Lit 80, Fall 2013

Ebocloud Novel Response

November 18th, 2013 | Posted by Zhan Wu in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

At the dawn of the 21st century, the advancement of the internet has resulted in the emergence of social network media such as Facebook and Twitter, which successfully served as an interactive and communicative platform for millions of internet users. Rick Moss, in his novel Ebocloud [1], boldly explores futuristic possibilities of social media development and the its potential consequences and societal implications.

The novel Ebocloud assumes that all future social media outlets have been amalgamated into a single entity, or so-called “social singularity” if you will. This singularity, named Ebocloud itself, utilizes an altruism-reciprocation award system to encourage the forming of extremely close online communities. The system works in that if someone registers as a new ebocloud user, he/she will be automatically and randomly assigned to an “ebo-family”, with family members called ebocousins, and receive reward points, named “kar-merits”, for helping them in times of need. This idea might sound innocent and positive at first, but ultimately has to be more deeply scrutinized to truly interpret its inner, more abysmal meanings.

The story’s plot follows Ellison Luber, a NY artist, who is trying solve the mystery of his girlfriend’s attempt to kill him by setting his apartment on fire, and who enlists several of his ebocousins to help him out. During the ongoing story, the narrative goes deeper into the Ebocloud relationship system and questions how this omniscient medium created for humanitarian and utopian purposes might have a darker and sinister side to it. Ellisons quest for solving the mystery of a possible case of pre-planned murder eventually refolds into a adventure for understanding the “powers and promises” [2] of Ebocloud.

Rick Moss’s idea about Ebocloud is certainly extremely intriguing and not so far-fetched from reality given the numbers of social network websites nowadays. Ebocloud, by providing rewards for each ebocousin by helping other ebocousins, virtually applies the model of reciprocal altruism, formulated by behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner in the twentieth century. The constant application of this psychological approach can lead to close-knit communities with extremely intimate ties and opinions (i.e. each ebocousin regards the other as a well-known and trusted friend, if not family). Ebocloud, therefore, attempts to form a so-called “collective consciousness” by gathering massive amounts of people and creating tribal identities within each ebo-family.

The power of Ebocloud is not overstressed if it has the ability to truly assimilate every human being, or most people for that matter, into its cloud system. In fact, the powers of a single collective community is most often portrayed in modern science fiction movies, such Star Trek and Aliens. In Star Trek, for instance, human’s most bitter enemy, the Borg, are all controlled by a single mind, the Borg Queen. All the different physical Borg entities are thus psychologically bonded together. The idea  that everything can merge into a single entity, is scary for most people, yet in this era of high technological advancement this prediction of a possible future should be seriously discussed. What would happen to privacy if we all shared an extremely close space with each other? What can be done to prevent this technology from falling into the wrong hands? These ethical questions and many more should be comprehensively considered even before the appearance of such technology.



[1] Ebocloud Accessed Nov. 17, 2013.

[2] Ebocloud, A Novel About Social Singularity Accessed Nov. 17, 2013.



Ebocloud Novel Response

November 18th, 2013 | Posted by Mithun Shetty in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Recent years of rapid technological development demonstrate increasing societal dependence on technology. Devices and programs are being invented one after the other that alter our perception of the world around us and augment our ability to communicate with one another. Google Glasses overlay technology onto the world around us and improve our ability to interact with the world around us. Applications on our mobile devices allow us to perform tasks on-the-go formerly thought to be impossible. In this way, man and machine seem to be becoming one. As social integration and access to such technology becomes more popular, we may be simultaneously losing the power to remain independent of technology. This dependence on technology is not completely grounded in necessity, either; while we do use it to store the information integral to running our infrastructures, we also have come to rely on it to live socially amongst each other. The amount of data being generated about and shared with millions of users on the internet’s social media networks is endless. Facebook generates about 500 terabytes of data on its users each day, none of which is essential for our existence or survival. Yet, people have turned to social networks because it is a very accessible, easy, and instantly-gratifying method of finding old and new friends and sharing your life with them (without going through the work of actually doing so physically). This social dynamic begs the question: What is the next stage in merging sociality and technology?

