Posts Tagged ‘Bolter


Hayles’ My Mother Was a Computer

N. Katherine Hayles
My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts
Area: Digital Media
Preface: Computing Kin

•    Materiality—construction of matter that matter for human meaning
•    The complex dynamics through which the Computational universe works simultaneously as a means and metaphor in technical and artistic practices
•    Intermediation = complex transactions between bodies and texts as well as between different forms of media
o    The posthuman will be understood as effects of media
2: “’Postbiological’ future: the expectation that the corporeal embodiment that has always functioned to define the limits of the human will in the future become optional, as humans find ways to upload their consciousness into computers and leave their bodies behind.”
4: “In the contemporary period, reading as ‘hallucination’ has been displaced in part by the instant messaging, chat rooms, video games, e-mail, and Web surfing that play such a a large role in young people’s experiences.  To an extent, then, the mother’s voice that haunted reading has been supplanted by  another set of stimuli: the visual, audio, kinesthetic, and haptic cues emanating from the computer.  If the mother’s voice was the link connecting subjectivity with writing, humans with natural environments, then the computer’s beeps, clicks, and tones are the links connecting contemporary subjectivities to electronic environments, humans to the Computational Universe.”
Chapter 1: Intermediation: Textuality and the Regimes of Computation
•    Comparison of speech, writing, and code
•    Code: synecdoche for information
•    Emergence
o    25: “This term refers to properties that do not in here in the individual components of a system; rather, these properties come about from interactions between components.”
22: “Even if code is not originally ontological, it becomes so through these recursive feedback loops.  In Wetwares, Richard Doyle makes a similar observation about the belief that we will someday be able to upload our consciousness into computers and thereby effectively achieve immortality.  Doyle comments, ‘’Uploading,’ the desire to be wetware, makes possible a new technology of the self, one fractured by the exteriority of the future….Uploading seems to install discursive, material, and social mechanism for the anticipation of an externalized self, a techno-social mutation that is perhaps best characterized as a new capacity to be affected by, addicted to, the future.”
33: “’Remediation’ has the disadvantage of locating the starting for the cycles in a particular locality and medium, whereas ‘intermediation’ is more faithful to the spirit of multiple causality in emphasizing interactions among media.”
33: “I want to expand its denotations to include interactions between systems of representations, particularly language and code, as well as interactions between modes of representation, particularly analog and digital.  Perhaps most importantly, ‘intermediation’ also denotes mediating interfaces connecting humans with the intelligent machines that are our collaborators in making, storing, and transmitting informational processes and objects.”
Chapter 4: Translating Media
•    If the text is stored accurately on a second storage medium, the text remains the same though the signs for it are different
o    Braille v. Print versions: the text is the same but the sensory input is very different
•    “The materiality of an embodied text is the interaction of its physical characteristics with its signifying strategies.”
101: “With electronic texts there is a conceptual distinction—and often an actualized one—between storage and delivery vehicles, whereas with print the storage and delivery vehicles are one and the same.  With electronic texts, the data files may be on one server and the machine creating the display may be in another location entirely, which means that electronic text exists as a distributed phenomenon. The dispersion introduces many possible sources of variation into the production of electronic text that do not exist in the same way with print, for example, when a user’s browser displays a text with different colors than those the writer say on her machine when she was creating it.”
102: “Certainly the time lag is an important component of the electronic text, for it determines in what order the user will view the material.  Indeed, as anyone who has grown impatient with long load times knows, in many instances it determines whether the user will see the image at all.  These times are difficult to predict precisely because they depend on the individual computer’s processing speed, traffic on the Web, efficiency of data distribution on the hard drive, and other imponderables.  This aspect of electronic textuality—along with many others—cannot be separated from the delivery vehicles that produce it as a process with which the user can interact.”


