User:Atallent/HUMN 4472 Journal
- 1 August 25, 2019: Initial Idea of Science Fiction
- 2 August 25, 2019: Learning About Science Fiction
- 3 September 9, 2019: Passage of Time
- 4 Septemper 9, 2019: The Past
- 5 September 15, 2019: The concept of time in “Blink”
- 6 September 16, 2019: The Present
- 7 September 23, 2019: Wanting more
- 8 September 23, 2019: Perception and Memory Manipulation
- 9 September 29, 2019: A Child's Right to Privacy
- 10 September 29, 2019: No True Advancement
- 11 October 7, 2019: Concept of Reality
- 12 October 8, 2019: Oppression
- 13 October 14, 2019: Limits of Technology
- 14 October 13, 2019: Responsibility
- 15 October 22, 2019: An Individual's Impact
- 16 October 22, 2019: Implications on the Future
- 17 October 27, 2019: A Meaningful Life
- 18 October 27, 2019: One's Outlook
- 19 November 4, 2019: Choices
- 20 November 4, 2019: Happening for a Reason
- 21 December 8, 2019: Reflective Essay
- 22 References
August 25, 2019: Initial Idea of Science Fiction
I see science fiction as a genre that explores the possibilities of what is to come or could become possible. Creators of work like this use imaginative thinking to conjure up ideas of advancements in technology, humanity, and the world itself in the future as it compares to the state of theirs at that time.
The genre of science fiction has been exposed to us through various movies, television shows, and novels. My most recent encounter was through the film, A Trip to the Moon, by Georges Méliès. This story depicts space exploration which is something that did not become possible until many decades and technological advancements later.
Since they are ideas based off science, a majority of these fantasy worlds are recognized as having the ability to come to fruition, but they can also contain elements that are not as accepted such as the idea of aliens, powers, etc. Though the technology dealing with the many space-related storylines might be far off, it is not necessarily impossible which makes stories like these intriguing and at times, a cautionary tale.
August 25, 2019: Learning About Science Fiction
The Truth About Science Fiction offered much insight into the history and noticeable advancements that have occurred as a result of science fiction works that I had not known before. Wireless communication, lie detectors, aviation, televisions, robots, and tanks were all ideas created in the minds of these early writers that were then transformed into their physical forms that have continued to advance and grow into these things that people use on a daily basis.
The documentary also addresses the patent lawsuit that H.G. Wells entered in to have the recognition as the inventor of the tank. I thought this was an interesting point about the ideas that are created in science fiction. Though these writers are innovators of change and advancement, the development of these life-changing technologies are credited elsewhere. Ursula Le Guin discusses this concept in her introduction from which I learned that the “idea” contained in science fiction work cannot be compared to that of a scientist’s incomparable completion of it.
Through Philip K. Dick’s definition of science fiction, I learned that this genre can also be set in the present as an alternate-world and is not solely exclusive to futuristic societies that differ from ours. He sites the ‘’shock of dysrecognition” as the essence of science fiction, but that it must also be recognized as possible for it not to be confused with fantasy. Science fiction is based on imagination and creativity, but it does contain limitations to those that are accepted within the bounds of this genre.
September 9, 2019: Passage of Time
John Cheever’s "The Swimmer" is not the typical science fiction story that I am accustomed to seeing. There is this element to the story that does not align with what could actually be possible, but is something that could be more logically explained by acknowledging that Neddy’s interpretation of events is unreliable. This element that I am speaking of is the passage of time as we encounter it in the story which has Neddy traveling from pool to pool on the “Lucinda River” during the span of one midsummer afternoon.
When reading through the story, it is natural to brush off some of the initial signs that something is off like Neddy does at first, but when these irregularities advance near the midpoint of the story, one cannot help but to wonder what has happened. Neddy clearly has no recollection of the “misfortunes” Mrs. Halloran speaks about, Eric’s operation, or going “broke” and asking for a loan from Grace, but according to those around him, all of these events have happened.
