Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta power. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta power. Mostrar todas las entradas

miércoles, 11 de abril de 2018

What is content?


   The world today is all about making things, producing whatever it is you want in the hopes that someone, somewhere, would want to own in some way, whatever it is you have made. Content creation is the biggest thing nowadays and the fun part of it all is that the ones who create that content are not even good at creating anything. They just grab the best parts of what interests people the most and they mash that up together in order to create something that will attract people to it.

 Usually, content means videos, texts and pictures, all trying to call your attention into something you are probably interesting in. There so many things around right now, that we can say for sure that there is something for everyone. Is not like in the past when people had to go places to look for what they liked and maybe what they liked was not widely available or was even forbidden. Nowadays, every single kind of content is available in your home, without even moving from your bed.

 And people complain about that. Actually, they have two ways of complaining: they want more information, even easier to attain at every single moment in their lives and every single place in the planet. But others want the opposite. As always in human history, there’s always a group, a very vocal one, that advocates for a return to the old days when everything was done by hand and when people didn’t have the same freedoms they have today. They phrase it differently but you know what I mean.

 I won’t say that these kind of people want less freedoms and less information, because many of them just want to be freed from things like social media and the pressures of modern life, but I bet there are some of them who don’t really like the fact that information gives freedom, it gives us power to know that there’s something better out there. Information is knowledge and knowledge is a big power that can never be underestimated. Just ask the ones that have used it to their advantage.

 Of course, not every single piece of information is valuable; just as not every single piece of content is good or even worth a look. We are being dumped tons and tons of shit every single day into our mind, by people and even by computer generated automatic services that read into what we like and enjoy, deciding then to sell us whatever it is they are pushing somewhere in the world or maybe closer to home. Maybe they want us to buy tickets for a sport event, or music from various artists. Maybe they even want us to buy time with some other person or a game that can shield us from the pressures mentioned before.

 This world is surprising in that it has some things that are surprising, amazing if you will, but there are others that have always remained the same. For one, our naiveté is still a big problem when someone else wants us to believe in whatever it is they are talking about or whatever they are trying us to do.  We are still very much a silly little creature that had the luck to evolve into something a little bit more versatile and interesting. And yet, we still like to believe what we know are lies.

 Maybe its because people have gotten used to having everything at hand, just in front of them, so they have left their defense mechanisms in a dark corner inside their minds, where it cannot help them when someone wants to take advantage of them. Humans have decided, actively, to let their guard down and just enjoy all the good things of being the most evolved creature on the planet’s surface. Sadly enough, there are bad things too and there are many bad humans around to make our lives not like a dream.

 But we were talking about content. And how does this all relate to that? Very simple: the content machine that has been created, where people ask for “community managers” in their companies, is all about trying to make us thing one thing that may not be true. Actually, it’s mostly never true. We are now offered various options and we have to decide which one is the real one, which will make us happy for sure. And when we decide, we mostly choose the most visual striking option.

 That’s because we are humans, we are attracted to everything that goes inside our heads through our eyes. It has always been like that, ever since publicity was created and all the attempts to sell whatever it is they were selling. Because you can better believe that every single piece of content today wants to sell you something. Only a small fraction has been created for your pure enjoyment and even that can be put into question. It’s all about buying, about exchanges between people that can go right or wrong.

 But the truth is that we don’t really mind at all. We don’t care what it is they want to do with us. We just conclude that it is all a tale trying to make us feel scared about big companies and the government and how the mighty God of capitalism works. Our reaction is one of contempt for the ones that try to warn us about the bad things behind this society that has become a huge marketplace where everything is exchanged, no matter what. There is always a buyer and there is always someone selling exactly what we are looking for, what we want the most.

 We don’t know how else to live anymore. If everything disappeared tomorrow, many people would collapse on the spot, not knowing what to expect from the world. And that’s very important, because people feel safe in this huge marketplace, they know how everything works and they like that. The unknown has only ever attracted a very small amount of people, the real adventure of not knowing what lies beyond. Most of us like a good routine and we stick to it even if we complain daily about it.

Well, that’s what content is all about. It’s brings a cozy feeling to people that sometimes think the world might be going down any day now. That’s why even the news coverage in general has changed, in order to adapt reality, those things that we always thought that they couldn’t be manipulated. History changes or at least the way we look at it. Our perspective is no longer ours, but someone else’s, someone behind a computer who wrote exactly what we are going to think about a certain subject.

