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9:53AM

Contextual Taboos

I'm currently sitting in the kitchen listening to ABC Radio in Australia thanks to an OS X Dashboard widget - although you can do this on any PC - and I have to report that it feels really quite strange. And if you close your eyes, and sit close up to a warm radiator, then you can almost imagine being in Australia. Or wherever your feed comes from.

The contextual shift effect is considerably stronger than what you could achieve by simply staring at a high quality photograph or video feed of the Sydney Opera House or surfers on Bondai beach for example. I suppose this is because that, until recently, the only way you could hear live Australian radio was to actually be in Australia, whereas physical artefacts like photographs, beer or Australian TV soaps have travelled more readily.

It also feels like I'm breaking some law of nature, particularly when the announcer calls out a time check that's 8 hours ahead of where I am sitting. Like being out of time. And I strongly suspect that anyone back here in the UK would react in quite a negative and animated way to the proposition compared with their likely reactions to other more acceptable practical uses of technology - like shooting fantasy three headed alien creatures whilst wearing a make-believe bio-suit - instinctively considering such an activity to be very odd, almost a feint whiff of taboo, even - whereas a boring video feed of people walking around Syndey Opera House would be a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Or shooting aliens. Of all the things to use a computer for, why on earth use it to listen to foreign radio?

It does feel vaguely like I'm breaking a law.

Almost as bad as listening to US live radio on your car stereo and using every ounce of your consciousness to resist the desire to drive on the opposite side of the road.

Try it, it's weird.

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