What Your Computer Sees In You

One of the wonderful department managers I work with came to my rescue yesterday, providing me with a laptop PC to stand in for my once avian and now dead Mac. "Take it for as long as you need it," she said, and I ran upstairs with the laptop under my arm prepared to remember what it was like to have a computer in my office.

The loner laptop is equipped with a Sony Visual Communication Camera, and this being my first webcam, I've set up the documents I've been working on today so that they take up only 5/6ths of the screen so the live video image can take up the other 1/6th.

I've never known what I looked like while working at the computer, and now I know all too well. Though it's a video image, you'd hardly know. The little video version of me at screen right is generally static, equipped with a mezmerized stare and sitting oh so computationally still. Clearly something is occupying said subject, and it is transfixing. From time to time I catch myself (on screen, of course) assuming clich├ęd contemplative gestures such as fist on chin, index finger at temple, and head tilted back with eyes slightly squinted. Who am I making these gestures to?

There is a discussion on the WPA list today about the effects of computer composition. Compared to many other writing technologies, it has arrested our bodies.

The face-on-the-screen remains deadened, intent, placid.

Perhaps I need to document this and fizz it over to YouTube ... Look out LonelyGirl15, here comes WritingAcademic54!

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