Rick Moss’s Ebocloud is an immersive science fiction novel that depicts a near-future in which a new social network entitled “Ebocloud” has become a huge social construct in daily life. This network groups its millions of users into separate families (based on their personalities and preferences) and utilizes a data cloud that acts as a server for sharing information between the members. The cloud connects to their minds and bodies via digital tattoos and stores thoughts, ideas, and experiences within the cloud. These tattoos, among other things, have the ability to control hormonal balances within a person, allowing for neurological rewards for doing certain tasks and good deeds within your Ebocloud family. Clearly, Ebocloud is an example of system that is almost 100% integrated into the daily lives of mankind. The cloud “families” you are placed in group you with those who are similar to you, allowing facilitated communication of thoughts and ideas. This type of system has major drawbacks alongside its supposed benefits. While it does help you meet new like-minded individuals while simultaneously accomplishing volunteerism/positive karma/social helping (via the kar-merit system, in which those who do “good” things are rewarded with more influence and power in Ebocloud), the negatives may outweigh these benefits. Not only are you essentially forfeiting all of your privacy to those in control and maintenance of the cloud, but you are slowly and surely losing your individuality by separating into a cloud. Families can be seen as separate homogenates of certain individuals who, after a certain amount of time, may fail to contribute new ideas and content to their families and simply perpetuate the same shared ideas instead (after all, there is no privacy among families, and everyone is working towards the goal of attaining kar-merits). Most importantly, however, the biggest danger in using such a system is the biological component of this network. Without the tattoos, this network is relatively harmless. However, allowing a vast system beyond your personal control to directly influence the inner processes of your body (i.e. hormonal balances) is a dangerous, terrifying idea. You are forfeiting your control over your body – it is as if you are giving a set of strangers the green light to drug you whenever they desire. There is also no escape from participation, as the tattoos are permanent. To engage in such a network is to have complete faith that the system is and will forever remain free of corruption, which is a dangerously naïve mistake. The plot of the novel goes on to show a scenario in which the controlling few of the cloud fall into the throes of corruption, putting the protagonists into a dangerous, compromising situation. This not-too-distant hypothetical raises some interesting questions about our real lives. When will we draw the line between technology and privacy? Is it likely that we will ever settle for a certain level of technological development, or will we continue to integrate it into our daily lives? Also, how will increased reliance on technology shape the way we interact with each other and live our lives? How much is too much?



November 17th, 2013 | Posted by Craig Bearison in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Ebocloud by Rick Moss transports us to a potential future in which one of our generation’s biggest creations, social networks, have continued to develop and grow in influence. In this society, the biggest and best social network is the Ebocloud. It is described in the novel as the anti-Facebook. Whereas Facebook is all about superficial judgments and individual status climbing, Ebocloud by design fosters altruism and group identity. People who sign up for the network are put into ebo families, tribes, where the members refer to themselves as cousins. They communicate with each other using all sorts of mediums, even text messaging and blogging like we have today. The purpose of establishing these close-knit networks is to work with other people to build a better planet (57). This is accomplished by incentivizing good deeds. Kar-merits are given out for accomplishing good deeds and used to establish rankings and elders who get to sit on the cloud council. All sorts of other internal review metrics and variables are factored in to the ranking system and matching people with projects. These checks and redundancies are employed as a means of security and verification, similar to things like Yelp that we have today where it is open to the public for content but there is an internal system of crediting.

As a ‘futuristic’ social network, ebocloud makes use of a lot of technologies people today predict we will have in the future. One of the most interesting and important ideas in the novel is the BCI, brain-computer-interface. In this Ebocloud project, ebocousins will be hooked into ‘computers’ via digital tattoos, dToos, so that knowledge and commands can be shared between people and improve the mechanism for matching cousins with group activities. Ebocloud, and BCI in particular, demonstrate the idea of singularity, bot not exactly the kind of singularity we have talked about before. Singularity in Ebocloud involves the joining of the individual mind to a group collective conscious rather than a computer. For example, the BCI can employ electrical stimulation or neurotransmitter release to manipulate mood, feelings, thoughts, etc. Used across tribes, this will create a network of group feelings that will give us a new language and help us attain global comprehension of objective truth (286). It is all about love for each other. As a class, we were mostly creeped out by this intimate connection to people we had never meet before.

The way Ebocloud supposes to utlilize the brain in its technology is very relevant to my final paper topic. One of my arguments is that in the future we will use brain scans to evaluate people. The physical brain is analyzed to decode thoughts, emotions, etc. In the novel, the BCI began with a big project to map and ‘chart’ the human brain. This information will be used in the BCI to capture the data behind a thought or impression and transmit it to your tribe where they can decode it and experience the associated feelings. Mapping the brain cannot only be used to read minds but the knowledge can also be used to manipulate them.

