Saturday, August 12, 2006

Coming Up For Air

Aaron Braaten my friend and sometimes e-publisher of my not-so-great sprawling novels has just received a Master's degree on bloggers and their ways. I do believe he has established a trend. "You're gonna love this," he told his examiners.

They did.

He got his MA in Economics, especially in the socio-economic makeup of bloggers.

Aaron surveyed as many bloggers as he could, including this post-luddite hopeful.

I think Aaron has started a trend.

But the Toronto Star in an independent survery, seems to think it's a down trend.

"Internet breeding loners?" a Star headline asks.

"Canadians who spend more time online are more likely to neglect family and real-life friends", says a Statistics Canada survey.

Not so, says Jeffrey Boase, a PhD candidate at Toronto U, who will shorty defend his own thesis on e-mail and social networks.

He says the Internet has saved him from social isolation.

"I spend a lot of time working in solitude, and the Internet is one way to be more social. I spend an average of ten hours a day onling. If anything, it's helped me to stay more connected."


I myself thought that once you're in the trap of Boolean algebra, the matrix of all our surfing and blogging, you'd just get more machine oriented, more of an obsessed and addicted blogger and surfer.

Suck it up, or almost--says Barry Wellman a professor of sociology at Toronto, acknowledging that online social networks do occasionally diplace family interaction but such a trend is to be expected with society's increasing reliance on technology.

The nature and extent of my addiction to blogging was driven home to me this weekend when a visitor came and took me places, like the local Farmer's Market, a flamenco concert and a swell Greek restaurant.

Where'd I'd been? On the moon?

It was like coming up for air.

I seemed twenty years younger, I had brought some flamenco into my life and a vegetable wagon pulled by horses made me, through a kind of synchronicity, realize that I had turned into some sort of loner vegetable myself, only my reading of other people's blogs and emails bouoying up my optimism.

And yet my benefactor had insight.

"Look what you have built up. It doesn't seem like much,but through your blog and other people's blogs, you have created a kind of interactive novel."

So we are all building the great interactive novel? A Time Magazine of cyberspace?

Seems like even mass volume political blogs like Chuckercanuck out this way, are also developing a literary flair, and who knows, out here in Canada anyway we seem to be producing some sort of literature.

And literature has long been the loneliest of professions.

I will never forget my unofficial "greeters" at the Toronto Star, where I'd first started as a cub reporter.

They had a good look at me and declared, "Talent hides in the strangest places."


"You are going to be one lonely son-of-a-bitch. "

Well, yes. One is, uh, odd.

And until friends come to call, one lonely son-of-a-bitch.

But the Internet is slowly taking over my life.

It hypercharges my brain. My brain seems to double and ten itself as it works in tandem with all that information.

I seem to write better and faster (at least that's the illusion you get after abandoning the old Smith-Corona).

I also have the pathetic delusion of being a great stick man from all the porn I watch.

Looms weaving by themselves. Lovers coming and going in your own head.

It took some "field reseach" to arrive at a conclusion about all this.

In Graffito veritas?

Most answers to perplexing problems seem to come from low humour:

A troubled man had scrawled on a washroom stall: "My mother made me a homosexual."

A less troubled man scrawled just underneath: "If I get her the wool, will she make me one too?"

Who is this Deus ex Machina?

And what is he/she doing to my brains and balls?

Like some sort of sciencefiction cyborg, I am now embedded in the machine and, echoing the machine-like utterances of of Daft Punk:

"I now know my purpose."

Which is?


Aaron said...

I'm doing some research on MySpace now. Well, it's partly research.

What I am finding is that the internet allows people to interact who would otherwise have social anxiety issues. I know a few people who like MySpace because it allows them to think about their words and carry a conversation with another over time.

I like it because it's like having penpals all over the continent, and it's easy to find new music. It's good to connect to others, but I think at some point a person's gotta realize that relationships and friendships happen in person. The virtual is so ephemeral and text-based communication loses out on the 90% of communication found in vocal tonality, facial expressions and body language. On one hand, it's good, as it lets people relate as "pure ebings" almost. On the other, it's not so good, because these other forms of communication suffer.

MySpace is like the game The Sims. You can view people as these real-life simulations going on in your computer.

For some, it's emotionally safe, as they can shut the person out just like that or the person does not exist right in front of their face.

