Friday, July 13, 2012

Voice(s) of America...(and elsewhere)

As a kind of postscript to yesterday's news is this related tidbit.  If you remember, Mac's - and consequently our - story became the basis for Rob Walker's NY Times article "Cyberspace When You're Dead" last year. As it so happens, this issue has been addressed again via a short Voice of America radio broadcast created by reporter and journalist extraordinaire, Adam Phillips.

Adam chatted with some of us recently regarding our endeavors to extend Mac's cyberspace life and the broadcast features  comments from Mac's mom, Dana Tonnies, Mark Plattner and yours truly, discussing issues which should be familiar to y'all by now.

That being said, Voice of America broadcasts are not  aired in the USA, though there is a live stream on their website and a podcast available eventually (I think). However, here's a link to the transcript: "In Death, Who Owns Your Online Afterlife?".


Image by Brian Froud

Meanwhile, Adam has a number of interesting podcasts found within his online files, one of which I listened to the other night and throughly enjoyed.

Remember this excerpt from Mac's last book (published posthumously)?

"Finally, I wondered the unthinkable: what if the antics of the" absurd humanoids" documented by Vallee weren't the work of some overarching intelligence? What if they happened just as reported, without the need to invoke externally imposed psychosocial thermostats?

This notion struck me as deliciously ironic. It suggested that the encounters with nonhumans that haunt our folklore were real, not necessarily projections preying on our gullibility. Could "fairies" and" elves" -and all their mythical successors-be distorted representations of an actual species?

While curiously appealing, the idea seemed totally orthogonal to science. Psychologists maintain that legendary "little people" are beings of the mind, the brain's instinctive attempt to populate the darkness. They're also quick to point out that modern accounts of spindly gray aliens are almost certainly due to fantasy-prone personalities, poorly trained therapists, and hallucinations experienced during episodes of sleep paralysis.

This analysis is attractive on several levels. It neatly does away with the specter of the Other we repeatedly encounter in myths. It also assuages our fears that our world might be fair game for dispassionate ET scientists, with their glittering probes and omnipotent saucers.

Alas, it fails."

Mac, Jacques Vallee, and others, had a specific interest in faerie lore and it's relation to other paranormal "mythology" - specifically that of  extraterrestrial entities.

Well, Adam Phillips takes us to Ireland, where we can hear first-hand accounts of encounters with Ireland's "Good Neighbors"... those indigenous - and anomalous - entities that comprise the most ancient of all Celtic races - often purported to reside in a parallel Otherworld - the daoine sĂ­dhe. If interested, that podcast can be found here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Image by Mike Clelland

"This is Mac Tonnies' Posthuman Blues Blog as it was captured shortly after his death. We hope future historians, the curious and his friends will read these words and Grok Mac in fullness."

- Capn Marrrrk Plattner via PostHuman

Awesome news from Capn Marrrrk Plattner: there is now a Posthuman! For those of you who didn't know, Mark has been busy capturing Mac's Posthuman Blues blog in its entirety - yes, in its entirety - for quite some time. Talk about dedicated friends... In any case, Mac work (and Mark's) now has a permanent and dedicated home... untouched by the hands of time (and the excrement of spam).

In a separate intro - Separating the Tears from the Rain - Mark writes:

"Whether he knew it or not, Mac influenced a great many people across many different disciplines, and simply put, we want a memorial for our friend who died way too soon. This version of Posthuman Blues is frozen in time right up to Mac's last post, and the comment thread which details the discovery of his death and aside from his books, it's the closest anyone can come to knowing the essence of Mac Tonnies, a man who was certainly worth knowing. In general, I really dislike saying, "What Mac would have wanted..." type statements, but I was under the impression that he really would have wanted to upload his consciousness into a computer. How awesomely Posthuman is that? Alas, instead of talking with Macbot we have to satisfy ourselves with the salient data points he was willing to share."

Congratulations, Capn Marrrrk!!!

And I think that I speak for us all, when I say thank you.