churchill on cyberpunk

Paul Kent Alkon, professor emeritus of English and American literature, author of ‘Origins of futuristic fiction’ (1987), and ‘Science fiction before 1900’ (1994), in 1997 has published a ↓wonderful article on ↑Winston Churchill‘s relation to the writing and thought of ↑H. G. Wells, science fiction and dystopia in general. More recently Alkon covered the issue even more in-depth in his chapter ‘Imagining science: Churchill and science fiction’ (2006: 155-176). What struck Bruce Sterling the most is Churchill’s premonition of drone warfare: Have we reached the end? Has Science turned its last page on them? May there not be methods of … Continue reading

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brains ain’t computers

When, ↵like recently, I am talking about the historical significance of cybernetics for contemporary culture and society I more often than not mention that in the process of marking itself off from mechanistic visions (Ashby 1957 [1956]: 1-6), cybernetics quite early emphasized a whole array of concepts: networks, complexity, self-organisation, reproduction, adaptation, cognition, aiming at and maintaining goal-states, purposeful behaviour (or action?), and autonomy. This line-up implicitly leads towards a vision of cybernetic systems as independent actors, maybe even gifted with ‘free will’. Therefore it is not astounding that a hypothetical analogy emerged early on: ‘mind to body’ is like … Continue reading

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the lovecraft tie

Above these apparent hieroglyphics was a figure of evident pictorial intent, though its impressionistic execution forbade a very clear idea of its nature. It seemed to be a sort of monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form which only a diseased fancy could conceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which … Continue reading

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what is decided?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #13 What are these gentlemen deciding?     Just leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the ‘Leave a comment’ at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it’s the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I’ve approved a comment, your next ones won’t be held, but published immediately by the system.] UPDATE 1 (02 February 2012): It seems to be a really tough one this … Continue reading

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guy in parliament

In Ireland they’ve got a saying which roughly goes like this: ‘Guy Fawkes was the only man ever who had honest intentions when he set foot into parliament.’ Well, members of the ↑Palikot’s Movement protested in a session of the Polish parliament against Poland signing ↑ACTA (a kind of international version of ↑SOPA and ↑PIPA) by holding paper Guy-Fawkes masks in front of their faces :o) See also ↵occupy guy, ↵moore on fawkes, and ↵guy headroom. … Continue reading

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do anthropologists dream of electronic savages?

anthropology, technology, and new worlds The ‘↑Ethnologische Salon‘ in January ↑Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde München—Foyer Friday, 27 January 2012, 19:00h —‘Do Anthropologists Dream of Electronic Savages?’ lecture by Alexander Knorr, lavishly illustrated by projections —‘Man and Machine’ Reading from the book ‘↑Cyberanthropology‘ by Alexander Knorr. Read by Karin Sommer and Stefan Eisenhofer —Independent Short Films: ‘↑World Builder‘ by ↑Bruce Branit (USA 2007) ‘↑Fragile Machine‘ by ↑Ben Steele (USA 2005/2007) … Continue reading

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legonaut

  Two 17-year-olds from Canada attached a LEGO minifigure to a helium-filled weather ballon and had it soar up 24 km, which is right in the middle of the stratosphere. During the journey upwards the helium inside a balloon expands until the balloon bursts. The legonaut was found 122 km away from the two teenagers’ home—it had safely landed on its homemade parachute. A time lapse camera documented the journey. from PK via e-mail—tnx! … Continue reading

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technology fundamentally human

↑The Next Web links to the ↑Study: Robots inspire new learning & creativity possibilities for kids (the LEGO Group is involved). Here are The Next Web’s closing paragraphs: Taking a deeper look at the stories the children created, the survey found that unlike many adults who see technology as separate from humanness, it seems that “kids tend to think of technology as fundamentally human: as a social companion that can entertain, motivate, and empower them in various contexts.”     While this dreamy perspective is partially the result of childhood imagination (something kids from any generation can have), it is … Continue reading

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