[Home]OutsideWindow

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The Modern life of AnIndividual has us working in isolated areas, in cubicles, TeleWork?ing from home, in specialties, in our home towns. While we are ostensibly free, most of us choose to place ourselves in a well understood box, or more like a frame that will structure our lives so as to OrderChaos. Really, this is not much different than civilizations past where outside the town was a wild and chaotic world. It's just that work specialization has trumped BarnRaising as the primary mode of production.

However, BarnRaising is in our blood. Humans are social. They live to be connect to others, and to be part of something different, new, 'alive''. The same old as the same does is not satisfactory. What is the point of living if it were all the same? Wiki:LifeIsTooShort to spend it with the constant. Even just having a family and growing old together is enough for many. Yet we live in an age where work tears us away from our families; they have to be schedule in rather than around. We must constantly struggle to take an active role in their life rather than--as was the case no so long ago--to gain space away from them.

Many have asked us to rise up against this society in the past. Iconoclasm, however, must be followed with a new order, and none has come because the world is not really as it once was. Specialization is necessary, even if limiting. Work is more efficient when rationalized, divided, and conquered. So, we must in the very wake of survival enter into these boxes.

But there is a reason we all fight for the corner office. We all want an OutsideWindow. The reminder, the feeling, that there is something wider than this--than the rectangle in front of us--in the world. The world outside our rectangular buildings remains still potentially chaotic, even if in our societies it is mostly under control. The simple shifting stories moving through the streets inspires the spirit within us. It gives us something to connect to.

And even if we all had the privilege of an OutsideWindow, it wouldn't really matter if we did. In the world of CarCulture and suburbia, we all have our separate homes and our nuclear families, and we stay inside in the cool air conditioned air and ... watch television. Television has become our OutsideWindow. It moves, it talks, it feels like a person sitting there. Many even scream at the television. Not because of the stories playing across the screen, but because the screen itself feels like a person. The tragedy in contemporary times is that person is not random, it is not the chaos of the world, it is not organic, it is not reactive to you--TheAudience. Rather, it is controlled and owned. It is GlobalMedia?.

In our offices, we face the screen, but a dead screen. As we sit there every day, staring at our computers, we face desktop environments like Microsoft Windows. These environments, however, are like all the lies that permeate culture: the 180 degree opposite of their label. The computer is a claustrophobic, stiffling environment, devoid of external contact. Our FovealCone is fixated on the same square all day long, and that square only changes in deterministic ways. It's only when the computer does something unexpected--when it fails--that we look at it as organism. It's a bug. We anthropomorphize it ("It hates me."). But aside from that it is crystalline and dead.

The Internet gives us something new, however. One of those windows can be an OutsideWindow. It can look upon the wider world and remind us once again that we are connected to a larger world. We can see right there next to our spreadsheets and documents the ebb and flow of world events painting themselves on our news readers. We can connect to others on the virtual street as they walk by on InstantMessaging or InternetRelayChat. We can look down from our virtual corner offices onto the public square and read the discourse on OnlineCommunities.

And, the greatest part is the folding: others can look through their OutsideWindow onto us. In fact, the windows are only so thin. And if you're so inclined, if you feel the need to see something living, you can reach through the windows and touch someone else.


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