This datapoem considers how social media facilitates the formation of groups that share their own version of reality. Such groups often attract members through a shared narrative about the world, for example political views or fringe beliefs such as conspiracy theories. These become mutually reinforcing as more members are added to form an ‘echo chamber’.
We all belong to such groups to some extent as we naturally gravitate to those whose views or company we enjoy. We tend to reject things that don’t support our existing beliefs and seek out things that make us feel good about those we hold. This is normal human behaviour, but its amplification on the internet can lead to fractured and polarised societies, susceptible to manipulation.
The poem is a haiku. The imagery references the ‘web’ of the internet with communities represented as droplets on the web, distorting objective reality to form their own truths.
Cradle is a datapoem attempting to combine 3 topics – the deep sea, the march of technology and environmental degradation, which were originally suggested in a Twitter survey. The theme that emerged from the synthesis is that humans evolved out of the oceans, but have grown apart from it. Our increasing technology is both a source of pollution and a means of reconnecting with that environment.
Unusually, it takes a speculative turn and extrapolates to a future where robots leave us behind to settle in the deep sea, powered by currents and with ample cooling for their processors. It suggests they are humanity’s children and will become estranged from us, as we are from the ocean.
The blending of 3 topics necessitated a longer and therefore more traditional structure of separate verses. The datapoem retains some idiosyncratic elements such as the data overlay depicting the ocean layers, a pictorial representation of robot submarines, and the control cables (possibly severed) trailing back up to the surface. The cables are intended to represent the parent/child relationship and the binary on the subs spells ‘AI’ in a loop.
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I wanted to make a poem that explores the web of technologies we inhabit in our modern lives, and the traces we leave behind, even after we’re gone. The ‘data’ in this datapoem is the collection of objects and the links between them – their relationships. This is called a ‘graph‘ – not the kind we are more familiar with like bar charts, but a network diagram. Graphs are an increasingly common way to represent data in the networked world, for example social media, and forgo the use of tables, rows and columns found in a traditional relational database. We are all nodes in a graph, in a constant state of flux.
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