Hocks and Kendrick’s Eloquent Images

Mary E. Hocks and Michelle R. Kendrick, eds.
Eloquent Images: Word and Image in the Age of New Media
Area: Digital Media

•    Responds to current questions like whether digital media should be understood simply as a pastiche of existing forms or if digital media have brought forth a radical paradigm that requires new methods of inquiry and understanding
•    New media: radically different? Revolutionary?
•    Distinction between print and visual culture: Latour’s binary-based thinking
o    Modernist thinking: posits radical paradigm shift
•    Modern—two sets of entirely different that must remain distinct to remain effective
•    The idea of new media as ‘revolutionary’ or ‘radical’ rupture has been overstated
o    This book favors a more cautious, historicized, and situated perspectives
•    Borrowing Latour’s model: new media is a hybrid of word and image
o    Something knowable in ‘only specific local practices and contingent change’
•    Bolter: all words begin as images first—pictoral quality becomes more transparent over time
•    Kirschenbaum: complicates our ideas about the function and consumption of images
•    New media artifacts construct hybrid experiences, identities, epistemologies, and virtual realities
•    DeCerteau: practices must occur in specific, culturally controlled contexts, but they also often exceed and complicate those contexts in surprising ways
1: “Eloquent Images demonstrated that to attempt to characterize new media as a new battleground between word and image is to misunderstand radically the dynamic interplay that already exists and has always existed between visual and verbal texts and to overlook insights concerning that interplay that new media theories and practices can foster.”
5: “Outlining broadly the historical and cultural tensions between print and visual culture, Bolter concludes that, with the advent of new media, the ratios have changed to privilege practice over theory, production over critique, formal over ideological, and visual over verbal.  He ultimately sets up the dichotomies as heuristics to be subjects for debate as we move into a more complex understanding of new media.”
6: “Wysocki argues against two assumptions in new media studies: that hypertext creates politically engaged and empowers readers and that images weaken readers by making interpretation too easy.”
7: “LaGrandeur uses classical rhetoric to set up images and text as separate means of persuasion that support one other rhetorically, drawing precedents for this activity from classical texts and applying them to Web site design.”
7: “Understanding the image, according to LaGrandeur, also means comprehending its dichotomous possibilities: its persuasive power might add to an argument by using ethical, emotional, and logical appeals, but its force and nonrational nature might also distract from a message’s logical appeal.”


Warnick’s Critical Literacy in a Digital Era

Barbara Warnick
Critical Literacy in a Digital Era: Technology, Rhetoric, and the Public Interest
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

• How persuasive discourse about technology affects how we think about it
• If reading viewing, and browsing publics unquestioningly buy into predicting and ideologies in media discourse, then the beliefs embedded in it won’t be subject to public discussion and critical examination
• Critical literacy: communicating about communication
• Aural/Oral: incorporate specific abilities and competencies
• Rhetorical Criticism: concerned with how the messages are designed for audiences and how they are intended to have an effect
o How message content can contribute/detract from credibility
o How communities of interest are constructed through shared values and ways of speaking
• Selfe: technology + democracy (+capitalism) = progress
o Bolter and Grusin: “That digital media can reform and even save society reminds us of the promise that has been made for technologies throughout much of the twentieth century: it is a peculiarly, if not exclusively, American promise. American culture seems to believe in technology in a way that European culture, for example, may not… In America…collective (and perhaps even personal) salvation has been thought to come through technology rather than through political or even religious action” (60-1).
• Transparency: user forgets/is unaware of the presence of the medium
• WIRED: Technological hierarchy
o Should instead open discussion to all voices
• Need for a counter-narrative
4: “Burke noted that the ‘hierarchic principle’—the desire to transcend one’s present condition and move upward in the social hierarchy—is ‘inevitable in systematic thought.’ The promise of nearly unlimited technological advancement implies the potential for continuous self- and social improvement and upward mobility.”
15: “The New London Group defined critical framing (an important component of critical literacy) as the ability of audiences and readers to ‘gain the necessary personal and theoretical distance from what they have learned, constructively critique it, account for its cultural location, [and] creatively extend and apply it…within old communities and in new ones.”
43: “The devalued numerators [have-nots/suddenly wealthy; not at risk/at risk] of these value pairs are prototypically descriptive of technological have-nots, Luddites, women, minorities, and other groups who do not make up Wired’s readership. Wired’s marginalization of these groups becomes clear through these absences. Because dissociations expose the devalued poles that serve as foils to what is explicitly advocated, they are useful in revealing what is systematically excluded or marginalized in a text.”
119: “[Parody sites] bound themselves together through reciprocal links, intertextuality, use of coined terms, and lateral cross-references shared among sites. As a group, they constituted a discourse ‘community,’ but it was more an enclave of like-minded exchangers deriving pleasure from their positions as being ‘in the know’ about candidates’ past gaffes and misstatements.”


