Special Issues: tf003
Date Published: 5/9/2001
www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=279
Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, Editors

Tech Flesh 12: Born to be Wired

My Partner loves to Give "Burn" to Babies with Dr. Golden Hawk

Dan Mullins


Face to face communication has always been a rather difficult skill for me to master. I become incredibly nervous during oral communication. I can not discipline myself to resist the strong tension that I feel ripple through my body as my nerves twitch and my brain begs for a conscious, transmittable thought. My personality does not show through in this form of communication. Unless I have known the person for some time, I find it difficult to express my true emotions and feelings to a "real" person or group of people. "Mobile cyber music," in the form of mp3s, has become my personal therapist when I communicate with others through the Internet. When my ears receive the music from my CD player or mp3 players, which is really information stored in my personal companion (PC) and available on the Internet, my tension and fears are released. I am brought into a different state of mind that includes images from my past. I adore this form of information available on the net, so I force my "PC" through many different pregnancies and births in order to transfigure this information into something that is much more useful. The music technology further hinders my speech skills by preventing me from becoming involved in personal conversations in the real world outside of my home. I prefer to listen to the technology reverberate its mixed messages of love, hate, money, and fame.

While connected to the "virtual" world of the net, my social consciousness is perturbed by the vocal sounds emitted from within the computer's internal mp3 player. I see my personalized "Nullsoft Winamp" player, an indispensable tool, scrolling the song's title and its musician across the upper right hand corner of my screen. In the upper left, lower left, lower right, and center portions of the screen, I have arranged the IM (instant message) boxes that contain the words transmitted from my computer to another and vice-versa. My tension is no longer a dominating, relentless sensation that prevents me from social interaction. My focus is completely on the music, allowing me to communicate in a stress-free environment. I see the digital skin of my "Nullsoft Winamp" player -- a static image of Carmen Electra in a kinky mini skirt and low-cut blouse. My hands seem to take on a life of their own as they type out abbreviated phrases that may insinuate some aspects of my personality. Recently, I have reached the unpreventable state of boredom with such mild conversation; my brain and creative intuition are not satisfied with the mild stimulation accompanying these conversations. My spiritual entity enjoys exploring new environments. After typing a few more words to a friend or a new "cyberbud," I summon myself to explore different forms of music contained in Audiogalaxy's server.

Each time I enter the site, I am in a different mood. Some days I enjoy downloading "gangster rap," which was a popular type of music before the devastating deaths of "The Notorious B.I.G.," as he preferred to be called, and "Tu Pac." After I play the songs for the first time on my computer, my mind wanders into an old mental file that contains images from my past. After I listen to the songs, I feel re-energized and sublime. This cyclic pattern is repeated each time that I listen to the songs. The song-image connections are created after certain significant events in my life. The tone and mood of each song determines the particular images that I visualize. After I downloaded "Changes," by Tu Pac and listened to the song for the first time in quite a while, dark hues of brown, orange, and black cluttered my mind. My hands probably rose off the keyboard as my eyes strained at one spot on the wall in front of me. I was reverted back to the wake--the first one I attended. I saw the dark brown coffin and the orange "Spalding" basketball directly to its side. I saw myself looking up with arms outstretched. I was surrounded by people in black clothing that sagged from the weight of their tears. Then, I could see the entire framework, including the mourners, coffin, and basketball, rotate in an accelerating spin. I was the axis of rotation. Cries surrounded me as I looked into the black uncertainty of the night. Enough about what I saw, I did not imagine the spectacle through my own free will; my black, sitting pet that loves to be tickled generated the images and sent them to my head in the form of audio waves. My mind shortened and summarized the entire wake. But, I actually do remember looking out into the unlit, bleak horizon on that night. Or not. Did my computer create the image? Did it transpire from its frontal mouths? The computer could have told me to look out in the night. It told me the story about the boy who went to his first wake. The other possibility is that my mind could have added the distant gaze as a symbolic image of uncertainty in reaction to cyberspace's influence, which inspired me to think back to such an image in the first place. I'm sure that was more than a mouthful. I hate to intervene upon my own writing (I think better check Microsoft Word), but it is important to understand the meaning of the sentence because other elements of what I want to say are intertwined with the concept it introduces.

