Saturday, August 13, 2016

Continuous or natural?

I am enjoying Jack Kornfield's set of CD's called "The Inner Art of Meditation."  Because it is recorded from actual sessions with people learning to meditate and practicing various sorts of attention, he says every now and then that he wants the class to try doing this or that.  A period of silence occurs, often 10 minutes or more.  That means that my car radio is on, playing the CD but no sound is being broadcast.  Then, suddenly, he will ask,"Ok, how was that?"  With the player on but silent for a while, it is easy to forget it is switched on.  When he suddenly speaks, it makes me jump.

Long sessions of nothing being recorded, long stretches of silence are interesting because they violate the practice of never having "dead air".  Both Lynn and her teacher, Dr. Larry Riggs, have training and experience in modern broadcasting practice and principles.  They agree that dead air, nothing coming over the wire, might be a sign that something has terminated the program.  It costs money to have something going out and if that something is empty, you are second-rate and not properly of interest.  It is difficult to judge content but anyone can tell if the line is silent for a while. So, as broadcasting grew as entertainment, communication and source of news and unity, a rule of thumb was "no dead air."

Amazon came out not long ago with its Echo speaker/microphone/smart device.  When it's on, I understand, you can speak to it and it can speak to you, like Siri on Apple products but this is Alexa.  It can sit there in silence until you ask something.  You can tell Alexa to let you know when ten minutes has gone by.  It is on, it is listening and it can play music from your Amazon prime library.  Here is a device that allows for plenty of dead air unless you arrange for it to be making sounds for a while. In real life, we are not continuously talking to each other.  Some people do use silence as a sign of low motivation in conversation but we have natural silences.  As the IoT (internet of things) grows and more devices can listen and speak, we may become used to silences interspersed with speech or music.

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