But they're virtual - I've yet to meet any of my MySpace friends in person. In fact, I'm meeting one for the first time this weekend, I think.

We're all a part of the machine, now, Ivan.

ivan said...

Thanks, Aaron.

Congrats on the M.A.--a new slant on that "dismal science."
Small wonder that you impressed the professors at Calgary U.

I should have put your own picture up in the current blog, but you change avatars so often I'm not sure what you look like from time to time.
You are certainly young. Wunderkind!

La machine, la.

Devon Ellington said...

I spend plenty of time out in the world, because I like it.

However, the great thing about the internet is I've met a lot of wonderful people (especially writers) with whom my paths might never have crossed otherwise.

It's lilke anything else -- it can either be a useful tool or an excuse.

ivan said...

Thank you, Devon Ellington.

Last time I visited New York I couldn't get off 42nd Street, but that was just my way.

I am pleased that many of my correspondents here have been published by Samhein.

Me, I've got something with House of Anansi Press here in Toronto, but they have just been bought out by a publisher of largely children's books--and my work is so rococo!
They keep sending me letters, advising patience and prudence.
I swear the AIDS authors beat me to the punch, what with the big conference being held here today
and Stephen Lewis fronting--He's an Anansi author.


Sela Carsen said...

I've actually met several online friends IRL. Most of them through the RNA and RWA conferences, but when dh was stationed at Ft Polk, I "e-met" someone else who was also stationed there. We never would have encountered each other if it hadn't been for a common message board for new moms.

Dh tends to think of my cyber-friends as Sims and not real people, but I get to know them before I ever set eyes on them.

Funny story, last year was my first RWA conference (Reno, NV). I spent a couple of anxious hours scanning faces. I was so sure I would know them by their personalities, their features were never a priority!

ivan said...

Sela Carsen is the recent Sanhaim author of NOT QUITE DEAD.

Josie said...

I had a very (very!) bizarre experience. I had a very intense on-line love affair, and I never met the person. Yet we became very close, actually quite by accident. Twilight Zone. How is that possible? Do people really become that interactive? It was a first, and a last, for me. It actually shocked me.

ivan said...

Hi Josie,
Funny you should mention that.
I had had (am having?) a similar ecxperience.
It has to do, I think, with uncompleted Great Circles in our lives, unfinished business, and often we meet someone online who is somehow the embodiment of someone from the past. Very much as in Stanislaw Lem's novel, Solaris.
In the man's case it can be a beautiful woman whom once a man has wronged, kinda reincarnated for him.
In the woman's case, it can be some sort of ghostly lover, as in Lover# l in Madame Bovary...I've forgotten his name, but he says
to Emma, "I probably remind you of someone from young childhood, your past, someone you loved very much."

But basically, it's just kindred spirits, similar minds. I suppose your mind can resonate with another through the ether.
...Certainly the stuff of many a novel.

ivan said...


It is likely a possibility that you can seduce somebody with your book or your blog.

Erik Ivan James said...

An addictive personality, I.
Another destructive addiction it was becoming---the internet, the blogs---replacing the woods, the streams, friends, productive use of time.
All but in moderation I've cast them too aside.
Back to touching, hearing, smelling...

Sela Carsen said...

Thanks for the plug, Ivan!

Glad you're back in the world, Erik. I've had to scale back occasionally, too. I can feel one of those times coming on soon, in fact. Now that NQD is released and I'm finally writing, it's time to re-prioritize.

ivan said...

One day, I opine, you're going to place your work somewhere really important.
I have images of Times Square.

ivan said...

You're welcome, Sela.

I think we're all sort of hooked.
I have let go of all my finances, am fast losing my natural bounce to solve real problems as they come up, and am losing some of a man's natural manipulation drive as I get under the hood of mechanical things. Typing is suddenly a universal key to "enlightenment", but it may be a false key as somebody already has set up the math for us many years ago...And then there's Bill Gates.
If I are so smart, why ain't I rich?
'Cause you didn't design this machine, that's why...You just work it.

There was a time, back in Flintstone U, when I could actually feel printer's ink running thrugh my veins. I loved the smell of ink, the busy presses--hell, maybe even the gay linotype operator--we were all in this Gutenberg thing together.
Now with Offset and the web we seem to be goosing electrons and
chasing moonbeams right up the old string theory.
Seems we're falling a little short of the real purpuse.
We want to write. Really write.