beyond cyberpunk revisited

Back in August 2006 here at xirdalium I wrote ↵an entry [worthwhile, lots of associations] on Gareth Branwyn’s and Peter Sugarman’s 1991 HyperCard classic ‘↑Beyond cyberpunk‘ [← that's a link to the complete web version]. Now Gareth has published his book ‘Borg like me’ (Branwyn 2014a) containing a treasure trove of his writing from the past three decades, including an essay (Branwyn 2014b) on the making-of of ‘Beyond cyberpunk’. Boingboing has ↑said essay online, and here are some excerpts [water on my mills]: Peter [Sugarman] and I [Gareth Branwyn] began having regular phone conversations about hypermedia and how it might … Continue reading

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digital china on cyberanthropology

Well, here it is—to my knowledge the first ↑English-language review of my book ‘Cyberanthropology’ (2011) [which is in German]. ↑Annika Pissin of Lunds Universitet’s project ↑Digital China was so kind as to write a fine review in ↑the project’s blog :) KNORR, ALEXANDER. 2011. Cyberanthropology. Wuppertal: Peter Hammer. PISSIN, ANNIKA. 2014. ↑Book review: Cyberanthropology. Digital China 16 January 2014. Here’s the ↵collection of all the reviews I’m aware of. … Continue reading

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snowden on games

Here is a passage from chapter two of ↑Glenn Greenwald‘s excellent newest book “No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State” (2014), which I’ve recently read: Finally, Snowden gave me an answer that felt vibrant and real. “The true measurement of a person’s worth isn’t what they say they believe in, but what they do in defense of those beliefs,” he said. “If you’re not acting on your beliefs, then they probably aren’t real.”     How had he developed this measure for assessing his worth? Where did he derive this belief that he could … Continue reading

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graeber on play

Why do animals play? Well, why shouldn’t they? The real question is: Why does the existence of action carried out for the sheer pleasure of acting, the exertion of powers for the sheer pleasure of exerting them, strike us as mysterious? What does it tell us about ourselves that we instinctively assume that it is? (Graeber 2014) GRAEBER, DAVID [ROLFE]. 2014. ↑What’s the point if we can’t have fun? The Baffler 24. Available online. via email from Flo—tnx! … Continue reading

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we go tomorrow

Remember, remember the fifth of … June June 1 should have been D-day, but General Eisenhower needed three subsequent days of fine weather to get enough men and materials across the channel in order to resist the inevitable counter-attack. In the event the weather was not good and the invasion had to be postponed until it improved. On 5 June, Eisenhower was in conference with his staff when a courier arrived from Bletchley Park and handed him a piece of paper to read. Hitler had sent Field Marshall Rommel battle orders by radio transmission, which Bletchley Park had decoded with … Continue reading

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public displays of play

[Abstract:] As research on virtual worlds gains increasing attention in educational, commercial, and military domains, a consideration of how player populations are ‘reassembled’ through social scientific data is a timely matter for communication scholars. This paper describes a large-scale study of virtual worlds in which participants were recruited at public gaming events, as opposed to through online means, and explores the dynamic relationships between players and contexts of play that this approach makes visible. Challenging conventional approaches to quantitatively driven virtual worlds research, which categorizes players based on their involvement in an online game at a particular point in time, … Continue reading

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watterson on comics

[Jake Rossen:] Where do you think the comic strip fits in today’s culture? [↑Bill Watterson:] Personally, I like paper and ink better than glowing pixels, but to each his own. Obviously the role of comics is changing very fast. On the one hand, I don’t think comics have ever been more widely accepted or taken as seriously as they are now. On the other hand, the mass media is disintegrating, and audiences are atomizing. I suspect comics will have less widespread cultural impact and make a lot less money. I’m old enough to find all this unsettling, but the world … Continue reading

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queen of cyberpunk

That juxtaposition of technology and humanity is a key theme of the cyberpunk movement [...] (Brown 2011) When Synners [Cadigan 1991] was published, the World Wide Web didn’t exist; few people had access to computers for leisure use; virtual reality hadn’t made it out of the labs. Yet Cadigan wrote, with typical assurance, of a noisy, noirish, dystopian future, of characters overwhelmed by sheer noise (physical and mental), of a plethora of information conveyed in media old and new, of the breakdown of the body/technology boundary. The world of Synners feels (un)comfortably familiar from the vantage point of the present … Continue reading

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beauty of science

We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium a benefit for humanity. (↑Marie Curie, Lecture at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, 14 May 1921) via ↑wikiquote … Continue reading

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transformation of reality

I well remember going to conferences in 2006 and 2007 where trendy social theorists presented papers arguing that these new forms of securitization, linked to new information technologies, heralded a looming transformation in the very nature of time, possibility—reality itself. I remember thinking: “Suckers!” And so they were. (Graeber 2011: 15) Ich erinnere mich an Vorträge aus den Jahren 2006 und 2007, in denen Gesellschaftstheoretiker auf der Höhe ihrer Zeit darlegten, dass diese neuen Formen der Verbriefung in Verbindung mit den neuen Informationstechnologien eine bevorstehende Transformation der Natur von Zeit und Möglichkeit—ja der Realität ankündigten. Ich weiß noch, dass ich … Continue reading

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