Law in the Internet Society

View   r1
ElviraKrasFirstPaper 1 - 24 Jan 2013 - Main.ElviraKras
Line: 1 to 1
META TOPICPARENT name="WebPreferences"
The name Happy Monkey School may well have more aptly applied to the smiling tourist who flocked to see the chained primates perform, than to the poor monkeys themselves. The monkeys paced back and forth, springing forward until they were jerked back by the shackle attached at one end to their foot and at the other end to a wooden post. They didn’t seem to learn and would keep attempting to go one step further, each time their restraint preventing them from moving. Their comrades that weren’t chained were part of a fifteen minute show that ran every half hour from 9am until 4:30pm. The monkeys rode tricycles, picked coconuts, did math, played basketball, and dove for coins in a shallow pond. Perhaps their best trick was collecting tips from the tourists crowded in the Cheng Mai sun, promptly handing over the bills to their Thai handlers.

The Happy Monkey School was just one of many attractions of the like in the jungle. That day we witnessed the mahouts and their elephants, the snake charmers, the tigers, and lastly the monkeys. The monkey school struck me most for some reason. I don’t know if the name jarred me, or if as the last attraction of the day it had all piled up but at a certain point watching tourist after tourist walking around with iPads, not even iPhones, but full iPads with which they took pictures or filmed was just ridiculous and a little terrifying as well. The tourists weren’t even watching the show. They were filming the show, likely to post on Facebook or share through other web medium. They were snapping photos for their Facebooks and Instagrams. But they weren’t even really present in the reality of the moment to witness what they were so desperate to capture in memoriam; maybe if they had been, it would have bothered them more. The monkeys had their chain shackles. The humans had their technological shackles. The monkeys shackled to the posts so the humans could shackle themselves to their technology.

Then came the Chinese airport. No airport that I had been to up until that point had required the facial scanning that China did. Glasses had to be removed. Hats off. And you stared into the camera for 30 seconds while a customs inspector scanned your passport. I had uploaded countless photos to Facebook, but it felt awful to be catalogued in that way. Especially in a country where I felt uncomfortable and out of place, my imagination running rampant about the various unspoken atrocities taking place just out of tourist sight. On the other hand, I found it strange that China doesn’t allow Facebook given that we have looked at it as a very powerful device of governmental control. I can only guess that either they think it is not good enough or they think it will be too big of a distraction to their people.

I think the mixture of Thailand’s fluid attitudes towards sex, the juxtaposition of iTechnology with tourism, and China’s rigid citizen control reminded me about a class taught by a really prominent scholar popular, visual and queer culture with an emphasis in subcultures, Judith Jack Halberstam. The class was a new offering in the English Department and was titled something like “Culture…” I remember how violently we resisted everything that she presented to us. The idea that culture is a commodity that is manufactured and sold to us. That culture is a result of political, social, and economic forces rather than art as something spontaneous, something that just happens. And art wasn’t harmless. Looking back I think she may have been one of my best professors and that class may have most impacted my thinking. And I find that perhaps my thoughts about privacy, computers, software, and the Internet will come to evolve in the same manner. First comes violent resistance against beliefs that have long been held. Then comes slow realization and resistance. Finally, hopefully, comes the desire and action for change.

-- ElviraKras - 24 Jan 2013


Revision 1r1 - 24 Jan 2013 - 04:27:32 - ElviraKras
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM