Friday, July 27, 2007

The Black Box

I realized last night at Nico's that my boss's daughter asked me a very interesting and very scary question that day.

After she asked me "Do you believe in evolution? How come?" (her Christian school is actively teaching her that evolution is make-believe) and got an answer about ten minutes longer than she'd actually wanted, it looks like she's decided that I'm a good source of answers to questions that other people seem to shrug at. That same day she asked me about digital media, and how her ipod works. I proceeded to explain what binary was, to the best of my knowledge, how hard drives work, how cds work, and got stumped when I tried to explain how information is stored within transistors in a circuit board. All this seemed very fun and boosted my ego, until I realized that she didn't know what "digital" was. Needing constant reassurance that I wasn't just making it up, she was amazed to find that her ipod, her digital camera, her computer, her phone, everything she uses works by interpreting 0s and 1s. I made me realize something.

Kids today have no idea how things work!

My boss's kid is fifteen. sSe's never played a record. She's never owned a vhs tape. She's never erased a cassette. She's never taken a picture with film. Never adjusted the tracking on a movie, never been told not to touch the shinney black part of a 3/4 floppy (never seen a actually floppy floppy disc for that matter). She doesn't know what a punch card is.

I think that, when growing up, we and our parents were forced to come into contact with the functional nature of the devices we use. We were told not to leave records in the sun. Not to let dust get on them. Told to be careful of the needle. If anybody ever erased a cassette tape, we were told that the bulking device was a magnet. We've gotten negatives back with our film. We've actually loaded our own film. We've seen our cds scratched, heard the skip, heard static on our tapes.

All of these experiences give us little insights into the workings of our technology. We know that, somehow, tapes are magnetic. We know, somehow, that light is recorded onto film, which is a negative, which is translated onto a print. Cd's skip when scratched. The needle is what makes the sound.

If you don't know what binary is at all, if you use apple products (which you can't open up to see what it's made of) and pocket sized digital cameras, if you're catching the end of the cd generation and think music comes as mp3s, if the tv comes over a cable line and not over the air waves, you really have no idea how things work! It actually worries me that the high tech tech that is becoming so useful and wonderful for those of us who know its background is an absolute barrier between consumerism and thoughtfulness. Never before have I had such a had time wrapping my mind around the things I use every day. Most of us have no hope of really understanding how a computer works. I know pretty much how a tape works, how a record player works, how a cd works, how a cathode ray tv works, but I have no idea (sorry Nico, still) how those 0s and 1s become the pictures that I'm so excited about. And for youths, the ideas can be so daunting that it takes real commitment on their behalf for the world to be something other than a series of expensive magic machines.

The answers are no longer just around the corner, shrouded by half answers and pretty-much understandings. They're almost completely obscured by mind bogglingly complicated micro engineering and advanced electronics.

Why does this make me worry enough to repeat myself so much? Because it worries me that kids will stop asking. It worries me that the answers will be too far away to reach for.

It worries me that our understanding of our world will be based on faith.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

More Than Meets the Eye

I'm making what I consider to be a pretty decent attempt at having more meaningful content in my pictures. That is to say, emphasizing more than just shape and composition, which is what I'm mostly interested in. This has pretty much involved shooting more people, something I'm pretty afraid to do. It's harder to shoot a picture when I'm worried about asking permission. Anyhow, here's some of the results that I think are pretty successful.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Poor Einstein

My coworker is sending me press releases that are suspiciously indicative of an invasion being planned for Iran. Things being said that are suspiciously similar to things that were said about Iraq.

This has led me to make the following statement: The atomic bomb is one of the most personally rewarding inventions we have ever made. It has done nothing but bring us good fortune.

Now, I know that sounds bad, but think about it. It's been our friend since it's horrible inception. When we used it it not only let us achieve our goal of not being at war, it solidified our sense of moral maturity in the world community, laid the groundwork for one of our most valuable trade resources (Japan), and gave us credability that nobody but a violent dictator could hope to gain.

Since then, it's given us an enemy (the Soviet Union) to hate and thusly establish our own sense of cultural unity that is really only now beginnign to really show signs of wear, provided us with a reason to build and build our military without any real reason, and given us a great excuse to invade other countries without provocation. All the while seeming completely sane to those not paying attention.

That's it.....