 And I have bad news: they have succeeded. Because people are not critical anymore, they just listen and listen, read and read, they think they are building their own opinion but they are not. They are just choosing what they like from what they’ve heard and seen, not really digging deep into anything. That’s too much work.

 That’s how we live nowadays. So if we can still fight, making the kind of content that is free from everything and every form, maybe that way we can still have a little window of hope. Maybe that way we can actually give people hope for the future and even for a present that looks like one thing but that is most likely something else.

viernes, 9 de marzo de 2018

Julia in the desert


   The stars seemed to be very close. Somehow, the sky in such a remote area of the world was different than what you would see in other parts. Julia was lying down on a think towel she had purchased before the trip and she started counting the stars but she got lost and tired quickly. She hadn’t even removed her boots before lying down and now she was falling asleep, in the middle of the desert. She hadn’t prepared her tent or any food. She was much too tired after her first day.

 Early next morning, she was woken up by a tickling on her stomach. Julia didn’t really open her eyes immediately. But as the tickling persisted, she decided to sit down and properly wake up. She stood up in fear once she realized the tickling came from the tough little legs of a scorpion that was parading itself all along her body. She checked herself for any stings but there was nothing. It was clear that, if the creature had stung her, she would be in severe pain.

 Julia decided to spend her second day looking for a better camping spot. She walked half that day all along the desert and the small patches of life she could find, until she found a small group of thin trees. They gave some shadow from the sun, which was perfect because it had started coming out behind big clouds and it was insufferable to walk like that. She was able to put up her tent in a few minutes and get inside before the full power of the sun was displayed. Thankfully, she had bought the right tent.

 She smiled at the thought of her looking around several stores until she found the right one. It was clear that many of the employees at all the stores didn’t really believe her when she stated she was going camping in the middle of the desert. She even explained to them she was studying biology and that was the perfect way to get more comfortable with future trips she might have to endure. But apparently she looked too “girly” and too “nice” to be the type of woman that goes camping.

 Julia even imagined that they pictured her doing her nails inside of her tent or maybe bringing a man with her in order to repel bugs and others animals. But she couldn’t care about all of that, about what she thought they were thinking or about what they were actually thinking. She could only care about her priorities and her first one was to become the best biologist ever. She really loved the profession but had always had a certain fear and disgust towards going camping or working in the middle of a jungle or any wild place. So Julia forced herself to camp and live through it alone.

 She sat down on the tent and removed her boots after almost a day of use. Of course, her feet smelled awful but it was the price to pay for such an adventure. Besides, she was certain that a source of water would be around and she would take advantage of that the moment she found it. Meanwhile, she had to conform with removing her boots and socks and giving her aching feet some air to relax. She opened her backpack, grabbed a couple of power bars and ate them in a few minutes.

 Food was one of the big problems she had to face doing what she was doing. It  wasn’t like she was prepared from day one to hunt and eat anything she found. Besides, she was in a desert and the amount of animals there was severely reduced. It wasn’t as if she was in the middle of a beautiful European forest where she could hunt down boars and roast them slowly over a nice fire. She couldn’t do that, so she had prepared herself with lots of cereal bars and small foods that she could move around easily.

 It wasn’t the best meal ever, but at least she had fresh water, which was enough to make her feel alive once again. She lay down for a bit and realized she hadn’t really done much related to biology. The closes thing had been her encounter with the scorpion and she had run so fast after that, that she was ashamed to call herself a scientist. So after relaxing for a bit, she put on her socks and boots again and a baseball cap her dad had given her before departure.

Then, she went outside to check for animal life outside the tent. Julia found some interesting bugs near the thin trees and was able to take pictures with her cellphone. She had a better camera inside her backpack but she really didn’t want to be fixing its configuration when trying to take the picture of a small creature. She promised herself to check the camera features before going to bed. She saw some more scorpions, as well as tiny spiders that seemed to like underneath the hot desert sand.

 When going back inside her tent, a powerful noise attracted her attention upwards and she realized a very rare visitor was flying over her. Before leaving her house, Julia had checked all the information she could about that part of the country, so she was well aware of the existence of such a majestic creature. It had a very large wingspan but its body was rather small. Its feathers were light yellow, in order to reflect the sun light and being able to blind its prey with them. It was such a beautiful design nature had achieved, so of course Julia took lots of pictures.

