Posts Tagged ‘code


Donald’s Origins of the Modern Mind

Merlin Donald
Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
Chapter Eight: Third Transition: External Symbolic Storage and Theoretic Culture

•    Before the human body could be dissected and catalogued, it had to be demythologized
o    Demytholgoization illustrates the transformation in mythic (narrative) → theoretic (analytic)
•    Rhetoric is a set of skills that controls language use on the level of discourse
•    The Trivium: Rhetoric, Logic, Grammar
273: “Whereas oral-mythic cultures rely heavily on individual biological memory, modern cultures rely much more on external memory devices, mostly on various classes of graphic symbols, from pictures and graphs to ideograms and writing.  Thus, the shift is from internal to external memory storage devices.  As the pattern of memory use shifts toward the external symbolic store, the architecture of the individual mind must change in a fundamental way, just as the architecture of a computer changes if it becomes part of a larger network.”
308:  “As long as future recipients possess the ‘code’ for a given set of graphic symbols, the knowledge stored in the symbols is available, transmitted culturally across time and space.  This change, in the terms of modern information technology, constitutes a hardware change, albeit a nonbiological hardware change.”
309:  External memory is best defined in functional terms: it is the exact external analog of internal, or biological memory, namely, a storage and retrieval system that allows humans to accumulate experience and knowledge.”
314:  “The major locus of stored knowledge is out there, not within the bounds of biological memory.  Biological memories carry around the code, rather than a great deal of specific information.  Monads confronted with a symbolic information environment are freed from the obligation to depend wholly on biological memory; but the price of this freedom is interpretative baggage.”
344:  “the result was that, for the first time in history, complex ideas were placed in the public arena, in an external medium, where they could undergo refinement over the longer term, that is, well beyond the life-span of single individuals.  This meant that the EXMF could be fully exploited for the first time; where its use had been restricted to analog models, lists, and a few simple narratives, it was not the field of more elaborate symbolic structures.”


Hansen’s Bodies in Code

Mark B.N. Hansen
Bodies in Code: Interfaces with Digital Media
Area: Digital Media

