As a native Midwesterner, New England has always seemed full of secrets to me. But none as surreal as the Babson Boulders, a seemingly random collection of massive boulders with inspirational all-caps etchings scattered around the forest of an abandoned inland settlement in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
To ring in the end of a busy summer, and get away from the familiar noise of the city, I recently went north to Ontonagon (on-tuh-noggin), a small town of around 1,500 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (the UP), near the Wisconsin border and the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, about 400-ish miles straight north of Chicago.
Head over to the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy to check out my new article on the ethics of “lifelogging,” the technology you voluntarily choose to record and archive everything you do.
Some people have the blessing of a photographic memory, and lifelogging technologies have the potential to bring average people up to at least that level. But when the process of remembering is mediated, along with the memories themselves, whose memories are we actually collecting and accessing? What about when these memories can be hacked, altered or simply deleted? These questions are central to lifelogging technology. And as this technology eventually reaches a Malcolm Gladwell-style tipping point: If you can envision intellectual property lawyers and philosophers answering the same questions, you know you’re running into unexplored ethical territory.
Like most in my generation and my caste, I went into my 20s loaded with student debt. Some of it was mine and most of it was my wife’s. As partners, we’ve spent our entire 6+ years of marriage working our asses off to get out of the hole. We’ve worked overtime, through many weekends, and prioritized self-improvement over vacations and nights on the town. Anything to better our chances of living free.
We’ve had no financial help from our families or friends. No relief from agencies or corporations. We live in a 650-square-foot apartment, don’t own a car, and have held off having kids or owning property until we’re debt-free. We’re always busy, always working, always offering our first fruits to Sallie Mae, a goddess as unforgiving as Drano in your chicken soup.
Last week, thanks to the recommendation of a friend, I spoke with writer John McDermott at MEL Magazine for his “Into the Black” series, which focuses on the experience of young debtors. The opportunity didn’t come with any accolades or awards, but was an experience to share my struggle – and potentially engage with others affected by the same.
Some words from David Carr’s The Night of the Gun:
“Every hangover begins with an inventory.” (8)
“I’m not obsessed with my own privates, but I’m not one to point a pistol at them, either.” (13)
“Tucked in safe suburban redoubts, kids who had it soft like me manufactured peri. When there is no edge, we make our own, reaching for something that would approximate the cliche of being fully alive because we could die at any minute. That search for sensation leads to the self divorcing from the body, a la Descartes, and a life of faux peril. Everything that brought me joy involved risk.” (19)
I have a new piece in the latest issue of the Journal of Popular Film and Television, a book review of a nerdy new book, A State of Arrested Development: Critical Essays on the Innovative Television Comedy. Because it counts as scholarship, the article costs $41 and the full journal costs $97. But HMU if you want a free version because IDGAF.