 Later that day, and after eating a whole tuna can with beans, Julia uploaded the cellphone pictures onto her laptop. She had brought several spare batteries for it, but even so she decided to limit her computer time to only an hour a day. She erased the pictures that she didn’t like and was about to turn off the computer when she decided to look at some of the other pictures she had on her laptop. Family pictures, others with friends and some at college too. She was smiling in most, not in all of them.

 She even laughed out loud when she realized she had a couple of pictures of her old boyfriends. She hadn’t seen any of them in a long time, as they had been only high school crushes and nothing more. Yeah, she had gone with one of them to prom and with the other one on a long summer vacation. But that was it, they were both now in the past and she had to move on. Actually, it had been partly because of them she had decided to follow her dream of becoming a biologist. They didn’t think it was a realistic dream.

 After turning off the computer and putting it away, she decided to grab the camera to fix the settings before using it the next day. She had bought that second hand camera online and had never touched more than a couple of times to know it could be turned on and off. That was it. Now she had to put everything in the right setting in order to capture the perfect pictures in the scorching desert. But as she wasn’t very good with things like that, Julia soon fell asleep with the camera on her chest.

 The next day, she woke up to see the camera had rolled to the side. She grabbed it to put away but then the bird with yellow feathers screamed loudly. Because this time, it did seem like a scream and not like the beautiful chant of a majestic bird. Julia stepped outside barefoot, only to see the sky was very dark and that the bird was on top of the nearby thin trees. The bird let out another “scream” and suddenly flew over Julia and away from the tree area. It seemed to be escaping something.

 Only moments afterwards, the ground began shaking violently. Julia fell to her knees and saw how her tent moved around as if tossed by some invisible force. She tried t o crawl her way back inside the tent but the earthquake stopped right before she was able to get it.

 Inside, all of her stuff had spilled out of the backpack. Food, the camera, phone and laptop, everything was upside down. The bird had warned her right in time. She was thankful and realized she had made the right choice by spending two weeks in that desert. She was going to make the best of it.

miércoles, 24 de enero de 2018

Her

   The explosion was strong enough to blow away every single glass of the magnificent apartment. It occupied the whole 35th floor of one of the tallest residential buildings in the city and it had been featured in several magazines as one of those grand and amazing apartment that people should be looking at if they wanted to have one ever in their life. Not that that goal was any realistic, as Wilbur Wright, owner of the apartment, had inherited the millions of dollars that had paid the apartment and everything on it.

 The destruction of the apartment was shrouded in mystery as, two days later when the fire had finally been put out by firemen, there was no real clue as to what or whom could have cause the explosion. It was clear that nothing ordinary had been the culprit: there were no gas leaks of any kind, not a faulty wire in the whole premises and not even a problem with any of the many gadgets and electronics that made the apartment an automated environment that worked on its own, with no help from any human.

 Wilbur Wright had been on a plane on his way home when the incident happened and he was taken in a rush to a gran hotel room in order to protect his life, as many thought he was still in danger. But he had no idea about what they were all talking about, as most people loved him. Yes, he had inherited all of his money and didn’t really work at all, but he was the charitable face of his family’s organization and had been a patron of the arts for quite a while. Who would attack such a person?

 From his hotel room, he was able to watch the flames consuming his apartment, as the buildings were not very far apart. He had bought so many collectible items for his private quarters, many objects and art pieces that were one of a kind. Many museums had tried to buy them from him but he had always refused stating that there was no better person than him to take care of a precious item and that there was no safer place in the world than his apartment for such things. Clearly, that had not been the case.

 The morning the fire was extinguished, he got permission to enter the premises and check for himself what remained of his beloved apartment. Every single piece of furniture had been consumed, even the expensive food he kept on the kitchen. Every piece of granite, marble and titanium was now tainted forever with a black stain, with yellowish tones that indicated the temperature of the flames. He went to what used to be his room. He opened the closet and typed a few numbers on a keyboard the firemen had missed. It was a large vault, embedded into the wall.

 The vault’s door opened and it revealed a small room that had resisted the fire and the smoke. However, Mr. Wright collapsed once he entered the small space and started yelling and pulling his hair. For a moment, the men and women around thought of giving him some space to process whatever he was dealing with. But then they realized he was pulling his hair a little bit too much, actually pulling some of it from his skull, getting it on his hands and then on the floor. He had to be taken away to a hospital.