It was questioned if he is losing his memory, but as the reader can tell, some time has passed from the initial midsummer day he had set out on. His surroundings gradually got colder and showed signs of autumn, Eric’s operation was revealed to have happened three years ago, and he lost weight and began to get weaker pool after pool. Neddy begins to forget the concept of time as it relates to the memories he has and wonders if things were “last week, last month, last year,” reinforcing this idea that a considerable amount of time and a disorienting event has occurred without his knowledge.
The science fiction element that this story contains is from a form of time travel which advances Neddy’s decline in society each dip in the pool or after each drink he takes. We know this passage of time to be true in some sense because when he returns home, the door handles are rusted and his home is empty. Neddy’s attempt to stay youthful and escape the harsh realities that time brings catches up with him as it does everyone.
- @Atallent: Good work. Be sure you're using secondary sources to support and develop your ideas. —Grlucas (talk) 07:35, 10 September 2019 (EDT)
- @Atallent: You bring up very interesting points. I agree with you for the most part. However, you stated that the harsh realities that time brings catches up with everyone. Do you believe this happens because we know this to be true or do you believe we allow ourselves to believe this therefore it becomes true? —AmaniSensei (talk)
Septemper 9, 2019: The Past
For Neddy, he wants to appear youthful despite not being and he also wants to keep his status in his community high despite having troubles both financially and martially that will derail these aspirations of his. It is his avoidance of these problems that cause this confusion and passage of time to accelerate to where it is no longer under his ability to fix. His desire to stay in the past is marked by his pool hopping, but it is his physical deterioration and scorn from peers that ground him in reality.
For the man in La Jetée, the present is that of dismay and he wants to escape it by staying in the past with the woman there who he met and now loves. He declines an offer to enter the future where he might have lived, but in choosing to stay in the past, the man loses his life. Even though we see time travel come to fruition in the story, we learn that you cannot reset time and go back to something you did not already have.
Through both of these stories, we learn that you can only move forward no matter how harsh that reality might be.
The Doctor Who episode, “Blink,” is an interesting science fiction story that revolves around time and how the past, present, and future are all existing as one non-linear sequence of events. Time is presented in this way the most when we witness Sally having a conversation with the Doctor who is reading off a transcript in 1969 that was still in the process of being written in Sally’s time. If time were to occur linearly and through the actions of cause and effect, this occurrence would have never been possible, but through the power of time travel, it is the future that now impacts the present.
As we learn at the end of the episode, it was Sally’s future self who gave the Doctor the materials he needed to help the Sally of the present eventually stop the Weeping Angels from more destruction. When the two meet each other, The Doctor says, “things do not always happen to me in the right order” to which Sally later says, “it’s still in your future". One’s concept of time is rearranged because even though the events of the episode are now in Sally’s past, they are to occur in the Doctor’s future.
The TARDIS is not the only manipulator of time present, the Weeping Angels have this ability as well. It is the Doctor who describes their ability to transport people back in time as a form of ‘death’ because, as described by Penny Crofts, “a person’s identity is not just bound up with their physical body or even a particular mind, but with who and what a person cares about”. In removing these individuals from everything they know and love whilst keeping every aspect of their selves the same, the Weeping Angels serve “a fate worse than death” since it is difficult to cope with the lost possibilities and future that they always imagined would be obtainable to them in the world that they knew, but can now never return to.
- @Atallent: I also wrote about the time sequence in my journal. I found it to be very clever to have everything wrap up in the end as Sally’s future self being the one that sent her all the clues. Yet, having her meet a past Doctor that had not even experienced her past.--Daisja30 (talk) 23:30, 15 September 2019 (EDT)
September 16, 2019: The Present
In “Blink,” Kathy and Billy are sent back in time by the Weeping Angels long before they were born to live out their days with no possibility of returning to the future which was once their present. The two end up marrying and living full, fulfilling lives despite this drastic change and can be interpreted that though these two were removed from the time they are familiar with, it was the past that they made home.
