Constructed Arenas & Perfect Responses

"Issue": 044

But when they use these powerful materials to measure themselves, they are at risk. And, of course, some people come to the material more vulnerable than others. The greater the anxiety about being out of control, the greater the seduction of a material that offers the promise of perfect response.

— Sherry Turkle, The Second Self

What It's Like to Work on a 30-Year-Old Macintosh - The Atlantic

I’ve been slowly working through this book, but those lines really stood out to me last night.

Control & Perfect Response

We live in an incredibly chaotic world that exists far beyond our lens. Yet, can be surfaced instantaneously across our devices. A sense of knowing becomes our primary weapon to the anxiety that is, simply, not knowing.

The constructed device, frozen in its perfection, and still improving continually. In which, its mirror-like properties reflect back an imperfect self.

Yet in our imperfection, we realize we are the source of this devices very existence. We understand that it is something to be equally mastered. And we do, with incredible intuition and precision.

Now it is hard to walk away. From this perfect mirror that I have complete control over. So, we go deeper. It is not enough simply to have mastery of interaction, we must continue in the act of construction within this perfect arena — because it is here that the mirror truly comes alive in showing our imperfections.

The red line under a misspelled word // A tweet not receiving as many retweets as we’d like // Bugs to report // Bugs to tell ourselves about ourselves

California public health department warns about cell phone ...

Perhaps it’s not the anxiety of what is beyond our knowing and seeing. But instead the fear we are currently not placing ourselves within that larger construction and participation. Where we are in full control of inputs, and know what the perfect response can be.

Striving for this interaction.

Any computer promises you that if you do it right, it will do it right and right away.

— Sherry Turkle, The Second Self

The problem may be that the abstraction of these perfect arenas, is the abstraction of other identities with equal agency. Not behaving with the perfection of the machine we each hold, but the exact same flaws as ourselves.

Knowing the abstraction is each other, where individual agency rules. But the material promises the perfect response… we find ourselves in truly fearful tension.


I don’t do edits really, so excuse typos and things that don’t make sense.

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