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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cyberpunk and postcyberpunk

Something seems to be in the air. Just recently we had Jiré Emine Gözen’s doctoral thesis ‘↵Cyberpunk Science Fiction‘ (2012), now Krzysztof K. Kietzman has published his M.A. thesis ‘↓Constructs of innocence in selected works of cyberpunk and postcyberpunk fiction‘ under a creative commons licence (and the thesis is ‘In tribute to and memory of ↑Aaron Swartz—a cyberpunk (1986-2013)’). Krzysztof ↑told boingboing: I studied American literature in Poland and published my Masters Thesis on cyberpunk and postcyberpunk for free under a Creative Commons BY SA license. It is available online and covers the writers William Gibson (‘Neuromancer’) and Neal Stephenson … Continue reading

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digital ethnography

Digital ethnography can be understood as a method for representing real-life cultures through storytelling in digital media. Enabling audiences to go beyond absorbing facts, computer-based storytelling allows for immersion in the experience of another culture. A guide for anyone in the social sciences who seeks to enrich ethnographic techniques, ↑Digital Ethnography offers a groundbreaking approach that utilizes interactive components to simulate cultural narratives.     Integrating insights from cultural anthropology, folklore, digital humanities, and digital heritage studies, this work brims with case studies that provide in-depth discussions of applied projects. Web links to multimedia examples are included as well, including … Continue reading

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futuristic user interfaces

An interface from ‘Prometheus’ (Scott 2012) The head-up display (↑HUD) of ‘The Terminator’ (Cameron 1984) VisualPunker has amassed a ↑nice collection [containing a lot of animated gifs] of futuristic and retrofuturistic interfaces and HUDs from anime, other motion pictures, and computer games. In this respect I fullheartedly recommend ‘↑Make it so: Interaction design lessons from science fiction‘ (Shedroff & Noessel 2012): Many designers enjoy the interfaces seen in science fiction films and television shows. Freed from the rigorous constraints of designing for real users, sci-fi production designers develop blue-sky interfaces that are inspiring, humorous, and even instructive. By carefully studying … Continue reading

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cyberpunk science fiction

It’s in German only, sorry folks, but Jiré Emine Gözen’s doctoral thesis ‘Cyberpunk Science Fiction’ (2012) is exactly what we need. Here’s the ↑publisher’s official description: Die Cyberpunk-Literatur – eine kurzlebige, aber bis heute einflussreiche Strömung der 1980er Jahre. Als erste ausführliche Auseinandersetzung mit den nahen Zukunftswelten der Cyberpunk-Literatur zeigt dieses Buch, wie das Genre mit seinen zentralen Topoi der Verschmelzung von Mensch und Maschine medientheoretische Konzepte in sich aufnimmt, fiktionalisiert – und letztendlich fortschreibt. Neben der Auseinandersetzung mit Cyberpunk und Medientheorie des 20. Jahrhunderts präsentiert Jiré Emine Gözen einen ausführlichen Überblick über die deutsche und anglo-amerikanische Science-Fiction-Forschung sowie die … Continue reading

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vintage tomorrows

  There’s a fine new book: ‘Vintage Tomorrows’ (Carrott & Johnson 2013). Here’s the official description: What would today’s technology look like with Victorian-era design and materials? That’s the world steampunk envisions: a mad-inventor collection of 21st century-inspired contraptions powered by steam and driven by gears. In this book, futurist Brian David Johnson and cultural historian James Carrott explore steampunk, a cultural movement that’s captivated thousands of artists, designers, makers, hackers, and writers throughout the world.     Just like today, the late 19th century was an age of rapid technological change, and writers such as Jules Verne and H.G. … Continue reading

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democracy’s fourth wave?

In 2011, the international community watched as a shockingly unlikely community of citizens toppled three of the world’s most entrenched dictators: Ben Ali in Tunisia, Mubarak in Egypt, and Qaddafi in Libya. This movement of cascading democratization, commonly known as the Arab Spring, was planned and executed not by political parties, but by students, young entrepreneurs, and the rising urban middle class. International experts and the popular press have pointed to the near-identical reliance on digital media in all three movements, arguing that these authoritarian regimes were in essence defeated by the Internet. Is that true? Should Mubarak blame Twitter … Continue reading

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technoscience leaving modernity?

The ideas and practices of Artificial Life research, and the interactions between these ideas and practices, are the topics of this thesis. How can the study of life, which ALife researchers see as pregiven by Darwinian evolution, be combined with the study of the artificial, which they see as “man made”? What implications do the combination of “artificial” and “life” have on how they practise their science? We will see that this combination makes Artificial Life a blend of a traditional naturalistic science and what they themselves sometimes call a postmodern science. (↑Risan 1997: ↑Introduction) In their introduction Varela and … Continue reading

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