14.0174 two questions

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: Wed Aug 16 2000 - 06:40:39 CUT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 174.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: SJ Stauffer <stauffes@gusun.georgetown.edu> (46)
             Subject: Why "cyberspace"?: Why "computing"?

       [2] From: "Chris McMahon" <pharmakeus@hotmail.com> (52)
             Subject: Re: 14.0172 new on WWW

             Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 07:33:10 +0100
             From: SJ Stauffer <stauffes@gusun.georgetown.edu>
             Subject: Why "cyberspace"?: Why "computing"?

    >> Date: Mon, 07 Aug 2000 20:43:08 +0100
    >> From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
    >> >>
    >> Dear colleagues,
    >> Perhaps someone might be interested in persuading
    >> me and, I suppose, some others that the metaphor of
    >> "cyberspace" actually contributes something to
    >> our ability to talk about computing and its cultural
    >> consequences. In other words, what does this term mean?
    >> What is spatial, and what good does it do
    >> for us to speak in spatial terms about computing when the physical
    >> disposition of computers and people is not the issue?

    The original question leads me to another. Why *should* the metaphor of
    "cyberspace" contribute to our ability to talk about computing and its
    cultural consequences?

    Do the readers of Humanist have a uniform understanding of the term
    "computing"? Does "computing" include anything that is done with the use
    of a computer? This would seem to be a somewhat old-fashioned definition,
    but it *is* one that would encompass the sending of e-mail as well as the
    crunching of numbers.

    I wonder, though, how many, er, denizens of cyberspace would consider what
    they did in cyberspace (or the very act of entering cyberspace) to be
    "computing." MOOing, Napstering, checking out the stock market, IRCing,
    listening to David Sedaris on NPR online: Would the average person (or
    even any of the participants in this discussion) apply the term to any of
    this? The spatial metaphor works for these activities, and it's
    interesting to consider the cultural consequences of these activities
    where often the physical disposition of the participants and by extension
    their computers is an issue, both to the participants and to the social
    scientists who study their interactions. But that's different from
    considering the cultural consequences of computing if "computing" does not
    simply mean "anything done with a computer" but something more like "the
    application of computational methods (e.g. problem definition, problem
    analysis, writing code, testing, debugging) to solving problems or
    answering questions in a given field."

    As you-pl drink your morning or afternoon or evening coffees or teas, take
    a look at the Atlas of Cyberspaces at
    <http://www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/casa/martin/atlas/atlas.html>, with maps in the
    categories listed below.

    | Conceptual | Artistic | Geographic | Cables & Satellites
    | Traceroutes | Census | Topology | Info Maps | Info Landscapes
    | Info Spaces | ISP Maps | Web Site Maps | Surf Maps
    | MUDs & Virtual Worlds | Historical

    Stephanie Stauffer
    Center for Applied Linguistics

             Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 07:35:28 +0100
             From: "Chris McMahon" <pharmakeus@hotmail.com>
             Subject: Re: 14.0172 new on WWW

    Yes -

    >This raises a vital question: what is the relationship between
    >humanities computing and the general public? Are we working for the
    >public good, or just selling them products?

    And that's Althusser's question too? Why he thinks R&D needs to be injected
    with the material dialectic? Habermas too is greatly concerned with the
    failure of democracy and the rise of technocracy. Surely, espcially now
    that technologies are becoming increasingly "global", we should be thinking
    about this more then we seem to be?

    Bourdieu makes a good point. Disintresedness (or apparent disintrestedness)
    is, in the context of the state or state apparatuses (e.g. universities) a
    kind of symbolic capital that fits the man or woman for authority in those
    apparatuses. And the curious thing is that because of this,
    disintrestedness seems to take on some kind of social reality? If the state
    ends up giving in to Capitalism qua Gordon Gecko then surely we are
    witnessing a profound paradigm shift in which "disntresedness" gets coopted
    into the capitalist notion that the market knows what's best for it? This
    means a profound change in the agenda of the state apparatuses that
    previously functioned by way of a sybolic>material capital transaction
    path. Now the ability to make material capital is the main source of
    symbolic capital, making the disntrestedness of the man or woman of the
    state apparatus take up the place of the man or woman of capitalism. You
    may as well serve the company? This may not be *all bad*. It will, for
    example, mitigate against sexism, racism, etc. But it means that, as the
    state becomes a capitalist machine, that markets, previously regulated
    through the idea of the common good, can expect to become progressively
    less regulated. This would mean subatantially less stable economies, at
    least if the arguments of John Ralston Saul are accepted?

    As for what we are doing in the humanities, it seems that a money-driven
    *performativity* is starving out *the search for truth* but that the latter
    survives because there is still a market for it. Look how large the
    feminism and cultural studies, critical theory, psychology, etc., sections
    are in any halfway cool bookshop? Look how much *theory* is out there on
    the internet? Academia has always been market driven, really. It's just now
    that money is showing itself as the efficient sign of the portability of
    capital per se (including *academic integrity*). This is the logical
    ramification of fact that *Truth* is, before it is anything else, a
    *survival strategy* (i.e. Education is a kind of capital). What depresses
    me is not that truth is being reduced to capital. For it always was
    capital. But rather that the market seems to have so little understanding
    of how to survive (many truths that are relevant to our survival are marked
    down as "irrelvant" (i.e. unsalable).

    The answer seems to lie in our attitude to *waste*. We have to be prepared
    to waste time, money and energy if we are to take control of the global
    situation, which at present is not ruled by men, but a diffuse and
    ineffable artificial intelligence that thinks numerically and has accepted,
    in true faith, the axiom we programmed into it long before the days of
    Babylon. The AI I am speaking of is, of course, money.

    :) Chris

    :) Chris

    :) Chris
    Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com

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