publications

all of you oughta view it with your
tongue and tact intact, in fact!
it sung and wrung the tears with shears,
which spread on everyone.

(ms.anthropological.com)

feel the cosmos.

it yawns before me infinite
folder of channeled attention,
i beget the rest.

be better than the best you’ve been
(there is a crack in everything).

Plaintively Researching.

These past few weeks have been a rush of novel experiences, as I reconfigure my identity in an extremely pointed way. I have been meeting so many new people, and first conversations almost inevitably touch upon my research, which is essentially what i do (who i am?) right now. 

As a result, I’ve taken to carrying a digital voice recorder in my pocket. It’s mere presence has a similar effect on me as speaking in front of a crowd of people: intense social phobia. I treat the object gingerly, awed by its potential to preserve the situation so very perfectly in a peculiar mode. Tonight, a friend who promotes his tracks on MySpace spoke of Google’s vast database of categorized interest nodes, sending advertisements directed uniquely at his individual identity as derived from his web browsing habits. Google’s rumored launch to “out-open” Facebook– that is to say, become the next leading online social network, is of particular interest to me, as is the increasing popularity of niche social networking sites, blogospheres, and Second Life.

tremulous: to emerge again in love

His face would have been handsome, had it not been for the maniacal contortions of his eyes and mouth, and the pushy manner in which he shoved large bottles of bourbon and wine to our lips. “Are you trying to tell me,” he cackled in a heavy south american accent, “that YOU are the new fountain?!” He bounced about us, grinning, encouraging us to dance and play his nonsensical games.

“You are ridiculous,” I managed between nervous gasps of laughter. He was unpredictable, spastic, and frenetic, bouncing inches from our faces and invading space at every opportunity. Before I knew it, he’d curled his body teasingly around the kindly and confused older Irishman, who beseeched us with apologetic gestures. The young, flamboyant man smiled up brilliantly, fingering a shimmering necklace that adorned the elder gentleman, “I got you a neeecklace!” The Irishman shot us a sheepish grin, “he is out of mind!”

We disentangled ourselves from the situation, following a few more rounds of “cheers!”, and wandered up the trail. Disoriented, we wished for home, for the feeling of it. Home was soon found, and it far exceeded our wildest expectations: we rounded a corner to a tall, bald Irishman in a long purple robe, wielding a glow-in-the-dark lightening bolt and surrounded by inflatable aliens. We greeted him with what were surely exhausted, young and hopeful faces, and were instantly seated around the small campfire and treated to tea. Our hero then proceeded to entertain us with a few rounds of classic Irish storytelling, replete with circular rhythm and mock humility (he knew he’d won us at ‘g’mornin’ to ya!’).

So commenced a morning that marked the last stage of a bewildering, night-long journey. Merely hours earlier I’d entirely convinced myself that sinister forces were at work behind this unorganized, chaotic festival in the forest. How to trust new faces at the campsite- other generations, alternate motives, as the night caved in upon itself? As the furtive and paranoid flashlight-lit glances of the dark night gave way to dawn, however, I began to see more clearly the utter absudity of that which surrounded us: a thousand ageless children from every conceivable nook and cranny of the world, gathered together in reverence of the hard beats and gentle spirits that had wooed our searching souls.

I could not begin to number the many times my eyes filled with tears that weekend. The kindness and openness of utter strangers, the familiar faces from countless long nights of ecstatic dance, the devastating beauty of the water and the earth, the re-creation of true community by those who simply could not comply with the stratum and structure of society as presented to us, how it had come to know us so deeply and wordlessly.

Yet still I seek to put words to it, so that I may pay homage, or rather, that I might recall the feeling of a welcome mist at dawn, sweat-drenched and joyful, drinking in rainbows that spanned the entirety of our shared horizon.

the best way to predict the future

is to create it-
loneliness at odds with mania,wild careenings about!
would that it were another way…
(but in every game there is play-
so play it! and nothing is good
unless you do)

Survey on Online Social Networking Habits!

I am conducting a short survey for users of Facebook, MySpace, and/or Tribe.net.

Your participation in this survey is entirely voluntary, and you may terminate participation at any time prior to the completion of this survey without penalty. Please understand that the information you provide will be viewed only by the researcher, and that any responses published will not enable identification of me in any way. 

Questions and concerns can be directed to Jenny Ryan (researcher) @
jaryan@wesleyan.edu.
Further information and future publications can be found at http://webnography.blogspot.com

I Agree, Continue to Survey!

Changing Attitudes Toward Facebook

As the tech world continues to grow wild for Facebook, the veteran users in my midst- college students- continue to grow indifferent, even annoyed- or so their group discourse would have me believe. “The applications were pretty fun at first,” said one energetic, people-loving friend, “I like throwing food at my friends and turning them into zombies… but it got old real fast.” “They’re stupid, they’re annoying, I just really don’t care at all anymore,” said another friend, who’d spent his past semester abroad, “I mean, I guess it’s useful for keeping in touch with people you don’t care enough about to e-mail.”

