08 April, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Ivory: Blame the medium, not the message

*** Special Feature - April 2017 ***

About the Author:
Impressions on a South African farm, boarding school, a father who read from the classics to his children, and a storytelling mother, sparked Geoffrey Wells with a writer’s imagination. Though the piano and drum kits and Mozambique led to his first thriller, A Fado for the River, his career as Art Director in advertising led him to the American Film Institute, and an awe of digital technology propelled him to VP/CIO at Disney, ABC-TV stations and Fox. Wells wrote an award-winning animated film, has visited elephant reserves, and climbed to the tip of Kilimanjaro. He lives on Long Island where he swims the open water and runs a video and design company. He writes thrillers about imperfect characters who, always with a diverse band of allies, fight villains that devastate our natural and virtual ecosystems.

Atone for the Ivory Cloud is a compelling, fast-paced thriller with an exotic international flavor. Geoffrey Wells takes the reader on an enthralling ride, skillfully entwining cybercrime, music, and the fate of African elephants in a breathtaking tale of danger and romance.”
Pamela Burford, best-selling author of Undertaking Irene.

Contact the Author:
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Ivory: Blame the medium, not the message.

Cloud computing and tradition enrich our lives. Neither is evil or wrong, yet both facilitate the consumption of ivory, resulting in the deaths of over thirty-thousand elephants annually. 

Atone for the Ivory Cloud, shows how the ivory supply chain can devastate the lives of people who are otherwise unware of illegal ivory trafficking and take cloud computing and traditions for granted.

My ecological technothriller is about Allison, a talented New York-based electronic composer and coder who must go undercover to trap a cybercrime syndicate that has hijacked her website—to traffic African ivory.

The undeniable fact is that the successful conservation of African elephants depends on the demand side of the ivory equation. Supply will dwindle when the demand peters out. But it won’t unless a vital paradox is added: the disruption of tolerance.

The disruption of tradition lies not in changing what has been handed down from generation to generation—the statements, beliefs, legends, and customs—but the form used to represent those ideas. Easier said than done. Many cultures have used ivory to represent traditional ideas. Ivory was used in twelve century gothic panels, eighteenth century Japanese netsuke, and Chinese Ming dynasty cravings. Murshidabad in the State of West Bengal, India was a famed center for ivory carving. Ivory boxes from first century Islamic Spain were used.

And, isn’t America also complicit? In my recent interview with Fran Lewis of Blog Talk Radio, I cautioned that Americans should be careful not to point the finger at other cultures. Always an astute interviewer, Fran asked me what a black market ivory piano keyboard would cost. I said I did not know, because the form factor of the ivory was not what people are looking for—in other words the shape and form of the cultural message matters as much as the message itself. Marshall McLuhan’s adage is particularly appropriate in this case: The medium is the message. 

Historians claim that between 1905 and 1912, thirty-thousand African elephants were poached for ivory keyboards manufactured in America. Forty-five keyboards were made from one tusk. In fact, the town of Ivoryton, Connecticut, got its name from importing tons of ivory. The cultural message we heard from ivory keyboards is the music of the great piano-players from Chopin to Dave Brubeck.
The vital paradox is that by adoring elephants we—the “civilized” human species—have spelled their extinction. And this might not be the first time elephants they have been exterminated from a continent. Scientific research leads to a possibly extinct species of Chinese elephant that existed in 1 B.C.  

So, what we need to disrupt is the use of ivory to depict traditional concepts. Can’t materials come from inert, lifeless resources, such as stone, metals and even man-made materials from organic polymers such as carbon fiber? Even in China jade was a more prestigious material than ivory.
Can Cloud Computing redeem the format of our traditions? While the computing cloud is obfuscating countless illegal activities, not the least of which is ivory trafficking, it also represents hope that new ecologically sound, man-made materials will replace ivory. The Cloud is where we will look for ethical materials. We’ve done it before: Piano keyboards are now made of plastic.

Supply of ivory will dwindle when the demand dies; but first we need to disrupt and stop tolerating our expectation that our beliefs will be carved in ivory.

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About the Book:
A brilliant composer and coder goes undercover to trap a cybercrime syndicate that has hijacked her website—to traffic blood ivory. She must survive impossible physical, virtual and cultural obstacles and choose between the opposing forces of privacy and responsibility.

Allison is stunned when the CIA leaves her no option but to go undercover to surreptitiously modify the code she wrote to protect her symphony. She is deployed from New York with a savvy street vendor to Tanzania, where he is from—and where the cybercrime trail goes dead. Their guarded love affair is sidelined when they are abducted by a trafficker who poaches elephants on a massive scale. To avoid betraying each other they abandon their CIA handlers and return to New York City. Allison must find a way to bring down the syndicate knowing that she might have to sacrifice her symphony, her loved ones and her privacy—for a greater good.

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3 eBooks of Atone for the Ivory Clouds
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