Archive for October, 2010

i want you…to play video games

Posted in Uncategorized on October 31, 2010 by daburkho

“video games as a paradigmatic site for producing, imaging, and testing different kinds of relations between the body and technology in contemporary culture.”  pg 158

Video games date back to the time of Atari and super mario. In the past there were simple games like Qbert and The Paperboy to help young kids improve eye-hand coordination. Over time, games have evolved to mystery and racing, games of levels and accomplishment and reward. Most games involve being in a fantasy world like Diddy Kong Racing, or Super Mario 64. Unlike these other “happy” fantasy games there is one game out there that seems to be more popular than all the rest – Call of Duty.

The Call of Duty is a warlike game where gamers experience being apart of an army with communication to other soldiers playing on the same team. Gamers can access many levels and accomplish missions will being on duty as a soldier. Games like this allow the user to learn to use technology like fighting and shooting.

“symptomatic site of a confusion or transgression of boundaries between the body and technology that characterizes contemporary culture.”


Because of games like these I would think that the future calls for games that translate to reality. Games like call of duty but made for the army for example. I see the future as a group of hundreds maybe thousands of soldiers sitting in comfortable chairs attached to their own video game with everyone in the room playing the same one and fighting against the enemy. No one would die and there could be wars settled in an alternate reality. What would this do to society? all military fundings could then be directed to more important things like getting the US out of debt and providing jobs.

Global Cities and Causal Theory

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 by Chemical Ali

Since we live in a highly decentralized world, Boczkowski’s analysis of the three bridges is a great example indicating the importance of understanding the mutual relationship of humans and technology and the resulting artificiality created by this marriage.

“Informational technology are the backbone of cultural life today. Every aspect of our life is affected information technology and media.”( Boczkowski)If information technology has had a vast societal reach, why wouldn’t it be beneficial to bridge this gap? Our basic understanding of human behavior and interaction is vastly affected by new media which is based on technologies most people will never grasp.  Digital technology affects worker output, not to imply capital output, but information consumption, cultural exploration, and recognizing patterns to alter our future paths which is explained in his causal theory. Since we live in a “global city” as sakia sassen would refer to as, there is no other option but to understand these interactions.

Men and machines, the old new dilemma

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 by zuzunic

I can understand why in general people don’t like to relate or think about humans and technology as part of an integrated system. However in these days, it seems impossible not link both worlds as part of our daily life. In one hand, new technologies could be part of wars and massacres against the human race, but in the other hand, new technologies can help people to see, to hear, and to have the possibility to get in contact with the rest of the world when maybe it wasn’t viable before. Is it a blind man’s cane part of the man? The simple question that Bateson did many years ago and Hayles quote in the article seems to summarize and illustrate the dichotomy of what we should thing about the relationship between humans and technology. “Cane and man join in a single system, for the cane funnels to the man essential information about his environment”. The cane became his eyes in a new material form outside himself but at the same time internalize in him as part of his senses to deal with life. Without the cane he can’t face up the outside world, so the cane became one more sense for his body. The cane communicate information to his perception, as an analogy of the work that his eyes are not able to do, put it in cybernetics words.

Hayles argues that Wiener has a probabilistic worldview and that’s a reason why he sees communication as a relation, as an analogy. For Wiener, says Hayles, messages are communicated not “as things in themselves but as relational differences between elements in a field”. This analogy ”constitutes meaning through relation”, and she adds that cybernetics as a discipline, couldn’t have been created without analogy.

However, Hayles explains that the definitions of communication and cybernetics for Wiener lack of particularities, and that he keeps these concepts in an abstract level that doesn’t count the “differences in embodied materiality”.

“Wiener’s cybernetics sees communication as a probabilistic act in a probabilistic universe, where initial conditions are never known exactly and where messages signify only through their relation to other messages that might have been sent”. Hayles affirms that in this way, Wiener as well as Saussure, sees signification as relation. Then, we can imply that the meaning of that communication is also in relation with the world, and that those analogies are the ones that create meaning within the system.

So, Can humans and technology be part of an integrated system? I think that get closer to this integrated system is always going to be a kind of ongoing discovery, in which we can understand how the world and the human beings function. The advantages of thinking about humans and technology as apart of an integrated system could allow us to comprehend the possibilities of human skills and their potential developments for the future generations. Though we usually oscillate between include technology into the human system or not, we can’t escape of our daily reality where technology is always present. The questions that arise now are about the ethical boundaries of this progress.


