Thursday, September 30, 2010
Cybernetics, the science of communication and automatic control systems in both machines and living things, was originally theorized by mathematician Norbert Weiner. As a jumping point, Katherine Hayles cites Gregory Bateson's quote, "is a blind man's cane part of him?" to simplify the concept of cybernetics as systems we use to progress in life. Cybernetics addresses the issue, can humans make a system for machines that replicates the mechanical workings of living organisms?
For scientists, it was hard to identify certain variables and stimuli that occur in nature to organisms compared with machines. Wiener's solution to this was using analogy to easier recognize similarities in the operations of a machine to situations with organic life. An analogy he uses to point out organisms adapting to different external stimuli constantly is a doctor writing a lover letter to his wife. If he kept on typing "I love you" everyday on his typewriter, he would eventually be frozen because of frequency he does this, the mechanical functions of the body would eventually freeze. But because of random external stimuli that humans face everyday, the mechanical workings of our bodies allow us to compensate for the differences we face everyday day. Hayles cites Bateson on defining information, in that if there is no difference, there is no information.
The human body is compared to a machine by Wiener in that it works as an informational system. All the parts of our body have functions to carry information to one part to another in order for the parts to function like machines in a factory. Upon discovering this though, it is realized that our bodies are just systems that adapt to external stimuli such as pheromones from other organisms. Rather than a completely autonomous system, the human organism is just a permeable membrane in which hormonal information flows.
The tone of this essay seems at first to side with the possibility that cybernetics can reach a autonomous state, of machines that is. Through Weiner's extended research, it seemed less as well received by his colleagues as his research progresses, perhaps because of general randomness that occurs in nature. "The embodied metaphors of language are crucial to understanding the ways in which Wiener's construction of the cybernetic body and the body of cybernetics both privilege and imperil the autonomous humanistic subject." These random variables, particularly concerning emotion, make thinking of cybernetics much too loopy I find. There is always something that can go wrong in nature, it will be some time when we can accurately capture all of that to convey to machines.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
When in 1993 Vernor Vinge was writing and predicting about 2020, computers had already superseded "human intelligence," practically as does an analog calculator. (Compare average calculator to average human being*)
The entire argument of "human vs artificial" intelligence needs to be revisited (and then abandoned completely for invention of new terms!). To do so, we would need to investigate our primal assumptions of what is considered "intelligence" in general, which in turn is linked to our views about our nature, which we have traditionally distinguished from the nature of other living organisms.
The fixation on the distinction between real vs artificial (intelligence) has to do with our general perception of nature, what it means to be alive, animate, which in turn has been historically subjugate to spiritual/religious ideologies. ((Concepts of control, even if we are at the position of the controlled (protected.)) We would rather be part of a master-plan, than an accident. But which accident, with a different language could be stripped all negative connotations and be described as some Magnificent Event in the Kingdom of Chance, caused by Sequential Happenings of Absolute Coincidence.
In this utopian world, no one, no where may control the future, outside the norm of making possibilities.
In this context, what I am arguing is that the terminology "human vs artificial" carries within it, self-awareness concepts from the past, that technology will cause us to abandon.We will not consider machines real/natural/equal until they can program or invent, create and sustain themselves, but if/when that happens, we will be forced to drop the entire concept of "God."
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
At first this video really freaked me out. Thoughts that came to mind were “oh no I’m being brain washed through this audio voice and what is this world coming to?” After listening on, I realized that Laurie Anderson was in a way touching on this. Through this video Laurie Anderson brings awareness to generations continuing to become more and more dependent upon technology and how this becomes more apparent within younger generations. The more familiar we become with technology the more we fuse together. Multiple forms of technology such as text, email, facebook, etc. become relied upon as we continue down this path of technological dependence. It keeps us at a safe distance from possible anxiety filled physical interactions but can hinder our ability to grow as characters in this world. Not only can our communication skills in person be affected tremendously but also real life experiences seem less encouraged when we can enjoy seeing someone else experience it for us on a screen.
When she talks about switching of the generations, in my opinion, it is more of an evolving that is taking place. Laurie brings this idea of becoming apart of an ever-going force toward the future by speaking with an audio sound system voice. It is almost as if she is projecting a front that she is a part of or wants to become a part of this technology enhanced generation, but does not understand how to be in it, or how to create a balance within it. I think that may also be apart of the reason for the awkwardness in the facial expressions and the eerie man voice.
Although the generational gap between her and the girl on the plane she was still able to communicate and in a way over come that gap by continuing to listen. Day by day all we can really do is keep growing and be willing to learn and keep an open mind. I’m not saying that it is necessary to become fully apart of every new generation but I do think it is practical to be aware of the changes happening so that we aren’t thrown off balance, or caught off guard by change. We have to keep moving forward otherwise where will we go?