•    Bodies in code: a term designating embodiment as it is necessarily distributed beyond the skin in the context of contemporary technics
Ix: “My explicit aim is to show how Merleau-Ponty’s final ontology of the flesh, with its postulation of a fundamental indifference between body and world, requires a technics—a theory of the originary technicity of the human.  Because the human is essentially a being distributed into nonoverlapping sensory interfaces with the world, it is characterized by a certain ‘gap’ or ‘divide- by what Merleau-Ponty calls an ecart.  As I show, the most primordial form of this ecart is the transduction between embodiment and specularity, the transduction that informs the emergence of the visual from primordial tactility.  This transduction (a relations that is primary with respect to its terms) is an instance (indeed, it is the protoinstance) of the inherence of technics within embodied life.”
•    The virtual now denotes a space full of information that can be activated, revealed, reorganized, and recombined, added to and transformed as the user navigates ewal space
•    Motor activity—not representationalist verisimilitude—holds the key to flux and functional crossings between the virtual and physical realms
•    The first generational model of VR as a disembodied hyperspace free of all material constraints simply no longer has any purchase in our world
•    The priority (or the ‘superiority’) of the analog: always on arrival a transformative feeling of the outside, a feeling of thought (Massumi)
o    Outside coming in
o    The analog creates reality out of forms or mixing realms, out of transformations
•    All reality is mixed reality
•    Theory has become almost simply coextensive with the claim (Sedgwick and Frank)
•    What makes the passage from one realm to another so seamless, so unnoticeable, so believable?
•    Blindspot (the photo montage of the parts of the body the artist cannot see) recognizes the inescapability of a cofunctioning of ‘natural’ perception and technically extend perception
•    Across the virtual body our culture constructs its own body image
•    Rigid Waves: the ‘mirror’ art—movement creates distortion, proximity shatters the image
•    To think of the body as a body-in-code is to think of human existence as a prepersonal sensory being-with
3: “Natural three dimension” demotes a more immersive, data-rich visual simulation.  In contrast, for Krueger, ‘natural formation’ means information produced through an extension of our natural—that is, embodied, perceptuomotor—interface with the world.”
3: “The development of 3-D simulations puts us in touch with out most primative perceptual capacities: ‘the human interface is evolving toward more natural information.  3-D space is more, not less, intuitive then 2-D space…3-D space is what we evolved to understand.  It is more primitive, not more advanced 9than two-dimensional space].”
4: “First, the mixed reality paradigm radically reconfigures a trait that has characterized VR from its proto origin as the representationalist fantasy par excellence: namely, a desire for complete convergence with natural perception.  This trait serves to distinguish it from all discrete image media, including cinema, which as underscored by Gilles Deleuze’s correction of Bergson’s criticism of the ‘cinematic illusion,’ function by breaking with natural perception.”
4: “Atonion Damasio’s analogy for consciousness: if consciousness can be likened to a ‘movie-in-the-brain’ with no external spectator, then VR would comprise something like a move-outside-the-brain, again, importantly, with no external spectator.”
5:  “Rather than conceiving the virtual as a total technical simulacrum and as the opening of a fully immersive, self-contained fantasy world, the mixed reality paradigm treats it as simply one more realm among others that can be accessed through embodied perception or enaction (Varela).  In this way, emphasis falls less on the content of the virtual than on the means of access to it, less on what is perceived in the world than on how it comes to be perceived in the first place.”
8:  “Mixed reality specifies how ‘media determine our situation’ (following Kittler’s media-theoretical deepening of Foucault’s epistemo-transcendental historiography), it does so in a way that foregrounds, not, (as in Kittler) the autonomy of the technical, but precisely its opposite: the irreducible bodily or analog basis of experience which, we must add, has always been conditioned by a technical dimension and has always occurred as a cofunctioning of embodiment with technics.”
12:  “The social-technical-psychological condition of psychasthenia, meaning ‘a state in which the space defined by the coordinates of the organism’s body is confused with represented space’”
20:  “Such a technical mediation of the body schema (of the scope of body environment coupling) comprises what I propose to calls a body-in-code.  By this I do not mean a purely informational body or a digital disembodiment of the everyday body.  I mean a body submitted to and constituted by an unavoidable and empowering technical deterritorialization—a body whose embodiment is realized, and can only be realized in conjunction with technics.”


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.”


Galloway’s Protocol

Alexander Galloway
Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization
Area: Digital Media
Critical moments in the text

