Tuesday, October 21, 2014

lost tubes

Lost is one of those TV shows with their very own pneumatic tube system (see others in the list here). The system is located on Station 5, The Pearl, part of the DHARMA research initiative. The pneumatic tubes are used by the Pearl inhabitants, who are part of a creepy experiment to observe others in an experiment, while being observed themselves. The Pearl researchers use the tubes to send in their notebooks filled with observations.

The orientation video for the research instructs: "careful observation is the only key to true and complete awareness". This could be an orientation video for doing ethnographic fieldwork! "Remember, everything that occurs, no matter how minute or of seeming unimportance, must be recorded", the video further explains. Good advice. Time-consuming though. Nevertheless, hundreds of notebooks were diligently filled and sent off in the tubes. To where? Nowhere it seems. The tubes ended up in a desolate space, like landfill, lost in an empty field.

I can't help but wonder if their are similarities here with the digital data-storing practices which research councils are now encouraging (or obliging) researchers to participate in, including anthropologists. Who is going to read through all of those fieldnotes and make sense of an ethnographer's scribblings?

You can watch the Station 5 (The Pearl) Orientation video instructing Pearl inhabitants how to use the system here.

Thanks to Maarten for putting me on to this!

Image and further information from which this post is based from Lostpedia.

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