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
We talk in a way from things we’ve been influenced from. Just like ones behaviors, our actions are linked to what we have learned, seen, heard or lived. My upbringing compared to my fathers or to someone born today have all been different technologically, and I feel that between these three generations the technological advancement has been huge. No wonder children today are able to cope in the digital world with more ease than older people do. The digital world is more instinctual to younger kids in today’s society because they were born in a world where they were surrounded by digital things, and in this crucial learning stage of their lives technology played a huge role. I see kids as young as one figuring out the complexity of their toys filled with buttons, switches colorful lights and speakers that make goat noises every time they turn a certain knob.
In gaining skills and being able to communicate and interact from the standpoint of a highly digital world, one might suffer in conversing in a world that is less digitally oriented. Poor old Laurie Andersond stood in the forefront of this generation/digital difference. It could be said that the little girl Laurie was talking too, had spent more time expressing herself through digital means than Laurie had herself. Even though they might have both been brought up in LA and had similar cultural inherencies, their generational differences in how the digital world had affected them made them both into completely different people. Laurie Andersond was shocked by this, and so am I. I feel that technological advancements are growing way too fast and that people loose some senses of how they live their lives. It is too easy to create a persona through the internet for example, and have this persona be more important to a person than his real identity. Digital use also has huge benefits in staying in touch with people, but in the same way it also changes the sincerity in the way in which people stay in touch in. The best is to know how to use these digital tools and use them as a way to help us and not as a way to live.
Think of a precis as a basic paraphrase of the argumentative content of a text.
Here is a broad and informal guide for writing a precis, consisting of questions you should always ask of a text as you are reading it, and again after you have finished reading it.
A precis should try to answer fairly basic questions such as:
1. What, in your own words, is the basic gist of the argument. Or, if a text contains more than one argument, what is the gist of the one you think is most important or interesting (and why, by the way, did you pick that one)?
2. To what audience is the argument pitched primarily in your view? (Do you see yourself as part of that intended audience, and how does your answer impact your reading of the argument?) Does it anticipate and respond to possible objections?
3. What do you think are the argument's stakes in general? Why does this text matter to the author? Is your sense of the relevant stakes different from the ones you take to be the author's? To what end is its argument made?
a. To call assumptions into question?
b. To change convictions?
c. To alter conduct?
d. To find acceptable compromises between contending positions?
4. Does it have an explicit thesis? If not, could you provide one in your own words for it?
5. What are the reasons and evidence offered up in the argument to support what you take to be its primary end? What crucial or questionable warrants (unstated assumptions the argument takes to be shared by its audience, often general attitudes of a political, moral, social, cultural nature) does the argument seem to depend on? Are any of these reasons, evidences, or warrants questionable in your view? Do they support one another or introduce tensions under closer scrutiny?
6. What, if any, kind of argumentative work is being done by metaphors and other figurative language in the piece? Do the metaphors collaborate to paint a consistent picture, or do they clash with one another? What impact does this have on their argumentative force?
7. Are there key terms in the piece that seem to have idiosyncratic definitions, or whose usages seem to change over the course of the argument?
8. Does the text live up to the expectations announced in its title? Why or why not? What does this tell you about the project of the text?
As you see, a piece that interrogates a text from these angles of view will yield something between a general book report and a close reading, but one that focuses on the argumentative force of a text. For the purposes of our class, such a precis succeeds if it manages
(1) to convey the basic flavor of the argument and
(2) provides a good point of departure for a class discussion.
A precis can, but need not, take the form of a conventional essay. It can make a coherent case or it can offer scattered speculations. Often a precis will form the point of departure for what will be a more conventional analytic piece. It's not a bad idea to use this guide in an informal way as you read every text in the class, because it will help you form questions and engage with the text in a more critical way. Definitely producing such a precis is a good exercise early on in your writing process when the time comes to produce your mid-term and final essays.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
With lots of forethought and force, I keep myself frozen in place. Determined to show my willingness to engage even though I really don’t want too. It’s easy to be secretive with ones own writing but to provide it for global database for anyone to see, is another thing. However that isn’t what is keeping me from jumping in. The racing heart, nervous palms tell my mind I have billions of other things to do. It’s the face that we lives are split. We are more disconnected from one another while at the same time we are connected. Thanks to places like MySpace, Facebook, etc. Similar to what Laurie Anderson speaks. It’s “digital” baby. On again, off again. Connected to people through our devices yet we are home alone. There is less 1 on 1, friends who walk past each other on the street never to speak. Who is my friend in real life especially when the life I may live does not lend itself to the persona online. Yet, the fighting is useless. Spiraling into the future is all I can think when Anderson calls are attention to it…“We are all going down (pause) together”.
