Remote viewing and rescued by the webcam. Presence and absence and remote relations.

A woman is saved… By a relative thousands of miles away who’s dropped by on her webcam and seen her motionless on the floor. A perfect case study for Marshall McLuhan’s work Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. In this case in particular, the extended family. Immediate family extended. Connected? Not if it’s one way, but connected yes because a filial relation exists, and filial is as connected as it gets. Extensions of man? A woman seen on webcam has not extended her vision, but the viewer has extended his. Her presence has been extended, drawn into, her son’s visual field. What virtual presence is this, when McLuhan’s subtitle must be inverted to make any sense? Not only to see farther (webam as telescopy) but to be seen from farther away….
It occurred to me last night that while connective technologies increase our ability to express, to speak, to participate anytime and from anyplace, eradicating the material constraints of presence, asynchronous technologies stretch out, defer, and delay the return/response. It takes only the return of a glance to indicate whether or not one’s communication has been taken up, and how (accepted/rejected to use Luhmann’s terminology; understood, agreed upon, to use Habermas, Austin). But when the technology permits us to speak better than it provides us with the other’s feedback (think email, message boards, asychronous… IM, chat, are near synchronous, though we’re still limited there to what can be put in text form), we get an asymmetrical relation of presence. Talking at, not talking to.
He saw her prone and her stillness provided him the correct observation that something was wrong.
Is there something wrong if I talk and I can’t see how you like it? I must wait to find out.

10 Responses to “Remote viewing and rescued by the webcam. Presence and absence and remote relations.”

  1. me says:

    Connected? I wonder, connected in time and space because of our now so wonderfully”anonymous” means of communication. A look, a glance so important in understanding. The essence of the text, the true meaning behind, among, hidden in the use of vocabulary and cumbersome necessity for punctuation to evoke meaning?. ok where now? connected?

  2. adrian says:

    well i dont know that punctuation, or even grammar, are required to evoke meaning, though decimal points are important if you want to buy stocks in the right quantities.
    Pataphysics: imaginary technical solutions to imaginary social problems… I dont think connective technologies do much to really connect people in the big sense, but they do provide channels. There is no real “merging” among souls, of course, so your desires for connection may always be thwarted.
    Next question: meaning in text? or meaning between people?

  3. Anonymous says:

    ok people but these technical solutions are by no means imaginary. My reference to being connected? was your filial one.

  4. adrian says:

    not sure i follow, but do you think a phone provides connection? surveillance cams? pagers? Connections vary by what’s communicated over them, one-way devices not really facilitating connection though they could provide information that might lead to it.
    But i mean connection in the light sense, as in establishing contact where there’s no co-presence. Two people in line for the bus may be no more connected in terms of their communication or interaction if they’re reading the paper. What they do engage in is a social situation, and by playing it right they support their culture’s codes of conduct etc etc.
    Filial connection, yes, well there too there’s often more estrangement than connection, but the filial relation is inherited nonetheless.
    Am i making it more confusing?

  5. Anonymous says:

    no not confusing. i’m interested in the filial relationship. do you think that all there is is inherited genes and it is the connection, shared space, experiences etc that make make the relationship relevant or meaningful or are the genes enough to make it…

  6. adrian says:

    When it comes to making meaning, there’s nothing in the genes, that i’m sure of. In fact the filial relation is culturally specific, though biological in fact. What it means to be member of a family, son, daughter, mom, dad, uncle, etc depends on culture. What it means to the person, may be a combination of cultural perception of the role (father – son is important in Confucian cultures) and the personal relations those individuals actually have. Which are better described, I think, by psychology, family dynamics, etc etc. Inheritance cannot express an individual’s meaning, it only determines a filial relation. Relationships are a combination of relation and communication and interaction. … My view of course!

  7. Anonymous says:

    intersting especially your expression of a familial relationship as psychology. what about connection in terms of history do you see yourself as solo or have you partly inherited your identity from your antescedants.When i say identity i mean the way you see yourself and react to others because of the knowledge you have of where you come from, who came before you what they did etc… To some groups ones ancestors are culturally significant in determining their behaviours beliefs etc.

  8. adrian says:

    I’m not a fan of identity, so I’d have to say I see myself as informed by past, including history, and context, but still free to “become” by decisions i make as my own. Psychology started, with Freud, as an analysis of our relationships with our parents, so it’s fundamentally family oriented! Even our parents were informed by culture, their parents informed by culture, etc. You know, it may have to do w/ self image and understanding. We could be entirely determined, and still think we’re making choices out of free will!

  9. Anonymous says:

    ok. when you say our parents were informed by culture etc i guess i agree that culturally one inherits info from them and iguess one chooses what to do with that info.
    But you must agree that one needs knowledge of the past ( parents, grandparents etc..)to become informed and therby make decisions and here it is the genetic inheritence that gives credance to that decision making process because surely without it you are just basing your judgement on nothing more than what you see hear around you and how you have learnt to react to such stimuli…
    Why do people go in search of their ancestors etc… that cant be psychology maybe its just curiosity…

  10. adrian says:

    Point me to evidence that knowledge is inherited! In the interest of my children’s futures (if I have any) I’ll begin studying dawn to dusk right now! As far as I’m aware, biology does not pass along knowledge. Knowledge is obtained by experience.

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