Posts Tagged ‘storage


Levy’s Becoming Virtual

Pierre Levy

Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age

Area: Digital Media


·        Virtuality is the process of humanity’s ‘becoming other’—it is heterogenesis

à      Analyze the process of transformation from one more of being to another

Chapter One: The Nature of Virtualization

·        Reality: “I’ve got it”

·        Virtuality: “You’ll get it”

·        Possible v. Virtual

à      Possible: Already fully constituted, but exists in limbo

·        Virtualization is the movement of actualization in reverse

28: “However, the fact of not being associated with any ‘there,’ of clinging to an unassignable space (the one in which telephone conversations take place?), of occurring only between things that are clearly situated, or of not being only ‘there’ (like any thinking being)—none of this prevents us from existing.”

Chapter Three: The Virtualization of the Text

·        Relationship between writing (intellectual technology) and memory (cognitive function)

à      Memory—virtualization: the partial detachment of a living body, sharing, heterogenesis

·        Writing desynchronizes and delocalizes

·        When reading on a screen, the extensive presence that precedes the act of reading has disappeared

à      Digital media doesn’t contain text that can be read by a human being

·        Digital Storage = potentialization

·        Display =  realization

·        The computer is a means for potentializing information

50: “Yet, having enabled us to conceive of memory as a kind of record, it has transformed the face of Mnemosyne.  The semi-objectivation of memory in the text has helped promote the development of a critical tradition.  In effect, writing creates distance between knowledge and its subject.  It is most likely because I am no longer that which I know that I am able to question my knowledge.”

Chapter Four: The Virtualization of the Economy

·        Knowledge has an increasingly shorter lifespan

·        Why is the consumption of information not destructive, and why is the possession of information not exclusive?

75: “Actualization is not an act of destruction but, on the contrary, an inventive act of production, and act of creation. When I use information, when I interpret it, connect it with other information to create meaning or help make a decision, I actualize it.  In doing so I accomplish a creative act, a productive act.  Knowledge is the product of apprenticeship, the result of a virtualization of immediate experience.”

78: “There are two possible methods of increasing the efficiency of labor: (1) reification of labor power through automation; or (2) virtualization of skills using means that augment collective intelligence.”


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.”


Kirschenbaum’s Mechanisms

Matthew Kirschenbaum
Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination
Area: Digital Media

•    Hysteresis: persistence of a magnetic recording over time
•    “The problem with focusing on texts is that no one can read a text—not until it is incarnated in the material forma of a book” (Jonathan Rose)
xii: “On the one hand we have ‘Agrippa,’ an electronic text that must contend not only with its notoriously fragile digital pedigree, but which was actually intended to disappear from sight, yet is one of the most stable and accessible electronic objects I know.  On the other hand is the extreme physical trauma of the World Trade Center collapse, yet electronic data emerges intact from its ruins.”
xvii: “Information technology is among the most reliable content domains on Wikipedia, given the high interests of such topics among Wiki’s readership and the consequent scrutiny they tent to attract.  Moreover, the ability to examine page histories on Wiki allows a user to recover the editorial record of a particular entry, with every revision to the text date- and time-stamped and versioned.  Attention to these editorial histories can help users exercise sound judgment as to whether or not the information before them at any given moment is controversial, and I have availed myself of that functionality when deciding whether or not to rely on Wiki.  Wiki itself, whose developers leverage their software’s content modeling to expose document histories with a precision, transparency, and granularity unprecedented in printed publications outside the realm of genetic editions and textual scholarship, is a working example of the mechanisms I discuss herein.”
Intro: “Awareness of the Mechanism”
4: “Computers themselves were initially engines of prediction and prognostication, not recollection and storage; they only became so with the advent of the so-called von Neumann model and the somewhat later addition of random access disk memory, which enabled reliable real-time, nonsequential access to large reserves of information.”
5: “Crucially, storage today is both an accessory, something you hold in your hand or slip into your pocket (your iPod or memory stick), but is also increasingly disembodied and dematerialized as we approach tetrabyte-scale disks where users are no longer constrained in their information retention by the capacity of their hard drives.”
11: “Bits are—in other words—symbols to be set and reset, set and reset, on again and off again, over and over again.  Where as forensic materiality rests upon the potential for individualization inherent in matter, a digital environment is an abstract projection supported and sustained by its capacity to propagate the illusion (or call it a working made) of immaterial behavior: identification without ambiguity, transmission without loss, repetition without originality.”
Chapter 1: “Every Contact Leaves a Trace”: Storage, Inscription, and Computer Forensics
34: “I am belaboring these details to make the point that as a teenage computer user I had unself-consciously worked with storage media whose material qualities were very particular but which differ markedly from what would be the norm today.  Since even routine chores like disk defragmentation are performed far less frequently on the current generation of hard drives, storage has become ever more of an abstraction, defined only by a volume letter (“C”), a graphic hard drive icon, or a pie chart visualization of space remaining.  Greater and greater storage capacity will only serve to further dematerialize the media as their finite physical boundaries slip past the point of any practical concepts.”