If you are unable to be in the present, we end up holding onto what has passed like shit. It’s the infliction of Anderson’s voice that speaks volumes. Redefining language, adding to it and taking from what we already know. It is the same your mood & your mode, our togetherness as we crash together while being alone. There isn’t a captain, remember? Our bodies are made up of currents and energy and we have power to set fire to the present that will enable the future and start to change the look of the past. Knowing only that to wrangle words to articulate growth, one has to be engaged in conversation outside of the cognation of the church. A great teacher said, “Speeches only reach the ones who already know about”. Life is in constant change. How do you go about what change and contribution you provide with it. Feel the age of electronic box currents rush over you.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
In her piece, The Language of the Future, Laurie Anderson is addressing an issue that people have always, and will always face, language and its constant change. As she stands in front of a crowd, wearing a silver suit and speaking into a voice changer, she is creating a ‘futuristic’ persona for herself. She tells a story of a plane crash, in which the pilot and the flight attendants advise the passengers, “Please do not panic…We are going down…We are all going down together”. After surviving the crash, the narrator, Anderson, tells the story of a conversation she has with a young girl on another flight. The girl seems to speaking another language, one that Anderson calls computerese. This language is constructed of words like circuitry, electronics, and switching, everything seems to be referring to the new digital age.
Although this language is foreign to Anderson, it is not a language that this young girl speaks alone. As time passes, societies, cultures, and languages change, this shift is inevitable. This is not the language of the future, it is the language of the current society. There is really no way that one can know what the future holds and what terms and trends will be common, you just have to take it as it comes and be in a constant stage of adjusting and learning. No one can exclude themselves from this change, like the pilot says, “We are all going down together”.
Laurie Anderson’s “language of the future” speaks to the nature of human relations in the “digital” age. Humans have begun to evolve to deal with human contact and connection in different ways then in the past. One may feel he is surrounded by crowds of people simply because they exist in his computer, miles away connected only through “wave lengths.”
There is no pilot
You are not alone
One finds themselves physically alone; but thanks to today’s technology almost anyone in the world is just a button click (maybe a few button clicks) away. The question that this raises for me and which I do not have the answer for is this : can these “digital” relationships really take the place of some good ol’ fashion human contact? I certainly have my opinion on the answer to this question; but that opinion is quite biased, coming from someone who has always been opposed to this so-called “technology.”
She had this stuffed rabbit set up
on her tray table…kind of waving to it: Hi!
we type messages on blogs, social networks, and e-mails as if the words are literally coming from one’s own voice box into the receivers ear. In reality, are we not just waving to a “stuffed rabbit”. All measures have been taken to make one feel and believe that this exchange of words over the internet is the real thing, a human connection. I find this exchange however, to be nothing more than talking to a stuffed rabbit. I personally find it to be a cold, lifeless exchange, no matter however many exclamations points one puts at the end of every sentence.
Current runs through bodies and then it doesn’t
Always two things switching.
It is the relationship of the bi-polar. We exchange the opportunity for a one on one conversation for a one on one on one on one on one conversation. One switches back and forth through ten different conversations at one time, giving no one their full attention, constantly switching. But then again, can saying one sentence then receiving a three word response two days later really be considered a conversation? Via the internet, we create false connections (like those people you only talk to on Facebook), connections that are “on again, off again,” if they could have even been considered on in the first place.
As I said earlier, I am biased. I have always been slightly disgusted by technology, scared of what all these “advancements” may lead to. And I hate the idea that I partake if what I consider fake relationships. Humans need contact, they need to hear the sound of a voice, and they need to see the face of a friend. Pictures, instant messaging and Skype are all derisory replacements for that which is innate in us. But whether I like it or not, we now speak the “language of the future” and commence in relationships existing solely through invisible wave lengths, invisible, soundless, contactless relationships. Regrettably, it appears solitude may be the relationship of the future
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Laurie Anderson’s performance piece “The Language of the Future”, though first released in 1984, can in many ways be interpreted as a commentary on the culture of technology and language we experience in our present time. In this piece, Anderson acts as a narrator, telling the story of a near-death experience on a plane after which a fear of flying is developed. This fear can be assuaged only by initiating a conversation with another passenger, prompting a discussion between the narrator and teenage girl sitting nearby. The girl speaks a language the narrator (Anderson) refers to as “Computerese”, due to it’s ever changing or “digital” nature. It is this constant shifting which defines it as “the language of the future”
The fact that this piece can be interpreted according to contemporary technological and social developments proves the point that the piece itself makes—that language and technology are constantly evolving and recreating themselves in a way which though ever changing, is consistent in our assuredness that it will change, and is therefore familiar to us. Though each generation must face the unfamiliar language and technology of its successor, each generation is in fact connected through this inevitable reality. In some ways the language of the future is in fact one of technology as many modern forms of communication are enacted through the use of electronics, either telephones or computers.