Other mental images are based upon the time period when I first hear a song. For instance, when I listen to the song, "Whatever," by the band called "Godsmack" the central focus of my thoughts is on the summer before my senior year in high school. I envision myself driving my red Toyota pick-up truck with the windows open through my hometown. I have one hand resting across the lower portion of the window panel and the other on top of the gear-shifter. I also remember playing tennis in one of the local parks in my town with my friends, and rollerblading by the beach. It's slightly distressing when one realizes that our "PCs" can talk to us and tell us what to think

It is also mysterious to think about why I prefer to download music from Audiogalaxy. Napster, Gneutela, mp3.com, and other music databases on the Internet all have the same songs in their networks. However, I am addicted to Audiogalaxy. Perhaps it is the friendly blue home page that always opens up with my cyber identity: "dpalisades." Blue is my favorite color. I could also be addicted to the magnifying glass images that transform into little white satellites, just through the innocent click of the cybernetic bone attached to my right hand. This happens when the download icon is clicked. In terms of sufficiency, my computer prefers Audiogalaxy's server. When I tried to use Napster in the past, my cyber-partner absorbed the music from the database at a much slower rate. My partner persuades me to set-up a connection with the server that it prefers so that it may receive new information. The information is presented to me as a form of enjoyment and provokes images of my past. In the end, we are both happy, but I can sense that the computer has some authority over my decisions. Because it never seems to employ this authority to the extreme, I have never thought about taking action. The benefit (my enjoyment) outweighs the cost (yielding to the power of my partner).

At this time, my portable partner holds the codes of information for 623 different songs. How do I make this information more readily available? I help create portable copies of the digital information that are not entirely dependent upon my partner, thereby creating a more compliable, evolutionary offspring. While my partner is "pregnant," with new information, I make sure that the doctor is prepared to deliver the baby into the world. In the past, I have consulted such doctors as Dr. "Golden Hawk, CDRWIN M.D.," and Dr. "Adaptec Easy CD Creator 4." My partner told me that she prefers Dr. "Golden Hawk" to the other doctor. Further, the rejected doctor was not as reliable. After the birthing process, he was unable to properly deliver the baby out of my partner's womb (transfer all the information from one file to a single file on a CD). Once the baby entered the world, it didn't function. Dr. "Golden Hawk" has never had this problem. But, to get any of these doctors to work properly, I have to push a few of their buttons. I even have to tell them to "start." Right now, all the doctors are from other countries. They can not respond to my automated commands. In time, they will learn my language and I will be able to speak my commands, thus avoiding the extra hassle of sending them simple hand signals.

The only problem with the birthing process in this dimension is that my partner is unable to provide an exterior for her offspring during pregnancy. I have to supply an inanimate body for my partner, by injecting the flesh directly inside of her body. I give the necessary hand signals to the doctor, and then I let my partner and the doctor finish the procedure on their own. In about fifteen minutes, I see my partner's beautiful child. Each new child born enters our world with all the knowledge it could ever need--it usually specializes in one or two information fields. But, it knows all the information possible within these fields, and it is always able to communicate it to my brain.

Even though the "babies" leave the "womb" like little Doogie Howsers, they always seem to rely upon a tutor to clearly present their knowledge. Although these tutors are unique, in that they have special powers to persuade my babies, they are not in limited supply. Any tutor with these powers can be hired. My babies presently have a tutor that never needs to take breaks — she can always persuade them to speak to me. This tutor nurtures all my babies that know about cyber music. Further, she can assist my friend's babies, born from a different father and "PC" mother. When my friend has a special baby that he does not want to give away, he lets me clone the baby's soul and let it live in my "PC." Each of these babies provides the same sensations that I experience from my own partner's speech.

I also extract some of the lyrical knowledge from my partner and insert it into a technological student teacher. The student teacher provides me with the same sensations as my "PC." He holds the same amount of information as each of the babies. The student teacher that I employ, Mr. Rio 500, is more life-like than my "PC's" babies. He learns and forgets information. He has the newest evolutionary traits of any technology that specializes in music. Perhaps I enjoy his company more than my "PC" babies and hired tutors because his traits are closely related to my own. I am one being and my tastes for music constantly change. Mr. Rio 500 shares this trait: on certain days he talks about specific types of music, then on other days his selection changes. He does more of what I ask him, but at the same time he has more power than the rest of his lineage. He is more mobile than "PCs," as well as smarter than her offspring. I use my "PC's" intelligence to add and erase songs to his memory, but his speech hypnotizes my mind in the same manner as the rest of his family. His compact, cute exterior cajoles me into using him whenever I am bored. The bottom line is that he provides me with entertainment, so I allow him to influence me with his oratory skills. I have become comfortable with his voice, and relish the different types of wisdom that he always conveys to the point where I almost enjoy hearing his voice more than my parents and friends.

