Piperno’s “Technological Innovation and Sentimental Education”

Franco Piperno, “Technological Innovation and Sentimental Education”
Area: Digital Media

•    Cybernetic machines “reduce the work of the human body, living labor, to a simple element of this process: the conscious organ, the observing eye that serves to avoid interruption”
•    “The liberation of human labor from factory production, a condition that was intuited by Marx and that today is becoming real before our very eyes, seems to bring about a mutation of common affect and sentiments, a different deployment of common sense, a semantic alteration of key words for daily life—words such as time, truth and memory.”
•    The characteristic time of the computer is the shortest temporal interval
o    The machine has a duration that is virtually boundless: an almost infinite time, magically long
•    Is it infinite, or none?
•    As long as the machine is a tool of human labor, it follows the rhythm of the human body
o    So, memory, al though machininc, will always be following the body
•    The realm of the artificial conforms with the time that is conferred on it by humans
o    Humans still make time
•    The time of the machine builds a nest in the body of the worker
•    “The advent of the computer, finally, introduces a time that escapes the very possibility of experience.  The machine can carry out and write out calculations in a time so short that it cannot be captured in thought.”
o    There is no time to experience an event
o    If there’s no time to experience an event, no time to ‘relish,’ then we only have mnemosyne to rely on—only the forgotten, the recalled
•    Is this the affective turn, then??
•    “Time unveils itself to be a linguistic convention, a verbal construction, not a fixed quality of reality.”
o    We have the freedom to redefine time, to change the meaning of the word “time”
•    There’s not an absence of time, but it is something else now
•    Signifies a reorganization of an ideology of technology
•    “Corresponding to this final completion, to this touching of the limit, is a leap of human awareness, a different way of conceiving the relation between the human and the natural.”
•    Speakers of written culture think by means of categories, whereas those of oral culture think instead by means of situations
•    “The mnemotechnic obsession of oral culture lost its meaning and narration ceased to hold hegemony over transmittable knowledge”
•    “With the advent of writing memory detaches itself from the individual as it does from the community.  Knowledge is congealed in written words: it is there, available, consultable, and comparable.  This sort of objective memory disjoins knowledge from the individual or collective corporeity.  Knowledge is no longer what nurtures the human being, what forms it as part of a given linguistic community.  It has become an analyzable, criticizable, and verifiable object. […]  The need for truth is a collateral effect of the partial necrosis of corporeal memory.”
•    For moderns, writing directly realizes a mute thought that acquires body and voice through the one who writes ≠ the reader
•    The computer diffuses a third mode of knowledge—information knowledge
o    Distinguishes itself by way of its operative nature.
•    Cybernetics involves the manipulation of a discrete number of signs according to well-defined operative rules
•    Second aim Is the characteristic of storing information for operative ends
o    “The central aim of information knowledge is not the completeness and coherence of facts and judgements on the world, but rather the optimization of procedures, be they for decisions, diagnosis, management, or planning.  Information knowledge incessantly transforms procedures so that the action may be more effective and, above all, faster”
•    Databases do not gather all of the truths on a given question, but only the whole of the knowledge useable for a certain paying client
•    The reason we use databases is to obtain the most trustworthy information as soon as possible, to make the most effective decision
o    Databases are much less memory than they are mirrors
•    The declarative language permits the enrichment and modification of the system without having to begin again at the top.
•    “Here knowledge is no longer congealed in writing; on the contrary, it is possessed by an incessant movement, changing continuously so as always to be current and ready for use.  Here memory is so entrusted to automatic devices, so much object of manipulation and elaboration, so extraneous to the bodies of individuals and collective habits as to merit another name, another meaning”
•    “Information knowledge is this free from the human activity of ‘remembering’ […] truth can cease to be the fundamental aim of knowledge, in favor of operativeness and speed”
•    “Transformations of mentality are correlated with, not caused by, technological innovations”


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August 2008
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