Anderson also addresses the impersonal qualities of communicating through the use of technology. In “The Language of the Future” she speaks into a microphone, which transforms her voice, giving it a deep masculine sound. The voice that is created through this process is a man’s voice, a voice of authority. It is voice that is simultaneously soothing and disturbing. It is almost the voice of big brother subduing and supervising us. The voice tells us, “Jump out of the plane. There is no pilot. You are not alone”. This brings up issues of surveillance surrounding technological innovations. Though these innovations allow for faster and easier communication they also allow for more easy surveillance of our daily lives. The voice of authority is once again subliminally directing us while assuring us everything will be fine.
The use of an artificial voice also references the anonymity of the Internet personality. In this social networking arena we are free to create ourselves as characters, molding the many sides of our personalities into one succinct and generalized being. Yet beyond this illusion of accessibility we are in reality putting up a wall against others. By defining ourselves by our likes, dislikes and number of friends we are creating a false persona, a two-dimensional overview of the self. Anderson’s voice of authority is just such a persona. The character is defined by sound in combination with one or two anecdotes.
Anderson also makes a reference to this culture of shallow and indifferent communication in the analogy of the plane conversation. The narrator describes his need to find someone to talk to during the flight due to his fear of flying. The relationship between he and the girl is one formed out of his fear of loneliness and need to connect to another. Yet this relationship is only meant to last a few hours, whatever the length of the plane ride may be. In this way we as people have begun to define our relationships in such meaningless ways of quality of text message. Connections are made and defined quickly and at times extinguished in a similar fashion. Like the relationship in the piece they are “on again off again. Always two things switching.”
We are connected more than ever through cellular phones and the Internet and yet in some ways this technology isolates us from each other even more. Through technology we find camaraderie and like-minded people, yet we further sever our ties to reality, blinding ourselves to the possibilities of more tangible relationships.
"Your Captain says: Please do not panic.
Your Captain says: Place your head in your hands.
Captain says: Place your head on your knees.
Captain says: Put your hands on your head. Put your hands on your knees! (heh-heh)"
Nice one heh-heh.
This pushes her to feel impending doom: her generation is "switching" with our generation- becoming replaced by this group of incomprehensible, technology-dependent teens. Anderson expresses her fear (or is it simply acceptance?) by discussing the phenomena of "switching," then repeating her mantra of the captain's advice: "Put your knees up to your chin. Have you lost your dog? Put your hands over your eyes." These nonsensical statements parallel her confusion and the realization as her existence as replaceable. One moment people her age are there and relevant, the next they're replaced by us, kids with short attention spans who speak gibberish and are dominated by our technology. It's undeniable and inescapable, just like a plane crash. Laurie Anderson is indeed "not alone" as she jumps out of her plane without a pilot: as she and her peers age and eventually pass away, they become simple sentences in a history book instead of the millions of individuals that make up a single generation.
Anderson's utilization of technology in her performance of the Language of the Future is another sign of her surrender to the fate of her generation. As she tells the story, she speaks into a sound system that changes her voice, outputting an eerie deep robotic voice instead of her own. As Anderson's act of taking this futuristic voice on as her own ties her again to the problem she faces: she can try to understand, even mimic, those of our generation, but she will never quite fit in with them. No matter how we try to to keep up with and pin down the language of the future, we will always remain caught in the ocean of technology; one day along with the flow and suddenly, unpredictably, caught in the undertow and flung out to the middle of nowhere, unable to see the shore. As up-to-date as we are right now with our laptops and our iphones, we will inevitably find ourselves entirely lost someday in the advances our own peers began. Things we innately picked up before will become lost on us; "currents [that] run through [our] bodies" won't any longer, and at this point, we will lose something between ourselves and the next generation. We will be caught off guard by the thing we celebrate most, technological growth.
We will become, as Laurie Anderson's teenager might say, so digital.
trying to figure out a “correct”/repesctable/appropiate way to begin this open essay. I’ve never been confident in my writing, or at least I don’t feel very confident about the way my words sound. I feel that this is the perfect venue for my run on sentence
tendency, which I honestly don’t quite understand; it’s just what
I’ve been told by tutors. Now that I have that out of the way, lets talk about Laurie Anderson’s “The Language of the Future”. For the first minute and a half I thought my computers sound had gone hay wire. The sound quality was not up to par with what I felt it
should have been, the woman’s voice was of lady like at al, instead it was demonic, it reminded me of the little girl from The Exorcist. I keep watching this video over
and over again, searching form some great meaning and I just can’t
figure it out. Maybe I should try harder. Laurie begins by talking about an attempted crash landing in a plane. At one point she says (in the pilots place) :
We are going down.
We are all going down, together.
I read this in an apocalyptic sense. Throughout her whole act she
refers to the digital age and technology (I think). I feel this way mostly
because of the sound quality, which is extremely and purposefully
altered, to sound digitalized. I will now back to my apocalyptic idea.
