Gone through a big move this week, hence the lull, but I’m back on the blogging horse.

Thinking recently about a very common assumption concerning digital technologies and the internet. Many people assume (and have assumed for quite a long time) that many things can be done on computers and online, over great distances, and the outcome will be reasonably good, at least comparable with an alternative. Some examples that come to mind are telecommuting general work tasks over the internet, online education, etc. We especially see this in some of the rhetoric surrounding the UC Cyber Campus Initiative, running a demo this fall with real UC online courses.

This made me think about Silicon Valley because it has been a lesson well-learned in the West-Coast IT industry that being physically close, even if working digitally and remotely as well, makes a whole lot of sense. Think about The Social Network, the story of Facebook–remember when Mark Zuckerberg and his cronies flew out to Silicon Valley, where they “plugged in” and cannon-balled the summer away? Part of coming out here was being in a place where, for example, Justin Timberlake, I mean… Napster’s Sean Parker, could drop by and “collaborate.” It seems wise to view this Facebook example from a narratological perspective, that the filmmakers conveyed a sense of the importance of physicality that was certainly different from how it played out in real life.

From my personal experience, there are a good number of my current associates who have come out to the bay area specifically because the field in which they have interest is burgeoning here and a remote participation is insufficient for the success of their projects. This includes science innovation, tech development, and–you guessed it–online education!

I don’t think it’s entirely a contradiction, but it’s an interesting performance of the nuance behind questions of virtuality and physicality. For some virtual services to be created and burgeon, a whole lot of physical moving and interaction needs to take place. In fact, the success of Silicon Valley is claimed to be dependent on this practice.

I believe keeping the interplay of virtuality and physicality in mind will be handy when one thinks about creativity that is mediated or related to computers and networks–not just technology innovation in the IT industry. I hope to develop these thoughts more in the future…

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