#26: Walking to Change Time

#26: Walking to Change Time

Michael Apted and the Up Series, The Future of Social Media...Maybe and more links!

I haven’t pulled the data from my pedometer yet but I’m confident that I’ve walked more miles this year than I have since I started keeping track five years ago (and probably in my entire life). In all that time walking, one of the topics I frequently think about is our relationship with time, especially in our digital media age which relentlessly fights for our attention and time.

I’m convinced that on a personal level that time has changed for me this year. But how can I articulate that other than simply stating it? Is it just a feeling? There are a lot different factors that go into our perception of time: age, health, novel experiences, relationships, etc. All of those have played a factor for me as well, so I can’t just attribute it to walking. I do know that detaching from screens and walking in a new location for five to six hours straight has made me more creative, happier, healthier and more motivated. For now, I’ll take that over solving the riddle of time which is probably fruitless pursuit anyway.

Speaking of time. I’ve been editing a project that I’ve been working on for the last ten years, and will be sharing it in the next few weeks. I’m working on some ideas for the final form so will be writing about that process as well.

One of the questions in the Times Magazine ‘Artist’s Questionnaire’ is ‘how do you know when you’re done?’ I love reading the different answers. I have struggled to finish projects over the years, but with this one, the answer was fairly straight forward. It’s done because the decade is over. More on that later.

Michael Apted and the Up Series

“Apted’s awakening humility found formal expression in the editing room. The first three programs were crosscut along thematic lines with sections about class, education or politics. Now, in part because the participants’ archival back stories had grown to unwieldy dimensions, the material could only be tamed if each individual were given his or her own chapter. The final cut felt much less abstract and much more personal.

Even Apted didn’t quite realize how the program had transfigured itself until American audiences were introduced to the series for the first time, with a theatrical premiere in 1985. The reception was extremely enthusiastic; Sarris, in The Village Voice, wrote, “The results are both staggering and chastening on so many levels that the entire enterprise may require years of amplification and analysis before we can even begin to answer all the perplexing questions it raises.”

On the topic of time based projects, this this lengthy feature in the Times Magazine on Michael Apted and the Up series is worthy of your time. Regrettably, I have not seen any of the films yet so I think a proper binge is in order this upcoming year. Same goes for Frederick Wiseman.

Ideas about the Future of Social Media

“We’re going to have really intricately fake people,” she said. But there will also be ways to get at the truth behind the airbrushing and cat-ear filters. It will hinge on that low-tech practice known as meeting face to face. “You’re going to see people saying, ‘I met so-and-so,’ and that becomes your street cred,” she explained.

People who aren’t willing to meet up in person, no matter how persuasive their online personas, simply won’t be trusted. - Mikki Kendall

In the Times, Annalee Newitz “spoke to experts in media history, tech designers, science fiction writers and activists for social justice” to get ideas about the future of social media and the internet. I think we’re at an interesting inflection point because it’s nearly universally accepted that something is fundamentally broken with social media, but at the same time, we’re dependent on it economically in many ways that we can’t abandon it. So what’s the solution? I think we’ll start finding out sooner than we think.

Further Reading