Books Magazine

Data Overload

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
There are weeks when the blog's theme causes a vast blank space to enter my mind, and then there are weeks - like this week - when an idea arrives almost instantly. And (because great minds think alike) it connects with Vicky's post from yesterday.
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I've written a lot about the Sundays of my childhood. I guess they are the easiest days to recall because they followed a pattern: activity, Sunday Lunch, activity, bath and an episode of a 1960s television programme. When my sister and I offered up grumbles about there being no colour in those programmes, or laughed at the terrible special effects, my Dad would simply state, "It's  a classic. They don't make them like this anymore."  Whether it was Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Giants or Star Trek: The Original Series, his response was always the same.
That same sound bite now spills from my mouth when I'm watching one of the 'classics' of my generation - almost impossible for the vocal cords to resist the sentiments of nostalgia.
*   *   *
Just over a year ago, after searching Netflix for a new TV series to watch, I decided (without intention of watching past episode one) to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. This was the start of what my boyfriend calls "an addiction" - working my way through each available series before starting from the beginning again. Currently, stuck on a cliff-hanger at the end of Season Six, I estimate I've probably watched all episodes up to this point at least four times. I can recite the opening monolog in time with Patrick Stewart and bore Shaun (who has only inadvertently watched occasional episodes) with analysis of characters, plots and themes.
Among the many episodes there are a few which a return to more frequently. Usually these episodes center around Data as he explores and attempts to be more human. There are many human behaviours and characteristics that Data experiments with. From writing himself a new (and rather amusing) subroutine for small talk to attempting to learn about humor on the holodeck, Data forces us to re-examine and question what it actually means to be human.
One of the more central aspects of human identity that Data explores extensively throughout the series is creativity. Through the playing of music, acting, painting and even the writing of poetry, Data (the android incapable of feeling) engages with (sometimes more successfully than others)the very activities that enable us to express.
Data Overload
My favorite Data moment has to be from "Schisms" (Season Six, Episode Five) where Data gives a poetry recital to other members of  Enterprise crew.
Throughout the ages, from Keats to Giacomo, poets have composed odes to individuals who have had a profound effect upon their lives. 
In keeping with that tradition, I have written my next poem in honor of my cat. I call it, "Ode to Spot." 

   Felis Catus is your taxonomic nomenclature,
   An endothermic quadruped carnivorous by nature.
   Your visual, olfactory and auditory senses
   Contribute to your hunting skills and natural defences.
   I find myself intrigued by your sub-vocal oscillations,
   A singular development of cat communications
   That obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
   For a rhythmic stroking of your fur to demonstrate affection.   
   A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents:
   You would not be so agile if you lacked its counter-balance.
   And when not being utilized to aid in locomotion
   It often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion.
   Oh Spot, the complex levels of behavior you display
   Connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array,
   And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend
   I none-the-less consider you a true and valued friend.
                   Lieutenant Commander Data
Thank you for reading,
Lara
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