Reading Machines, What is code, 17776

This week’s readings were really fascinating and I really enjoyed reading Jon Bois’ 17776 and What is code. Probably it’s because of all of the professional technical terms in the book Reading Machines, I found it’s hard to get into my reading zone when I first started reading it. But I had no doubt about that it has merit, just like what Ramsay stated – all criticism is deformational in some way. Reading 17776 was a whole different experience and I think it’s a perfect combination of digital art and speculative fiction. While reading it, I can’t help myself but think about how did Jon Bois figure out to arrange this book in this way. Did he write everything by himself then hand it off to a coder/programmer? I had a similar reading experience with reading Between Pages and Screen, where I found myself get distracted easily and had a hard time to really focus on the content. Reading the article What is code reminded me of one conversation we had during the class a few weeks ago. We had a conversation about the future of writing where we discussed the question: “If you are “writing” something on your laptop, who is actually doing the writing thing? Yourself or the code behind the laptop?” Even though I’ve read about how the code works now, I still don’t have a very specific answer to that question. Because I found myself always debating with my own thoughts. Part of me would agree that no matter how the form of writing changes, the writing itself is not changing and we are still in charge of doing the writing. However, part of me would also agree that there is no way we could do the writing on the laptop without the code behind it. I look forward to hearing others’ opinions/thoughts on this question.

Between Page and Screen

This was the first time that I encountered with the physical book in such a fascinating way. The concept was brilliant and it’s very creative. With that being said, I was actually annoyed by having to go to a website, activate my camera and figure out exactly how to hold the book in front of the camera and still be able to read the screen. But once I figured out how it works, my mind was blown away by how cool this technology was. And I tried, I really tried to focus on the content of the context, but I failed… I’m not going to lie about this. I can’t help myself to think about how did they do it and end up googling it.

One page I found very interesting was the one where the words will change (sheer, shear, share, shares, she, hears, ear)  depends on the angle I’m holding the book. After reading it (took me a while to do that even it’s very short), I started to wonder why did the author choose to present a book in this way. Perhaps the author was trying to tell us how easily we get distracted when we read online books? Or the author was trying to say that physical book and the technology can co-exist, and there is no need to worry about the future of reading? Although I didn’t really enjoy the overall reading experience, the forced interaction between text, technology, and the reader was very joyful.

Reading Writing Interfaces

Unlike other readings we have been done in this class, this book brought me into a new perspective which reflects on interfaces of our everyday lives, like iPads, smartphones/iPhones, MacBooks, etc. While I was reading this book, I found one quote to be very interesting. On page 164, Emerson says “…a passive acceptance of these algorithms necessarily means we cannot have a sense of the shape and scope of how they determine our access to information, let alone shape our sense of self, which is increasingly driven by autocomplete, autocorrect, automata”. It’s interesting that Emerson was trying to show us how mechanisms act upon us, as well as how interfaces open and foreclose “certain creative possibilities”. I’ve never thought this idea before because I think the technology or the Internet as a whole actually allow us to access more information. For instance, when it comes to the time that I need to do some research about my class projects, my initial action would be searching for some scholar articles/books online on my laptop. Without the Internet, I probably would never know these resources because I have such limited access to it. However, after reading this book, I can’t help but wonder: “Are we seeing what we want to see, or what we are seeing is what the Internet wants us to see?” It gets creepy when I give some serious thoughts about this question, and it kinda scares me of how true Emerson’s theory is.

Plowing the dark

This is not an easy book to read, the language is relatively complex and some sentences take a couple of readings. But it didn’t stop me from liking it. I find that if I am not actually reading it then I am thinking about it. The two parallel stories kept me interested in reading it and the two extremes Powers presents in this novel was very interesting to look at. I can’t help myself but imagine two rooms in my head. One is the room you can enter and leave at will. When you are in it, there is no limit to the mental stimulation you can receive from external sources. Plus, this room can become anything and anywhere. The other room is a prison cell in which you are trapped and the only stimulation your brain can get is what it can generate itself through memory and imagination. These two sorts of powers make me think about the virtual reality of cyberspace compared with the virtual reality of the human brain. They also challenge me to think about the extremes of over-stimulation and under-stimulation.

However, although I liked Plowing the dark. I don’t know if it is just me, or if someone has the same feeling as me. I just feel like I didn’t get the whole messages that the book was trying to deliver. It’s like the author was trying to picture a whole “forest” to the readers. But as a reader, I never got a clear picture of some of its “trees”.

Hookway and Galloway

On page 5, Hookway says “The interface is a liminal or threshold condition that both delimits the space for a kind of inhabitation and opens up otherwise unavailable phenomena, conditions, situations, and territories for exploration, use, participation, and exploitation… The interface holds its own identity, from which it influences and defines the entities that stand in relationship to it as much as those entities influence and define the interface itself. In actively facing it bounding entities, the interface defines them according to the relation brought into being by that facing.” It seems like Hookway’s central tactic is to conceptualize the interface as a simultaneous function: an interior relation within a bounded field of objects (i.e. man/machine), and an exterior condition that actively defines the objects whose relations are organized by the interface itself. On another hand, Galloway defines the interface as “a door or a window or some other sort of threshold across which we must simply step receive the bounty beyond. But a thing and its opposite are never joint by the interface in such a neat and tidy manner.” (page 54). It seems like Galloway focuses more on how the social is incorporated within media as an object, instead of focusing on how people interact with various types of interfaces. One example I can come up with Hookway’s definition is how a pilot flight experience can be viewed as an assumption of control over the aircraft. At the same time, it can also be considered as a living body inhabiting in the driving seat. For me, Hookway’s definition of the interface makes more sense to me because I think it is more relevant to our real life.

