Technoscience / Ecomateriality / Literature
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Ebocloud Commentary

November 7th, 2014 | Posted by Norma De Jesus in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Ebocloud Commentary)

Ebocloud introduces various aspects that make readers question the relationship humans have with technology. In the book, Desalt, the founder of Ebocloud, utilizes Vonnegut’s theories to create a multi-human system similar to Facebook in the sense that everyone is interconnected. Desalt attempts to mimic the African tribe Ebo by also creating functional family units where “Ebo-cousins” will be at the disposal of their other ebo-cousins. With digitalized tattoos, they are able to check into the network and help their ebo cousins out. The outcome of doing so is karmerits, and the more karmerits an individual earned, the higher the elder position they received.

Although the idea is a bit farfetched, we can’t help but wonder whether a similarity already exists in the real world. The Internet has provided us with the same interconnectedness that Ebocloud offers. Although we don’t necessarily earn karmerits, we still receive the sense of connectivity amongst each other. This can’t help but make me wonder how big of a role technology plays in everyone’s lives. We evidently aren’t part of a system where our hierarchal standing is dictated by the amount of good deeds we de. But we are part of a system that extracts our personal information and resells to other companies for profit. Whether or not we choose to acknowledge that, we continue to be a part of it because we would much rather lose a little bit of our personal data rather than disconnect from the virtual realities social media offers us.

Apart from Ebocloud being a story of a young male protagonist who participates in this social, real world application, it is also a commentary on society and of the various social media which we rely on to become more connected with the world. This book does a very great job of posing questions as the story progresses. It makes us wonder how interconnectivity plays a great role in our lives and how technology helps amplify human connection.

 

Moss, Rick. Ebocloud. New Orleans: Aqueous, 2013. Print.

Ebocloud novel response

November 7th, 2014 | Posted by Greg Lyons in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Ebocloud novel response)

Ebocloud provides a fascinating look into the powerful effect that social networking through technology can have on human psychology. I was interested in the way that being a part of the ebocloud network manipulated people’s own perceptions of reality. When initially describing the merit system to Ellie in Part 1, Jared describes how “faking being a good person week after week” leads to one day waking up and “realizing you are good” (Moss 59). In this sense, ebocloud functions as a technology that turns people from selfish into selfless. Perhaps, then, the surface objectives of ebocloud are subordinate to deeper, more significant objectives. The ebocloud network is not about the specific deeds being done – while practically useful and critically important to the individuals receiving help, these individual tasks are not as important as the collective effects cultivated by the cloud. Ebocloud has the power to open individuals’ eyes to the world beyond their own daily existence and open them up to a world of possibility in serving others.

However, with such a powerful collective effect, there are dangers to ebocloud. Later in the novel, Desalt describes to Ellie how “devoting yourself fully to the common good” results in “losing yourself”, and Ellie ponders whether the human race is “doing away with our individuality” (Moss 195). In creating all of these connections between humans to elevate our collective power as a group, do we lose something more important than we gain? Perhaps in following this sort of utilitarianism (happiness for the greatest number of people), people lose track of individuality and the value of personal pursuits. This reminds me of Fight Club (originally a book by Chuck Palahniuk, but I have only seen the David Fincher film). Fight Club deals with individuals who seek to break from conformity of society – yet in forming a collective rebellion against society, they end up relinquishing their individuality yet again. Blind conformity in any scenario can be dangerous, regardless of the motives. The ebocloud network has significant power to increases selflessness among humans, but is selflessness what we really want?

Works Cited:

Fight Club. Dir. David Fincher. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2000.

Moss, Rick. Ebocloud. New Orleans: Aqueous, 2013. Print.

Ebocloud Novel Response

November 7th, 2014 | Posted by David Builes in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Ebocloud Novel Response)

In his novel Ebocloud, Rick Moss explores the possibility of what is called a social singularity. In his interview with Michael Anissimov, Rick Moss says that the primary condition that is needed for a social singularity to occur is that “human minds—and a lot of them—will need to be networked to a very powerful computer network (let’s call it a cloud, since that’s the configuration of choice these days), presumably by way of brain computer interfaces, or BCIs.” The particular BCI that is used in Ebocloud, the dToo, is a digital tattoo placed on the users wrist and is introduced by the character Camilla in Chapter 16, Part II of the novel. Camila says, “the dToo will be a connection between your world – the world inside you – and the ebocloud online world.” In explaining what the dToo will do, perhaps the most frightening aspect Camilla introduces is what is called “Mood-ulation”, which is the dToo’s ability to modify the user’s mood using neurotransmitters like acetylcholine.

