changes Everything, Part III

(Parts One and Two here)

1)As a Tool of Communication

The 2009 Iranian election protests and the Trafigura waste dumping case speak strongly to the internet’s basic strength as a tool of communication. Twitter was the platform predominantly used in these cases, which facilitated broad contact and information-sharing within an extremely rapid timespan.

Andrew Sullivan, reflecting on the Iranian election protests in The Sunday Times: After recounting his earlier skepticism regarding Twitter…
Well, the last laugh is on me. As I have spent the past week hunched over a laptop, channelling and broadcasting as much information, video and debate about the momentous events in Iran, nothing quite captured the mood and pace of events like the tweets coming from the people of Iran…The effect was far more powerful than I had expected. A mix of fact and feeling, rumour and message…

When you review the Twitter stream of the past week, it reads like a stream of constantly shifting consciousness. It is a kind of journalistic pointillism. From a distance it gains heft. It is history rendered in the collective, scattered mind and it has never happened before - millions upon millions of tiny telegram messages sent to the world.
Kinda dramatic, but makes the point well. Because information can be transmitted so simply (and the “transactions costs” of it are so low), some forms of attempting to suppress information are no longer as usable as they once were. With Trafigura, the issue was a "superinjunction," intended as a gag-order (with the intention to keep the issuer of the injuction secret as well.) After becoming aware of it, hundreds had...
“…sleuthed down [the gag-order mystery], published the relevant links and were now seriously on the case. By midday on Tuesday "Trafigura" was one of the most searched terms in Europe.”
The next day the gag-order was lifted and the details of the case came out.

2) As a Hub of Knowledge 

 
What makes the internet particularly valuable as a hub of knowledge is not just its vast storehouses of it, the millions of pages of Wikipedia or the availability of experts, but the ease and immediacy of access to it.

Even questions of greater rarity or specificity can still be “crowdsourced” by a search, opening up several links that may lend information or value, giving insight as to what some of the general perspectives on a given topic may be. If nothing else, this gives some different frames of reference to better understand how ones’ self sees something. I’ve used the internet for several years of my life but I’m still amazed by the speed and breadth of information access.

3) As a Way to Relate To and Understand Other People
 
Yes, the fact that the internet has a multiplicity of sites gives one the option to stay tightly within a ring of websites that flatter and agree with their views (as Cass Sunstein’s book “On Rumors:..”, reviewed here, argues).

That said, the most racist, vengeful bigot imaginable on a houseboat in the Atlantic Ocean may, at this moment, google his way to a knowledgeable, well-curated blog about U.S. Civil War bayonets – his favorite subject – just to click on the profile of the blog owner and find him to be middle-management in the national government of the People’s Republic of China. Our bigot is confronted with a computational error- and either has to ignore what he has seen, or somehow combine his care, respect, and appreciation of Civil War bayonets with his racist, bigoted perspective towards Chinese (and Communists).

Perhaps this would be ignorable the first few times. But if the house-boater was confronted with this sort of computational error repeatedly, his perspective would have to adjust with awareness towards his feelings on bayonets to justify a new racist view of the group - if not a more significant softening taking place.
--
Volatile topics like politics will always gather like-minded people together (particularly when there’s something making the ‘gathering’ simple to do); there’s strength in numbers. It is through what we value idiosyncratically (our particular areas of interest) that seems to act as a more effortless bridge to first understand and then connect to others. The web acts as a platform that increases the likelihood of this sort of connection taking place more than it would otherwise.




















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