Kittler’s Gramophone, Film, Typewriter

Friedrich Kittler
Gramophone, Film, Typewriter
Area: Digital Media
Translator’s Intro

•    Media determine our situation
•    Media of the present influence how we think about the media of the past or future
•    “Media Science” will remain mere “media history”
o    Study of media should concern itself primarily with mediality and not resort to the usual suspects (history, sociology, anthropology, lit and cultural studies) to explain how and why media so what they do
•    Media are not coefficients but effects of ideology (Baudrillard)
o    Media do no mediate; they are anti-mediatory and intransitive
•    Kittler: merger of Foucault, Lacan, McLuhan
o    Discourse analysis, structuralist psychoanalysis, and first generation media theory
o    “Media discourse analysis”
•    Lacan: human consciousness is a camera that captures and stores imagtes even when no one is around
•    Ulmer: grammatological works of Derrida “already reflect an internalization of the electronic media”
•    Hypertext and hypermedia : poststructuralism :: cybernetics : structuralism/semiotics
•    Hermeneutic “master plan” can only work if people are trained to work with language in standardized ways that downplay its changing materiality
•    People have been trained to disregard the change from handwriting to print
•    When a camera (Lacan) does all the registering, storing, and developing on its own, there is on need for an intervening subject and is celebrated consciousness
o    When the phonograph stores everything on might say there might be an unconscious, but no mediating Soul
•    Use of military combat illustrations
Xii: “Such framing, however, implies that the (re)discovery of a past orality will affect the perception of our present literacy, since every exploration of the dynamics of orality is a renegotiation of the limits and boundaries of literacy and its associated media networks.”
Xv: “technologies such as the transistor radio recognize no contradiction between transmitter and receiver.  Rather, these technical distinctions reflect the social division of labor into producers and consumers and therefore are ultimately predicated on the contradiction between the ruling and ruled classes.  If passive consumers were to become active citizens and producers, they would have to take charge of this untapped technological potential, install themselves as producers, and thereby ‘bring the communications media, which up to now have not deserved the name, into their own.”
Xx: “Step 1: We recognize that we are spoken by language.  Step 2: we understand that language is not some nebulous entity but appears in the shape of historically limited discursive practices.  Step 3: We finally perceived that these practices depend on media. In short, structuralism begot discourse analysis, and discourse analysis begot media theory.”
Xx: “Whereas Foucault’s archives are based on the hegemony of written language, on the silent assumption that print is the primary (if not the only) carrier of signification, Kittler’s archeology of the present seeks to include the technological storage and communication media of the post-print age(s).  ‘Even writing itself, before it ends up in libraries, is a communication medium, the technology of which the archeologist [Foucault] simply forgot.  It is for this reason that all his analyses end immediately before that point in time at which other media penetrated the library’s stacks. Discourse analysis cannot be applied to sound archives and towers of film rolls.’”
Xxv: “While the typewriter did away with either’s sex’s need for a writing stylus ( and in the process giving women control over a writing machine-qua-phallus), it reinscribed women’s subordination to men: women not only became writers but also became secretaries taking dictation on typewriters, frequently without comprehending what was being dictated.”
•    McLuhan: One media’s content is always other media
•    Media are always already beyond aesthetics
•    “If the film called history rewinds itself, it turns into an endless loop”
o    History if Foucault’s “wave like succession of words”
•    Writing merely stores the fact of its authorization
o    Writing celebrates the storage monopoly of the God who invented it
•    Hegel: the alphabetized individual had his ‘appearance and externality’ in this continuous flow of ink and letters
•    “Once memories and dreams, the dead and ghosts become technically reproducible, readers and writers no longer need the powers of hallucination”
•    Reproductions don’t simply resemble, but guarantee this resemblance by being a product of the object in question
•    Media are always flight apparatuses to the great beyond (specter)
•    Typewriters don’t store individuals
•    No computer has ever or will ever be built that can do more than the Turing machine
10: “Once storage media can accommodate optical and acoustic data, human memory capacity is bound to dwindle.  Its liberation is its end.  As long as the book was responsible for all serial data flows, words quivered with sensuality and memory.”
11: “If (according to Balzacz) the human body consists of many infinitely thin layers of ‘specters,’ and if the human spirit cannot be created from nothingness, then the daguerreotype must be a sinister trick: it fixes, that is steals, one layer after the other, until nothing remains of the specters and the photographed body.”
14: “The beginning of our age was marked by separation or differentation.  On the one hand, we have two technological media that, for the first time, fix unwritable data flows; on the other, an ‘intermediate’ thing between a tool and a machine, as Heidegger wrote so precisely about the typewriter.  On the one hand, we have the entertainment industry with its new sensualities; on the other, a writing that already separated paper and body during textual production, not first during reproduction (as Gutenberg’s movable types had done).”

July 2017
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