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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
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    Bringing remoteness to immediacy - We are all techno-shamans
    Project: Polytopia
    It used to be that we called upon the tribal shamans to converse with their spirits, to ask favors, for our ills, for our happiness and sometimes to see that which is far.
    In the age before geography was a science, we travelled via the shaman’s spirit technology to places of wonder and imagination.
    Not very accurate, and probably not very connected to any reality we could appreciate, we left the shamans behind, and developed our own technologies to perform the same magic.
    Maybe not the same exactly, since modern technology allows us a glimpse of the remote to a level of description and visualization rivaling ‘being there’.

    If in fact our new ‘remote viewing’ technologies are truly experiences of that which we have not experienced in the flesh with our bare feet, are we not becoming techno-shamans?
    Though still in its embryonic stages, technologies of virtual sightseeing are already with us to a degree that is both surprising and thrilling.
    No need for passports, no need to move from our desk or comfy armchair, the world in all its strangeness now comes to us.

    I have never traveled to the Amazon, and it probably will take a while, if ever before I set foot in this green magical place.
    But now we can save on the travel cost, hassle and inconveniency, with the new Amazon Google street view,

    "Take a virtual boat ride down the main section of the Rio Negro, and float up into the smaller tributaries where the forest is flooded," Google Street View Amazon project lead Karin Tuxen-Bettman said in a blog post

    image caption :"View of a 360-degree camera system mounted on a Trike atop a boat by Google team members to record the "Street View for the Amazon" on the Negro River, around Tumbira Community, Amazonas State, in 2011. Google's free online map service on Wednesday began letting people explore portions of the Amazon Basin from the comfort of their homes"

    Watch the video on Youtube: Tour the Amazon with Street View

    Now, what if we are more ambitious and we desire to see Mars, the red planet, all this whilst sipping our morning coffee, worry no more, NASA will send the images directly to your smartphone.

    Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU

    “The Mars Images app fetches images from the NASA Opportunity rover‘s latest downlink as soon as they’re available. On Mars since 2004, Opportunity has far exceeded its planned mission life and is still making groundbreaking discoveries, such as the recent unambiguous evidence that water once flowed on Mars.
    Developed by computer scientist Mark Powell of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the app also allows you to browse older photos from the rover’s archive. It is free and available for both iPhone/iPad and Android phones” (Wired)

    (Get it for iPhone iPad or for Android)

    Have you ever been to the Sistine Chapel? No? Ok, then take a virtual tour of the Vatican .
    How about the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam? Try the Google art project Van Gogh Museum.

    The Uffizi gallery in Florence? Check.

    The Moma? Check.

    The Met? Check.

    But maybe you are a bird lover, and prefer the Eagle Cam.

    The Raptor Resource Project runs 12 webcams, including the Decorah eagle cam. The organization, established in 1988, takes care of more than 40 raptor nests and nest sites. The project has used birdcams since 1998, when it launched the web’s first, a peregrine falcon cam known as Mae’s Internest in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota. The project also has birdcams of falcons, ospreys, hawks and owls.”

    Not restricted to Birds, the site of Animal Cameras, collects live animal webcams and brings you real footage from Around the World, giraffes, meerkats and sea lions, penguins and whales, gorillas and rabbits.

    With the advent of broadband communication, high-speed cameras and related technologies, enhanced virtual tourism has taken a new meaning, take the Gigapan project for example:

    “Gigapans are gigapixel panoramas, digital images with billions of pixels. They are huge panoramas with fascinating detail, all captured in the context of a single brilliant photo. Phenomenally large, yet remarkably crisp and vivid, gigapans are available to be explored at Zoom in and discover the detail of over 50,000 panoramas from around the world.”

    GigaPan was developed by Carnegie Mellon University in collaboration with NASA Ames Intelligent Robotics Group, with support from Google. The GigaPan EPIC series is based on the same technology employed by the Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, to capture the incredible images of the red planet."

    A new toolbox for our minds, conjuring tricks

    It is easy to underestimate what, put together, all these technologies of virtual imagination represent.
    For these are real and new toolboxes for our minds; enhancement toolboxes that extend our physicality through space-time, making the unseen seen and un-experienced experienced.
    We are in fact becoming techno-shamans, however unlike the shamans of old the rituals we are performing for this magic to happen are techno tricks.
    Techno tricks, performed by super sensitive lenses, high-resolution Giga-pixel cameras, aided by broadband and finally eye pleasing user interfaces, all in the name of our needs and desire to bring the ‘far’ to the ‘here’.

    The toolboxes of virtuality are only now entering the stage of early infancy, but already the promise of what changes they will bring to our minds is obvious. Soon these tools will transform us, changing our relationship with immediacy. When remote places become easily available our inner circuitry will adapt to a new mode of perception, one in which the distinction between that which is ‘here’ and that which is ‘there’ slowly evaporates.

    To state that this transformation procedure is critical is to understate it. When immediate Reality is no longer a given, we need new terms and manners of descriptions to make sense of it.

    Reality (capital R) and reality will need be distinguished in a new fashion, a fashion allowing for an augmented and virtualized state of affairs to bear its full implications upon this new interdependent species, the techno-shamans.

    Being a techno-optimist, I believe the changes to our minds brought about by extended virtualities, augmented reality technologies, and remote viewing applications, will aid us in becoming more free.

    On the implications of these new kind of freedoms in the next installment

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    Benjamin Ross Hayden     Mon, Jun 25, 2012  Permanent link
    When remote places become easily available our inner circuitry will adapt to a new mode of perception, one in which the distinction between that which is ‘here’ and that which is ‘there’ slowly evaporates.


    ...and dissolving the doorway of diodes.

    This merger with VR optics hosting networked integrations.
    As techno-optimists, =technologies must be subjected to pro-active scrutiny, reciprocal accountability. Fore-bearing the next epoch, fictionalizing the utopia and dystopia of consequence brought with the next wave...

    At what point are we post-human as techno-shamens?

    Wildcat     Thu, Jun 28, 2012  Permanent link
    The point at which we actually become posthuman Technoshamans I see as closely resembling the Turing test as originally devised. Simply put the point of transition can be represented by the statement ‘not knowing the difference’.
    As long as we can tell the difference, the technology is not good enough and thus to follow A.C.Clark is not magic. But if and when the tech is good enough and the distinction can no longer be made to an extent that is relevant and immediate the threshold has been passed and we become ipso facto, posthuman techno-shaman.

    From a different perspective I could use the concept of codes and coding, when the code, the coding and intersubjective codification is totally immersive and transparent, the point has been reached.

    Thanks for the pertinent comment.