What if we lived in a world where the dynamic of families and the whole idea of social interaction changed completely? A world where people associated themselves with groups of ‘strangers’ more so than their biological families. This may sound like science fiction, but the idea as seen in Ebocloud by Rick Moss may reach reality faster than we are expecting. Ebocloud details a society in which people have become members of a ‘cloud’ society and the idea of loneliness is completely abandoned. This works through the setup of, which when used, allows people to be assigned to ‘ebos’ or groups that serve as pseudo-families and strive for humanitarian gains. Unlike facebook, “ebocloud pulls you out of yourself rather than competing for who has the most friends” (Moss 203). Coinciding with the main plot of artist Ellison Luber trying to elucidate the mysteries surrounding his girlfriend, the reader begins to see the truly transformative power of ebocloud and its effects on society. For example, with membership to an ebo most members decide to tattoo their ebo logo on their arms. This changed many things, including the way people walked. “Pedestrians’ eyes, rather than straight ahead and unfocused, are directed at the left wrists of passers by, and those wrists are exposed to view…” (Moss 215). The reader can see how a simple online ‘social network’ could start changing the way society functions. Slowly, the cloud continues to expand to a point where people begin adoption “dtoos,” digital tattoos that can map the human brain and send signals to and from the cloud.

This is where the book becomes very interesting and delves into some ethical questions that we may face as a society in the near future. The creator of Ebocloud and dToos, Radu Cajal, states one of the purposes of Ebocloud as the “way to get us to a state of cosmic knowledge, something only religion could previously do” (Moss 289). Essentially with ebocloud and dToos, all of human knowledge and experience can be pooled into the cloud and projected back, sharing the knowledge with everyone. This leads to an extremely efficient, intelligent, and compassionate human race where everyone is skilled and animosity is essentially eliminated between people. This however, is if the ebocloud was to work perfectly. The ethical issues that are raised generally have to do with the downfalls of a system like ebocloud. What if someone cloud control the minds of everyone connected to the cloud, and foster artificial relationships between people, groups, ebos, and nations for ulterior motives? These are the reasons why systems like ebocloud or a ‘hive mind’ scare me. With everyone being experts at everything, the creativity of the human race will soon falter with people just moving from task to task. Overall, the novel Ebocloud by Rick Moss is a very frightening, yet interesting perspective on the future of human society with the exponential rise of technology that is taking place. If used properly and ideally, a system like ebocloud could elucidate the full potential of the human race and the power that comes with cooperation. It could end the idea of wars, fights, and animosity between people. But if left in the wrong hands or used improperly, systems like ebocloud could lead to the generalization of the human race and essentially eliminate what makes everyone of us different.

Ebocloud Novel Response

November 15th, 2013 | Posted by Shane Stone in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

As technology develops and becomes more and more advanced one question is evident. How will technology affect humanity? In an interview with Social Bling Rick Moss discusses how he has “two crazy ideas for saving humanity” and how he incorporated both of them into his novel, Ebocloud (Michele 2011). From the book, it appears that he is referring to how technology can save humanity. Moss speaks through Desalt to describe his two hypothesized ways. In reminiscing on a conversation with Arthur C. Clarke, Desalt explains how either a catastrophe will leave humanity to adapt physically to their new new circumstances (leaving technology obsolete) or that technology will “free us from ourselves [and our] physical bodies” (complete dependence on technology) (Moss 130). By the end of Ebocloud, humanity seems to be transitioning towards the latter extreme. According to Radu, his developments with the cloud will combine the micro (human) and macro (cloud) to create a meta structure, which will move “humans forward along their natural evolutionary pathway” (Moss 434). In the epilogue, Eli’s description of how “your [perception of] ‘me’ is blurred” during cloud connection suggests that humanity is on its way toward a meta-structure and one step closer to abandoning physical bodies (Moss 442). Despite the apparent positive advances of technology, there is still one critical downfall. Doug introduces the idea earlier in the novel when he expresses his concern about technology because he recognizes that “when we add something this big into our lives, we’re going to give up something equally big” (Moss 342). Although at the time it was unclear what “something” was going to be, upon the books conclusion the reader learns that traditional love is lost to a new form of ebolove. Advances in technology may have escalated humanity, but at a huge cost. With this in mind I leave the reader with a question: Is it worth it?

