21st century man

  ‘It is like you to be more concerned for a machine than for a man.” He [eminent professor of sociology Simon Ninheimer] looked at her with savage contempt.     It left her [US Robots’ Chief Robopsychologist Dr. ↑Susan Calvin] unmoved. ‘It merely seems so, Professor Ninheimer. It is only by being concerned for robots that one can truly be concerned for twenty-first-century man. You would understand this if you were a roboticist.’     ‘I have read enough ↵robotics to know I don’t want to be a roboticist!’     ‘Pardon me, you have read a book on … Continue reading

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ritual technology

“When we look at people’s cultures from the inside, it is seen that they—ritual and technology—cannot be separated.” (Condominas 1986: 28)  CONDOMINAS, GEORGE. 1986. “Ritual technology in Mnong Gar swidden agriculture,” in Rice societies: Asian problems and prospects edited by Irene Nørlund, Sven Cederroth, and Ingela Gerdin, pp. 28-46. London: Curzon Press, Riverdale. … Continue reading

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effect

  Great and strange ideas transcending experience often have less effect upon men and women than smaller, more tangible considerations. (Wells 1995 [1897]: 44)  ‘But did you—are you sure? Suppose a mirror for instance—hallucinations are so easily produced. I don’t know if you have ever seen a really good conjuror—’ (Wells 1995 [1897]: 48)  WELLS, HERBERT GEORGE. 1995 [1897]. The invisible man. London: Everyman. … Continue reading

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robotics

Both “cyberspace” and “robotics” are neologisms by influential Science-Fiction writers. Both neologisms in turn are based on neologisms, too. For “cyberspace” ↑William Gibson preyed on ↑Norbert Wiener‘s concept of “cybernetics”, for “robotics” ↑Isaac Asimov preyed on writer ↑Karel Capek‘s “robot,” when he wrote this sentence: “Compare Speedy with the type of robot they must have had back in 2005. But then, advances in robotics these days were tremendous.” (Asimov 1995b [1942]: 257)  Why I am writing about this here, is the fact that both neologisms and their contexts, the stories within which they appeared, somehow developed into self-fulfilling prophecies, shaping … Continue reading

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charlie’s demons

Imagine a world where speaking or writing words can literally and directly make things happen, where getting one of those words wrong can wreak havoc, but where with the right spell you can summon immensely powerful agencies to work your will. Imagine further that this world is administered: there is an extensive division of labour, among the magicians themselves and between the magicians and those who coordinate their activity. It’s bureaucratic and also (therefore) chaotic, and it’s full of people at desks muttering curses and writing invocations, all beavering away at a small part of the big picture. The coordinators, … Continue reading

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bureaucracy

  Die Bürokratie ist der nicht greifbare Feind des gesunden Menschenverstandes und der Gerechtigkeit, sie fördert Trägheit und Willkür, und oft haben wir das Gefühl, machtlos zu sein gegen kleinkarierte Beamte, die sich gegen alle Vernunft und manchmal mit tragischen Folgen an ihre Vorschriften klammern. Der Prozess ist ein beeindruckender Roman, weil er uns schonungslos vor Augen führt, dass die Bürokratie die Wegbereiterin eines Totalitarismus ist, in dem der Einzelne der geballten Macht der Funktionäre wehrlos ausgeliefert ist. Was diesen Roman für den aufmerksamen Leser von heute so bedrückend macht, ist die Erkenntnis, dass die Bürokratie als solche alle totalitären … Continue reading

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wag the dog

In a 1994 television interview with ↑Alexander Kluge, ↑Niklas Luhmann warned: “Vorsicht vor zu raschem Verstehen!” [Attention if something is understood too quickly.] 70 years earlier, Hercule Poirot said: “If a thing is clear as daylight—eh bien, mistrust it! Someone has made it so.”—from Agatha Christie’s “The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim” (1924). … Continue reading

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artform

Gaming is the most vital artform of the age, a field that has burgeoned from virtually nothing to one of the world’s most popular forms in no time flat, a field that has seen and continues to see an enormous ferment of creativity, a field that may well become the predominant artform of the 21st century, as film was of the 20th, as the novel was of the 19th. By God, we’re privileged to be here at the birth of this great form, of the creation of a democratic artform for a democratic age, the creation of structures of desire, … Continue reading

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jakobsson 2006 excerpts

According to Sterling (1993) it was John Perry Barlow who first adopted Gibson’s concept for use of all kinds of perceived technological spaces. Barlow stated that cyberspace “is where you are when you’re talking on the telephone” (Rucker, Sirius, and Queen 1993). Featherstone and Burrows (1995) differentiate between Gibsonian cyberspace and Barlowian cyberspace but, as is evident in the following quote, Gibson himself seems to have adopted Barlow’s definition. “I think in a very real sense cyberspace is the place where a long distance telephone call takes place” (Josefsson 1995). (↵Jakobson 2006: 25)  Featherstone, Mike and Roger Burrows. 1995. Cultures … Continue reading

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gamemodding definitions

The wall went down last month. From now on in computer gaming, there were to be no real barriers between creator and audience, or producer and consumer. They would be collaborators in the same imaginative space, and working as equals, they’d create a new medium, together. (↵Au 2002)  “Day of Defeat” is a mod—a fan-made modification to a pre-existing game. Or, in modder jargon, it’s a “total conversion,” the most ambitious form of mod, in which all the graphics and gameplay of the original title have been reshaped by fans to create an entirely new experience. (↵Au 2002)  The community … Continue reading

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