I feel that technology is generally feared to be the ultimate demise of
our future. Whether it be by super robots and computers like in The Terminator, or by our own hands, meaning: war and bombs.
I don’t think Laurie Anderson hates technology, she is clearly having
fun in her video and I’m sure she wouldn’t have much of a career
without it. I feel like everyone thinks that they should hate technology
and all that accompanies it, from ipods to facebook. Everyone talks
about how it’s soooo fucked up that people watch shows on MTV
and how Apple is slowly making us all slaves to their products, when
really we have the choice to buy and conform, or to “stay on the plane”.
I just almost figured out what she was talking about, I think.
During the fifties and early sixties motion pictures were filled with mad scientists who created mechanical people and technology theme movies with talking computers. Shows like the Jetsons and Star Trex showed us a future with flying cars and robots that could live and work as humans do. Few could not have imagined back then technology could or would have advance the way it has. We now write in text language, a non- verbal method of expression or communication. Any day now we might be able to have a full functioning robot! Technology’s advancement can be seen through a dual lens as being good and bad. The good news is we now have smaller and interacting computers that can fit in the palm of your hand, new technology based language, emerging medical technologies and news circling the globe in minutes via social media Internet sites. All these things have served humanity and made life easier and the world more accessible. For all the good news in business and society there has been some bad news. The bad news is the rise in Internet criminal activity, child pornography, the pervasive misuse of identity, and the monopoly of big telecommunication companies like AT&T. In The Future of Ideas, Lawrence Lessig writes, “ What was good for AT&T is not necessarily good for America” (p.32). AT&T is one the largest telecommunications company in the world and has a firm hold on the telecommunication market in American. Perhaps, it’s when innovation and invention had move beyond everyone’s imagination that AT&T’s strangle hold was seen as blocking real progress and fair trade. It is always important to explore the potential benefits and possible problems with big business monopoly and our growing dependence on techno language.
Technology’s impact on communication is evident in all our lives; we only need to look at the twelve-year-old texting her friends joyfully waiting a response to know how important texting has become. Most people are not aware of the problems associated with technology-based conversation. One of the major benefits of face-to- face discussions is what ones gain by social interaction. In the video The Language of the Future, Laurie Anderson said, “Suddenly I realized she was speaking an entirely different language. Computerese. A kind of high – tech lingo”. Today, we write and talk in a new language, a technology-based language, a sort of “techno- speak”. It is our way of having dialogue with another without really speaking to them. Technology is the virtual third party; it is always present and is only interactive in response to another person’s knowledge or counter response. According to Anderson, she was looking “for a passenger to talk to”. The lack of human interaction is decreasing with technology. The essence of the socially negotiated conversation is fading and it is being replace by a technology- mediated correspondence.
Frustrating as I might appeared I do not think Anderson would have received anything more from a teenage flying with a stuff animal. Ok, really did she think they were going to discuss world politics? There are those who find it isolating and dehumanizing and think the immediacy of texting corrupts our need for human interaction. The immediate feedback or response people received from instance messages and texting can be exciting. But anyone who tells you it has not hurt the cognitive capabilities or the written communication skills of some is misinformed. Face book, twitter and im’s are the way to go, I find myself using at least one of the thing every hour. I’m curious, I want to know what people are doing while I am in class. But I find it hard to write in “tech” short hand, I am afraid to admit it, but I find I must call my fourteen-year-old niece for an explanation sometimes. And who can tell which is the better phone to go with, Sprint, Verizon or AT&T. Well, if you want an iphone you have to go with the giant AT&T.
AT&T has had a hold on the telecommunication market and is not about to relinquish it to anyone. AT&T have been transmitting messages over the air -waves for years. In fact, if ask they would boast that the drumbeats and smoke signals were the fist free calls. Lessig was right. AT&T will protect what belongs to them and their stockholders and if this means controlling wires and markets then so be it. I guess the real question, is it fair for America or its consumers? Yes. If I had a business that could fuel the world, It would be up to me when, where and how I would use or share it. I don’t have to like AT&T and I do not, that’s why I have a Blackberry instead of a iphone. But the principles in which this country was founded on free trade is the right of all it citizens. So, AT&T do what you must, though I believe we only get better in the face of true competition.
My diversion into the Simpsons is partly self-indulgent, but I think there is a point to it too. I think at first glance, Laurie Anderson’s story may seem apocalyptic – I mean, plane crashes are by their nature pretty disastrous. And it seems like technology is the cause of this apocalypse, alienating humans from one another, turning them into digital number-computing robots: for instance, the fifteen-year-old girl from the plane ride who was on the “same wavelength” speaking “Computerese” (an ancient form of l337 speak). But the point is not to condemn the “future” or “technology.” The video shows Anderson putting her hand on the machine to alter the pitch of her voice, which is really just a digital amplification of her voice. She clearly enjoys digital technology, she’s extremely passionate about it, and tied with language, it’s the most important basis of her entire art practice. And she does survive the plane crash.