Life, the Universe, and Everything

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 by alexminton

Naturally, reading about cybernetics and STS and the like reminds me of two rather famous works of science fiction: Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, and William Gibson’s Neuromancer. In the former – spoiler alert, I suppose – it’s revealed that the Earth was specifically constructed by a supercomputer to discern the Question that results in the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (which is, of course, 42). Unfortunately, in an act of galactic eminent domain, the Earth is demolished to make way for an interstellar superhighway just before that computation was completed.

Since I first read those books as a teenager, I’ve always liked the idea that everything in the world is working unknowingly as part of some vast, impossibly complicated computer. It’s an obvious metaphor, but an appropriate one, I suppose, as we collectively endeavor to learn more and more about, well, Life, the Universe, and Everything. That we’ve recently enlisted our own supercomputers to aid us in that pursuit seems only natural. And as we rely more and more on technology to facilitate everyday tasks, Boczkowski’s analysis of STS, viewing developments in social and technological arenas as interrelated, seems to resonate with the notion of communally striving towards new and more immediate modes of communicating and understanding. Thus, Wiener’s ideas about feedback loops, self-correcting models of behavior, are a more technically-oriented way of saying humans, and the machines we design, learn through trial and error, making advancements through hiccups and small jumps, striving towards some perfect, though perhaps unattainable solution.

In that second book, Neuromancer, Gibson describes cyberspace as a “consensual hallucination,” and in the novel it is literally that: a trippy non-dimensional netherworld full of neon geometry. But in many ways, that description is apt for most forms of communication, even language at its most basic: a shared vision of something not rooted in reality, like words. In that sense, I’d argue that thinking about humans and technology as an “integrated system” (or, to use the phrase from the title of the Hayles book, to think of us as “post-humans”) is merely an extension of previous ways of thinking. Humans have always defined ourselves by our invention and tool-use – not that those necessarily separate us from other animals – and thinking of the two as a complex system is simply to think about humanity as we always have; only the vocabulary, the types of tools, have really changed.

The Droid

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 by Natalia Guerrero

One of the lessons of the present book is that any organism is held together in this action by the possession of means for the acquisition, use, retention, and transmission of information. In a society too large for the direct contact of its members, these means are the press, both as it concerns books and as it concerns newspapers, the radio, the telephone system, the telegraph, the posts, the theater, the movies, the schools, and the church. (Weiner, p. 161)

What are the advantages of thinking about humans and technology as part of an integrated system? When I think of this question one interesting example came into mind, the new concept of the “droid” phones. The way it is conceved and the idea of how a phone can become and extension of your body is amazing. Some critizied the name given to this phones, “androids”, because it asociates the human body to a non-human being. How ever this dualism is perfect to explain how humans and technology can become an integrated system where there is “acquisition, use, retention, and transmission of information” withing two celular bodies.

Wiener and Hayles

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 by mariag77

Hayles argues that Wiener sees communication as a relation not as an essence, because she finds in his view that “messages are constituted, measured and communicated not as things-in-themselves but as relational differences between elements in a field” (p.91). It means that for Wiener communication is a probabilistic act that occurs in a probabilistic universe, where initial conditions are never known and where messages signify only through their relation to other messages.

I think there are two main advantages suggested on Hayles’ text. First, to think about humans and technology as part of an integrated system would avoid rigid and inflexible boundaries where machine ceases to be cybernetic and becomes simply and oppressively mechanical, or where individuals are mere self-regulating subjects. Second, thinking about them as an integrated system could be a more fertile way of thinking because it would allow the social and natural sciences to be synthesized into a one great field of inquiry.

Communication as Relation

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 by jenshattuck

Hayles writes in her article on Norbert Weiner that he was extremely influenced by his early work on Brownian motion and probability theory.  Brownian motion studies the random collision of particles.  There is a great deal of uncertainty in studying molecules, because one can never know initial conditions exactly.  You can’t predict the endpoint starting with one set of velocities.  Instead, you can only predict all the possible results that would happen beginning with one set.

Norman Weiner’s beliefs about communication are remarkably similar to the scientific principles of the study of molecules.  He didn’t believe that langauge could communicate one inherent essense.  Insead, he believed communication was always analogical.  The receiver of a message is always going to perceive the message through their own set of experiences.  Therefore, there are a limitless number of messages that exist through one act of communication.  It all depends on how the receptor of the message inteprets it.

The idea of mediated message keeps cropping up in this class and it seems that Weiner was also a believer in the idea that no messages are unmediated.  There is an Uncertainty Principle inherent in all aspects of communication, he would say, and that’s why all communication is relation or analogy.