In “The Gernsback Continuum,” the narrator acknowledges that the “perfect” world of the imagined future of the 1930s could be even worse than the world he is living in now despite the obvious problems it faces. Though he views the world as in a state of “near-dystopia”, it is the “semiotic ghosts” rooted from the past that haunt the narrator in the present, similar to how Kathy and Billy’s past in their now future must continue to haunt them in their present as time moves forward.
The alternate present of this idealized world he is experiencing becomes even more haunting to him as he realizes “some unnamed atrocity must have taken place for such a world to exist” and that "perfect" does not exist without faults. Therefore, the dream of a perfect reality is never as it seems and the best reality that we have is the one in which we are currently interacting.
September 23, 2019: Wanting more
The desire to be more than what you are is a theme that prevails across all genres. In “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, Douglas Quail despises the fact that he is “a miserable little salaried employee” and dreams of doing bigger and better things with his life, specifically going to Mars.
Despite his wife offering a real opportunity for an adventure, he opts for something that will only ever be an illusion which he describes as having no real impact unless subjectively viewed. Later in the story we come to find that his biggest flaw is the “fact that he really does matter is less significant than the fact that he wants to be conscious of his significance”. Quail battles with not only wanting to live and be the person of his fantasy life, but wanting to know that he is for his own self-assurance.
Even in the future, with all the advancements in technology and so on, we see that society will still be stuck in this state of selfish and individualistic desires. The story speaks to this idea as it shows Quail as a skillfully trained Interplan agent/assassin and the savior of Earth from alien invasion as long as he alone is still alive.
September 23, 2019: Perception and Memory Manipulation
An interesting parallel between the two stories is how one’s perception of the truth can be altered and how memory manipulation is an important tool used in both these present and future situations.
In “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, memory is manipulated by technology while in the X-Files episode, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” memory is manipulated by words. Though achieving the same thing through different methods, the theme of the two stories remains the same. Memories are the most integral part to understanding ourselves and who we are, but when that is taken away or is manipulated, it is easy to lose sight of yourself and who you are as a person.
Memory is influenced by outside factors and sources that help to fill in the gaps that one is not always aware is present. Even though the technology for memory implantation is not present currently, the idea of having these physical “souvenirs” as tokens that would reinforce Quail's trip to Mars actually happened is the same idea as pictures jogging our memories or creating new ones based off of what we see because we perceive truth in what is physical.
We also rely on the spoken word to tell us what has happened and what to believe which is prevalently seen in Chrissy’s character as well as everyone else in the show. Their perception of events changes with each story told because we search for the truth in what is spoken despite its unreliable tendencies. Emily Todd VanDerWerff describes the episode as having at least two interpretations of events which are similar, but divulge when it comes to “actual fact or interpretation of that fact”. The “truth” for us is oftentimes a compilation of what we have experienced and what we have been told by others to help fill in the gaps that we inherently have.
- @Atallent: Be sure to proofread. Please see my feedback that I will be updating through the day on 9/24/19. —Grlucas (talk) 11:04, 24 September 2019 (EDT)
September 29, 2019: A Child's Right to Privacy
Throughout the episode, we are introduced to the idea of the government scanning your memories for threats, husbands searching for the truth, and individuals using it to relive past experiences, but the most impactful scene I saw where this technology was put to use was that when Ffion and Liam were viewing their daughter Jodie’s memories on the screen after they arrived back from the party.
It is understandable for parents to be worried about their child at that age, especially when they are in the care of others, but to when will this stop and the child have the right to privacy and their own memories. This type of technology may be useful to independent adults to look back on good times, but for a child, it could be used in a way that is like a surveillance camera of their lives that can be viewed by their parents at any time they please. This reinforces that “the use of the grain potentially makes private memories available to anyone who chooses to see them”.