One of the primary questions to ask of a social singularity, of course, is “is it a good thing?” Here, Rick Moss develops both sides of the story through characters like Ellie and Radu. Throughout the book, Ellie is portrayed as the character that has reservations about Ebocloud. For example, in conversations with his friend Jared in Part I he worries that Ebocloud will infringe on humanity’s primary social unit – the family. He also worries that the Ebocloud will take away a person’s individuality. On the other hand, Radu is characterized as a technological genius with both sound philosophical and scientific reasons for thinking that the social singularity will be a good thing for humanity. We get a first glimpse of Radu’s ideas in Chapter 10 Part II. Here, he advocates that the philosophical reason why a social singularity will be beneficial is because it will be used to promote the General Will (a term introduced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau) of everyone. Scientifically, he believes that he can finally reduce the immensely complex social structures developed by human beings to a manageable, predictable science because of all of the data that the Ebocloud will track.

Ultimately, I think it is an extremely delicate manner and the result can go both ways. I think it is uncontroversial that if the social singularity does happen, it will radically change all of our lives in many ways that are probably unforeseeable. However, I tend to be less pessimistic than Ellie was. I think that if it is handled correctly, a social singularity has the capacity to enrich all of our lives in very profound ways.

Works Cited

Moss, Rick. “Dialog: Author Rick Moss and Michael Anissimov on the “social singularity”” Ebocloud The Novel by Rick Moss. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2014.

Moss, Rick. Ebocloud. New Orleans: Aqueous, 2013. Print.

Ebocloud response

November 7th, 2014 | Posted by Pooja Mehta in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Ebocloud response)

I thought that Ebocloud, while it started off confusing and a little dense, ended up being a really good book. While reading the novel, I focused mainly on the role and ethics of big data, the value of being online and the value of online connection as shown in the book. Big data plays a huge role in the novel. Not only do members of Ebocloud start off with all of their standard information online (name, birthday, interests, etc), they also share their interests, and that is used to group people into particular Ebo’s. Later on in the novel, we see the appearance of the dToo, which then gives the cloud access to people’s thoughts and actions, and allows the cloud to control it to an extent.

I think the world described in the novel has a big dependence on being online and being connected to others. For example, Jared bases everything he does on Ebocloud. He wants to build up as many karmerits as he can, and is one of the first in line to get his dToo. Matt is fully immersed as well, and even Ellie warms up to the idea. He is weary of it at first, but after meeting up with other Firewheels, he realizes that he really likes his “cousins”, and agrees to be a beta tester for the dToo, which he ends up loving.

This whole concept terrifies me. I agree that there is a value to being online and a value to being connected, but the extent to which it is shown in Ebocloud is a little much. The cloud has access to people’s brains and fields of vision and all sorts of crazy stuff. What if a bug is introduced into the program? What if it gets hacked? Who knows what kind of stuff people could be forced to do? The society seems to be pretty utopian, but I see the potential for it to get really ugly really quickly.

Moss, Rick. Ebocloud. New Orleans: Aqueous, 2013. Print.

 

Non-Linear Narration and the Human Mind

October 31st, 2014 | Posted by Greg Lyons in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Non-Linear Narration and the Human Mind)

My project will examine non-linear narratives in several different mediums to fully examine the implications, both literary and artistically, of this design choice.  I will analyze Ba and Moon’s graphic Daytripper, Christopher Nolan’s film Memento, and another film or video game that remains unselected.  My media element will consist of visual timelines for each work that aid in understanding the flow of the plot and are seamlessly integrated into the essay.  I plan to study how the effect of non-linear structures mimics and reflects imperfections and affordances of human memory.  The main question I am tackling is – why do artists and writers choose to employ non-linear narratives, and what does it add (qualitatively) to the experience of viewers/readers?  My goal is to find common links shared across different mediums and stories that use non-linear plotlines, and to relate these connections to the way that the humand mind perceives reality.

