Wednesday, October 29, 2014

:writ large:

I've gotten 12 finished shots so far out of this month's photoshoot; a personal record, and I know I've got a few more, plus some shots may also be source material for non-photo works. We shall see.

I also took a Holga camera out and about to test it out. No instructions were with it, so it remains to be seen if I advanced the film properly, but I'm led to believe that sometimes people intentionally overlap shots with it. Now to find a place that'll develop 120 speed film.

The main reason I'm stopping working on the photos for a bit is because I'm going to participate in NaNoWriMo next month, and I imagine that'll take up most of my free time if I'm to meet the goal by month's end. By a stroke of luck or good timing, I managed to find a MacBook for under $200, so that I'm not chained to my computer at home for writing, and I can do the cliched thing and write in coffee shops if I so choose, even though I don't drink coffee.

I attempted it once before in 2009, but didn't meet the goal, partially because I was living in a place that didn't really inspire me creatively, to say the least. I also found that I had to be extra wordy and never use contractions, just to meet the word counts. We'll see if that's still the case.

I still think the unfinished story has's called "Devices," and stemmed from my feelings about people's increased dependence on mobile phones (and I note that it's getting worse, so the story might need updating anyway). But my story is in a near future where the phones are half-organic (yes, very Cronenberg), so there's some sort of symbiosis between them and humans. Until things start to Go Wrong. Here's the first section:

