UPDATE – TiVo as Cybernetics — QUICK LOOK – The Anxiety of Katrina

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I have opened up two new categories that will hold short blog posts: updates and “quick look.” Updates is a category that I hope is self-explanatory—blog posts updating you on information that has appeared in an earlier post. I’ll try to make updates as “stand alone” as possible, but you may wish to read the post that the update points to. The idea behind the quick look category is simple—a blog post that in many ways takes the form of an entry that might be found in an annotated bibliography. Such an entry simply lets you know that a particular resource is available and adds a few comments on why that particular resource is important to the topic at hand (namely the Bowlby Less Traveled). Here’s an example of  each:

UPDATE: In my July 16th, 2010, blog post, I made the following observation:

As a historical footnote, since the time of vol. I of Bowlby’s trilogy on attachment theory (the 1960s), mechanical or cybernetic forms of purpose have exploded exponentially. You may find it a bit hard to believe but all of the following incorporate mechanical or cybernetic forms of purpose (a purpose that is often intentionally hidden):

  • Many digital video recording (DVR) services like TiVo
  • Search engines like Google
  • Cell phones
  • National ID programs
  • Netflix
  • iTunes

I just found the following article over at Yahoo.News entitled Survey of Viewers Shows Extent of TV Time Shifting. Here’s a quote from the article:

Sixty-two percent of viewers across the country interviewed in a poll conducted for the nation’s largest cable company, Comcast Corp., said they have used time-shifting technology. Six in 10 people said they owned a digital video recorder.

I find it fascinating that the article refers to DVRs (digital video recorders) as “time-shifting technology.” In essence, people are now able to use time-shifting technology to bend TV and cable schedules to their own liking or purpose. But, what’s hidden here is that every time a person “rolls there own scheduling purpose“ so-to-speak, the purpose of advertisers and marketers gets rolled in there as well. People think that by rolling their own schedule (by using time-shifting technology), their purpose alone is served, when in fact the true purpose being served is that of various commercial concerns. It’s convenience that keeps this reciprocal relationship hidden. As Jean Kilbourne points out in her 1999 book entitled Deadly Persuasion—Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising, the making of a literal product goes hand-in-hand with the making of a psychological product. The latter product is better known as consumeristic desire. The cybernetic feedback loops that drive time-shifting technology are part and parcel of the manufacture of psychological products. As Henry Giroux puts it in his 2009 book Youth In A Suspect Society—Democracy or Disposability? “As the sovereignty of the consumer replaces the sovereignty of the citizen, commodification extends its reach from products to human beings, from the act of production to all social relations [my emphasis].”

QUICK LOOK: I found an article over at Yahoo.News that has the following title: Anxiety Still Rampant in Katrina Kids, Study Says. The lead researcher on the study was David Abramson of Columbia University. Irwin Redlener, who also participated in the study, states: “Five years after Katrina, there are still tens of thousands of children and their families who are still living in limbo with a significant toll on their psychological well-being.” What caught my attention was the similarity between the environment that these researchers looked at and the one Bowlby studied, namely, homeless children roaming the streets of war-torn Europe following the close of WWII. In Bowlby’s case, the World Health Organization asked him to assess the psychological toll that might result from such widespread displacement. What Bowlby found was that much of the anxiety he observed could be attributed to the loss of safe and secure attachment relationships and environments. I would suggest that the same is happening in the aftermath of Katrina. Unfortunately attachment is not mentioned at all in this Katrina study. I find this a bit disheartening because recognizing that a wholesale and widespread loss of safe and secure attachment relationships and environments has taken place might provide valuable insight into why the researchers are finding that “children displaced [my emphasis] by Hurricanne Katrina [are] still hav[ing] serious emotional or behavioral problems” (quoting the article). The article refers to the Katrina children as “canaries in a coal mine” and notes that they are still falling over (metaphorically speaking) because many of the “systems in the community” have failed or are dysfunctional. But what’s at the heart of this failure and dysfunction? I would suggest that, for whatever reason, the safety and security that functional attachment relationships and environments can provide, has yet to return to this otherwise devastated area. It would appear that this is the message that these “canaries” are trying to give us.