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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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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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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nand to tetris

  Two years ago I belatedly ↵reported on Shimon Schocken’s and Noam Nisan’s book ‘The elements of computing systems: Building a modern computer from first principles’ (2005). Since then quite some things have happened, and at the website ↑From NAND to Tetris you’ll now find a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC ;)—the whole course, including all the materials, has been put online open-source fashion. The idea is to lead you from the uttermost basics, in this case the logical NAND gate [Negated AND or NOT AND] to build a system on which you finally can program and run a Tetris … Continue reading

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the quantified body

Whenever I hear or read about the ↑quantified self—a lifestyle obviously deeply influenced by the heritage of ↵cybernetics—I am reminded of conversations I led and overheard while I still was visiting the gym regularly, three times a week. Already when just eavesdropping I was amazed by the topics the real bodybuilders talked about. The weights lifted almost aren’t a topic at all—with the exception when they spot somebody they care about using too heavy weights. This not only has negative training effects but greatly heightens the risk of injuries, too. Then, somewhat related to the former, there is the topic … Continue reading

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what is that?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #45 What is the large mechanical contraption in the picture everybody is staring at? In which movie does it appear and what does it do within the plot of that movie?     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 … Continue reading

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cybernetic science fiction

  It simply is astounding what a collection you amass on your hard drives over time—and about how many of the collected things you simply forget. I just refound an unfinished draft version of Patricia S. Warrick’s ‘↑Cybernetic Imagination in Science Fiction‘ (1980). Don’t ask me how I got that … I simply can’t remember. Fact of the matter is that I never got the finished book, although it may well contain tons of water on my mills.     On the other hand there is the possibility that I jettisoned ‘Cybernetic Imagination’ on purpose, because I do fear that … Continue reading

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pfaffenberger on society

Today, most sociologists accept that communities arise, not necessarily from face-to-face interaction, but rather from shared meanings. Because they are capable of promulgating shared meanings on an unprecedented scale, new communication and media technologies (including newspapers, motion pictures, radio, television, and computer-based communications) are capable of creating communities that vastly transcend the limits of face-to-face interaction. (Pfaffenberger 2008: 651) Durkheim’s understanding of society was informed by likening its constituent elements to an advanced, highly differentiated organism. Scientific and technological advances in the twentieth century made new metaphors available to sociological theorists. Drawing on the emerging fields of cybernetics and systems … Continue reading

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the construction of social computing

Just yesterday I received an e-mail from ↑Maurizio Teli [whom I know from back in 2005, when we met at the Cyberspace conference in Brno, Czech Republic] containing a call for papers for a workshop he is organizing together with ↑Vincenzo D’Andrea and ↑David Hakken. The workshop will take place at this year’s annual meeting, called ↑Design and displacement—social studies of science and technology, of the ↑Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), taking place 17 through 20 October 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Here is the workshop’s full abstract: In the last few years, the label “Social Computing” (SC) has … Continue reading

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colossus

But—and it was a very large but—his had been the guiding brain, the one with the big overall concept, the vision. And that was the one that counted. (Jones 1966: chpt. 1)     Briefly he considered his future, but the idea of life without the Project lacked reality. (Jones 1966: chpt. 1)     They were both roughly the same age, in their very early fifties, though a hundred years earlier they would have appeared much younger. (Jones 1966: chpt. 1)     Now it’s all over, and in the last few weeks, I’ve begun to realize what it … Continue reading

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