Thursday, April 22, 2004

John BAKEN writes (belately, as usual..)

QUESTION 1: My brother Jim, an artist, once got funding for a project that involved taking his works of art into the mountains where he set up an art show in a forest glade. He fixed up a tripod-mounted camera in a place where the camera would capture images of animals (esp. deer, he hoped) interacting/viewing his art (the art content, by the way, consisted solely of carefully-rendered paintings of deer in their natural surroundings). If I remember correctly, he also took a salt-lick (block of salt, which deer and cattle enjoy licking) and put it near the paintings. A motion-sensitive device triggered the camera to click and capture an image whenever an animal got within a specific range. Somehow, the New Dehli experiment with the computer/Internet kiosk reminded me of my brother's "performace art" project (especially the "captured" images on front/back of dust jacket). The treatment of the street children, involving them in a scientific inquiry that resembled a humanitarian gesture, seemed to dehumanize the control group (not unlike my brother's "art show for nature" tried to humanize the non-human control group). Is there a correlation to be drawn here, or am I over-thinking this?? Barking up the wrong tree???

QUESTION #2: I liked the different terminology of "digital apartheid" (apartheid = "apartness" in Afrikaans language), which seems more accurate or perhaps more definitive than "digital divide." Yet, of course, the word comes with some baggage. Do the political ramifications bother you, or is the divide/apartness so vast (and exclusionary) that it almost seems appropriate? What about the Bush-team aide who called it the "Mercedes divide"?? Wasn't that terribly arrogant and insensitive (not to mention elitist)?

QUESTION #3: What do you think about Castell's (2001) assessment of the Internet regarding his statement that the Internet is "..becoming the electricity of the informational era". Isn't this an overstatement which tends to act as a barrier in its oversimplification? What do you think?

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