Thursday, May 13, 2010

Come on to my Cloud

by Dubby Riley

I'm using on-line software to compose this message because this computer doesn't have Microsoft Word. Search engines, public email programs, this blog and most social media operate by this kind of "cloud" computing.

Jo's analogy of two small children experiencing joy and her own blossoming relationships of old reminded me of my pleasure to reconnect with friends. We can all relate after watching kids have that bubbling elation. And to experience that childlike happiness by becoming reacquainted with long lost buddies sends me in the clouds, to a certain extent. A different sort of cloud perhaps...but there may be an actual connection.

The Ruskin class of 1971 will have its 40th anniversary reunion next year. Younger people may not have quite the wonderment we do about this technology and communication and access. Isn't it amazing? We search and compose in imaginary "windows" and within minutes, without leaving our keyboard, we find hundreds of references, dozens of related videos, connections to the arts and even tools to help us spell the words correctly.

We join this technology of communication with a phenomenon that is in its infancy--people directories. We generalize and call it Facebook but there are literally hundreds of them. They've been around longer but this explosion of use is just over a year old. People our age are in the fastest growing demographic. Why do you suppose that is? I want to suggest there is a reason.

Do 40 year olds jump up and down because of this convergence of media and connectivity? Don't know. I suppose some do. Do 60 year olds? Probably a few. But I've talked to enough of my old friends and I have a teenager in my house, so I can witness the cross section of attitudes about it. We older but wiser crowd don't take it for granted. Instead we're quite taken by it. And we're big users! The younger set can't imagine what we're raving about. Between texting on the phone and doing Facebook every night, it is just routine.

We went to Paul's Drive-In, they spend hours looking at each other's videos and photos. We spent the summer at Holiday Swim Club and they're being looked at by orthopedists for carpal-tunnel problems.

Although I'm glad for it, the best part isn't the technology but the opportunity to renew such wonderful friendships. I'm thrilled by friends I've made since high school but there is a particular magic to revitalizing childhood comraderie. We easily accept the value of blood relationships. What about dirt connections? Having spent formative years with fellow humans within a certain geology...could it be that we're tapping in to a true physical phenomenon, which wouldn't have happened except for this convergence of media? Are we like salmon, returning to a figurative "breeding ground," so we can frame a new direction for a world which craves peace?

Dr. Henry Jenkins of MIT has a theory called Media Convergence

"We are living in an age when changes in communications, storytelling and information technologies are reshaping almost every aspect of contemporary life -- including how we create, consume, learn, and interact with each other."

I suggest this bounce in our step, which Jo delighted us by the story of, may save us from what many scientist predict to be certain disaster. Human culture seems to be causing tremendous pressure on a fragile planet. And we're not alone in this discovery of long lost friendships. So let us jump and laugh and celebrate and invite others to join us!


  1. Jo and I were "chatting" about how much stronger the web of interconnections among us has become in the last few weeks. A new opening, a spiral that took us all deeper, a wavelength we all were able to connect with.

    Or maybe it was the mega chat! Nah. It preceeded the mega chat.

    Like you, Jo and Rick, I am in awe. Oh yeah.

  2. phenomenal? Is that the right word?

  3. "..frame a new direction for a world which craves peace"...what a beautiful thought about the purpose of our connection.

    Maybe it's time we began the Great Turning.

  4. If you get a chance to study the history of the internet - and how we use computers....ok, we were THERE, but not really 'there' developing this is really interesting.
    I love how this one booklet, Dream Machines (this opens a pdf file) referred to the terms hypertext and hypermedia as being coined in 1963 - tools that would transform the way we read and write. It dreams about tools that would not necessarily be sequential or structural - (we don't learn that way - we bounce :> around where our curiousity takes us. It would allow us to interact and assist OUR creative impulse with snippets of information we could personalize. The computer would connect art, literature, science, music and allow these to be 'deeply intertwingled'.

    Flash forward!

    There is also an hour and a half video online ( called Revolution OS about the developers of the open source movement - linux operating system, all the free cms stuff. Open source is just that the source code is free and 'open' and constantly improved by people using the code to provide free software - these are the original geeks with the 70's sideburns and interviews. Sort of fascinating how far we have come in 20 years!

    I posted somewhere else a find on an Adobe lecture that it took us 38 years to reach 50 million people with TV, and only 2 years with Facebook...but think about it. How many people had a TV, and how many programs were out there in our time? When you compare that with how many computers are already set up in households, and how easy/free it is to sign up for Facebook - its a bit hard to compare the two - but still pretty staggering!

    Holiday Swim Club....we were membership 444! I was there everyday all summer - loved it! That and Crest Drive In....I hate to think how much trouble I could have gotten into with all this tech.

  5. Nancy. That short booklet by Ted Nelson. Now was that written in 1974? Surely not?? Amazing. I've saved it for a thorough study later. I'll try to make it to the video this weekend too.

    Rick--if you get a chance, open the PDF and look at page 165 and recall our "shell game" diagram of Joshua Clearwater!

    Nancy--Yes, exactly. Very interesting. Thanks again.

  6. If you check out Ted's (not so fantastic, but informative) website - he wrote about hypertext in 1965, and published that book I refer to in 1974. I found more on DigiBarn documents - on the link at the bottom of the page. If you follow it, there is a quote (Nelson,Canons - from link on page url above- also quote page):

    "As far as I know, there is still not a Decent Writing System anywhere in the world, although several things now come close. It seems a shame that grown men and women have to rustle around in piles of paper, like squirrels looking for acorns, in search of the phrases and ideas they themselves have generated. The decent writing system, as I see it, will actually be much more: it will help us to create better things in a fraction of a time, but also keep track of everything in better and more subtle ways than we ever could before. [….]"


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