LOST IN SPACE VERSION 2.0
Last week has seen some serious drifting across space again.
It all started with news about the Tsunami. That morning I remember reading about a faraway whimper on the top corner of the BBC website. An earthquake in Indonesia ... further details pending. Yet as the day progressed, the news about the tragedy became like the bastard twin of the Event itself: every passing hour brought the wave of information closer until it too hit us with its enormous force. Thousands of kilometers imploded on us like the Wave itself, suffocating us like sea water with every instance of rising body count ...10.000. 20.000. 50.000, 150.000
And then the virtual geography of this planet started shaking again, yet another bastard twin hit by a Richter 9 earthquake. The biggest ever tragedy ever to hit Finland in Thailand was reported by an Indian newspaper using sources by Reuters now relocated in Bangalore about how the tragedy will affect Bollywood stars honeymooning in the Maldives. A warning by scientists in Oregon about an other tsunami sends tragedy-struck fishermen in Tamil Nadu rushing for high land in panic while the authenticity of the report is debated by bloggers using SMS between Bombay and Sri Lanka.
Paul Virilio, a French philosopher, warned about the new 'accident' that is brought about by the implosion of space and time caused by new telecommunication technologies. The here and now - the erasure of space and time by the speed of light of communication - can make a generalized accident where an event in the other part of the world has instant repercussion in every connected node of this new world. He says: "with acceleration, there is no more here and there, only the mental confusion of near and far, present and future, real and unreal - a mix of history, stories, and the hallucinatory utopia of communication technologies."
Yet watching for the past few days the spaces of the planet bubble like a molten lava field has made me somewhat more optimistic. If something stays afloat from this tragedy, it is the hope that maybe there are people emerging who are able to ride the wave (and bad metaphors) of the new world. During the immediate aftermath of the Wave, we saw something else than an accident. Blog newsservices were put up helping describe the tragedy and provide help. Websites helped people locate people missing. New experimental SMS newsservices are being set up as we speak to circumvent the traditional newsmedia still stuck kneedeep in the mud of classical space ...
So perhaps, if nothing else, an inconclusive afterthought is appopriate.
Perhaps an event such as this one - an event that sends ripples to the space-time continuum of this new world - gives us a glimpse and a foretaste of the future. And whether this future will be an accident or something else will depend whether we learn quickly to master the news space-time configurations and dimensions that are emerging. Maybe that is the task for us lost in space.