A New Blog I've Added and My New Career Interest

by B.J. Delas Armas on 10/19/2008 10:41:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

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I started a new blog about Los Angeles and open spaces in it. The inspiration for the name comes from an organization that organizes public lectures in LA, Zocalo. Their tag line is "to provide a welcoming, inclusive space in a city with too few welcoming spaces." Mish mash that with the existence of Skid Row just a few blocks from a revivalist downtown and Mike Davis' city of Quartz and voila, Los Angeles Public Space at http://losangelespublicspace.blogspot.com.

I've been talking about the walkability of things, free events, and Watts. I talk about everything possible in the public realm but only from a perspective I'm comfortable with. I know some of what's going on, but I won't pretend to be an expert with years of experience. For now, I'm just the man on the sidewalk.

That said, the introduction of the blog, and the ease with which I write on, kinda helped me realize my professional and career interests.

This will be my professional shpiel, and I am now practicing it.

I've decided mentally officially that I want to be a Cognitive Anthropologist with a focus on urban settings. It's my way of bridging my interest in urban planning and psychological anthropology and the possible subfield of "neuroanthropology."

Specifically, I am interested in memory as expressed in the public and social realm. I'm curious about what people remember about events, and how they use that recall to formulate...something I developed from years of Chicago Bulls basketball message board reading.

I have had the luxury of having a well-developed and active message board community.
Sure there are fans from other teams, but this is a community of namely Bulls fans, and virtually all of the fighting and conflict stems from within the Bulls fan commmunity.

The conflict stems from certain decisions made by management. There are factions that support management decisions, others that don't. There are factions of fans that support players over others, there are factions that dislike certain players ON THE TEAM.

There may not always be news regarding the team, but there is definitely a community that stays active even when there is no action. It can be seen in the number of Off-topic (OT) threads that are started, specifically during the offseason.

I think these factions represent a community and the individuals/actors within them reflect real world politics and beliefs. Those beliefs are all but embedded in the language they use. Sometimes they reflect hidden racist attitudes, or liberalist viewpoints. Having spent years on these message boards with the same characters, I could sort of anticipate whose going to comment on what, and how they're going to respond to a certain situation.

One thing I've been struck by on these message boards in relation to memory is that fans don't usually remember a lot of facts or details when they argue about the value of players. No one can recall the details to every game ever played, not even self-professed fanatics. Recalling those details turns out not to be important in that most people never seem to reference them again. The reality of the message board is not so much to make published, lasting statements, but for fluid human-like conversation. Most people operate on a type of working memory that does not lead them to progress in their understanding of the different players and team.

Instead, the fans who rely on that working memory and fluid-conversation seem to be stuck and glued to their modes of thought. As the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis postulates, language creates thought. I think those who use working memory more often are likely not to take in and fully register the new language/discourse expressed upon understanding players. Without taking in that language, they aren't likely to make new distinctions or give meaning to new distinctions and nuances. They aren't likely to be detailed, but not taking in the discourse allows them to reproduce their statements and in turn inflate more meaning into their repeated discourse.

I think this kind of interest has implications for understanding the political mind, how people make decisions, and other such fields as marketing, psychology, etc.

On a more personal note, I don't want to do this just because it's my interest, but also because I want to show that Filipinos, minorities, people of color can be influential and do other things, specifically in academia and where the knowledges are created. I want to show that my race and ethnicity, the hip-hop I rock, the language we use is not stupid, we won't be fooled, and we can make things happen.

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