 The news of his breakdown went viral in hours. It was assumed that one of the firemen, or maybe one of the police officers, had recorded everything on a cellphone, as everyone watched Mr. Wright pulling out his hairs. The video had been uploaded to the Internet and now thousands of pulling were looking at him going crazy. Some of them laughed and some others even shed a tear. The common part of the response was that everyone wondered what had cause him to have the breakdown then and not before.

 Wilbur was released after a whole week in the hospital. His family came to take him home, which was a very rare sight on the part of their family, as they had never seemed to be close at all. The parents had decided to live a life of leisure since they had given their children control of all the businesses, and no pictures of the kids’ younger days had ever been released to the public, something that seemed odd at the beginning but they told every news outlet it was because they respected they children.

 The truth was the family was as cold as some of people thought it was. Wilbur rarely ever spoke to his father or mother, not even when he had been for a brief moment in charge of the shipping company his father had created when he was younger. Wilbur had done such an awful job running it, that the family had decided to fire everyone and dissolve the company altogether. Of course, it had been awful for the workers but the family thought it had been a disaster because they realized that Wilbur didn’t really now anything.

 They took him to their summerhouse, far from the city, in order to ask him about his mental state. They wanted to know if they had to be worried about it since it would be something more to add to the shame they felt for having him as a child. That’s what they told him, word by word. They didn’t care if he felt bad because of their words; they just wanted answers and the faster the better. Wilbur only said they didn’t have to worry about anything as his problems were his alone. The way he said it stopped them in their tracks and they decided not to speak again of the matter.

 The truth was that Wilbur didn’t want anyone to know about what had happened with his house. He wanted to ask the fire department for another tour of the ruins, but it had been decided that the building should be evacuated completely in order to check for any issues that the fire could have caused to the structure of the tower. No one was allowed in, except for law enforcement and the investigators that the city had working to know if everything was ok after the destruction.

 Wilbur was so desperate about his secrets that he decided to use his money to bribe a policeman in order to let him into the tower one night, after everyone had gone home. He was able to do it quietly and without any cameras or people looking at him. He went straight for his vault again and when he opened the door, his fists tightened, as well as his jaw. He even repressed the need to punch a wall or destroy the few things that had been left inside that place. Not that there was a lot there.

 Only a few papers and a little safe with some cash. It was all just for security but his biggest secret, his biggest creation if you will, and the only proof he was much more than what his family thought he was, was not there anymore. Every part of his creation had been destroyed by the fire and the only way to bring it back had been clearly stolen, probably minutes before the explosion. That was the proof that someone had gotten in and knew exactly what to look for, someone had known something he had told no one.

 He wasn’t really scared about that person using his creation against him or even playing the people into thinking he or she had created such a thing. Nothing like that bothered him. It was the relationship he had created, the fact that now he felt as if his only child had been yanked away from his hands. He felt hollow, alone and very sad. That was the reason he had collapsed when opening the vault, the reason his brain had not been able to cope with what had happened.

 He had named it Pamela, after one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. He had created Pamela when younger, after reading a lot about computers and programming. He learned all that by himself and no one in his family or work had a clue about his hobby.


 Pamela was the product of his efforts. He worked a bit on her, every day, and he was proud to think that he had created a perfect example of artificial intelligence. She was nice, smart and very intuitive. She was a friend, a daughter and a companion. And now, he had no idea where she could be.

lunes, 15 de enero de 2018

Mantis

   Marina had been trained by the best martial artists in the planet and she had been practicing other techniques to make her moves even more fluent than ever. She had always been interested in sports and being fit, especially since in high school she had always been such a chubby little girl. Many of her classmates would make fun of her because of that. She would cry and tell her dad or her mom but by the end of her school years, she didn’t care anymore. She would answer with silence.

 When in college, she decided to become more active and enrolled in karate classes and then she went to a special school were she could learn how to handle a vast assortment of guns. Of course, she would only learn how to use the least complex ones because of her status as a civilian, but that was enough to make adrenaline pump all over her body. When she pushed her body to the limit, whether it was on the shooting range or in the gym, she felt liberated, someone else even.

 It was a surprise to her when, two years into her studies, she was approached in the campus by a man in a black raincoat. It happened at night, which wasn’t the best setting for a woman in campus. Marina had noticed the man walking behind her for a while and when he was closer, she used her elbow to strike his nose and then her fist to punch him hard in the stomach. She started running away from him but she was stopped when he caught up with her, pulling Marina from her sweater’s hoodie.