So this is where the Simpsons come in. As I watch the video, I’m reminded of a piece of popular media culture forever ingrained in my head. As I type this and post it to the blog, at least one person with the same experience watching that episode will have shared a memory with me. Because we live in such a digital age, it’s easy to be cynical, to become irritated with the mass amount of TXTing, sexting, Facebook, MySpace, iPod, iPad, wires, wireless, and so on, to become nostalgic for another time, to look at the grass on the other side of the fence. But popular culture has the power to bind us together, to create a collective consciousness. This may seem good or bad depending on your disposition, but to me I see this as a wonderful thing. I don’t feel at all alienated by the technology around me, if anything I feel connected to every other person who watches “Jersey Shore.”
Perhaps all this fear of technology is because, at this moment in time, the concept of “technology” focuses so much on personal computers and cell phones, platforms where people send out their “online persona,” which is different than the “real” persona encapsulated in their bones and flesh. The truth is that both are equally “real” and “unreal” as one another. The rejection of popular media culture stems completely from irrational fear – fear of evolving as a species, and fear of evolving as a society. Look: if you’re not watching a YouTube video on a computer screen, then you’re staring at a stuffed rabbit on an airplane, or watching clouds go by, or stars in the sky. It’s all entertainment. In the past century we’ve experienced Elvis’s hips, rock n’ roll, dirty hippies, and violent videogames, and not one of those things has dismantled our society. Morals are changed over time, regardless of media, and to no one thing’s blame. It’s natural and it’s evolution.
There’s no need to fear the future. I mean, shit, “the future” is just a fantasy with a very specific aesthetic shaped by our culture’s science fiction movies anyway. Even Laurie Anderson plays up to it, with her robot voice, black “outer space” background and space-age suit, and general androgyny. “Digital” is nothing new. The alphabet, the abacus, DNA – they’re all digital systems. She says it herself: “It was a language of sounds, of noise, of switching, of signals. It was the language of the rabbit, the caribou, the penguin, the beaver.” The technological language of the future is analogous to the language of the past; they’re the same, just interpreted differently. We are no more or less alienated than we’ve always been. “There is no pilot. You are not alone.”
A capitalist system automatically supposes that for one's interests and profits to advance, another's profits and interests must retreat. If everyone is worth the same, no one is worth anything. Capitalism naturally generates inequality. So theoretically capitalism creates a paradox: although competition seems vital, there comes a point where competition must be monopolized by the most "fit" competitor.
What is simply amazing about the entire function of corporate capitalism, is how through an infrastructure something can appear to be so institutional, so solid or established, and we easily forget that behind all of it, there are merely everyday people taking really simple and plain decisions, naturally in terms of their personal interests, which decisions slowly accumulate to create a very intricate system, that is so impermeable because of its anonymity.
About the end-to-end argument and the general architecture of the Internet, there is again a basic idea that may frame the problem. As Lessig mentions, not only should we perceive the particular architecture of the internet today as one choice out of numerable methods that we could have come up with, but also question what the top purposes where that this architecture was trying to serve. (The same question should be posed in terms of capitalism and the architecture of our economo-political system.)
The structure of society is utterly dependent upon our hierarchy of values and vice versa. So in order to introduce innovation, as with the Internet, we need to examine and scrutinize first our personal values and then ideals that we must cherish in order to survive in this system. In other words, as with an end-to-end network the server computers determine the kind and amount of freedom for innovation is given to the entire network, in real life, the norms and ethics of a political/economical/social system are how freedom is defined within that system.
“The experts didn’t get it.” There is a funny comforting confidence in listening to someone that is certified to know what is going on… After all, no one likes to fuck up the hokey pokey. You know what happens when you fuck up the hokey pokey don’t you? What happens is a bunch of people acting like idiots point and laugh at you like you’re some kind of stupid idiot moron. Who wants to be some card played in a game with no end where nobody wins? Only feeling right when the finger taps the red so hard you can feel it in your seat... Yes, we are in the red. No, don’t leave me alone in the dark. Yes, I want to push the button.
The truth is that I HAVE lost my best friend. I still fill their seat like mitotic numbers by request of the almighty button to keep the status positive. Stuffing rabbits is a good way to prove that everything is going according to plan, on time, and pre-destined. Also, I no longer believe in God outside of the confines of religious definition. Can we please expedite this apocalypse… pretty please, with a shirley temple swimming pool at some third world beach resort on top of the world?
Any pole will do really; I’m versatile, doctors have even said that I could be considered to be the bipolar type… the normal kind of special person that takes pills that aren’t drugs to help me focus on the modern tasks at hand. Needless to say, I follow directions. Needless to say, I am a prime candidate for success. Someone take me away from this hellish place of obsolescence and give me candy like cool runnings.
