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The Sound of Reality Lag: Versionals are the New Black

Mez Breeze

_Reality Mapping: Navigating the Social-Nodes_

Web 2.0 is based on a collusive tapestry of adjoining social nodes. Social Networks such as MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, Orkut, Liveleak, YouTube, Twitter and Pownce aren’t prefaced on pre-set connotative connections maintained through historicized emotional depth or satisfied by biological drives. Friends aren’t friends as we have come to know them: there is no establishment of shared geophysical experiences, no cathartic or chronologically defined friendship markers evident. What’s important is [inter]action and the quantity of it – the residual volume of contact and the fact of shared connection minus a meatbody context. Identity is constructed in these friendship pathways via the idea of notations; of naming labels, of icon attribution, and of clustered info-snippets streamlined through an interface designed for momentary persona snapshots.

_Distributed Identity Compensation_

In digitized social networks there is no place for psychologically defined notions of personality as a cohesive, definable whole. Identity manifests through notational distributions found in multiple profiles across various platforms. Ego-mediated variables are replaced with actuated identity markers defined by the ability to establish links to others likewise devoid of any traditional geophysical baggage. For these articulated identities [now known as versionals] connection is the vital point of communication; not the content, not the geophysical inflection, not the biologically-saturated ties linked to survival, competition, and traditional concrete community building. This method of clustered distribution provokes a type of reality lag found in capitalistic and ideologically frameworked nations; those devoted to maintaining established notions of individuals definable by consumerism and Darwinian drives, monetary wealth, institution-adherence, and paranoid-inducing security.

_Versional Space-Walking_

Mobile technologies such as phones and other wireless tech-detritus have likewise altered the nature of individualised space with unwitting listeners in proximity switching to socially-mediated communication channels. Private data is is now dispersed publically, infiltrating individualised mono-access to private spheres and rewriting them as open-ended versional noise. There is no definitive narrative stream or beginning> middle>end but clusters of “incomplete” identity snippets.

_Social Infowork: Versionals Don’t Do Hollywood_

Contemporary entertainment models are significantly threatened by a versional/distributed identity ethos. The proscribed linearities of passive, individuated entertainment experiences [ie television, cinema and literature] are being currently eroded via clustered peer2peer, gamer-defined, remixed, mashedup copyright left content. Information and work boundaries are collapsing. Pop-cultural lexicons are moving towards a type of modulated system based on versional directed traffic. Hollywood’s kneejerk reaction is epitomized in their rush to remake outmoded movie sequels and for tv networks to rehash content dependent on narrative rite-of-passage tropes. The viewer investment in following an unfolding plot and/or seeking a concrete meaning [ie art/entertainment viewed as a purveyor of ritualised morality lessons] has morphed via social networking into a focus on connective experientiality.

_Doubling the Virtual: Decay of Real Reality_

Notions of a legitimate reality as defined by a grounded geophysical state are altering. Base biological data is being mined and mapped as a potential infostream to harvest and alter [ think: the potential FLOSS utilization of the mapping of the human genome]. Google Earth/Maps/Streetview software exposes geography as an infowork entertainment stream.Versional operation in social networks and avatar use in virtual worlds such as Second Life and MMOGs also contribute to this shift. One such example is a double-virtual layered reality presented in aspects of the MMOG World of Warcraft in the Caverns of Time instance “Old Hillsbrad”. When entering the instance, each character involved is transported to a parallel reality version of an area of the game they have previously [and probably extensively] encountered. The primary game reality is replaced by a secondary reality, complete with altered gameworld parameters such as substantial differences in topography. The avatars themselves shapeshift in order to reflect the relevant aspect of game lore with each “toon” displaying now as a human. In these manifestations, ego-stitched/physical reality and identity concepts are bifurcated through multiple projections – there is no “real” reality concept emphasized.

_Credibility Busting: Citizen Media For The Win_

Institutionalised information facets currently viewed as “factual” are not immune to the versional effect. Canonized distributions embodying previously established credibility markers such as scientific methodology>evidence>history-as-truth are being repulsed to encourage more elastic variations on present non-credible information sources like Wikipedia, which draw on constantly changing data sources. Versionals, being post-[singular]identities, act to obfuscate regular information hierarchies and rewrite “credible” information source points via blogging, wiki creation, photo aggregationism, p2p file sharing, textual moment-capture and info-flagging [microblogging, instant messaging, tagging, social bookmarking], video snippeting, and identity diffusion. Versionals are the new cultural black.