cyberculture as discourse

After elaborating on methodological concerns and before delving into detailed analysis of the representational politics in selected cyberpop examples, it is important to situate the objects of this book in their cultural context. Chapter 2 is an overview of several key concepts in the network of discourses and practices that constitute cyberculture and, by extension, its popular media productions. Describing cyberculture as a discursive formation (inspired by theories of Michel Foucault (Archeology) helpfully clarifies how the key concepts that emerge repeatedly in cyberpop operate as a network or conceptual architecture linking technologies to individual subjects, identities, and digital lifestyles. In … Continue reading

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material cyberculture

[abstract:] This essay offers a polemical exploration of spatiality in new media culture, one based on a materialist, as opposed to a ‘ virtualist’ paradigm. Its goal is to intervene in the thought processes of liberal-phenomenological cybertheory. The latter tends to see computer users as consumers, rather than producers, within national and global economies. Because of this leisure-consumption orien tation, theories of new media are easily appropriated within ideologies of postindustrial capitalism. This has led to some oversimplified models of spatiality in cybertheory, many of which proceed from the premise that the material world is fast disappearing under the pressures … Continue reading

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corporeal virtual reality

[abstract: ] This paper considers the experience of embodiment in current and (possible) future virtual reality applications. A phenomenological perspective is adopted to explore user embodiment in those virtual reality applications that both do and do not include a visual body (re)presentation (virtual body). Embodiment is viewed from the perspective of sensorial immersion, where issues of gender, race, and culture are all implicated. Accounts of “disrupted” bodies (for example, phantom limb and dissociation of the selffrom the body, paralysis, and objectified bodies) are advanced in order to provide a context for understanding the ways in which embodiment in virtual reality … 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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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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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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hau

The very first issue of ↑HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory has been published! ↑HAU is ‘an international peer-reviewed, open-access online journal which aims to situate ethnography as the prime heuristic of anthropology, and return it to the forefront of conceptual developments in the discipline.’ The times of being banned from high-end anthropological articles by paywalls, moving walls, and so on, has an end. And the line-up of authors in ↑HAU Vol 1, No 1 is impressive—for example: David Graeber, Marshall Sahlins, Marilyn Strathern, Maurice Godelier in the ‘Translations’ section, E. E. Evans-Pritchard and Julian Pitt-Rivers in the ‘Reprints’ section, … … Continue reading

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96 hours later

↑96 hours to the stone age at ↑GigaOM complements ↵behind closed doors and ↵telegeography. The story asks, especially in respect to information technology, what will happen when electrical power won’t be delivered anymore. Well, an apocalypse in the strict sense of the term will happen—a revelation. It will be revealed to all of us in unblinking clearness, on how much hardware around us we depend, which in turn depends on electricity.     The gist of this kind of speculation is informed by scientific methodology: Take an element, or a whole category of elements, out of a system and see … Continue reading

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gods and robots

Somehow this one has escaped my attention till today—unfortunately some paywall, moving wall, system bug, or whatyouhave bars my access to it, although my university has subscribed to that publication and pays for the access. Anyhow, it goes together well with ↵the new gods. Here’s the abstract of Vidal’s article: Since the 1980s, a new area of research entitled HRI (Human-Robot Interaction) has been emerging in the field of robotic studies. It focuses on the empirical study of the relationship between robots and human beings. This article aims to contrast the findings of roboticists concerning the interaction between humans and … Continue reading

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