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  • it's been five years since i last posted on cowbird. i never intended for so much time to pass before i returned to share a post, or make a comment on another contributor's post, or to be a meaningful part of this community that i did find very rich, very meaningful, and very engaged.

    with less than a day to go before the entire site turns into an archive, here are my final notes for the archive, an audio account of five years of not being on cowbird. a time capsule of a few of the thoughts, which have pre-occupied me over the years, jotted down on various notes and apps, which would comprise some of the articles and essays that i never wrote, and subsequently never posted to cowbird.

    amongst them:

    in a crisis, where do people gather? where do people convene for critical information? where do they seek relief? there are patterns of where people go. this was something i wanted to explore. that was june 2013.

    artificial intelligence and fatherhood- what if one could create an avatar (of one's self) as part of an AI-like conversational interactive program which could serve as a digital proxy for someone in case they die prematurely. someone like a parent who wanted to leave behind a living, breathing legacy for their children, for example: a version of themselves that their children could communicate with, and even seek advice. i wanted to explore what this looks like... and feels like. that was summer 2014.

    • when it comes to AI and virtual reality, empathy is often over-used and, at the very least, is a term that's misunderstood. as kio stark notes in her own writing, there is a distinction between empathy and compassion. empathy needs context and VR without context is just a first-person POV, like a first-person shooter. that was kio's assessment. it's entertainment, more akin to looking at a still photo than interacting with a person or an entity that has its own will... i have been thinking about how VR could allow access to previously inaccessible people and places, even inaccessible feelings and circumstances, but it has to be done right. the context needs to be right, to be created with care and integrity. and there needs to be genuine engagement, which leads me to a question, if the power of the gaze is only one-way, if the interaction is really only one-way, can virtual reality ever be empathetic?

    • i have thoughts on microsoft's inclusive design toolkit and the application of it outside of its initial intended usage. they have been rethinking the term "disability" so that it's less about a person's 'lack' of ability and more about how design comes up short - how the design of an experience does not match the needs of the user. they characterize it as a mismatch. that's a really interesting way of thinking not only about disability and design, but also about how one can bridge the gaps in other mismatches - such as the mismatch between opposing points of views, especially in the world of politics and communications across different cultures and bases of understanding.

    • there's also a brief accounting of a few of the milestones in my life over these last five years, in which i no doubt will have overlooked many that have been significant.

    in closing, i wish i had taken more opportunities to be a meaningful part of this cowbird community and to have made more thoughtful contributions to it. nonetheless, thank you, to everyone, especially jonathan, who made this community so rich and engaging. i wish everyone in the cowbird community the best of luck in their next endeavors! be well!

    christian
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