Archive for March, 2012


Public scholarship through digital culture

March 16, 2012

Here’s a wonderful instance of public scholarship as it can be practiced now in digital culture. Maybe it’s the caffeine talking, but it makes me think things might be starting to tip.

Kristina Killgrove put an amazing conference paper about Roman DNA evidence from bones up on her blog.

Rosemary Joyce noted it on her blog, and amplified it via her own expertise.

And there’s crowdsourcing, too!


Time out for (a) Journey

March 14, 2012

I don’t feel adequate in the slightest to the task of talking about Journey after only playing an hour of it. But I want to register here that I’ve started this new practomime, and it makes me think that a relationship between ethics and aesthetics, arising out of inherited mechanics but transcending them, is gathering steam.

Everything you hear about the “multiplayer” (scare-quotes because it’s not multiplayer according to most previous understandings of the term) is true, but only scratches the surface. There is much work to do here, both in elaborating the practomime (that is, playing the game) and in reading its effects.

Anke, this is the game to start with–if only you didn’t have to have a PS3!


Texting and discourse

March 8, 2012

An amazingly good example of the way the resistance to digital culture spins every piece of data according to its confirmation bias:

Research designed to understand the effect of text messaging on language found that texting has a negative impact on people’s linguistic ability to interpret and accept words.

The study, conducted by Joan Lee for her master’s thesis in linguistics, revealed that those who texted more were less accepting of new words. On the other hand, those who read more traditional print media such as books, magazines, and newspapers were more accepting of the same words.

I don’t see how “accept” has become “interpret” between the study and the headline. I have a very strong suspicion that there’s a very high degree of correlation between people who tend to read longer form discourse and people who accept new words anyway. I hate to say it, but this study seems pretty worthless to me as a way of judging how texting “affects” anything.


Jonathan Franzen is unspeakably irritating

March 7, 2012

I can’t hope to come up with a better title, stolen from a tweet by Marc Parry, about this report of Franzen’s ressentiment against the digital.

Twitter is unspeakably irritating. Twitter stands for everything I oppose…it’s hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters…it’s like if Kafka had decided to make a video semaphoring The Metamorphosis.

Brilliant people seem to me to have an increased tendency to think that the world, on both a theoretical and a material level, corresponds with astonishing exactitude to their own cognitive processes.


Fleeing through the mind’s window into disobedience

March 3, 2012

More on the art of distraction and attention spans from Hanif Kureishi in a recent NYTimes opinion piece:

“It is said that distractions are too easy to come by now that most writers use computers, though it’s just as convenient to flee through the mind’s window into fantasy. In the end, a person requires a method. He must be able to distinguish between creative and destructive distractions by the sort of taste they leave, whether they feel depleting or fulfilling. And this can work only if he is, as much as possible, in good communication with himself — if he is, as it were, on his own side, caring for himself imaginatively, an artist of his own life.”

Read the whole thing, plus comments. How much are we stuck in constantly juggling “biological determinism” with the “poetic human”? How does one determine “good communication” with oneself when many are faced with a loose mosaic of their various mediated selves?

Kureishi leans towards disobedience:

“We might need to be irresponsible. But to follow a distraction requires independence and disobedience; there will be anxiety in not completing something, in looking away, or in not looking where others prefer you to.”

Comments one reader:

“These flights do … lead to nothing. It is difficult to reach even the smallest achievement when your thoughts are an ever-changing channel and you have no control of the remote.”

Back to technogenesis (and never mind the metaphors): how many pilots does it take…