Monday, May 28, 2007

Mugging for the cameraphone. On Saturday night a pair of hoodlums snatched my bag as I was walking home from the tram stop down Elgin Street. I was carrying Stam in my right hand and they waited until I was at a corner before one ran up behind me and grabbed it right out of my hand, knocking me to the ground before darting around the corner towards the Commish. I didn't even hear him coming.

I remember thinking to myself as it was happening, "I can't believe this is is happening!" Here are my other immediate thoughts, in order:

"FUCK YOU!" (which I shouted ineffectually from the footpath as the second hoodlum ran past me and after the first one)
"I can't believe that just happened!"
"The fucking Commish! That'd be right!"
"Fuck, I feel weird and naked without Stam!"
"Run to the servo, use their phone and cancel your cards!"
"No dickhead, the police station's right across the road - run there instead!"
"Oh my god, I can't believe that just happened!"
"Where's the fucking door to the police station?"
"Get in your car and chase them, donut-muncher!"

If I were writing this post yesterday it would have been much more melodramatic. However. I got home last night after generously being shouted dinner and a movie by Penny (surely Keira Knightley is a Razzie contender for her ludicrously attired, mahogany-skinned, unintentionally hilarious turn in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End). When I knocked on the front door (having no keys), Carly let me in and said sleepily, "Look on the table." I went down the hallway and into the living room where I discovered the light globe had blown; but in the semi-darkness I could see the unmistakable, heart-leapingly dear silhouette of STAM!

Everything in there was all higgledy-piggledy, but remarkably, the only things missing were my phone (aka my external brain) and the cash from my wallet. I was particularly glad to see the wallet itself (there had been a moment at the cop shop where I was trying to explain to the cop what "Glomesh" was), all the cards it still contained, my work security pass and my keys, because having to replace all that was what I had particularly been dreading. A feeling of relief spread through me like morphine as I cherished anew my cheap and stupid belongings - the tatty $2-shop fingerless gloves; the box of Tic-Tacs; the ground-down lipsticks; the dog-eared copy of Are You Dave Gorman? that I'd bought one Saturday morning from the op-shop probably 20m from where I'd been mugged, when I was bored and had nothing to read over breakfast.

Carly had written me a note explaining what had happened - a guy who lives down the road from us had discovered Stam discarded in the laneway behind his house. I wrote him a thankyou note which I am going to put in his letterbox tonight. I have already sealed the envelope, which is a good thing; otherwise I would probably be embarrassed by the euphoric burblings I wrote. I was so euphoric that I resolved to pay without complaint the extra $22 per month it will cost me to replace my mobile phone.

The interesting thing about my recent life caching obsession is that the same impulse that tethers me to technology also enables me to cope with the sudden loss of that technology. I may have lost the phone, but my Flickr and Short Mel Service mean I still possess it in a way, in the sense of the many moments the phone helped me capture and communicate. Also, I was able immediately to jump on MySpazz and M+N to request many of the phone numbers I lost. In that spirit, if I gave you my mobile number in the last year, I won't have it written down anywhere - could you please email it to me?

Monday, May 14, 2007

I am a walking cliche. Yesterday I was going to the Camberwell Market with my parents, and as we went to turn into the car park we noticed a Porsche parked in the bus stop. We were tutting to each other about irresponsible Porsche owners who have so much money they don't care about parking tickets.

Then we parked our own car and as we walked past the Porsche I noticed that it had a "For Sale" sign on it. I went to tell this to my parents, but as I turned my head around I walked smack into a pole. DOINK!

I didn't realise what had happened at first, until a shocked middle-aged woman who had been walking in the opposite direction said, "Are you all right?" and then I burst out laughing. It was all so slapstick, you see - me walking into a pole while ogling a Porsche. I laughed raucously all the way into the market and my mother was going, "Shhh! Shhhh!" possibly thinking about what an undignified and embarrassing daughter she had raised.

The least satisfying part of this story is that I don't have a mark on me. I would have liked a pole-shaped stripe of bruise down my forehead, or a black eye or something. But instead all I got is a tender spot on my forehead, a headache yesterday afternoon, and a stiff neck when I woke up this morning. It is very annoying.

Eurovision 2007 - in text messages.

To: Reuben, mskp
Spain is my favourite so far. Ireland was so lame.

From: Reuben
Still say Sweden, and I have not even heard the whole song yet.

From: mskp
Ireland was Awful. Macedonian lady was Hott. And I was very intimidated by the Slovenian woman just now. Where're you, pet?

To: mskp
At my friend Felicity's house.

To: mskp
Loving the Greek Ricky Martin!

To: Reuben
Sweden was very retro, v Freddie Mercury meets ABBA.

From: Reuben
Yeah. How was Greece's blatant Ricky Martin schtick?

To: Reuben
Le camp! Le camp!

To: mskp
Touch of the Robbie Williamses to Germany.

To: Reuben
Ukraine for the win!

From: Reuben
I don't remember these guys at all... Too odd, even for Eurovision.

To: mskp
It's the Turkish George Michael!