There are no two ways about it; I hate the thought of IT. Haunting, the slow motion moments message prime. Please avoid being void of fear, full of everything. Everything is too much. Its simple… wake up, smell the sample, and go back to sleep. We aren’t there yet. Cuddle up to the split second comfort of a fearful idea. After all, thats what makes a house a home.
If you have forgotten the way, or have become frustrated with the way things work, it is time to build a new universe. First, give up. Second, follow the directions. When you have completed the first two steps, make sure to invite your friends. Thank you for your support. Your time, service, and money are greatly appreciated.
On second thought,
Planes, trains, and automobiles…
Is there no better way to remind us of our own mortality than an accident, a trip in the fall of a new dawn, sharp memories in the blur of trauma? Truth is immediate. A sudden connection to the unknown results in a greater sense of understanding through reaction. Protocol was never the issue, meaning, or reason. See what happens. First one, then another, as above, so below… a multi dimensional translation, order untamed, unplanned, unnamed… order perfect. It is a personal decision to participate in life itself. This results in the processes of overcoming life’s traumas that will in turn define who we are… together.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
Also, feel free to discuss the ideas of your colleagues in the comments sections of their posts. Remember, if you decide to post pseudonymously, be sure to e-mail me your pseudonym so that I can give you credit for your work.
Check back to the blog regularly. In addition to your peers' work, I will be posting material regularly, including short excerpts of the work of Hannah Arendt which I am taking up in my lectures on the assigned readings.
Last but not least, you should think of this blog as a space for the community of our course -- feel free to link to material, to raise questions, to complain, to demand clarifications of terms, to continue discussions from class and so on, whatever you judge to be relevant on your own terms. Make this space your own, make it work for you.
Have a good weekend, everybody, d
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Last year, I was on a twin-engine plane coming from Milwaukee to New York City. Just over La Guardia, one of the engines conked out and we started to drop straight down, flipping over and over. Then the other engine died: and we went completely out of control. New York City started getting taller and taller. A voice came over the intercom and said:
Our pilot has informed us that we are about to attempt a crash landing.
Please extinguish all cigarettes. Place your tray tables in their upright, locked position.
Your Captain says: Please do not panic.
Your Captain says: Place your head in your hands.
Captain says: Place your head on your knees.
Captain says: Put your hands on your head. Put your hands on your knees! (heh-heh)
This is your Captain.
Have you lost your dog?
We are going down.
We are all going down, together.
As it turned out, we were caught in a downdraft and rammed into a bank. It was, in short, a miracle. But afterwards I was terrified of getting onto planes. The moment I started walking down that aisle, my eyes would clamp shut and I would fall into a deep, impenetrable sleep.
(YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THIS ...
YOU DON’T WANT TO BE HERE ...
HAVE YOU LOST YOUR DOG?)
Finally, I was able to remain conscious, but I always had to go up to the forward cabin and ask the stewardesses if I could sit next to them: “Hi! Uh, mind if I join you?” They were always rather irritated--“Oh, all right (what a baby)”--and I watched their uniforms crack as we made nervous chitchat.
Sometimes even this didn’t work, and I’d have to find one of the other passengers to talk to. You can spot these people immediately. There’s one on every flight. Someone who’s really on _your_ wavelength.
I was on a flight from L.A. when I spotted one of them, sitting across the aisle. A girl, about fifteen. And she had this stuffed rabbit set up on her tray table and she kept arranging and rearranging the rabbit and kind of waving to it: “Hi!”
And I decided: This is the one _I_ want to sit next to. So I sat down and we started to talk and suddenly I realized she was speaking an entirely different language. Computerese.
A kind of high-tech lingo.
Everything was circuitry, electronics, switching.
If she didn’t understand something, it just “didn’t scan.”
We talked mostly about her boyfriend. This guy was never in a bad mood. He was in a bad mode.
Modey kind of a guy.
The romance was apparently kind of rocky and she kept saying: “Man oh man you know like it’s so digital!” She just meant the relationship was on again, off again.
Always two things switching.
Current runs through bodies and then it doesn’t.
It was a language of sounds, of noise, of switching, of signals.
It was the language of the rabbit, the caribou, the penguin, the beaver.
A language of the past.
Current runs through bodies and then it doesn’t.
Always two things switching.
One thing instantly replaces another.
It was the language of the Future.
Put your knees up to your chin.
Have you lost your dog?
Put your hands over your eyes.
Jump out of the plane.
There is no pilot.
You are not alone.
This is the language of the on-again off-again future.
And it is Digital.
And I answered the phone and I heard a voice and the voice said:
Please do not hang up.
We know who you are.
Please do not hang up.
We know what you have to say.
Please do not hang up.
We know what you want.
Please do not hang up.
