Saturday, November 10, 2007

abandoned blog blog

What if there were a blogger who trolled the web looking for blogs that had not been updated in a very long time and gathered them together in an omnibus abandoned blog blog? Just as the majority of species have ended in extinction, it's certain that the vast majority of blogs have ended in abandonment. Like a palaeontologist, this blogger could probe the skeletal code of every specimen to find its similarities to other blogs while tracing its links, both live and broken, to other sites. Like a coroner, he could probe the human factors such as sloth, loss of employment, acquisition of employment, or even foul play, that may have caused each blog's demise. And like a cleric, he could offer a few solemn words of benediction for each abandoned blog---even if no one else on earth, least of all the deadbeat blogger, had ever mourned its passing.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

avoid the ten dollar words

What if some private interest bought the English language and sent monthly bills to all consumers for every word they'd used in conversation, writing, or even talking in their sleep? As a rule, longer words would be more expensive than shorter ones as they require more resources to produce (ink, paper, bytes, etc.) and usually possess a greater sense of prestige. The same elevated pricing would apply to Latinate words and terms borrowed from foreign languages such as Weltenschauung or fait accompli. On the other hand, brand names for common objects could be discounted or even free to use, according to contracts between the owners of English and its various sponsors. Some shorter words would be more expensive; for example "I" would be more expensive than "me" because subjective pronouns convey agency. People who could not afford to use "I" would speak a parody of Tarzan's English (e.g. "Me hungry.") that would be emblematic their powerlessness.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

post 12: advice from everywhere, wherever you are

What if you had a website showing where you were at all times & featuring a live thread where anyone could post advice about your current environs? If you were walking down the street in Paris, a correspondent from Shanghai could alert you to a great Chinese restaurant run by her cousin just around the corner from where you're waiting for the light to change. You could check this thread regularly, or wear an ear piece so people could call you with especially urgent or personal advice. Of course, some people might be fucking with you.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

post 11: I'm sorry I lied to you, Gemini

What if there were a syndicated newspaper astrologer who was absolutely convinced of the truth of his craft, but who, out of sheer sloth, routinely made up the advice and predictions offered in his daily horoscope? Given the difficulty of producing an accurate, useful, and tactful forecast for each of the twelve astrological signs on a daily basis, the temptation to offer platitudes spiced with bogus predictions instead of genuine forecasts based on sound astrology could easily prove too much to bear, especially since there are no government agencies or professional organizations to enforce standards in the field. However, given this individual's unwavering conviction in the truth of astrology itself, it seems possible that his own conscience might eventually catch up with him. If at some point he took the time go back and calculate accurate forecasts for the previous weeks and months, he would probably see that the advice he had been offering in his horoscopes was not only misleading, but in some cases so contrary to the real astrological forecasts as to be positively dangerous and destructive. How could he begin to make amends?

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Monday, May 7, 2007

post 10: brain cell

What if each person on earth lived in a tiny cell furnished with nothing more than a toilet, feeding tube, oxygen vent, web-cam & Internet access? And what if each person's right to a continued supply of oxygen were predicated on the amount of traffic that his or her personal website could generate? If an individual's website didn't receive more than a hundred unique visitors per day, his or her cell would have the oxygen sucked out of it, leading to a dramatic real-time death on the Internet. Of course this spectacle would be likely to draw more visitors to one's personal website, but the spike in hits would come too late. It would be as if the rest of the human race were saying: We didn't find you interesting enough to keep you alive, but your public death in a vacuum chamber is something we'll take time to see.

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Friday, May 4, 2007

post 9: nice package

What if the FDA, in an attempt to combat obesity, mandated that the packaging for all food products must not only list its calorie content, but also compel the consumer to expend an equal number of calories just to open the package?

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

post 8: "all your oil are belong to bugs"

What if a team of researchers developed a strain of bacteria that could survive underground and feed on petroleum, thus rendering it useless as a fuel source? What if, in the interests of neutralizing part or all of the world’s petroleum supply, someone introduced this new bacterium into the vast underground deposits of petroleum in the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, and other oil-rich regions of the world?

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

post 7: "Stop, OK?"

What if there were a country so polite that all street and highway signs were framed as suggestions rather than commands? What if even those signs that were meant to communicate simple facts such as the distance to the nearest city or the presence of falling rocks or other road hazards hedged their declarations with tag-questions and words like "maybe" and "might" so as not to come off as too pushy? What if people from this country became so accustomed to the deferent style of their own street signs that they found themselves insulted, and sometimes even enraged, by the more direct and authoritative language of signs in other countries?

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Monday, April 30, 2007

post 6: news you can use

What if U.S. News & World Report ranked religions in the same way that they rank colleges? Many of the categories, such as reputation, selectivity and even expense could remain the same, but a serious attempt at ranking religions would also have to weigh the probable accuracy of each faith's historical and metaphysical claims of fact. To be fair, Atheism and Agnosticism would also take their place in the rankings, and maybe a few quasi-religious ideologies such as Marxism and Libertarianism as well. Given the fact that religions also function as social and economic networks, U.S. News could evaluate the size and power of the global social network to which each religion offers access, and assess that religion's potential for growth.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

post 5: "we have something in common"

What if there were a guy who felt that the only way he could make conversation with anyone else was to point out something he had in common with that person, no matter how trivial or blindingly obvious? He'd say to someone standing next him at the bus stop, "Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice that you're wearing shoes. Look, me too. These things really protect your feet, don't they?"

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

post 4: "narrative is dead"

What if there were a guy who owned a DVD player but refused to let anyone in his family watch films on it unless the scenes were shuffled? What if whenever he caught his spouse or kids watching a film from beginning to end, he'd grab the remote, hit the "shuffle" function and declare "Narrative is dead!" What might be his motivations for doing this? Maybe he'd earned an advanced degree in comparative literature in the late 1980s, and thus thoroughly marinated his thinking in a post-structuralist suspicion of narrative? Maybe he shared Plato's objection to mimetic art in general (though why then would he own a TV?) or Augustine's objection to wasting one's sympathy on the plight of fictional characters in a world full of very real misery? Or maybe his wife and kids would be closest to the truth in their suspicion that his strict enforcement of the non-sequential viewing of films, however justified, was merely a manifestation of his desire to dominate others?

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

post 3: converstation starter

What if there were a guy who read every single bumper-sticker he saw as a sincere invitation to start a conversation? What if every time he saw a bumper-sticker on the Interstate, he would tailgate that vehicle to its next exit (thus avoiding the chance to be captivated by the sight of any other bumper-stickers), and then follow its driver until he could engage him or her in direct verbal conversation at a stoplight, parking lot, driveway, or wherever? What if he were motivated, not by anger or an insane desire to stalk strangers, but by a broad interest in current events and a wholly innocent desire to communicate with his fellow human beings?

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Page1 - Rough Draft:
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post 2: palimpsest

What if there were a program that allowed email recipients to read the earlier versions of every email sent to them? What if it functioned like the "undo" button in Word, thus allowing the reader to undo every revision that the author made before sending it, restoring every misspelling, obscenity, and unintentional disclosure to its original glory?

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post 1

What if there were a guy who could not stop thinking of "what if" ideas? What if every sentence he spoke began with "what if" even if he really meant it to be a mere "hello" or an urgent plea for help like: "What if someone pulled me from this burning car before it explodes?" What if some of his "what if" questions and scenarios were mildly amusing, deeply troubling, or surprisingly plausible? And what if he had a blog all his own, to share his ideas and to harness his compulsion to the infinite slack of the Internet in the hope that he might either a) cure himself of this compulsion or b) use up a good portion of that slack? What if this were that blog? What if, indeed.