It's been a long time...

I've been off-line for both deliberate and unintended reasons. So, here's a running list of the things I've been thinking about - a lot - over the last week:

1. plasticity - genetic version and chemical engineering
2. love, and the need to have a lack there of right now...
good good good article
And, per my favorite author...(Milan Kundera in Laughable Loves):

"My loves are a stage upon which nothing is happening."

3. writing and DJs...okay, so this topic has been in my mind for months now...might post some recent writing on it, later...

4. Weak Social Bonds and network theory...Part of this is the six degrees of separation thing. Ironically, very ironically, Kevin Bacon was in a movie on the tv that was playing in the background during a weekend charades-like game I was forced into by some friends visiting from out of town...The game and the recent relations between me and my friends from high school got me thinking too analytically again...

The game was played by a friend during a corporate retreat and brought into our ever so exciting Friday night activities (yeah. quiet long weekend. much needed after three days of working with a metal brake).

The Game: Each player puts four names of characters or people on four separate sheets paper. These then go into a bowl. The group is divided into teams. There are three rounds to this game. The first round requires that each player from each team uses as many words as necessary to describe the person on the paper selected. Once that name is guessed by the team, another paper is drawn, and this continues until a minute and a half has passed. Then it becomes the other team's turn. Each name guessed is another point (obvious goal: be the team with the most points at the end of three rounds). Second round requires that the person that is "it" (like in $25,000 Pyramid) describes the person using only two words. The third round consists of gestures only - no words - to describe the person.

What I observed that was really interesting to me (and my overly intellectualizing mind; annoying, I know) was how quickly the names of the people were reduced to singular entities -- their "essence" was minimalized to a simulacra-like advert slogan, a one-liner. And this "one line" became learned by all, regardless of the team, throughout the three rounds.

Example: Janet Jackson and Lil Kim. You can guess what the gesture was to visually depict Jackson. Early on we learned that Lil Kim had a similar breast-baring moment in some other popular televised event a year or two earlier (I can't recall which one, but again, that is unnecessary because all I needed to know for the functioning of its place in the game was the highly contextualized one-liner that was made of Lil Kim -- not the history of the event referenced or a deep knowledge of the person for that matter). So, quickly after round one, Lil Kim became known in round two as the "Other Boob." Both teams shared this representation and in the third round when a breast-gesture was made -- Jackson, then Kim, were both thrown out in succession as potential answers to the clue.

Another example was British actor Cillian Murphy, unknown by most in the room, but after the reference to Killian's Red was made, he became the "beer guy" and the gesture of pounding and slamming a pint. Since this game was played by eight people, it was fascinating to watch and see which ones of us had the more competitive short-term memories for these one-liners...and the more effective skills for communicating, not the individual's references, but rather the references that would be most understood by the members of their team. All and all it was fun exercise in observing social interaction, group learning and game theory in action.

5. What the hell is going on between my sister and I?? We are four years apart, but the generational difference is huge. What constitutes such a large gap despite the difference of a relatively short period of time? I got into a conversation about this over the weekend...I've thought about this before and hypothesized that it has its roots in the speed of technology that is different today from prior generations...increasing speed brings more rapid cycles of fashion which influences the formation of value systems, which to me, are the visible loci of generational differences. A way to measure this? Who knows. I get really frustrated by the difficulting in translating theory to "real-life" experimentation and research. Again, another reason that I'm looking forward to this internship at the Smithsonian - ethnographic research, something formal to ground a highly theoretical experience in CCT as a "culture" person...Ah, I always complain about that program...I wish it would just admit that it wants to be a technology/policy/business program and get on with it. Regrets, I've had a few...

Note: Sinatra makes a nice accompaniment to metal bending and cutting. Oh, and Coors Light helps too. Yea for Jersey art-making vacations.

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