Moss, Rick. Ebocloud. 2nd ed. New Orleans: Aqueous, 2013. Print.

Moss, Rick. “EBOCLOUD: Dare to Imagine Life After Facebook | SocialBling: Social Workflow System Development.” Interview by Stephanie Michele. Web log post.SocialBling. N.p., 9 Mar. 2011. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. <>.

Technology continues to integrate itself into our lives on daily basis. New apps are frequently developed and the use of smart phones has given us access to these apps wherever we go. As a generation, we are becoming accustomed to being “connected” with the world—whether through our phones, apps, or the Internet. As our connections increase, we are given more access to the world, to information, to contacting others. In turn, we give out information about ourselves—willingly or unwillingly—to this collection of data. We post information on our Facebook pages or Twitter accounts and instantly that data becomes available to the world—regardless of the minimal privacy settings we are offered. What will become of this system of information sharing as technology continues to develop? How will this change affect how we live? How we relate to others? How our government is run? Already we can see how the threat of “siren servers” is increasing as companies such as Google grow.

In his science fiction novel Ebocloud, Rick Moss explores what our world will be like in a future dominated by Internet connections. He presents the idea of a “cloud”, a computer network that links together the human minds of its users. The users also have digital tattoos that connect the individual, the “family” you belong to, and the “cloud”. This level of connection can be seen as a blessing or a curse. Yes, you are opening yourself up and forming bonds with others that you would not have otherwise met. You surround yourself with this group of people who are open to helping you and whom you can associate with. You open yourself to opportunities to join organizations and projects to do good or that correlate with your interests. It doesn’t sound too different from social networks we have today. But to what level does this connection extend? There is no logging out—the tattoos keep you connected to the cloud, and thus you are giving up the ability to remove yourself from this cyber world. And how genuine are these bonds you are making? When people have extrinsic motivations—such as earning “Kar-merits”—does that affect the way they behave? Does that make them more self-absorbed? Or less so because they are participating in projects that better society? The concept of a powerful computer network connecting the world—which is far less of a fictional concept than we may believe—would affect the way we think, the way we interact, the way we make decisions, the way our world is governed. How much of your self are you willing to give up for the sake of a more connected world?

Final Project Abstract: Joy

November 11th, 2013 | Posted by Joy in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


– The purpose of my project is to explore ideas of self, the body, and embodiment, particularly as it relates to the continual integration of technology within our daily human lives. Does our co-evolution with technology merely allow us to understand these concepts in an augmented manner, or does it leave us less capable of differentiating between real and imaginary? How does technology as a medium transform how we interpret and interact within these different realms, and what are the potential social, personal, and political implications or repercussions of this transformation? I will utilize Lacan’s theories on the real/ symbolic/ imaginary and self-identification through the “Mirror” stage as tools for critical analysis of Neuromancer,- as well as the pertinent articles we’ve read to forward discourse about the “real-life” implications. I will posit that by analyzing Neuromancer through the speculative lens of the “Mirror Stage” theory – specifically the character’s interaction with technology as it relates to the body/ an extension of the body – that technology replaces Lacan’s “mirror” as a medium for self-recognition and understanding. This realization, one that is displayed within Neuromancer, plays a critical role in making sense of the seemingly ambiguous nature of the real world vs. the virtual world, and can allow one to more readily differentiate between the real, the symbolic, and the imaginary.

Media Element:

As far as my media element is concerned, I’m still brainstorming – there were some good ideas presented to me in class, such as making a timeline or map of the evolution of bodies as technology continues to advance. Since my paper will have a heavy literary component, re-imaging Neuromancer in a way that augments my thesis would be interesting – then I would be able to incorporate electronic literature analysis as a component instead of merely using traditional theories and forms of analysis. I will continue to edit this as I come up with more ideas!

Video games are often dismissed in the artistic community for being driven by player action rather than the strict vision of the author. However, the inclusion of choice enables games to leave impactful impressions on players that would not be possible with more conventional media. A film can tell you something about its creator. A game can tell you something about yourself.