“Well, I care so little that I let her,” Dave points a finger at his girlfriend, “go in and change my whole profile around. It’s ridiculous, and I haven’t even changed it back.” They giggle for awhile.

“There are some useful applications,” I point out.

“Well, there’re so many of them, I don’t feel like sifting through all of that crap. Facebook’s turning into MySpace.”

At the same time, I’ve found that my friends on Facebook continue to be highly active, having become skilled at interacting with the more useful features of the site. 25% of the most recent 50 emails in my inbox are Facebook notifications of some sort- generally, event listings, friend requests, wall messages, and pokes. These are some of the ways in which we attempt to connect to one another through forming and maintaining relationships and collective cohesion, digitally.

My conclusion? It’s just not “cool” to like Facebook- one is better off being critical- but many of us depend on it in some way or another as a way of maintaining social bonds. We’ve grown addicted.

Log the Third

Today, after my sister expressed her love for me on my Facebook wall (as she is wont to do), I recorded my first video wall post. Unfortunately, I’m unable to “repost” the video here, but I will say it was quite simple, and rather successful! Facebook recently implemented a variety of options on what was once a user “wall” constrained to text alone. Now, one can record video, post a link, post a band (one needs to first register their band at ReverbNation and upload a few songs, which can then be posted on one’s profile, or linked to on another’s wall), send a randomly-generated fortune cookie, give a “zombie hug”, send a cookie, give a daisy, or post a popular song (when I clicked on this, there was a search bar, as well as 3 popular songs listed: Avril Lavigne, 50 Cent, and Death Cab for Cutie).

I also spent a solid 15 minutes taking screen captures of my friend’s MySpace profile. I made myself stop at 50 shots, that’s how long his profile page is. Lots of links, artistic images, poetry, politically-oriented buttons and banners, the usual favorite books and movies and such, a long introduction (that is prefaced with:
“TOTALLY NOT INTERESTED IN THE FOLLOWING:
your band (unless your organic/synthetic spiritual sounds and presentation could totally wow me, DON’T EVEN BOTHER)
Promoters of any kind!(go away)
spiders, crawlers, spammers, etc go away i don’t like you!
people…who freak me out. (it’s pretty hard to accomplish)

and now! on to the good stuff!”

His comments were nearly as fun to sift through as the profile itself. Beautiful images, replete with some animated sparkles or color shifts, adorned his walls. The requisite “Thanks for the add!” comment was also a strong presence. The majority of the content was “New Age” in nature- faeries, Alex Grey, and my favorite:

Music Has the Right to Children

Last week, I blazed a testy tirade objecting to what I saw as the haughty condescension of one of my favorite psytrance party promoters (here I am referring to all-night electronic music dance parties of the post-hippie variety). The bulletin I replied to proclaimed that the vast majority of psytrance made in 2007 was crap, with the exception being, of course, the EPs they themselves released. There were also claims to the very depths of the “underground”- coming from people seeking to capitalize on selling the notion (and all the apparel, albums, and $20 tickets that come with it). While the scene is indeed “underground,” no scene ever remains there once money and “quality control” become the mantras of those throwing the parties.

Pointing the way to quality music is one thing, and indeed these cats rightly earn the title of “experts” of this particular genre of music. However, when said “experts” begin to propagate exclusivity and ridicule the efforts of well-meaning, passionate new producers of the very content we rely on experts to help us discover, they take on the form of the lowly critic. “To define is to kill, to suggest is to create,” wrote French poet Stephane Mallarme. To define a genre through criticism does little other than highlight pretension and shatter the confidence of the artists who, particularly in this field, create out of love and thrive off of support by others.

I would know; I’m friends with more than a few such musicians and producers. The critics destroy an unconfident new artist; what keeps any anyone going is inspiration, in its myriad forms. The energized dancing of the partygoers, the feeling of synergetic zen, the comment of a fan on MySpace, the spark of appreciation in the eyes of a hard-to-please friend. To say, “that, there, that was excellent!” in the midst of a frenzied crescendo will propel one to seek that moment again and again. My high school English teacher is my greatest hero, as she lauded me with such praise and support of my writing (“that, there, that was good!”;) that I began to write furiously, fueled by the twin fires of confidence and passion.

By all means, I fully support relying on experts’ opinions to guide us toward quality music, but we are all our own best critics. We would certainly do well to experience, appreciate, and share what we know to be good; better still to spot what could be good and suggest how it could be improved; and finally to simply make what you like to hear yourself, if you’re so picky!

I’ll leave you with the wise words of my favorite poet, e.e. cummings: “I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing, then teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.”

home everywhere, belonging nowhere

i do not recall what it is to be alone,
i read, i write, i sit and stare,
but most of all i wait
and meditate:
what it means to unfurl,
tug gently at darkened corners of the mind
(it’s come to be their time).