Estoy leyéndome a pequeñas dosis Infinite Jest, la monumental novela de David Foster Wallace (1996), una especie de cóctel entre Pynchon y Barthelme sólo apto para ciertos paladares especializados (como el mío). Abstenerse de recomendarlo a amantes de la literatura así en general—aunque algunos sí apreciarán su creatividad lingüística y su ironía despiadada.
But there's some sort of revealing lesson here in the beyond-short-term viability-curve of advances in consumer technology. The career of videophony conforms neatly to this curve's classically annular shape: first there's some sort of terrific, sci-fi like advance in consumer tech—like from aural to video phoning—which advance always, however, has certain unforeseen disadvantages for the consumer; and then but the market-niches created by those disadvantages—like people's stressfully vain repulsion at their own videophonic appearance—are ingeniously filled via sheer entrepreneurial verve; and yet the very disadvantages of these ingenious disadvantage-compensations seem all too often to undercut the original high-tech advance, resulting in consumer-recidivism and curve-closure and massive shirt-loss for precipitant investors. In the present case, the stress-and-vanity-compensations' own evolution saw video-callers rejecting first their own faces and then even their own heavily masked and enhanced physical likeness and finally covering the video-cameras altogether and transmitting attractively stylized static Tableaux to one another's TPs. And, behind these lens-cap dioramas and transmitted Tableaux, callers of course found that they were once again stresslessly invisible, unvainly makeup- and toupeeless and baggy-eyed behind their celebrity-dioramas, once again free—since once again unseen—to doodle, blemish-scan, manicure, crease-check—while on their screen, the attractive, intensely attentive face of the well-appointed celebrity on the other end's Tableau reassured them that they were the objects of a concentrated attention they themselves didn't have to exert.
And of course but these advantages were nothing other than the once-lost and now-appreciated advantages of good old Bell-era blind aural-only telephoning, with its 6 and (62) pinholes. The only difference was that now these expensive silly unreal stylized Tableaux were being transmitted between TPs on high-priced video-fiber lines. How much time, after this realization sank in and spread among consumers (mostly via phone, interestingly), would any micro-econometrist expect to need to pass before high-tech visual videophony was mostly abandoned, then, a return to good old telephoning not only dictated by common consumer sense but actually after a while culturally approved of as a kind of chic integrity, not Ludditism but a kind or retrograde transcendence of sci-fi-ish high-tech for its own sake, a transcendence of the vanity and slavery to high-tech fashion that people view as so unattractive in one another. In other words a return to aural-only telephony became, at the closed curve's end, a kind of status-symbol of anti-vanity, such that only callers utterly lacking in self-awareness continued to use videophony and Tableaux, to say nothing of masks, and these tacky facsimile-using people became ironic cultural symbols of tacky vain slavery to corporate PR and high-tech novelty, became the Subsidized Era's tacky equivalents of people with leisure suits, black velvet paintings, sweater-vests for their poodles, electronic zirconium jewelry, NoCoat LinguaScrapers, and c. Most communications consumers put their Tableaux-dioramas at the back of a knick-knack shelf and covered their cameras with standard black lens-caps and now used their phone consoles' little mask-hooks to hang these new little plasticene address-and-phone diaries specially made with a little receptacle at the top of the binding for convenient hanging from former mask-hooks. Even then, of course, the bulk of U.S. consumers remained verifiably reluctant to leave home and teleputer and to interface personally, though this phenomenon's endurance can't be attributed to the videophony-fad per se, and anyway the new panagoraphobia served to open huge new entrepreneurial teleputerized markets for home-shopping and -delivery, and didn't cause much industry concern. (Infinite Jest, 1996, 150-51)
PS (2009): Comparar las irónicas reflexiones de Foster Wallace con los gráficos que describen el Hype Cycle según los analistas de Gartner. También especialmente aplicable a las nuevas tecnologías y gadgets.
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Blog de notas de
José Ángel García Landa
(Biescas y Zaragoza)
"Algo hay en el formato mismo de los blogs que estimula un desarrollo casi canceroso de nuestro ego" (John Hiler)