Monthly Archives: February 2010

In need of remediation

I was thrown off balance by the title of the book remediation.  The definition I’m accustomed to is “’the correction of something bad or defective.”  It turns out that the authors Bolter and Grusin consider in a different context, and I’m not exactly sure what context that is.  The first chapters seem to refer to remediation as a e repurposing of an art form; discussion subjects such as “remnants of old media in media design” and explaining that immediacy is caused when one medium convinces viewers of its importance and then other media try to appropriate it.  The new media discussed are primarily the visual: computer games, digital photography, photorealistic graphics, digital art, film, Virtual Reality, mediated spaces, television, and the World Wide Web.

Where do you read your news? (McLuhan)

In the first article of his this week, McLuhan writes, “As the market society defined itself, literature moved into the role of a consumer commodity. The public became patron.”

This got me thinking more about the ongoing war between Google and Fox.

Basically, when you go to you are pulling stories from Fox yet you are not viewing any advertisements on the Fox site and therefore they are not receiving any money from your view. As a result, you are affecting Fox’s ability to make money and continue to produce news. We aren’t being patrons to the news and this is going to cause a shift in business model. Fox could block google, yahoo, etc. from summarizing its news, it could implement a structure to charge Google for summarizing, or many other options all with their own form of public backlash as a result of changing and charging for something that used to be free.

1) How do you generally read/view/become aware of the news?
2a) If you currently pay for news, what does your system offer you that free alternatives do not offer?
2b) If you do not currently pay for news, to what extent would you be willing to pay for content?

I get my news from blogs, forums, Yahoo Sports, and GoogleNews (only if I have nothing else to do).

I do not pay for news and I have no plans to in the future. I’m fairly certain that I will never subscribe to a newspaper although I do appreciate browsing weekly advertisements. If a situation comes up where I need an article or I need a newspaper, I’ll get it from someone who pays. I just wouldn’t use it enough to justify a subscription.

McLuhanite, Williamsite, or something else?

While reading for class this week, I became very interested in the similarities and differences in the beliefs and opinions of Williams and McLuhan. I thought it was amazing that their stances on “new” media and remediation could at times be the complete opposite of each other, but at other times be in total harmony with each other. For example, Williams and McLuhan both agree with the idea of remediation, and that “all new media ‘remediate’ the content of previous media” (Lister 82), like the cell phone being an improvement of the telephone. Williams and McLuhan also agree that technology is the “extension of man” (Lister 86), where various technologies are extensions of the human body. These technologies include the hammer which is the extension of the human arm, and writing which is an extension of speech. However, there are huge differences in what Williams and McLuhan view as the concept of technology and its consequences. Williams believes that “the knowledges and acquired skills necessary to use a tool or machine are an integral part of any full concept of what a technology is” (Lister 87). In other words, the development and uses of technology are very important to Williams. This is not the case for McLuhan. McLuhan doesn’t care how a technology has come to be or why it was thought of, he is simply interested in what the technology does to mankind. “McLuhan stresses the physicality of technology, its power to structure or restructure how human beings pursue their activities…” (Lister 85).
After reading the terms McLuhanite and Williamsite, I not only wondered which one I would consider myself, but what everybody in class would consider themselves. At first (and this may be because Professor Fitzpatrick mentioned that McLuhan was controversial ☺) I thought I would be a definite Williamsite. I thought that McLuhan was just weird, and while reading his work in The New Media Reader, I thought it was ridiculous that he thought Shakespeare was predicting the use of a television when he wrote Romeo and Juliet. However, after I read the comparison of Williams and McLuhan in Lister, I began to see where some of McLuhan’s ideas come from, and I think I could agree on a couple of his insights. I agree that technology effects mankind in various ways, and I also appreciate the various vocabulary terms McLuhan has come up with for classes such as ours. I just think that all of the various insights from Williams and McLuhan should be considered and looked into when a new form of technology is invented and released to the masses. I think we should look at how a certain form of technology or medium effects mankind, and the skills and knowledge needed to use such a tool. So, I guess that makes me a LookAtEverythingite?

Questions for 2/10 Discussion

Hello class:)!! I hope everyone had a great weekend. I wanted to post some questions that will help you prepare for Wednesday’s class discussion.

1. How does your discipline in particular utilize new media? What software programs or technologies specifically do you use in your studies related to your discipline or in the field? For example as an educator, two that I can think of off the top of my head, are the ERIC database (education-related, journal articles, books, research syntheses, etc.) and the recent addition of the SMART board to many classrooms.

2. With these in mind, how do they fulfill or negate the theory of the ‘technological imaginary’ in its psychoanalytic sense (described at the end of the first paragraph on pg. 67 of our Lister text)?

3. How would some of the experts in your discipline view the theories of McLuhan and Williams? Are the new media that you utilize capable of ‘determining consciousness’ and are they ‘extensions of the human senses’ (McLuhan) or is it impossible to separate them from questions of practice (how they are used and their content) (Williams)? Is the message important or is it simply the ‘massage’?!?

4. If we look closely at McLuhan’s grand schema of the four cultures(pgs. 80-82) of Lister, how has your discipline (or your research topic interests) evolved throughout these periods? Is this narrative even relevant? If not, what are its main flaws?

I would really like to focus on the differences and similarities (few but worthy of mention) between these two theorists and how the new media that we use (both personally and professionally) could be viewed from these two different perspectives. In particular, how do these theories relate to your specific field of study.

I look forward to seeing you all on Wednesday.

