18 September 2006

Murray's Worst Critic: I am Not Sure I Got the Point.

Response to reading of Janet H. Murray, "Harbingers of the Holodeck."

I am pro-cyber history and enjoy the habitually painful art of creating websites to provide various kinds of intellectual stimulation for the public. HTML, my newfound interest in CSS, Wikipedia, and other forms of technology are truly fascinating. In my opinion, opening the lines of communication to self-proclaimed historians with no formal training, in the long run, will benefit everyone on the planet. What I forgot to mention in my last post, which was a comment in response to Greenberg's post RE: Wikipedia, is that I am more apt to use Wikipedia for my own good, but not necessarily ready to commit myself to support my on theory. This may sound selfish, but I am not at a point in my life where I have the luxury of spending countless hours on the computer. Maybe after I have completed the program at GMU and my kids are married, or I quite my job, then I could focus all my attention on correcting bogus strings on the Internet. However, I predict I would get even less sleep than now!

This brings me to my point regarding the reading. I thoroughly enjoyed the multiform movies "Back to the Future" and "Groundhog Day." The technique of telling a story with multiple endings is definitely neat, and I was really thrown for loop when McFly sees himself at the mall, doing the same thing but five minutes later. That was bizarre! Unfortunately, I took "Back to the Future" for what it was worth; very clever, imaginative, and thought provoking film writing. I have to part with Murray, who considers the "… impetus behind the growth of multiform story is the dizzying physics of the twentieth century, which told us that our common perceptions of time and space are not the absolute truths we had been assuming them to be." Am I missing something, or am I expected to read between the lines? Grain of salt, maybe?

The technique of the active audience is interesting as well. Once again, the point I made earlier about time, of which I have little, made me wonder who these people are that spend hours and hours on the Internet, dreaming up "their own stories" and changing the plots for sitcoms, New York City cops, and the Spock and Capt Kirk lover deal! "Textual poaching?" Are there a lot of middle-aged single people out there with computers? To further my position, Murray mentions the popularity of Multi-User Domains or MUDs where, "Every day, and particularly every night, thousands of people forsake real life (RL) and meet in virtual space "in character" (IC) to play out stories based on favorite books, movies, or television shows." Not me.

I recently took my five year-old daughter to the Smithsonian's IMAX at the Natural History Museum. We saw the 3-D wild animal movie that was absolutely fantastic. Two thumbs up! I must say that I think Murray is over the top when she says she is uncomfortable during 3-D moments because the photography puts her in a virtual world, which she then wants to enter autonomously, and do her own thing. I enjoy reading Rosenzweig's material because I can use it to improve something. I am very sorry, but Murray's material doesn't do anything for me.

Dieter