Final Project abstract

October 31st, 2014 | Posted by Cathy Li in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Final Project abstract)

In this paper, we will explore the potential educational values residing in digital humanities, specifically the “Art Games” within the video games genre, which itself contains a huge potential in the field of education. We shall start by examining how art games can be utilized in understanding literature, such as Neuromancer, Flatland, and Daytripper. Literature as such usually serve as milestones in human imagination and the doors to the popularization of novel ideas in science, mathematics and philosophy. Meanwhile, the multimedia aspects of video games enables the reader to capture the comprehensiveness and the depth of literature, which is hard for mono-facet media representations, such as simple texts, simple images and videos, to achieve. Some generic examples of art games include Conway’s The Game of Life, Fex, and numerous remakes of literature and movies. This point will be further explicated by video annotation of the trailers of the games. The idea can be furthered by pointing out that teaching kids how to code games has also been popular and effective in understanding computer science. This will foster a new generation capable of writing and analyzing codes and creating and enriching the computer network industry. Here I will insert the Conway’s Game of Life and explaining the python code of a simple version of the Game.

 

Bibliography (possible):

Berry, David M.. Understanding Digital Humanities. Gordonsville, VA, USA: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 31 October 2014.

Bittanti, Matteo, and Domenico Quaranta. Gamescenes: Art in the Age of Videogames. Milano: Johan & Levi, 2006. Print.

Bogost, Ian. How to Do Things with Videogames. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 2011. Print.

Jones, Steven E. The Emergence of the Digital Humanities. New York: Routledge, 2014. Print.

 

The Next Step to Human Evolution

October 31st, 2014 | Posted by Norma De Jesus in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on The Next Step to Human Evolution)

My project will attempt to advance the evolution of the human body through the use of literature. When we had the discussion about possible digital humanities projects, I found the subject of future bodies interesting, and attempting to create the next future human with science-fiction literary texts will help assemble an interesting-looking individual. The literary element consists of the novels I will be using. The media element will be the end product of this body. In order to execute this plan, I will use software that picks up on the descriptions of the technology of humans within the books. My goal is to attempt to create this new human with as few books as possible. Overall, I will focus on how technology has inspired people to believe that one day in the not-so-near future, technology could be used to advance the human race into cyborgs with more mental and physical power.

#dh Project Proposal

October 31st, 2014 | Posted by Pooja Mehta in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on #dh Project Proposal)

What is Google worth to us?

In response to our discussion on big data, siren servers and data as a product, I wanted to flip the discussion on whether or not Google should be using our data by seeing how much Google is worth to us. It would be a similar setup to PrivacyFix program that we did in class, but you would have to put in the information that you gather from Google and it would spit out the minimum cost to find the same information otherwise. This would involve a lot of algorithms and programming skills that I do not have, so for my project I was thinking of 1) finding a piece of information completely independent of Google and seeing how long it takes me/what it costs me to do so; 2) extrapolating on that to come up with a few cases, to kind of figure out the average cost of googling something or expand on how it changes for different situations; 3) using that to structure an ethical argument as to why it’s ok for Google and Facebook and all of these other programs to sell our data for profit. This will expand on our readings about Big Data, including “Big Data” and “Who Owns the Future,” and sort of tease out and augment their argument.

Final Project Proposal

October 31st, 2014 | Posted by David Builes in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Final Project Proposal)

My project will be an in-depth analysis of the video game Portal 2. In the course of the analysis, several of the questions discussed in class will be raised. The game will be situated with respect to other games in its genre (sci-fi and puzzle games), it will be assessed for its artistic and creative merits, and its plot and style will be critically analyzed. I will be using the main gamer texts used in class (i.e. Wark and Bogost’s texts) as well as other outside sources. As the media element of the project, the game will be incorporated seamlessly throughout the essay – by adding and annotating images and/or video clips of the game whenever relevant. Lastly, after assessing the game on its own merits, I will explore the plausibility and implications of some of the futuristic elements present in the plot to our own “gamespace” – e.g. the rise of artificial intelligence doing our science for us and the ethics of interacting with and potentially “shutting down” or “killing” sophisticated intelligent and emotionally responsive AI.

Abstract Webcast DN

October 30th, 2014 | Posted by Diego Nogales in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Abstract Webcast DN)