Bolter and Grusin’s Remediation

Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin
Remediation: Understanding New Media
Area: Digital Media

•    Our culture wants both to multiply its media and to erase all traces of mediation: ideally it wants to erase its media in the very act of multiplying it
11: “Remediation didn’t begin with the introduction of digital media.  We can identify the same process throughout the last several hundred years of Western visual representation.”
Part I
•    Programmers seek to remove the traces of their presence
o    27: “Computer programs may ultimately be human products, in the sense that they embody algorithms devised by human programmers, but once the program is written and loaded, the machine can operate without human intervention.  Programming, then, employs erasure or effacement, much as Norman Bryson defines erasure for Western painting, or as Cavell and other describe the erasure of human agency from the production of photographs.”
•    All any new technology could do: define itself in relationships to earlier technologies of representations
•    Immediacy: 30: “Our name for a family of beliefs and practices that express themselves differently at various times among various groups, and our quick survey cannot do justice to this variety.”
•    Hypermediacy: 34: “Where immediacy suggests a unified visual space, contemporary hypermediacy offers a heterogeneous space, in which representation is conceived of not as a window on to the world, but rather as ‘windowed’ itself—with windows that open on to other representations or other media.”
•    Hypernediacy was the counterpart to transparency in Western painting, an awareness of mediation whose repression almost guaranteed its repeated return
•    “Just What it is that Makes Today’s…” hyper conscious of the medium of photo-montage because photography is normally so transparent
•    Hypermediacy expresses the tension between the visual space as mediated and as a “real” space that lies beyond mediation
o    Looking “at” v. Looking “through”
o    Attempt to hold the viewer at the surface indefinitely
•    “Repurposing”: to take the “property” from one medium and reuse it in another
o    Example: Jane Austen novels → films
•    McLuhan: the “content” of any medium is always another medium
•    Digital Media = hypermedia => explicit critique and refashioning
•    Hypermediacy and transparent media desire to get past limits of representation to achieve the real
•    “They look what they do”
•    Our history is genealogical, not linear, and older media can remediate new ones
•    Fisher: colonizing the space between the canvas and the viewer has been one of the most aggressive features of the twentieth century
•    A medium is that which remediates
•    When we focus on an aspect of a medium, we must remember to include its other aspects (film: darkened theater, etc.)
•    2 senses of immediacy:
o    Epistemological: immediacy is transparency (absence of representation/ mediation)
o    Psychological: immediacy names the viewer’s feelings => authentic feeling
•    Remediation doesn’t destroy the aura of a work of art, but instead it always refashions that aura in another form
22: On VR: “You can visit the world of the dinosaur, then become a Tyrannosaurus.  Not only can you see DNA, you can experience what it’s like to be a molecule.”
23: “What designers often say they want is an ‘interfaceless’ interface, in which there will be no recognizable electronic tools—no buttons, windows, scroll bars, or even icons as such.  Instead the user will move through the space interacting with the objects ‘naturally,’ as she does in the physical world.”
47: “The new medium can remediate by trying to absorb the older medium entirely, so that the discontinuities between the two are minimized.  The very act of remediation, however, ensures that the older medium cannot be entirely effaced; the new medium remains dependent on the older one in acknowledged or unacknowledged ways.”
55: “ Remediation as the mediation of mediation; Remediation as the inseparability of mediation and reality; Remediation as reform.”
56: “Jameson has traced out the connection between the ‘linguistic turn’ and what he calls ‘mediatization.’ Jameson describes the spatialization of postmodern culture as ‘the process whereby the traditional fine arts are mediatized: that is they now come to conscious of themselves as various media within a mediatic system in which their own internal production also constitutes a symbolic message and the taking of a position on the status of the medium in question.”

July 2017
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