Paper Knowledge

To be honest, this book was a little bit tough to get into and I found it’s hard for me to quickly get into my reading zone. However, this book drew my attention to the significance of print production that circulates in a variety of ways based on time and technological constraints. I have never interpreted or thought about the print culture and digital culture in such a way. What I stood out to me while reading the book is the idea of how we interact with the object that is represented in digital format. It’s interesting to consider that when we are looking at the object in a digital format, we are not seeing the whole pictures even it is right in front of us. What we are seeing is just what people want us to see, we cannot see the code or the true meaning behind it. This idea brought me back to one of the communication class I took last year where we talked about the power of images/paintings/picture. Without any formats of communication, we could see the message that the person who created the picture or the painting was trying to deliver to us. However, it makes me wonder “Does the meaning of that message has anything to do the way of how it delivered to us?” and “Would be the same message/idea if we change the way how it delivered, such as look at a painting in the digital format?”. This book somehow reminded me of our discussion about the book The Crying Lot of 49, where we talked about the topic: paranoid. I can’t help but wonder “Is it true that what we want is always the meaning behind the thing we are looking at?”.

The Intuitionist

The Intuitionist was an interesting book to read, but I had a hard time read through it, especially the passages of technical information about how elevators operate. At first, I couldn’t understand why these passages are included in the book and couldn’t see the meaning behind it. However, as I read through the entire book, I started to see how it fits into the book. From my point of view, elevators represent the system of social structure and mobility in the city. They not only represent the human’s desire to build taller and larger buildings or develop new technologies. But also the human’s desire to get into the upper class and be perceived as superior in this society. Elevators can be viewed as advanced technology in this book, yet it still suffered from many mechanical problems. Therefore, I think it look a lot like the society we are in – a society with advanced technology and science. Nevertheless, its citizens are mired by many issues such as political corruption, racial prejudice, white privilege, stereotypes.

Although this book was not my favorite type of book, I still enjoyed reading it because it made me think and has kept me thinking. It seems like that parallel universe in the book is mired by the same issues with our present society. Therefore, I can’t help but wonder, “does it mean the issues such as political corruption, racial prejudice, stereotypes, social justice, etc. are existed in every universe?” and “is it possible for us to eliminate these issues?”. This thought might not relevant to what I mentioned above, but I have to say that after finish reading this book, an elevator ride might never be the same as before.


Proposal Draft 2

As I dig deeper into the initial topic of my proposal draft, I found my initial topic might be too broad. Therefore, I think it is necessary to be more specific about my topic. As I mentioned in the proposal draft 1, it seems like the way of how people obtaining information has changed and it is still changing. In the past, we often wrote to communicate with one other person, where writing was not a very social way to communicate. But now, we can reach thousands or even more people with only a single post.

For this project, I am going to discuss some of the implications that the idea or rather the concept of technology has had on students who employ the same in reading. I must attest to the fact that most of the students have been seen to affiliate themselves with digital reading methods and this is probably because of the convenience that it tends to tag along with it. I am going to explore the same in my project and by so doing, I am looking forward to understanding how reading could be made more effective through using of the digital or rather the technological means that are available. I am certain about this since it would focus on just the implications of digital reading to students rather than having to discuss the entire relationship between technology and students’ studies. I am positive that this research will help students’ in understanding how they could employ the digital reading means that they have been exposed to in ensuring that they do better or rather reap effective results in their reading and learning process.

Track Changes

To be honest, this book was not my favorite type of books. I had a hard time to read through it because of the complexity of some words. At first, I thought this book was interesting since it introduced a word processing from the perspective of the writers. Then it became the analysis of the role of the computers in the ability of the authors to introduce their ideas and present them in the form of words “that were fully atomized”. To me, it implied that the technological development provided the chance to bring new meanings to narratives and the forms of their presentation. I found the IBM typewriter was really an interesting idea to look at. From my point of view, when people first invented it, their initial purpose was not trying to use technology to replace human but to help us with our work productivity. However, it’s funny that when these technologies did increase work efficiency and productivity, many people start to question if the technologies deprive our ability/right to think. I like the part where the book reveals the possible perspectives for the future. In particular, the author defines that “writing technology do shape our thinking”. I think his statement demonstrates the desire to understand what future changes may happen in the writing styles and techniques that are connected with word processing.

24 hour bookstore

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, not only because of its amazing plots but also the new perspective it brought to me in terms of the future of reading. After reading Flusser’s’ book, I was kind of convinced that the new technologies will eventually take over our traditional way of writing, the same thing with reading. But McGann’s book offered me a new viewpoint, which is that embrace the new changes doesn’t have to mean that the old or traditional way of reading is fading away. One thing I found very interesting was the title of this book. Before digging deeper into this book, I interpreted the title simply as its surface meaning: a bookstore that never closes. After finish reading it, it seems like the title is making an argument, which is new developments/technologies will not eliminate books or the urge of holding a physical book. There are still people who genuinely love the traditional way of reading books, there are people who enjoy holding a physical book instead of enjoying ebooks. In the book, the internet did help the Unbroken Spine solve the mystery. Nevertheless, many of the Unbroken Spine actually regret solving and want to go back to the days where they hoping together for immortal life. My point is although it is true that the internet can be helpful and it has brought many benefits to our lives, these benefits will not deprive the joy of reading books in our traditional way.