 Chloe was texting at the time of her accident. Interestingly enough she was texting about how bored she was. When they managed to pry her from the vehicle with the Jaws of Life (which was a misnomer by the time they got to her), they had an equally challenging time of prying the device from her hand. Once they located the hand.
            Cell phones by this time in history had almost literally evolved to something completely different. Advances in both nanotechnology and biotechnology had gotten them to the point where they were nearly classified as living, thinking beings, that some could see as pets or maybe familiars.
            Unsurprisingly people had lined up around the block when the jawbone implants had come out first, so that people could look even more like they were talking to invisible people with no Bluetooth headsets to give them away, but others preferred the tactile sensation of holding something, and of course one cannot use apps with an implant and no screen to work with. Add to that the sensation of a warm or even furry device in your hand, and one might see why more eventually leaned towards that choice.
            It had come to point where one could not be “connected” without these devices, and the line at which it looked like one was dependent on the device or vice versa was more difficult to see. One reason was that they were recharged through their owners’ own electrical impulses, through a non-invasive process, though the body-mod community soon found a way through bio-ports that was actually a quicker and even pleasurable process.
            Since the sensation of recharging had a sedative effect, this was usually done at night, and soon people became dependent on this to get even a decent night’s sleep.
            Ringtones continued to be an expression of one’s individuality (or lack thereof), but due to the near-living nature of these new devices, they tended more to be animalistic sounds rather than obnoxious snippets of songs, although like Mynah Birds they could imitate nearly anything, almost instantaneously if the owner set them up that way. They became quite a problem in zoos and pet shops.
            The joke in the past about setting one’s device to the vibrate setting and asking for many calls so that one used it as a sexual aid was still around, although it was more like a purring sensation, and soon it seemed that the devices did it on their own, with no common reason for all devices. No one was complaining, however.
            People were distracted just as much, if not more, from reality while using these devices, as evidenced in the opening paragraph. Outlawing texting can only do so much without the constant monitoring of people or rather the devices, and with less and less actual electronics (or at least detectable ones) being used in them, and the inventiveness of people (or access to those who could) hacking their way around such safeguards was the norm. So the deaths caused by people engrossed with their devices rather than large vehicles heading towards them, was commonplace. Life was beginning to resemble an Edward Gorey cartoon in which people were done in by more and more bizarre deaths, with the devices being the common thread.
            No chance of banning them, as much as one could’ve banned the internet many years previous. Modern life and business had become too dependent on them, to say nothing of the economy. And since they were very nearly grown rather than built, a whole new business sector revolving around their “healthcare” came to be, rivaling pet hospitals but not quite human ones.
            In that vein, some of the “real” animals could deal with the devices better than others. Dogs adapted to them, while cats were more as likely to bat them across the room, especially if they made “LOL” noises at them. The first models emitted frequencies that birds found unbearable, but it drove them away rather than the opposite, so Alfred Hitchcock-like mishaps were thankfully avoided. It was soon found that they could tweak it to affect certain species only, so the pigeon problem in some cities was soon eradicated. They were soon driven away to other countries where the devices were not as ubiquitous.
            Unsurprisingly such technology did not come cheap, though of course there were different levels available so nearly everybody could conceivably get even a basic model, but of course human nature being what it is, most wanted the best and the latest.
            It could run from the most basic model, which while not warm to the touch or having a fur option, it was based on a reptilian code, so it did have a leathery texture. People by now texted more than talked with them, so that was a basic feature and the cheapest ones did not even have the voice option. Though they still emitted sounds.         
            This last feature was adapted even more for military and police use, as certain animal codes could produce devices that “sensed” danger and thus warned their user before they themselves sensed it. Trying to merge this into a taser-like device has to date proven problematic, however, as  they often injured their owners in their zeal to warn them.
            The GPS systems of the previous years had evolved to the point where a “map” could be produced using the signals of combined devices, which proved helpful in chasing down suspects or terrorists but also continued to be a privacy rights issue with those who were still vigilant about such matters. In general, though, as long as society seemed to work, most didn’t mind too much about it. As they still still say, “if you’re not doing anything wrong, why worry about it?”
            The devices were still hand-held while in use, though in the rare occasions when they weren’t, could choose to “attach” to their users in a way similar to how remora fish would attach to sharks, or like octopus suckers. This was usually on the wrist for easy access, though people soon began to choose other places for them, some of which will be left to your imagination. Fashion was re-tooled to make room for this, although some devices could flatten themselves enough so that there wasn’t an obvious bulge.
            The matter of people using these devices and not watching where they were walking led to more moving sidewalks in the busier areas of cities and malls, or with people adopting the habit of walking on non-moving sidewalks like one drove on the streets, split into two different directions. Crosswalk signals had to be developed to warn people directly through their devices so that they didn’t walk right into traffic, though accidents still happened, as they do.     As throughout history, there were still Luddites and hold-outs to adopting this technology, often for religious reasons too (this too was seen as the Mark of the Beast mentioned in Revelations), though as stated earlier, it was difficult to stay connected to society without them, so some groups of people would have at least one person they could use as their liaison to “that” world. This person soon got over-worked to say the least, to say nothing of the device.
            There were larger devices developed of similar technology, but these tended to make people nervous, as they felt that had more control over a smaller “creature.”
            While there was some AI involved in these, there was not enough to concern people about, say, a revolution of these machines taking over the world. There were enough fail-safes built into them so that they could not function for long without humans, and like computers and calculators before, could not really “think” for themselves without human input. The traits mentioned above like “warning” users had more to do with the animal codes used in their creation and not much beyond instinct. Other than a few bizarre experiences they did not try to preserve themselves from harm, and certainly not at the risk of harming their users.
            On the other side of that coin, however, was the usual tendency of the porn industry to find illicit uses for new technology before anybody else had ever thought of doing it. S & M clubs certainly found their uses for them, as did connecting them and the user to the internet for limited times through video-chat rooms and the like. Limited time because these devices could only take so much, and so people had to either learn to not do marathon sessions with them, or else keep having to buy new ones every month or so. Surely people will find a way around this, though. Never be surprised at the power and inventiveness of desire.
            They could enhance the sensation of live shows and dance clubs, both due to vibrations and reactions to other devices in near vicinity to each other. They could be set to warn when one’s inebriation was about to hit a certain or illegal level. Some used this as a goal to reach however, like getting to a certain level in a video game.
            This experience too became enhanced, with the device becoming akin to a tail-gunner or sidekick in many games, or set to take on lesser tasks while the user took care of more important ones.
            To say that “multitasking” soon took on new degrees in society is putting it mildly.
            This constant connection could have its downside, of course, leaving one with withdrawal-like symptoms when not connected. Most didn’t sink to the levels of that of a drug addict, but it definitely had an effect that many couldn’t deal with well. So they would stay attached to their devices all the time, and often could only deal with others while in this state. It was only odd to those who weren’t in a similar state of mind. Of which there weren’t many of those left with each new day.
            The question developing in some peoples’ minds is, is this a symbiotic relationship, or a parasitic one?

Sorry if that was a bit long. Obviously editing is the first task after one finishes writing one of these things. Thus far for the new one I have a general idea of the theme and a few of the characters, and, typically for me, the title: "Emotion Blur."

Curiously enough, when I was out last weekend in Salem, MA, which is Halloween central for the month of October, I had my camera with me and happened to photograph somebody who looks pretty damn close to how I picture the main character, so this has become my initial inspiration and "unofficial" book cover. Let's see where this all leads.