Xiii: “The concept of ‘protocol’ is thus meant to demonstrate the nonmetaphorical quality of networks. Or, put another way, the concept of protocol shows the predilection for general discussion of networks in terms of general tropes. […] A code is process-based: it is parsed, compiled, procedural or object-orientated, and defined by ontology standards”
Xxii: ‘The ‘wet’ biological body has not simply been superceded by ‘dry’ computer code, just as the wet body no longer accounts for the virtual body.”
10: From McLuhan: “the content of every new protocol is always another protocol.”
13: Foucault writes, “that biopolitics ‘tends to treat the ‘population’ as a mass of living and coexisting beings who present particular biological and pathological traits and who thus come under specific knowledge and technologies.”
25: “H & N specifically address new media in Empire, writing that, within the internet, ‘an intermediate and potentially unlimited number of interconnected nodes communicate with no central point of control.’ In their opinion this ‘decentralized’ architecture is ‘what makes control of the network so difficult.”
30: Hierarchy v. distribution
34: Rhizome
35: “If one route is blocked, another will do just as well.”
49: ‘Like this, the process starts at the most general point, then follows the chain of delegated authority until the end of the line is reached and the numerical address may be obtained. This is the protocol of a decentralized network.”
55: “It is precisely the tension between these two Machinic technologies—one deterritorializing and one reterritorializing—that creates the protocological system and allows it to be so powerful.”
59: “A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.”
61: “On the one hand, the Web is structured around rigid protocols that govern the transfer and representation of texts and images—so the Web isn’t ‘an acentered, nonhierarchical, nonsignifying system’ as is D & G’s rhizome. But on the other hand, the Web seems to mirror several of the key characteristics of the rhizome: the ability of any node to be connected to any other node, the rule of multiplicity, the ability to splinter off or graft on at any point, the rejection of a ‘deep structure,’ and so forth.”
73: Kittler: “Looking at the ‘moment’ of 1900, he writes that ‘the ability to record sense data technologically,’ using such instruments as the phonograph and the typewriter, ‘shifted the entire discourse network circa 1900. For the first time in history, writing ceased to be synonymous with the serial storage of data. The technological recording of the real entered into competition with the symbolic registration of the Symbolic.”
75: “The internet is a delicate dance between control and freedom.”
82: Recap of protocol so far
142: “The generative contradiction that lies at the very heart of protocol is that in order to be potentially progressive, protocol must be partially reactionary. To put it another way, in order for protocol to enable radically distributed communications between autonomous entities, it must employ a strategy of universalization, and of homogeneity.”
164: Code
213: “Computer crashes, technical glitches, corrupted code, and otherwise degraded aesthetics are the key to this disengagement. They are the ‘tactical’ qualities of internet art’s deep-seated desire to become specific to its own medium, for they are the moments when the medium itself shines through and becomes important.”
Fave line:
57: “Fear of handling shit is a luxury a sewerman cannot necessarily afford.”
From Untimely Mediations:
While I found the entirety of Galloway’s Protocol pleasurable, I found my interest most peaked in one of the final chapters on hacking and viruses. Even more specifically, when Galloway discusses the ethics of hacking and relates the upsurge of computer viruses to the AIDS epidemic, I was intrigued because I had never read anything like that (sure, my knowledge of hacking is a bit slim and that could account for the oversight). For this week’s post, then, I want to discuss how ethics, control, and biopower are interrelated.
After reading Jill’s post, I, too, am impressed that Galloway spends significant time laying out the why/how intricacies of the internet as we know it today. Impressively, he wrote for an audience like myself (some techy knowledge under my belt), and also those with extreme fluency in the matter. Before Protocol, I didn’t know there was a “hackers code of ethics.” Following a lengthy discussion of code of ethics, Galloway mentions that, “hackers don’t care about rules, feelings, or opinions. They care about what is true and what is possible. And in the logical world of computers, if it is possible then it is real. Can you break into a computer, not should you” (168). While hacking could be seen as a point of non-resistance, from a Foucauldian standpoint, I’d have to agree with Galloway that we’re simply seeing a different/another form of control. However, what is most interesting about hacking and control is that the hackers seem to relinquish their bodily control to the machine. Even though they write the code that wreaks havoc, it is the transference of power from the individual (hacker) to the machine (i.e. damaging code replicating itself in other computers) in which we clearly see the moment of control being illustrated. Further, rather than trying to push through the control of the protocol, “hackers are created by protocol […] hackers are protocological actors par excellence” (158). Hacking cannot and would not exist without protocol.
AIDS/Computer Viruses:
“Computer viruses appeared in a moment in history where the integrity and security of bodies, both human and technological, was considered extremely important. Social anxieties surrounding both AIDS and the war on drugs testify to this” (179).
This quote suggests that bodies and computers are certainly interconnected through disease, subject to the same type of collapse. (Again, I had never seen these connections before, so I might sound n00b-ish.) During the AIDS epidemic and confusion, no one had [much] knowledge on its origins, treatment, or prevention, and we can see the same parallels to computer viruses. At the time, hacking hadn’t “hit it big” yet, and just like AIDS, the population that it infected was unaware of its powers. That is what’s most fascinating to me about this moment is that both the technological and the biological were experiencing the same sorts of attacks on their “bodies.” Further, “bodies,” and ultimately biopower, has become even misconstrued (i.e. selling bodies on eBay).

July 2017
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