Ok, now here is my response to the bush article!

“As We May Think” by Vannevar Bush really took me by surprise. Growing up in the 1960’s as I did, in the circles I spent my time socializing we would talk about how some day everything that was considered “science fiction” and “futuristic”. We joked about how the television cartoon “The Jetsons” was a prediction of our future. Though I now have reservations as to how many actually beleived that “Jet Packs”, “Portable Telephones”, and “Instant Food” would actually come true, but in many respects we had actually surpassed that level of technology by the end of the twentieth century.

It is quite interesting that in July of 1949 Vannevar Bush had many of the same predictions, and with seemingly unencumbered assuredness. I think at this point, my question here is whether or not others have had similar experiances observing the development of “New Media”? What about those born in the 1980’s that experianced themselves growing up in the age that “New Media” had already begun taking over the way we do and thing about communication, entertainment, politics, religion, etc…? Being born in 1959 I believe that I have an advantage over those in younger generations. I would definitely be interested in hearing what others experiences have been in light of Bush’s article!

Readings for 2/10

Hello Class:) I just wanted to let everyone know that Richard and I have decided to focus primarily on the first 3 chapters of Bolter and Grusin’s ‘Remediation’ for Wednesday’s discussion.

Hypertext (re)Construction

I found N. Katherine Hayles writing on Tom Phillips Humument project in her book Writing Machines to be particularly instructive of how an aesthetics of hypertext, physical and virtual, can be constructed and reconstructed. “As they stand they are not a story in any literary sense; though they enable us, or rather force us, to construct one out of them for ourselves” (78).

evolution of words…


Something funny to watch…

In remembrance of Alan Turing

For those of you not familiar with his back story, feel free to peruse his wiki page.

As an engineering undergrad among many computer science peers, I would hear the name Turing throughout the day.  Turing machine this, Turing test that, etc.  I didn’t realize how important he was to computer science until his name hit the mass media due to the recent apology to Turing by the British government (link).  Turing was an absolutely brilliant mind yet was punished by his country because of his sexual orientation.

I am intrigued by Turing’s work, particularly the Turing test.  As a programmer I often concentrate very hard to put myself in the mind of the machine and think how a machine thinks.  I find it ironic that for the Turing test, my job would be to write a program that responds like a human being.  I am amused when I imagine that the first AIs will have personalities and quirks exactly like their creators.

While researching more on the Turing test, I came across the CAPTCHA wiki.  CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.  These are the pictures with letters that you must type in manually when you register on many forums or internet destinations.

My overall score on CAPTCHA’s is probably in the high 80% and they are incredibly frustrating when I get them wrong 🙂


You say Tom-ah-to and I say Tom-eh-to

Let us examine Turing’s proposition, “Can machines think?” (50). Inevitably, like the beginning of the article we have to define the terms of such a proposition in order to find an answer or perhaps a better question worth raising. Using Turing’s definition, which will be expanded upon later, the class of ‘thinking machines’ is constrained by imaginable discrete state machines that could pass the Turing test (55). Turing proceeds to delineate various objections ranging from the theological, creative and mathematical to the role consciousness and the nervous system plays in describing the Turing machine.

I propose extending the objections of consciousness and informal behavior and look at the proposition by posing a new one (56, 60). Can thinking machines have intentionality? Of course, this is about as simple as writing a proof for P is equal or unequal to NP. What do I mean by intentionality? According to John Searle, roughly speaking, intentionality is the difference between syntactic processing and semantic understanding. Searle describes this objection through his thought experiment here:

If a computer program is competent only in syntax but not semantics can it really be said that it can understand or is it thinking in the Turing sense through the computation and processing of raw information.

A short example in symbolic semantics: I made them duck (noun) vs. I made them duck (verb).

A more thorough example of the problem with (strong) AI research can be seen in the indirect speech act; for instance, various utterances can be used to impart propositions that can appear to be different from the proposition expressed or implied by the utterance itself.   “Can you pass the salt,” is the most commonly used example.

Take this for instance:

A speaker S1 performs a linguistic action of type A1 if and only if

(a)        S1 utters an expression E1, where E1 is a device for doing A1 and

(b)        The felicity conditions C1 for that type of speech act obtain.

Speaker S1 makes a promise by uttering the expression E1 in the presence of H1, if and only if

(a)        S1 utters an expression E1, where E1 is a device for promising and

(b)        The felicity conditions C1 for promising obtain.

Accordingly, it then breaks down as follows assuming normal conditions obtain

S1 expresses the proposition that P1 in the utterance of E1.

In expressing that P1, S1 predicates a future act A1 of S1.

The hearer H1 would prefer S1’s doing to S1’s not doing A1.  S1 believes H1 would prefer his doing A1.

It is not obvious to both S1 and H1 that S1 will do A1 in the normal course of events.

S1 intends to do A1.

S1 intends that the utterance of sentence E1 will place him or her under an obligation to do A1.

S1 intends that the utterance of E1 will produce in H1 a belief that S1 intends to do A1; and that S1 intends to be placed under the obligation of doing A1.  Moreover, S1 intends to induce this belief in H1 by getting H1 to see that S1 intends to induce it.

This deceiving simple example is paradoxical. It consists of a few conditional statements that any programmer should know how to produce yet it requires understanding of contextual intentionality. Instead of asking ourselves “Can machines think?” Maybe we should be asking can machines that think, understand?

Bonus link: Eliza Online in case anyone wants to play