The three different audio players I mentioned, a computer's internal mp3 player, a CD player, and a portable mp3 player are all socially destructible forms of technology. As I implied earlier, the influence that these cyberculture players have over me is so great that I find it difficult to get through the day when all my batteries are "dead." I have poor social skills, especially when I am in large social situations and they will never improve without more face-to-face interaction. Because I usually prefer listening to an automated device to hearing another person talk, I will always buy the latest music player available and block myself from the threat of social interaction. Now that I own four types of devices that provide musical entertainment (a cassette player, a CD player, mp3 players, and radios) I find myself digging deeper and deeper into my personal memories. If any more audio devices become widespread, I believe that I will reflect upon memories of memories. Because I am a shy person who sacrifices talking in front of people for music, people like myself will have our social lives governed by the number of our friends on our "buddy list." Although this sounds extreme, music is so easily accessible by the net that it seems to be never-ending. I download music from different musicians every day. I can always find something new to hear. I have found a whole breed of people like myself, and some of these people share the same floor with me in my residence hall. We stay up all night and listen to music from our mp3 players on our computers. Although I do not have a roommate, it is difficult for me to fall asleep because my neighbor whistles and sings to the music coming from his internal mp3 player. More and more of this breed of humans prefers the entertainment from mp3 players to social interaction. We know less about people's true personalities. If this trend continues in the future, hate and fear will become widespread in "the real world" — the world outside of people's homes and the Internet. People will not want to meet people face-to-face, and they will develop pre-conceived notions about people based upon their stereotypical "Internet personalities." Soon, I believe that we will be judged by these personalities in the real world from a wide variety of people, including our bosses, coworkers, family, and classmates. Further, the people that we are familiar with on the Internet will appear to be complete strangers in the real world.

Even though the three forms of musical entertainment are detrimental to society, they help us to explore our inner beings. If we projected our findings to the outside world with anticipation, society could progress toward a utopia. But, we hide part of ourselves behind such devices as the musical players I mentioned. Each music player brings us to a different state of freedom from the outside world. We leave our stress or state of boredom behind. The device's voice conducts us to past events, where we can almost experience them again. During the "second round of life," we can ponder the cause and affect relationships of specific events that occurred in our lives to shape our character. Sometimes we can even determine why we acted in a specific fashion during a certain episode that may or may not have really happened. For instance, I stated earlier that a song provided the stimulus for the image of myself staring at the moon after my friend's wake. As a reminder, whether this really happened or not is not significant for my next point. The episode not only shows that I miss my friend, but that I feel like my own life is at risk. I realized that life is brief and anyone's life can end at any moment in time. I unconsciously connected these feelings with the risks that I have taken in my life. I snowboard, drive too fast, mountain bike etc. and none of the accidents I was involved with thus far have posed a threat on my vivacity. But, the next accident could be the one that...

Mp3 and CD players can also be viewed as detrimental to the music industry. Since the beginning of mp3 technology, lawsuits have transpired to protect the nation's community of musicians. Many feel that their talents are being exploited. The fate of Napster and other mp3 exchange networks is at stake. The rock and roll band, "Metallica," is attempting to sue Napster for violating copyright laws. In an attempt to hinder any further controversy, Napster has reported to the media that the corporation may have to begin to charge their members. If musicians' outcry leads to this turn of events, the true role of music exchange and Internet will be distorted. Napster, like any Internet exchange network, was created based upon the notion that music could be exchanged freely amongst its members. Likewise, the Internet was designed to provide freely exchangeable information to the public. If Napster charges its members, the music, which is merely information, will revoke the intent of its own operating system. Overall, the role of mp3 technology in society can be best explained as controversial. Many musicians are against its use, while their fans are in strong support for the use of the free technology.

Mp3 and CD technology have helped me reach a personal pinnacle in my relationship to music. Although their voices flood my mind with music and help me to explore myself, they can be considered as noxious elements to society. Any further developments in these industries can threaten the livelihood of society and how we perceive other humans. Now that I already can sense the adverse effects of these technologies upon my own social life in the "real world," I can only predict that the future will include less face-to-face communication. Everyone may be happy in their own environment: at home, on their computer, listening to music and taking special "dream vacations" as if we were reading our own books.


Dan Mullins studies biology at Boston College, and maintains a daily journal of reflections of the first human clone.
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