12.0051 smart materials

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 28 May 1998 21:41:33 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 51.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Wed, 27 May 98 08:53:23 CST
From: Jim Marchand <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: smart materials

Sounds like that old `pathetic fallacy' all over again. The concern about
`smart materials' is old. I can remember talking to John Bardeen about the
possibility of sending messages to the metal skin of a space craft, for
example, where the metal might have been fatigued or struck by a meteor.
There is probably a sizeable literature on the subject, the only problem
being the eternal one of what to call it, what key word to key in to look
for it. Claviculars (you heard it here first) have become one of the most
important concerns in this age where you can look up anything. I am almost
positive that `smart materials' would not do it; one could look up `metal
fatigue' and go from there. I remember trying to find literature about
nosocomial diseases before I found the key word `nosocomial'. No hits. I
found it by looking at a related clavicular, iatrogenic, but you see how
such things go.
Heinz von Foerster wrote a nice article long, long ago about the metaphors
we use in the computer business and how they twist our minds (in Cognition:
A Multiple View, ed. Paul Garvin). You might like, out of pietas, to read
it; it is up to date.
Jim Marchand.

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