We’ve got your number:
Thursdays, 9-11.45, S#18
Instructor: Dale Carrico
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Grade: Att/Part 10% , Essay 1 10%, Precis 10%, Report 10%, Essay 2 25%, Final 25%
Provisional Schedule of Meetings
Week One -- September 2
Week Two -- September 9 Laurie Anderson, "The Language of the Future"
Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas, Chapter Three: Commons on the Wires
POST FIRST ESSAY ONLINE
Week Three -- September 16
Yochai Benkler, Wealth of Networks, Chapter 12: Conclusion
Michel Bauwens, The Political Economy of Peer Production
Week Four -- September 23
John Perry Barlow, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace
Eric Hughes, A Cypherpunk's Manifesto
Vernor Vinge, Technological Singularity
Marc Steigler, The Gentle Seduction
Week Five -- September 30
Katherine Hayles, Liberal Subjectivity Imperiled: Norbert Weiner and Cybernetic Anxiety
Jaron Lanier, One Half of a Manifesto
Jaron Lanier, First Church of Robotics
Week Six-- October 7
Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, California Ideology
Jedediah Purdy, God of the Digirati
Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology
Week Seven -- October 14
James Boyle, The Second Enclosure Movement and the Construction of the Public Domain
James Boyle, Enclosing the Genome?
Jessica Litman, Sharing and Stealing
Week Eight -- October 21
Screening the film, "Desk Set"
SECOND ESSAY DUE IN CLASS
Week Nine -- October 28
David Bollier, Reclaiming the Commons
Digby (Heather Parton) The Netroots Revolution
Dan Gillmour, We the Media, Chapter One: From Tom Paine to Blogs and Beyond
Save the Internet, Net Neutrality FAQ
Week Ten -- November 4
Socially Engaged Art, Critics and Discontents, an Interview with Claire Bishop
Clay Shirky, Blogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing
Clay Shirky Why Micropayments Won't Work
Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, Chapter Two: Sharing Anchors Community
Week Eleven -- November 11
David Brin, Three Cheers for the Surveillance Society!
Jamais Cascio, The Participatory Decepticon
Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky), Material Memories
Week Twelve -- November 18
Charles Mann, Homeland Insecurity
Bruce Schneier, How Science Fiction Wrtiers Can Help, Or Hurt, Homeland Security
Lawrence Lessig, Insanely Destructive Devices
Week Thirteen -- November 25
ALL PRECISES AND REPORTS DUE
Week Fourteen -- December 2
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
Slavoj Zizek, Bring Me My Philips Mental Jacket
Steve Mann, The Post-Cyborg Path to Deconism
Week Fifteen -- December 9
Donna Haraway, The Promises of Monsters
Bruno Latour Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam?
FINAL PROJECT DUE IN CLASS
One -- Introduce students to Science and Technology Studies, Media Studies, and Network Theory, and situate these in respect to broader critical theoretical discourses: Marx on fetishized commodities, Benjamin on auratic media-artifacts, Adorno on the Culture Industry, Barthes on naturalizing myth, Debord on the Spectacle, Chomsky and Herman on propaganda, Klein on the logo.
Two -- Discuss "science" as one among many forms of differently warranted belief (others: moral, legal, familial, utilitarian, religious, ethical, political, subcultural, aesthetic); discuss "technoscience" as a particular and usually at once reductive and imperializing figuration and narrativization of the scientific; discuss "technology" as the collective elaboration of agency, not so much as a constellation of artifacts and techniques but as familiarizing and de-familiarizing, naturalizing and de-naturalizing investments of environmental events with significance in the service of particular ends.
Three -- Discuss access-to-knowledge (a2k), end-to-end (e2e), many-to-many, peer-to-peer (p2p) networks, formations, ethoi as occasions for democratizing and anti-democratizing technodevelopmental social struggle; discuss "democracy" not as an eidos we approach but as ongoing interminable experimental implementations of the idea that people should have a say in the public decisions that affect them; discuss "democratization" as the struggle through which ever more people have ever more of a say in the public decisions that affect them.
Four -- Discuss the connection of a2k/p2p-formations and media/network theories grappling with these to relational, social, participatory aesthetic and curatorial practices and theories.
Five -- This course takes as its point of departure the insight that the novelties and perplexities of our experience of emerging p2p-formations are, on the one hand, clarified when understood in light of the unique formulations of Hannah Arendt's political thinking but also that these novelties and perplexities provide, on the other hand, illustrations through which to better understand Hannah Arendt's political thinking in its own right: Discussions will include her delineation of the political (as a site other than the private, the social, the violent, the cultural), her notion of the peer (as someone other than the citizen, the intimate, the colleague, the subject, the celebrity), and her accounts of civitas, revolution, public happiness, futurological think-tanks and AI, and totalitarianism both as manifested historically in Nazism and potentially in neoliberalism.