 She felt to the ground but didn’t loose any time: she used a very powerful kick in the shins to topple the man down and she was about to pull out her pepper spray when the man showed her his CIA badge. She pulled back just in time, watching as his nose bled profusely. She was confused and thought trouble was just a small word for what could happen to her. She feared that she had probably punched some undercover guy in the face. But why was he chasing after her?

  The man asked for help to get up and she did held her arm forward to pull him up. The man tried to clean his coat, covered in dirt and dead leaves, without taking a long look at what was happening in his face. He was still bleeding a lot. He only pulled out a handkerchief from one of his pockets kind of wiped some of the dried up blood off his face, not that it helped much. Marina stood there, afraid to run away but also to stay by the man. She grabbed her backpack, which she had removed when she landed on the campus’ floor.  Everything was fine inside it.

 The man finally started talking. He said he worked with the CIA and that he frequently probed the grounds looking for new recruits. He had been interested in Marina for a long time and had decided to talk to her that night. He admitted to the idea being a little bit stupid, with everything that happened to young women in that context, but he was also glad she had responded in such a manner when he came after her. It really showed that what they were looking in her was definitely there.

 Before Marina could ask any more questions, he gave her his card, with a few droplets of blood. He told Marina to arrive to that address the next day at five o’clock in the afternoon. He would be there to talk to her about the possibilities she could have with the agency and about her past, present and future in college. Before she could even say a word, the man turned around and walked away rather fast. Maybe he was afraid of getting hit again or he had realized how serious the nose thing was.

 Marina arrived at her dorm in minutes but she couldn’t sleep at all after what had happened that night. She was already beneath a lot of pressure from college, with all the work she had to do. She also had her training and her gym schedule. She was even considering helping in a fundraiser which was about helping young woman in campus but everyday seemed to disappear after that man had told her she could have “possibilities” with him and the agency he represented.

 She arrived right on time the next day. There, she met the man again, who had apparently been at the doctor’s because his nose had been properly taken care of. The bandages made him look a little bit different than the night before, or maybe it was the lighting. The point was that he was not alone. A woman, around his age, sat on the desk when Marina came in. None of them smiled or did anything to greet Marina in their space. They just went right to the questions and they did have a lot of those.

 After a long sessions, maybe two hours, of questions about her childhood, upbringing, education and interests, the woman asked her coworker to tell her again about what had happened the night before. Marina was a bit ashamed to hear about it, especially when she wasn’t asked herself about it, so she remained in silence, nodding when the woman seemed to need confirmation of what the man said. The story was short, so she didn’t have to endure that awkward moment for too long. The woman then asked Marina to meet them again the next day, in a new address, inscribed in another card.

 The next day, Marina entered her gym very late at night. The moment she had seen the address on the card, she had realized she knew the place by heart. Her trainer was there and she was glad to have a familiar face there. But he seemed very concerned and could only give her a nod when she entered the place. The woman and the man from the CIA were there and also two other men, closer to her age or at least so it seemed. They were dressed in gym clothes and looked at her as angry bulls.

 They all walked towards a corner of the space, one covered in mats. The woman from the CIA told Marina that she needed to see for herself that what her partner said that she was able to do was actually true. It was the only time the woman asked Marina if she wanted to go through with it all. Marina thought about how weird the whole thing was, how strange it was to be in one of her favorite places in the world but feeling as uncomfortable as she had never really felt.

 She had arrived in gym attire, so the first match began right away. One of the big guys she saw at the entrance was her first match. She guessed the second one was going to be against the other one, if she survived. The man behave more like a bull than like a man but she was able to counter every single one of her blows, no matter if they were kicks or punches, with relative ease. He was close many times, but Marina had trained hard in order to be not only effective but also incredibly fast.

 When she finally did her gut punch move, the other guy entered the fray and toppled her to the ground, making her feel like she had lost every bit of air that was inside her body. She tried to stand up but the second brawler kicked her hard on one side and the other was preparing to ram her again. What she did next was something based more on her instincts than on her actual skills. She jumped on top of the biggest guy, sat on his shoulders and tried to asphyxiate him with her thighs.

 Then, after a few seconds, she jumped down, taking advantage of the movement to kick the other guy straight in the face. He fell down like a deck of cards. The remaining guy was about to punch her when the woman yelled: “Stop!” And he did.


 Her trainer and the CIA guy were looking at her with eyes wide open. But the woman was actually smiling, something that didn’t really fit her appearance. She then walked closer and grabbed Marina by the hands “I have work for you”, she said, without dropping the creepy smile from her face.