Pokémon Go and the Unbundling of Reality

(This post is a condensed and re-organized version of two earlier blog posts.)

“Technology tends to see reality as heaps, as a conglomeration of fragments that somehow are put together by someone in order to obtain something . . . that don’t have any inner order or interiority that is resistant to human manipulation.”

—Antonio López 

apple-watchWhen Apple unveiled its new Apple Watch Series 2 at this year’s long-anticipated launch, news of the new smart-watch was overshadowed by reactions to the iPhone 7. Yet the underpublicized news that the Apple Watch is soon to be equipped with Pokémon Go is perhaps of greater significance than the annoying fact that Apple has decided to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone.

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Colonizing the Colonizers: Pokémon Go and the Liturgies of Time

Pokemon Go on the Apple WatchWhen Apple unveiled its new Apple Watch Series 2 at yesterday’s long-anticipated launch, news of the new smart-watch was overshadowed by reactions to the iPhone 7. Yet the underpublicized news that the Apple Watch is soon to be equipped with Pokémon Go is perhaps of greater significance than the annoying fact that Apple has decided to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone.

As I mentioned in last week’s post ‘Unbundled Reality and the Anti-Poetry of Pokémon Go, I only found out about Pokémon Go a few months ago after it had already taken over the world. The hugely popular reality-enhancement game has been downloaded over 500 million times since its release this summer, bringing in over $10 million a day to the developers. The game enables users to find and capture virtual creatures that have been placed in real-world locations and which are only visible to those with the right electronic devices.

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Unbundled Reality and the Anti-Poetry of Pokémon Go

Not long after digital books started becoming readily accessible on the internet, I began hearing that one of their advantages was that they enabled key sections of a book to be extracted from the larger context. Instead of having to read the whole book, a person can use search tools and navigational aids to jump straight into the best sections.

What really caught my attention, however, is when I began being told that eventually the context of a book, even a work of fiction, might pass into irrelevancy as an anachronistic relic of our literary past. Instead, sections of literary works might come to be organized according to new fluid contexts that emerge organically from algorithms based on user preferences. In an article on the post-literary mind, Mark Federman called this emerging model “the UCaPP world” (UCaPP stands for “ubiquitously connected and pervasively proximate.”) Federman described this as

“a world of relationships and connections. It is a world of entangled, complex processes, not content. It is a world in which the greatest skill is that of making sense and discovering emergent meaning among contexts that are continually in flux. It is a world in which truth, and therefore authority, is never static, never absolute, and not always true.”

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