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Under Construction

San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade.

March 30th, 2003

From Breakfast
I read two stories in the paper this morning at my usual cafe that I thought about as I walked back to the apartment. One described the marketing thinking that went into the packaging and selling of this war, the other described the reporting of the war and how technology has revolutionized war coverage in just the twelve years since the Gulf war of 1991.

These "reporting" technologies, this ability to see pieces of the war real time from many different sources, changes how war must be sold (hence the link to the marketing story), the story speculating on how long a marketing driven war rationale can survive when the people who must support the war - you and I - gain our information real time from many of the same sources as the people who are running it. When, in fact, everybody's getting their information real time from the same sources: Presidents, dictators, generals and civilians. Which is weird. Everybody dips into the same information pool. Information like water, just turn a spigot. New territory.

I occasionally think about the photographs I shoot on the street, remember I'm thinking about this as I'm walking back to my apartment, this really isn't about the war as such, and how posting them here is a change, a small change, similar to the ones they're talking about. Posting a photograph obeys the same rules followed by a newspaper. Public street, no problem. Basically you can do it. Not many people see my photographs, not many people see most photographs on the web, but they're a precursor to this shift that appears to be underway, whatever it is that's underway. What kind of impact it has, good or ill, I have no idea, but we're all participants.

Reporters of the next war - the person being interviewed wondered why it wasn't happening now, as these devices are available now - will use small, book sized remote controlled airplanes (I guess you'd call them "airplanes") outfitted with video cameras and transmitters that fly low into the middle of a battle sending back real time video. That's a revolution - war and all that - but it will be a revolution permeating everything and affecting everyone. My posting photographs, you posting photographs, is a first toe in the water. What does the world look like when you can stream video 7X24 from a head set, from a civilian model of the "flying book", from a button size camera hidden somewhere behind a wall, $29.95, gift wrapped at Wal-Mart? From Oakland. From Baghdad. Don't know. Not sure I want to.

An element of the late sixties, early seventies freak movement wanted to escape society and split for the back country. Back to the land, back to the basics. Young, idealistic, "stupid", some thought, most of the attempts seemed to end in abject failure, but still, people freaked by the world surrounding them attempting something different. I wrinkled my nose at the time, but with a tinge of sympathy. Thoreau, after all, sits on book shelves in the city.

I had two reactions, this morning: One, to pack the car (if I ever buy it) and join them. Find a rabbit hole in the Oregon DSL woods (sorry, Oregon). Someplace seemingly safe with an internet window to watch it all unfolding. My second thought was to buy one of those swell wireless flying thingies, connect it to the web and join the revolution. You get dingy as you get older, I guess, walking home, head numb and tingling, dizzy, from breakfast.

The photograph was taken at the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade.