I went up to Kotare, north of Auckland, for a workshop, so travelled seriously for the first time this year. As I waved my card at the ticket machine in order to enter the parking lot at Nelson Airport I realised I had embarked on a digital journey which had begun with the booking of a plane ticket then a rental car. Algorithms had immediately begun to generate messages and last night I could check in online. The rental car booking had produced a hiccup when I read through what the algorithm had produced and realised the insurance cover had been issued by a company in Greece. Dealing with Greece could prove difficult so I changed that, and immediately received a message of regret, once more produced by an algorithm.
Now for the mask, which, like one’s shoes I realise, reveals one’s class – designer or mass produced; it seems someone has produced a transparent mask but I didn’t see any. More algorithms at Auckland airport as I message the rental car shuttle which then carries me to their base tucked away in the warehousing zone. More card waving. Now it is time to pay a toll for the toll road, otherwise the algorithm will bill the rental car company and another algorithm will be called upon. Switch on google maps which accurately predicts traffic congestion and a 20k/hour crawl along a motorway created in order to solve the congestion problem. Everyone’s checking their phones wherever I’ve been and the algorithms know where we are.
I spend a couple of days in the temporary autonomous zone of Kotare (no cell phone coverage) before the return journey.
I get to the rental car base early on a Sunday morning and have time to wander around the area which is filled with vast featureless buildings storing and then transporting goods ordered by algorithm. There’s one for lease and I imagine it populated by the homeless. My thoughts turn to my daughter who is hapu and transformed by the nesting instinct. Like a bird she is intent on creating a safe space for the newborn. It’s lovely to witness.
The rental car crew arrive and enter my information for the algorithm to process and take me to the airport. The airport is a paranoid place and the cabin crew brusque. In this complex digital world, birth, sickness and death or the threat of sickness and death become the signifiers of reality. The virus hovers, seeking a host.
On the ground in Nelson, I wave my card at the parking machine, the barrier arm lifts, I switch off my phone and for the next three hours will be out of the zone. But the algorithms sending messages of thanks and requests for feedback on service are already being sent
When I reach home I am amazed at how fast the grass has grown.