The defining aspect of video games is the most crucial part of anything that might be considered a game — choice. Choice is defined in two complementary ways — by what is possible, and by what is restricted. Possibilities imbue the player with the empowering perception of free agency, offering the player a personal stake in the world of the game. When the player makes a mistake, they feel regret. This agency also comes with a sense of responsibility. The consequences of a callous decision are much more impactful when it was the player’s decision to begin with.


However, a game can also disempower a player by emphasizing the constraints they are held within. Players go into a game expecting agency. Having it removed or checked can force the player to experience powerlessness, or demonstrate when a choice may be barely a choice at all.


I will be exploring how choice, or the illusion of choice, allows games to connect with the player directly, making games an excellent tool for encouraging introspection. For my media element, I will be making a simple text-based game designed around giving the player choices and exploring their consequences.


Brain Imaging

November 8th, 2013 | Posted by Craig Bearison in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

In the past, people understood the mind in terms of dualism as a nonphysical entity, separate from our physical brain. Generally, the brain was still considered responsible for many neurological functions and characteristics, but ‘higher order’ things like consciousness transcended physical basis and existed in the immaterial mind. This theory has since given way to a physicalism view in which the brain itself is the sole basis for mental faculty. People now think of the brain as encoding and being responsible for all mental traits: personality, emotion, skills, intelligence, morals, consciousness, etc. etc. etc. Brain imaging technology has contributed to this notion, as it demystifies the brain and allows people to visualize the brain’s composition and activity.  Importantly, technological innovation in the field of brain imaging has also contributed to the idea that we can not only view brain activity but also analyze and interpret it to make conclusions about the nature of an individual’s brain and, consequently, their characteristics.

fMRI and PET scans are two of the most prominent imaging techniques in neuroscience. They both measure brain activity and display the results as differently colored areas on a cross-sectional view of the brain. The amount of activity across the brain can then be analyzed to make conclusions about brain functioning. This technology has become extremely popular in society because it is able to produce aesthetically pleasing and easily understandable pictures. fMRI and PET scans are being increasingly employed outside of the laboratory to help assess the traits and characteristics of real individuals. For example, in 2010 fMRI made its debut in court where it was used on an accused murderer. The neuroscientist designed tests for his memory and emotions in an attempt to determine pre-mediation. fMRI will soon replace the traditional lie-detector test in the judicial system.

Mainstream applications of these technologies will only increase as time goes on. The government is already working on developing brain imaging technologies as a type of pre-crime tool. For example, the brains of people in a large crowd could all be scanned to look for certain activity or pathways that indicate a predisposition to violence or an extremist belief set that might lead someone to commit a terrorist act.  Additionally, I will make argument that rather than take standardized tests or personality quizzes, kids will just have their brains scanned to be assessed.

This technology and its applications are concerning and problematic because they are largely misunderstood and misinterpreted by non-neuroscientists. Drastic and contrasting colors are used to differentiate between relatively small physiological differences in activity. People are given the impression that there are different brain ‘types’ that correspond to different traits (blue means caring, red means selfish) when really these discrete colors are being used to distinguish differences in a spectrum of activity. The other issue is what these technologies are actually measuring and how irrefutable our current knowledge of the brain actually is. I will discuss this skepticism surrounding the use of brain imaging technology in society.

For my media element, my first step is to compile a large collection of fMRI and PET scans. I plan to use these pictures to create a ‘flip book’ style video. I will order the images so that a blob is growing, shrinking, moving, changing color, etc. in a brain. This will create the effect that the brain is behaving erratically and spontaneously or being ‘attacked’. I will set this to psychedelic music to give the impression of a brain on drugs. Taking the very scientific and serious fMRI images and turning them into a funny art piece serves as a critique against them as a valid scientific measurement of characteristics or traits outside of the laboratory.

Final Project Abstract

November 8th, 2013 | Posted by David Hemminger in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Uexküll and Sebeok used the term “umwelt” in their semiotic theories to refer to each organism’s own self-centered world. They argued that different organisms sharing the same environment could still have entirely different umwelts, as they would each perceive and interpret their surroundings differently. In the current media age with companies that tailor internet advertisements to users and content available through countless different types of media, this idea has become far more relevant.

In this project I will study how digital augmentations to individuals’ realities and various media options create different umwelts. I will also demonstrate this concept by creating content that will be perceived and perhaps interpreted differently depending on the medium through which the content is viewed and however the user’s perception of that medium might be augmented. Finally, I will explore and critique examples of artificially-created umwelts, such as the recent xkcd comic strip.