Wednesday, November 15, 2006

[Group6] FEED: things to think about

- About the novel

This science fiction novel paints a chilling picture what life would be like if our brain is online, i.e. if a transmitter is implanted directly into our brain, constantly sending "feed" from the network and transferring our thoughts and behaviors back to the network in all ways possible. It is heavily commercialized and obtrusive, but (almost) everybody is happy with it. 'Feed' is the story of Titus, a ordinary teen hooked up to the vast network of information who discovers that there is an alternative way of life, but is mostly unable to make sense of it until the very last page.

- The 'Information Age' characteristics in this story

This novel is a nice satirical summary of many theories and visions that we encountered during the semester. Of course there is the set of general discussion questions at the end of the book, but here are some others.

* On information use: Consider all the readings we have done concerning the Information Age. We know that there are ever-increasing avenues to conveniently and efficiently access information for those who have the necessary tools. These databases and caches of information can be utilized by academics and researchers to amass critically relevant research on a plethora of topics. However, concerning the general society, does or could this enhanced access to information lead to a decrease in actual knowledge like the protagonists in the book? Do you think many people find it futile in our society to really learn information they know they can look up in seconds and regurgitate?

* On literacy: One of the first things that is evident in this book is the deterioration of the characters' language and communication. It is true that the slang they use could hold loaded meaning we can't comprehend, like how people over a hundred years ago would be confused at much of the common discourse we use today. However, there are many instances that only slang and expletives are used in a stuttered fashion, as the characters seem to have difficulty expressing themselves verbally. Is there a correlation between enhanced technologies (which can diversify communication modes) and deficient ability of people to communicate in our world today? One might point to the use of acronyms and emoticons on instant message systems as an example...

* On connectedness: From the readings concerning political discourse to the ones that broadly speak of the information revolution, one example of a positive nature of the enhanced technology is a greater inter-connectedness. Taken to an exponential level in this novel, the characters are frequently interacting only with their own mind, and staring out into space while in the company of others. Do you see any of this today with our chronic use of ipods, cell phone capabilities and other gadgets?

* On existing social systems: Why doesn't all of society have the feed and what would that do to society? Does having the feed introduce a "feed divide" at all? Would be a kind of 'equal access' possible if everything and everyone is simply plugged in the vast network? How about the governmental problems addressed in the book? What causes Titus' change of heart towards Violet and does it relate to existing structures of the social system?

* On private and public: In the world of FEED, both the private and public spheres have given way to the commercial ones... bearing striking resemblances to 'our' world. But one could ask: If everybody is happy with it, would it be necessarily a dystopian thing? Could it be a democracy of some sorts, or should it still be regarded as the technocrat dictatorship?

* On the Future: Is there any good way to actually prevent our world becoming the world of 'Feed' in the near future?


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