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Brynn Hambly as sarah-in-motion; photos by Jen Moon
1. in early august, the subject became aware of a fundamentally unnerving fact: her morning walk to work each day, including a stop at her neighborhood coffee shop, was appearing each day on youtube. it was not surveillance camera footage, however; it was point-of-view footage, from her own eyes. she knew it was her; she could see herself leaving her apartment, the things she carried, the clothes she wore, the people she regularly passed, her face in reflections on glass. the files were labeled sequentially: "sarah's walk to work, 07/19"; "sarah's walk to work, 07/20", etc. by the time she became aware of these files, many had already been posted, tagged, identified as favorites by users such as "elemental28" and "rockr4evr" and "galliano". reviews of her morning walk to work ranged from enthusiastic ("those are awesome shoes today") to harshly critical ("why does she get coffee there? there's a local shop right across the fucking street") to cryptic ("sublime vistas ahead for our young heroine"). the videos were all posted by a user named "IntangibleMethod". 2. the subject began her own investigation into the phenomenon, first by deliberately introducing a new route to work to see if the videos reflected this change (they did), then by staying home from work to see if the videos would shift their focus to her morning routine in her apartment (they did). comments from users on the site noticed the shift and began to show signs of increasing curiosity, as though this development had been eagerly awaited. the files ended abruptly at youtube's imposed ten-minute limit; they picked up her morning routine approximately 45 minutes after her alarm was set to go off, no matter what time that happened to be, and ended ten minutes later. at some point, she thought to pay very close attention to the time at which the files were uploaded, and came to the relatively startling realization that the files were actually uploaded to the site roughly fifteen minutes before the ten-minute capture window actually took place. 3. her gmail account was her secondary email account, which she checked approximately once a week. less than a week after noticing the first signs of the phenomenon, she checked that account and saw that she'd received many emails from her livejournal, informing her that she'd received new comments. this was curious, as she did not realize she had been publishing a livejournal. the entries began at roughly the same date that the youtube videos had started appearing, and were clearly written by someone who understood her style of writing; moreover, she quickly realized, many of the entries were intensely personal, revealing thoughts she'd never shared before with anyone. indeed, the comments tended to praise her for bravery in exposing so much of her inner life with her community - although she did not recognize the user names of the people posting comments. the most recent post was titled, "i believe i am disintegrating." 4. her amazon wish list became filled with things she hadn't realized she wanted, although she clearly saw the appeal of each item. flickr galleries sprung up, in which she sought to catalog the moments of her life in intricate detail; though she did not own a camera, she recognized each moment, and grew to look forward to the thoughtful praise of others. the phenomenon began to feed upon itself, as her careful attention to the most miniscule of passing whimsies coupled with her apparent expressive finesse caught the eye of the digerati in unpredictable fashions. her technorati ego searches increasingly showed signs of her increased reach and influence, and she took ever greater pride as her livejournal posts and youtube videos garnered regular mention on boing boing, on warren ellis' blog, and elsewhere. she had never realized the poetry she held within her, not until the phenomenon. 5. a turning point in the subject's appreciation of the phenomenon came when she eventually thought to check her MSN messenger chat logs, and discovered the following exchange that she did not recall.
sarah-in-motion says: i don't know how much longer i can keep this up.6. the subject lost her job after repeated absences, due to staying home and watching her youtube videos appear and then surfing the related feedback waves across the blogosphere. some of the comments began to take an ugly turn, wondering when the subject's life would reach its early promise. she became impatient waiting for her own posts to appear, and began posting proactively, but although her thoughts and sentiments were clear in her own mind, her expression was brutally ham-fisted and angry. eventually someone retaliated by posting a shameful link to a long-hidden gallery in an old archive of pornographic photos. she didn't remember those, either, but they were clearly her. 7. after her eviction, the subject managed to find access to the internet only sparingly, in public libraries for as long as she could stay hidden, or internet cafes where patrons left their terminals with a few scattered minutes left after leaving. her livejournal was eventually deleted after the administrators determined she was posting inflammatory and libelous material. the videos continued to appear, but no one seemed to find the sight of her waking up in the park, or in a doorway, or under a cardboard box particularly exciting, and the views began to drop from the thousands to the hundreds, eventually to just one - her, whenever she could get access. soon they stopped appearing altogether, and her only connection to her former whirlwind life was surfing google caches for the recognition she once enjoyed. 8. the last known trace of the subject was a text message that suddenly, inexplicably, appeared on the cell phone of the head researcher, weeks after the subject's last known access to the internet. the message read, "my body was just an avatar. see you in second life." Tue, June 13, 2006 1:40 pm
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