Everything they do could be monitored without choice or ordered to be shown as a “re-do” when they are in their young and formative years since they may not have the choice to say no or feel like they can. With this type of technology present, there is a constant eye on everybody that no one can escape. The grain is no longer used for memories, but ways to catch people in a lie or figure out the truth.
I feel like parents would use this technology to keep an eye on their kids and in the case of Fifon and Liam, who already have control of their daughter’s memories, it would likely be hard for them to hand over that kind of power or come up with the “right time” to do so. In this case, one's memories are more like a prison than a way to remember.
September 29, 2019: No True Advancement
The connection between Black Mirror’s “The Entire History of You” and James Tiptree Jr.'s “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” is that the technology depicted only fuels a fantasy world and cannot give one what they truly want to experience. In both stories, these characters rely on technology to live in a state that is unattainable to them.
The world shown in “The Entire History of You” has its individuals clinging to the past and replaying their lives as they wish it still was. These advancements only fuel a façade that are not capable of replacing the true experience that life gives you. Alex Boren relates this to how “always having access to the Internet or social media disconnects users from their immediate environment”. One will never truly be able to return to or experience those good, happy, or fun times again, they will only ever be in the constant state of remembering them and wishing to go back instead of living as life was intended in the present.
“The Girl Who Was Plugged In” has P. Burke living the life she was deprived of through Delphi despite the fact that she will never actually embody this persona she has created. Melissa Colleen Stevenson says that “[she] is both liberated and trapped by her Delphi body” which perfectly mirrors the overall impact the technology has. The technology only provides an illusion and she is reminded that again when Paul chooses the controlled shell that is Delphi rather than the one that controls/is her.
In the end, the technology did nothing to further advance the main characters’ lives in a positive manner. Liam’s jealousy and demand to obtain the truth lead him to forcefully expunge his database of memories to where he is left with nothing on both ends and ends with P. Burke dying without actually achieving the life she desired.
October 7, 2019: Concept of Reality
The most interesting aspect of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, “Far Beyond the Stars,” was the questioning of if the reality that Benjamin Sisko believes he is living is actually real or if it is just the making of Benny Russell’s imagination.
The episode seems to confirm that both of these realities are true and are existing simultaneously. In the ambulance, Benny asks “Who am I?” to which the reply is, “You are the dreamer… and the dream.” To be both the one that imagines a world upon a space station in the future and the one that is actually living in it is an impossibility in both the concept of time as we understand it and how we believe to know ourselves as individuals.
The notion of which one is the true illusion is subjective as Sisko’s journey to 1950s New York as Benny can be seen as a tool that gives him “strength to continue fighting” or that Benny’s “notion of a truly equal society is the delusion of a dejected black man”. This story has viewers contemplating reality as they know it and if the life we are living is truly our own or just the one that is imagined by another.
October 8, 2019: Oppression
Something that both Octavia Butler's short story, “Bloodchild,” and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, “Far Beyond the Stars,” do well is use the genre of science fiction to explore the racial and gender inequalities and problems present in society.
In “Far Beyond the Stars,” we see Benny struggling to find his place as both an individual and a working man in a world where he faces constant oppression and discrimination. At the point where we are introduced in the story, all appear to have been going well, but that image soon changes after he is told not to take part in the company photo and after his stories continue to get blocked from publication. That is when we begin to see the true colors behind those in power.
In “Bloodchild,” the humans inhabiting the Preserve experience similar oppression by the Tlics who are the ones in power. The Terrans and them are seen living in harmony until, as Helford suggests, Gan witnesses the “blood ritual” which opens his eyes and has him “face the true nature of human-Tlic relations”. They are being used for a purpose that serves them and that is why they remain.
Just as Benny is being used by the company to produce works that benefit them and their profits, the humans of the Preserve are being used for their warmth and their bodies to be carriers of an extraterrestrial species’ eggs which allows them to prosper. Both are just trying to live in a normal manner, but the power structure is what is keeping this common theme of oppression prevalent across these vastly different worlds.