From: mskp
We had dirt Robbie for Turkey, dirt Buble for Germany, and dirt Enrique for Armenia... Russia were the dirt Tatu, surely...

To: mskp
Surely Russia was the dirt Girls Aloud?

From: mskp
Can you believe Serbia's Lady Love is in front? Dirt kd lang?

To: mskp
It's outrageous! Dirt kd lang as played by Chris Lilley.

From: mksp
Or the Japanese guy from Heroes? Smart money's on Ukraine but my heart's with the Swedes...

To: mskp, Reuben
This is rubbish!

From: Reuben
Yeah, I tuned out ages ago. Oh well - there is always next year.

From: mskp
What a disgrace.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Performing life trivia. Lately I have been feeling very ambivalent about how much of my intellectual and romantic life is lived online through various services that enable you to catalogue the minutiae of your lived experience. I have always been of the opinion that small, unnoticed things can be wonderful, and I've always looked for ways to share that stuff with other people. You can see this on my Flickr, which I think of as a kind of moblog (particularly as I can email the photos straight to Flickr from my phone wherever I am at the time - hence the several stupid drunk pics up there right now), and in Short Mel Service, the weird online analogue of the non sequitur text messages with which I like to delight and (more probably) puzzle my friends.

Short Mel Service is a weird thing. As you may recall, last year I was searching for a way to send text messages from my mobile phone simultaneously to other mobile phones, turning the receiving phones into portable RSS aggregators. At the time I couldn't see any way to make this happen, so I started Short Mel Service as a compromise and an experiment. It is tedious to enter the text messages in manually, but I find it important because my phone has already died and needed to be reformatted once, losing all my text messages, and I like the idea that I am creating an archive. This idea has been buzztagged "life caching".

Oh dear, did I just create another irritating buzzword? Buzztagging (n) - the contemporary phenomenon in which sociologists and marketers identify (often tendentiously) a pattern of attitudes and/or behaviours and give it a catchy name to 'package' it for lifestyle journalism.

Anyway. Lately, annoyingly, I realise that the very thing I want does exist. And it is called Twitter. I have started up a Twitter account, but they are having problems with the mobile side of things in Australia. If you are a Twitterer, please add me as a friend.

This brings me to the weird sociality of the various online forums I inhabit. I have a Blogger blogroll, a collection of Bloglines feeds which is more extensive than the blogroll, a MySpazz friends list, a Flickr friends list, a Mess+Noise friends list, and now a Twitter friends list. There was once a LiveJournal and MSN account, but I don't really use those any more. They all have their strengths and individual purposes in my mind - Blogger is for long format thinking, Bloglines for information gathering, M+N for immediate interactivity, Flickr for aesthetics, MySpazz for networking, and now Twitter to take the place of the M+N thread I use most often, which is damningly entitled "Stuff no-one gives a shit about". I also use Gmail chat in place of MSN.

Because most of these interfaces have comments and messaging, the ability to keep me informed about the activities of people I know, and chatting, I am spoiled for choice. At first it was exciting, but more and more it is becoming more as though the technology is working through me than me working through the technology. I am worried about the extent to which I perform my 'life trivia', and what that means about my privacy; not the legal idea of privacy as an avoidance of stalking or unwanted surveillance, but a more abstract idea of privacy as a hiatus from the need for conscious self-performance. I have also become far less productive in my work, although I am much more hooked into information flows than I was even a year ago, and I sell this zeitgeist-engagement to potential employers as a reason they should hire me.

Case in point: I feel too intellectually and socially exhausted to blog much (only one post in all of April!), although I am always thinking of things I'd like to think through and write about. There is no way I will ever be joining Second Life, because I feel that I already live my first life through technology - the thought of creating an entirely new 'me' is exhausting and terrifying.

Also, my romantic and erotic life is now increasingly mediated and technologised in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I used to maintain an embarrassing emoblog on which I wrote about dudes I was crushing on (a topic which has also been discussed here), but lately I have found the ebbs and flows of my moods, my hopes and desires are moving too quickly to ponder at length on a blog; or at least, they are never at their most intense when I am sitting here able to blog about them. Instead I am flirting and being wistful or anguished through other, more immediate channels. But I felt very crestfallen when I read this article about those annoying 'technosexuals'. I realised how self-centred and almost masturbatory such a lifestyle can be. I felt ashamed of myself.

This post should not be taken as proof that the technologies I've talked about are meaningless and lacking in 'true' affect. I know that Reuben in particular likes to police the 'IRL' distinction. The thing is that I wouldn't be engaging with these technologies if I didn't get real meaning or satisfaction from them. Let me tell you a little story, which also appears in the comments of Mel Gregg's blog.

Yesterday I was sitting in my cubicle at work (I have a new job, incidentally, the most lucrative, CV-tastic and fun job I've ever had) and I heard from a certain someone who is in another country right now. He said that he had been thinking of me, and that it frustrated him to be in a public internet cafe with the sort of thoughts he was thinking. He said it would be helpful if I sent him some photos of myself. I directed him to my Flickr. Fuck I'm a fucking doofus!

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