• Goto NetFuture main page
  •                                  NETFUTURE
                        Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #122                                              September 18, 2001
                     A Publication of The Nature Institute
                Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                      On the Web: http://www.netfuture.org/
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    NetFuture is a reader-supported publication.
    Quotes and Provocations
       Terror on Film
       Still Disconnecting
       How to Prepare for a Frenetic World (Peter Denning)
       Quit Bashing the Media Lab (Amy Bruckman)
       Reply to Amy Bruckman (Langdon Winner)
       A Book on Tripartite Society (Frank Thomas Smith)
    About this newsletter
                             QUOTES AND PROVOCATIONS
    Terror on Film
    Brief comments about the terrorist attacks:
    ** "It was like watching a movie" — this reaction has been widely
    noted.  Less often noted is the fact that the likeness may result from
    either of two opposite movements.  Movies, with the aid of sophisticated
    technology, may be becoming more life-like; but at the same time, life,
    under the influence of movies, may be becoming more movie-like.  Given the
    current need for us to re-imagine society in fundamentally creative ways,
    and given the movie industry's and movie consumer's penchant for formulaic
    presentations, overwhelming violence, and technically bolstered sensation-
    mongering, one hopes it is not life that is being sucked into the cinema,
    but rather the cinema that is merely reflecting life more vividly.  This,
    of course, is a vain hope, since the currents of influence undeniably flow
    in both directions.
    ** A friend of mine once remarked that he never felt so real and alive as
    when he was fighting as an infantryman in Vietnam, where he witnessed many
    life-and-death scenes.  We might have expected the eyewitnesses in lower
    Manhattan to have had a similar experience of intensified reality.  Yet
    these most compelling and painful moments were repeatedly compared to the
    relatively passive, second-hand experience of watching a movie.
    We spend a significant portion of our lives watching "action" on a screen.
    A question often raised before still needs answering:  As habitual
    spectators of a world largely hidden on the other side of a screen, are we
    losing the ability to experience ourselves in any meaningful way as
    genuine actors in a real world?
    ** Of course, for most of us the events last week seemed like watching a
    movie because we were watching a movie — moving images on a
    screen.  Why should they have seemed like anything else?  Learning to
    negotiate the various sorts of distance between such images and the