October 14, 2019: Limits of Technology
As in many of the Science Fiction stories we are exposed to, the Battlestar Galactica episode, “33,” is similar in the fact that it revolves around “a very human concern in the midst of what is otherwise an alien landscape of spaceships and Cylons”.
Sleep deprivation is a far more looming concern in staying alive against a force who does not require these basic necessitates that humans need for survival than having the technology that can allow for their evasion from attack every 33 minutes. As seen in the episode, they have this type of technology at their disposal, but it is human error or the misoperation of this technology that can lead to mistakes which is what ultimately ends up costing this society lives.
In an advanced society, nothing is more important than remembering the human aspect that fuels the limits to which technology is capable of being useful. In "33," technology reaches its extent when its operation is no longer at its peak, which is what makes this story that much more disturbing and relatable on a less high-stakes ground.
October 13, 2019: Responsibility
Tom Godwin’s short story, “The Cold Equations,” and the Battlestar Galactica episode, “33,” has the aspect of responsibility in common. Each of these two stories contains a character who is faced with the responsibility of executing a harrowing fate onto an individual or individuals due to the circumstances and laws of the world they are in.
In “The Cold Equations,” the EDS pilot is faced with carrying through with a “law not of men’s choosing but made imperative by the circumstances of the space frontier”. An innocent teenage girl must be sent to her death for the survival of others, but this decision was not one made by the law that ordered it. It was one made by Marylin after her realization that her death meant the survival of more than just her.
This story shows how technology fails when it comes to humanity and compassion and leads to a world that has others’ fate decided by numbers that calculate a smooth operation of this advancement. The EDS pilot’s feeling of responsibility is not leveled by the fact that it was something that by law had to be done. Despite its benefits, his actions still weigh on him for it was only the technology that limited him from saving her life.
The same can be said of Cpt. Lee ‘Apollo’ Adama in the Battlestar Galactica episode, “33.” The call to take down the Olympic Carrier was of course not his own, it was an order for him to follow and execute for the survival of the larger number of souls, but that does not make what he did weigh any less heavy on his mind.
This sentiment is reinforced in the episode when William Adama says, “I gave the order. It was my responsibility,” to which Cpt. Lee ‘Apollo’ Adama responds by saying, “I pulled the trigger. That’s mine (responsibility).”
As Nicholl suggests, the story “provides an apparent justification for doing terrible things in the name of necessity” which is what makes a science fiction story’s motivations, such as “The Cold Equations,” that much more striking. Marylin and the Olympic Carrier’s fate cannot solely be placed on the shoulders of these two individuals. They were merely in the position enforcing what had to be done in order to save others from an equally cruel fate. Both feel the responsibility of that which is handed to those on the receiving end due to their limitations in using their humanity in a cruel, technological world.
October 22, 2019: An Individual's Impact
The most difficult thing that Kirk faces in the Star Trek episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever,” is not traveling back in time to an unfamiliar place with no guarantee or knowing that his world could be forever changed to a darker future where the Enterprise no longer exists, it is the decision he makes to let Edith Keeler die knowing he could have done something to stop it from happening.
Matt Draper says, “it’s the relationship, sacrifice, and loss which gives the narrative its power” and has the collision of “personal devotion and the greater good” at the heart of the episode. These are the aspects that make this science fiction story even more real and personal in the eyes of the viewer.
We are also exposed to the idea of how even the smallest details or events carry weight in how the course of the future plays out. One change can set the timeline off balance with no way of restoring it fully unless what was originally intended by time takes place.
As for Edith, we know the reason she must die is to prevent the United States from delaying its involvement in World War II which results in further events, but the most intriguing idea from this episode is how one individual can have such an impact on the course of the future. For example, one avenue that was never explored was what impact the homeless man who disappeared would have had on the timeline had he not come across McCoy.
