“Underwater” Homeowners

August 30, 2009

Today, while searching “underwater” in the news media, more articles come up about the economic crisis than the environmental one — “underwater” is a term used in the industry to designate homeowners that owe more on their homes than they are worth (the official term is “negative equity”, also referred to as  “upside down” mortgages). See for example: “Mortgages: Economy Drowning in Underwater Homeowners.”

Also interesting is that homeowners are more likely to go underwater in bubble states (e.g. California), once the bubble bursts, of course. Two of the OED definitions of bubble:

1. A thin globular (or hemispherical) vesicle of water or other liquid, filled with air or gas.

2. Anything fragile, unsubstantial, empty, or worthless; a deceptive show.

The bubble is a (fragile, unsubstantial) surface of water. These water-related metaphors definitely draw from the negative connotations of underwater spaces — those in which we cannot live, cannot breathe, and are unable to move in the the proper directions (homeowners are stuck with homes they can’t sell). Water is amorphous, unstable, not a solid support, not to be trusted.



August 24, 2009

Another resource for those interested in ocean media, SeaOceanBooks is a website that sells maritime themed books. It contains a good collection of fiction and non-fiction on underwater environments: SeaOceanBooks.com.


The maritime screening room

August 24, 2009

Martin Leduc posts short reviews on maritime themed films and television.  A good resource to start looking for longer format ocean media. Most of the documentaries are about seafaring and life on the oceans but, of course, are strongly imbricated with the life, resources, and politics of underwater spaces.


Shark Break: Saving the Oceans in 15 minutes a Day

August 8, 2009

The latest in saving the world through digital media and games: SharkBreak.

You can embed all sorts of widgets, usually with cute fish and messages about ocean preservation, onto your computer desktop. The catch line is that it gives you a “creative, fun, relaxing environment” that would hopefully encourage reflection about the marine environment, which is also often positioned as a space for contemplation and relaxation (see tropical island vacations).
Not sure how effective the message is (or if there’s really an educational component), but I applaud the effort, especially the small sea animals that follow your cursor around. Also interesting is the attempt to “wigitize” marine conservation – here’s an approach that embeds small pieces into your digital environment (shooting for ambience), rather than producing another one stop shot website for conservation information.