Monday, November 4, 2013

iSlave's Web Context


Concentration camp uniforms were just pulled off eBay. Image Source: Daily Mail.

Currently, there is an article on Yahoo about concentration camp memorabilia that was posted on eBay (see also reports here, here and here). This story about enslavement reminded me how the Web has a buried symmetry (see my posts on this here and here), because it led me into tabloid territory, to this story about Steve Jobs.

Image Source: Daily Mail.

Not only does the Web have a buried symmetry, but a vast potential for false associations. Any given news story or marketing campaign will be subliminally interpreted in terms of the other stories which are randomly juxtaposed with it on the same day. The old context in which we used to grasp information - say, regularly at 6 and 11 o'clock p.m. - has disappeared. It has been replaced by the new context of the 24-hour Web landscape of a particular day, which includes new articles from that day and any older material that Web users will unconsciously float to - before, during and after - looking at the given story in question.

But is browsing unconscious? Just by chance, juxtaposed with the nasty and distasteful eBay concentration camp memorabilia story was a piece on Steve Jobs' ex-girlfriend, Chrisann Brennan. Brennan has just published a rambling tell-all about the early years behind the scenes at Apple.

Brennan's memoir is a portrait of how the boy she knew in high school, obsessed with computing, became a corporate mogul, all filtered through her understanding of reality. She mentions Jobs' guru, Kobun Otogawa, and a lot of personal details (see an excerpt here). This dirty laundry led me to two videos which address Apple's Chinese production problems. Oddly, these videos were suggested to me. I wondered how quickly Google tailors your viewing experience on Youtube, depending on your browsing history and which news stories you've just read. Isn't the tailored browsing experience instantaneous? In which case, did Google bring me to the Youtube video about Apple's Chinese outsourcing because I had just looked at a news item about eBay concentration camp memorabilia sales?
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