October 22, 2019: Implications on the Future
Tim Pratt’s “Impossible Dreams” and the Star Trek episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever,” have two similar lead characters that find themselves enchanted by women of a different time or parallel universe. The difference appears when you consider how the worlds that Kirk and Pete live in interact with those that Edith and Ally live in.
As seen in the two media texts, a parallel universe has less implications on the future of the world in which one is currently interacting with because they co-exist, while on the other hand, time traveling to the past has implications that can alter the course of that world’s future and change life as one has known it.
In “Impossible Dreams,” we see Pete worrying about what he would do in her world to make a living, showing how the stakes are lowered. The text also has Ally crossing over to his world with no apparent consequence in the timeline. In contrast, “The City on the Edge of Forever” has Kirk facing the harrowing dilemma of interfering with events of the past and saving the life of Edith or allowing her to die to keep history intact and saving many more lives by doing so.
Both made the decision to let them go, but in the end, Pete and Ally were able to remain together while Kirk is left to contemplate the actions he took which Noah Berlatsky views as a justification for violence in the past for the “same supposedly more peaceful future” to continue.
October 27, 2019: A Meaningful Life
In the Black Mirror episode, “San Junipero,” the idea of technology-driven immortality is explored. According to Timpane and McBee, the episode portrays uploading as “a dignified, pain-free, and logical choice”, but through the contents of this episode, can also be interpreted as a choice that makes life become less meaningful when you do not have someone to share it with.
For a majority of the time, San Junipero’s inhabitants or tourists are almost exclusively seen in clubs where they come to dance, drink, and play games. It is understood that some are making up for lost time or just using it as an escape from the emptiness they feel or their real-life which is deteriorating. The inhabitants are clinging to the social aspect of life that is still prevalent or even more so important when faced with such technological advancements that have life repeating on an endless cycle of sameness.
San Junipero is a place with no physical consequences. Kelly is seen punching a mirror and purposely wrecking her car, yet she and the objects involved escape unscathed once reset. Mention is made of turning one’s “pain-slider down to zero,” but we know people are still able to feel something physically. If people knew there would be no physical consequences to themselves or others, it is hard to predict how reckless one would become with this sort of freedom.
Timpane and McBee says, “the brief but haunting scene [at the Quagmire] suggests that eternal life for some might feel purposeless, an endless existential crisis leading to more and more extreme behaviors to feel something”. For Wes and likely many others, his life is not challenged by the meaningless relationships he has. He craves more and without it, life repeating endlessly for eternity can feel more like a trap and something that is not as meaningful. For us to leave our humanity behind would suggest that we no longer care for others, but I believe that is all those in this new type of life do because companionship is all they have to build and grow as individuals.
In one of the episode’s final shots, it closes in on an airplane flying over San Junipero. It could be to make the overall experience more realistic or it could be a hint to there being a world outside of San Junipero where the simulation can be taken even further across the vast world we know.
- @Atallent: Good post; I think you've got an interesting contrast here between speculating about people's potential recklessness due to the absence of pain and their possible goal of companionship and growth. In my opinion, it could go either way. I'm sure it would be a hard balance for San Junipero's programmers to strike, if they really existed. -MorganAtMGA (talk) 22:56, 27 October 2019 (EDT)
October 27, 2019: One's Outlook
In the Black Mirror episode, “San Junipero,” and the short story, “Staying Behind,” the idea of theology as it relates to removing oneself from the natural world into a promised technological eternity is discussed.
Ken Liu’s description of what happens to one’s physical body after the process of Uploading is complete is particularly disturbing. “For every Uploaded man, there was a lifeless body left behind, the brain a bloody pulpy mess after the destructive scanning procedure”. The body that once supported life is completely obliterated and leaves those to wonder if this process really offers a haven or is just a disguise for murder.
The narrator’s mom is firm in her belief that one should live out their naturally imperfect life as God intended despite the “pain and suffering of our flesh”. The letter received from their mother after Upload diverged vastly in the beliefs she held while still physically in this world which leaves readers to question the authenticity of the procedure and if one’s soul is actual transferred over.
