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XII-Chicken Tenders and Jeremy Lin: My muses

February 16, 2012

So the focus of this section is “State of the Net”. My strategy for this section, as opposed to last section where my output proved to be lackluster, is to accomplish something everyday, be it a blog post or a ds106 assignment. That would make this my second blog post in this section with no specific topic (my die-hard fans, of which there are surely many, will recall the last one was the infographic analysis).

I had an extremely busy day today, however, and wasn’t sure if I would even find the time to write, let alone figure out what to write about. Part of this hustle and bustle involved a trip to Yokota Air Base to buy some cleats for the rugby tournament I’ll be playing in this weekend (which ended in disaster since I left them on the Seibu-Shinjuku line and who knows if I’ll get them back) but I arrived there starving and went to the first restaurant I saw (Burger King) and sat down to eat.

ESPN was on TV, and while I half-heartedly paid attention to it, I set about thinking what I could write about today. Then it hit me.

ESPN was doing a whole piece about Jeremy Lin (actually, they were doing a piece comparing him to Tim Tebow, which was extremely dumb, but I digress). For those who may not know, Jeremy Lin is a Taiwanese-American basketball player who currently plays for the New York Knicks and has been tearing up the league.

I had never seen him before. I hadn’t seen a single NBA game this season. I am not even an NBA fan, never really have been except for the Iverson era Sixers.

And yet, I knew all about him. Everything.

The journalists, using traditional TV journalism methods, taught me absolutely nothing, even though I was seeing him play for the first time.

How could this be?

Am I an avid follower of ESPN.com? No.

It’s because of social networks, in particular, facebook.

You see, because I am a bit of a sports fan, many of my friends are also sports fans. Some are NBA fans. And then another minority are New York Knickerbockers fans. From each of these people, I gathered my information about Jeremy Lin. A mention here or there from the sports fans, some more specific information from the NBA fans, and then a wealth of detail and heaps of praise from the Knicks fans. So I had already gathered there was a guy named Jeremy Lin who plays for the Knicks, he’s Chinese, he’s a point guard, and he’s been playing extremely well, without looking at one newspaper, TV show, or website.

The same goes with sports teams that I actually like. I’m a Philadelphia Flyers fan, and obviously it’s extremely difficult to watch the NHL in Japan (Hell, it’s extremely difficult to watch in America if you live in a palce where hockey is still an exotic foreign sport) but I still have a fairly good idea of how the season is progressing because of Facebook. The official Flyers account tells me when they win or lose, and then my friends wish death upon Ilya Bryzgalov.

Personally, this reminds of me of modern day torrent programs. You take a little bit of data from many sources in order to download a complete file. Am I now gathering information the same way through social networks? It certainly seems so.

The big, and rather scary question here, is does this mean we are approaching some sort of collective mass consciousness where we all gather information by sharing thoughts that can be transmitted over the Internet at lightning speed?

Will my sense of self merge with others in order to form a more perfect, efficient union of beings?

Will we take to the stars with an unparalleled thirst for conquest, dealing death and enslavement from our massive unstoppable cubes hurtling through space?

We are the social networks. Lower your privacy settings and surrender your thoughts and feelings. We will add your observational and insightful distinctiveness to our own. You will adapt to service us.

Resistance is futile.

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6 Comments
  1. Lin’s level: Asian

    • Haha, I’m not quite sure what you mean.

      • lol you would know if you check 9gag.com

        Asians are crazy, studying hard saving money hard… now we have an NBA player who got the degree in Harvard…

      • Haha I didn’t know he went to Harvard. I guess facebook didn’t teach me everything.

  2. I’m so glad you are trying to write everyday. I’m sorry for not being with it enough to read and comment each day. Life is hard sometimes.

    You are delving into an area that I find deeply fascinating here. As you mention, all you know about this Jeremy Lin is what you’ve picked up through your network of friends on The Facebook. To me the idea that we are learning about and experiencing the world through what people in our “network” disclose is worth a closer look.

    I’ve not spent enough time in Facebook to have any evidence but I do know the same idea applies among the twitter contacts I’ve accumulated. It is a sort of “mass consciousness” as you mention.

    I don’t know if this is good or bad. The word that comes to my mind is balkanization. I don’t mean in the geopolitical sense. I mean that there will be tendency for fragmented communities and sub-cultures to form in cyberspace. Each of these will become a sort of echo chamber.

    So if the people I’ve associated with through the various social networks are only interested in American style gridiron football, I’ll never learn what’s happening in the worlds of rugby, cricket or curling unless I seek that information out through other channels.

    I’m not sure what my point is here. I guess it is that if we really only on social networks for our information about the world, what we get will be very limited.

  3. That’s a really good point about how different communities would form, potentially isolating people from the full potential of a global network due to a lack of shared interests. I hadn’t considered that. But if that were the case, it’s at least a bit comforting to think that Internet society would be no different from world society of the last 4,000 years.

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