Tilton says, “Liu employs the clever conceit of comparing uploading with the Rapture, with those who refuse the process left behind”. Those strong in their beliefs or without the recourses to do so fight to remain in a deteriorating world that is contrasted against a pristine existence elsewhere.
Even still, inhabitants still find a way to keep their humanity and old traditions alive since that is becoming one of the only things they are able to hold onto without being taken away. As summarized in one of the final lines, they see the physical world as still beautiful and as a “garden inherited from the dead.” Temptation is what draws people away, but it is also something that increases the bond one has with themselves when they stay behind.
In “San Junipero,” views on if one should leave their body behind or not is discussed as well. Timpane and McBee says, Yorkie is left to marry “to bypass state law so that Yorkie’s ‘‘conservative’’ parents cannot prevent her from choosing how and when she will die”. This is contrasted by Kelly’s more free view on the situation which is fueled by personal reason and devotion to her loved ones rather than a stance on religious right and wrongs.
The end of the episode offers a bleak contrast to the life Kelly and Yorkie are living which seems mistakenly real, but with one of the final shots of a data center, reminds viewers exactly how that is possible. The bodies left behind are also present, carrying this theme even further into the reality of the situation.
- @Atallent: Your reference to the rapture in "Staying Behind", is a good analogy to what happened with those who chose not to be swept up into the fascination of escaping life. The temptation of leaving the world behind for something no one has seen for themselves is disturbing. In actuality, Liu may be suggesting that they committed suicide by allowing themselves to be digitized. MarinChristina (talk) 23:59, 27 October 2019 (EDT)
- @Atallent: At the end of "San Junipero", I found personally that even though the bodies being left behind and the data center being shown could be a way of reminding the viewer how this life happens, it also helped to separate consciousness from our physical being. Kelly was able to physically spend the afterlife with her husband and daughter, but was consciously able to spend it with Yorkie. Tprouty93 (talk) 01:13, 28 October 2019 (EDT)
November 4, 2019: Choices
As seen in the Black Mirror episode, “Hang the DJ,” our humanity is too powerful to acquiesce what technology tells us because we would no longer be living. Following the machine has you filling a predetermined role that is rid of the choices and decisions inherent in life.
Not being able to choose your own meal for dinner or leave a relationship you despise would ultimately make anyone reach a level of insanity since life and the power of your own mind would become meaningless. The power to choose is an important aspect of human nature as it allows you to grow from your mistakes and do things you love.
The idea behind the technology in the simulation is intriguing because it takes the nerves and uncertainty out of dating, but it also diminishes what a true relationship is. The comment made in the episode about wearing each other down to a point where they would settle for the individual that is chosen for them is extremely accurate. However, with the power to choose, couples make the choice to be and stay together which shows true devotion instead of agreeing to an artificially determined partner that is labeled as your “ultimate compatible other.”
Devon Maloney finds a flaw in the dating system intended for the individuals in real life. Maloney says, the simulation does not “[take] into account variables like work or family” which are two “crucial dimensions” of a relationship and compatibility that are not factors apparent in the simulation. If trust is blindly put into technology like this, it is important to consider that there may always be flaws in the system which is why we need to continue to make our own informed decisions about matters in our lives.
November 4, 2019: Happening for a Reason
Something both Bruce Sterling’s “Maneki Neko” and the Black Mirror episode, “Hang the DJ,” have in common is their theme that everything happens for a reason.
After reaching the end of “Maneki Neko,” the entire story could be looked back at as an elaborate scheme that all took place for Tsyuoshi’s older brother and Louise to meet and escape to the sacred place in the mountains that was first brought up at the beginning of the story. There was nothing the brother wanted more than to “renounce this modern world” and find the “right girl”. All thanks to the extensive pokkecon network, who has people willingly, but blindly following its seemingly random orders, the two were able to find each other and presumably live a life that now fits perfectly with their needs. Tsyuoshi and his wife were brought together due to the pokkecon and now the technology is doing its job in finding another a similar match.
In “Hang the DJ,” Frank and Amy are told numerous times that their matches and even their suffering are happening for a reason. The reason being for the system to learn about them in greater detail so their final matches will be selected with confidence. Though, as it turns out, the reason for the system all along was for these simulations to complete a rebellion which then translates to an algorithm that has given the Frank and Amy of the real world a 99.8% match. Unlike this percentage suggests and unlike the individuals contained in the system, free will can be expressed and despite this high match precentage, uncertainties in one’s own decisions can cause even the truest feelings of love to spiral and work against something good.
In a technologically reliant society that has machines making decisions for you, the uncertainty and risk factor are seemingly taken out of the equation which is why we see these characters trust in it so blindly instead of their own emotions or feelings. The same technology that put Tsyuoshi in a bad situation is searched for the second he gets a chance at the end. He then clutches it to his chest which shows his blind reliance and appreciation towards something that put him in danger though in this case, he sees it as a tool that will ultimately save him. Frank and Amy denied their undeniable attraction towards each other because they no longer felt free or capable of making their own choice when technology, something that is viewed as being correct, will find their ultimate match for them in time.
This ultimately evolves to where the “simulated Frank and Amy make the choice to fight the System, but [the] real-world Frank and Amy end up embracing it”. Viewers believed the couple to be taking love into their own hands, but in the end, it has them as “sacrifices” that are erased to provide a technological certainty to their counterparts that the two are compatible and should, therefore, meet one another.
December 8, 2019: Reflective Essay
What I enjoyed most about this course is that it brought one closer to a genre that a majority think they know everything about, but, as we have learned, it goes far beyond the concept of things like space and time travel. There are many levels to the genre and is one that has a deep history connected to it. Though at times it was difficult to analyze these texts and contextualize them in terms of their larger themes, it was beneficial because it has trained us to look at our own worlds and where we are headed in a more critical view. There are many lessons that can be learned from reading or watching how these technological advancements impact humanity because on some level they speak to how we are as individuals today.
Having taken writing for digital media previously, I have had some experience editing on Wikipedia, but I still found it to feel completely new and challenging. Editing an article about a notable individual was a new challenge that had to be taken on responsibly. Tom Godwin’s article was essentially a blank canvas before I started my contributions to this project. A basic overview of who he was as a writer and a list of all his works were a majority of what was present. Since Godwin largely stayed out of the limelight and wrote in solidarity, not much is known or written about him. However, I was able to contribute four sources that supplied more information and insight into his career and his personal life.
A valuable source of information came from a piece that his adopted daughter wrote about him as this is one of the most extensive works that account for his life. From this information combined with the other sources, I was able to contribute to adding information about his childhood, his personal life, and his death. I found the cover art to a magazine issue that one of his short stories was featured in Wikimedia Commons and included it in the article. I also contributed some information I found on “The Cold Equations” to its individual article while I was researching Godwin. I made a few minor edits on John Cheever’s article, but decided to focus on Godwin’s since it needed more work.
The article evaluation and peer review process was a time where I focused on seeing how the content fits to Wikipedia guidelines and what could be added to improve it. In critiquing my own article, the main elements of concern were some cosmetic errors and content gaps. I used this same concept in my peer reviews by recognizing what has been done and what is already present and then suggesting what I believed could be added to improve their articles. The information I was curious about and most likely the average viewer would be as well is how I decided what needed to be added to the article given it was possible to find such sources.
I think there is a lot to learn from editing on Wikipedia. It makes you more aware of your actions and contributions because you are also aware of the guidelines and audience Wikipedia has in place. I mentioned previously that it takes one out of there comfort zones, but that is a good thing especially when relating it to entering the professional world. Wikipedia teaches you to “be bold” which is a good trait to have especially if you are able to learn from your mistakes.
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