Technoscience / Ecomateriality / Literature
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#1wknotech & Google Glasses

November 14th, 2014 | Posted by Norma De Jesus in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on #1wknotech & Google Glasses)

A week without technology may not seem as far fetched as other popular challenges happening nowadays. But when we consider how much technology influences our lives, we can see how giving up technology for a whole week can set us back weeks in terms of work and communication. Technology not only connects us to others, but it also provides us a sense of responsibility. We rely on technology to help us with our work and careers. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to keep up the fast paced life it provides us. This challenge may not be useful as a long-term commitment, but it can grant us the realization that our lives heavily rely on its advancement.

 

Companies out there have realized how technology is integrated in modern day society. Google for example, has manufactured Google Glasses, a product that can provide you with basically everything a laptop and cell phone can right in front of your eyes. With the practicality of Google glasses, it’s expected of them to be as popular as other technological products, but on the contrary, according to Forbes, “Google Glass will go down in the annals of bad product launches.” But why? Mostly, it’s due to the fact that people “can’t identify an actual use for the product.” It’s a product “ahead of its time,” with a confused potential-customer base. All in all, it’s a new product, which has earned some consumers. Buy utilizing Google glasses, people augment their realities since they see the world through technology, literally.

 

Marks, Gene. “How Google Screwed Up Google Glass.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 21 Apr. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014.

Technology in the larger context

November 14th, 2014 | Posted by Cathy Li in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Technology in the larger context)

Information technology might strike us as something intangible and the theory of which only computer scientists and coders can grasp. However, neither the intangibility nor exclusive intelligibility is the case here. True that one must have some knowledge about computer science to construct and understand computer architecture, that is not the whole picture of the generation, transmission and reception of information. The physical reality of information science has been neglected by the public because of its complexity and, one might say, the inconvenient truth behind it.

The core of the physical make-up of information devices, i.e. computers and cellphones, comes from the earth. I may sound like Mr. Obvious right now but this piece of fact has been dismissed/ignored by the public because it is trivial compared to the awe that can be created out of the earth’s product. In other words, the short term gain of conveniency and impressionability outweighs the long term benefit of resource sustainability. Luckily silicon is the second most abundant elements on/in earth and it happens to be the semiconducting element that creates all the awes of information technology. Even though we are not close to depleting all the metals as to depleting crude oil and coal, Jussi Parikka was grave about the reality: “Too often, the extraction of Earth has simultaneously poisoned it, for example, the coltan (columbite-tantalite) mines in Congo, which have fueled bloody wars there.” Industrialization has done this – sucking all the resource out of the earth and turning them into disorganized energy form called heat – at an increasing speed for the past hundreds of years. So information reform, as a natural part of scientific revolution, requires the same process of extracting from the earth and produces the same result of poisoning the earth. Is it too late to stop?

Well, we won’t stop because we are humans who try to profit from everything. One way to look at the issue is that technology reformers have shrunk the size of our devices that require less resource to produce. Also, techno innovators like the Berlin-based artist Martin Howse seeks alternative ways to program computer such as utilizing the byproduct of the nature. “His latest project,” introduced by Motherboard, “Earthboo, boots computers from the naturally-occurring electricity from the earthm, which literally codes the computer. What appears on the screen is actually art.” (Sayej) Projects as such might seem like a freelancer’s recreational product that has no practical use whatsoever. But utilizing what is present, i.e. solar power, geothermal energy, magnetic field etc., will outlast the short-sighted way of consuming energy. The ideology of environmental sustainability should be applied in all subjects of study and industries including information technology. The question we face is not “to be, or not to be” (or is it?), but “to live harmoniously within the environment (and live long), or to have total control over the environment (and die young).”

Work cited:

Parikka, Jussi. “The Geology of Media.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 11 Oct. 2013. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/10/the-geology-of-media/280523/2/>.

Sayej, Nadja. “Programming Computers with Dirt: Earthboot Powers PCs with Geological Energy.” Motherboard. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <http://motherboard.vice.com/en_uk/blog/programming-computers-with-dirt-earthboot-powers-pcs-with-geological-energy>.

Using Technology for #1wknotech

November 13th, 2014 | Posted by Pooja Mehta in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Using Technology for #1wknotech)

This post seems fundamentally wrong

 

 This week’s topics of focus, #1wknotech, Google Glass and Media Geology have all further affirmed my belief that we are doomed as a species to be slaves to technology (call me crazy). Starting with the #1wknotech, I think it says something to our dependence on technology that people use technology and social media platforms to talk about how it would be to not have these things. I find it a bit ironic and pointless that the whole premise of the project is to use technology as much as possible to hypothesize how it would be without technology. I think a better implementation of the project would be to go without technology for a week, then go back and reflect on the experience with the help of social media and technology.

The introduction of Google Glass and Media Geology into the mainstream of society will just increase our dependence on technology. As Google Glass picks up momentum, people won’t be able to just look at something without having a plethora of screens and monitors all around them. The idea of having to “look something up” will be foreign—rather, as soon as you need it, the information is right in front of your eyes. We will have the power to change the world around us. If you combine the power of the Google Glass and Media Technology, you can easily become the master of your environment. There will be sensors that indicate air quality, and Google glass will instantly show you if you’re in a good area to breathe or not. You can tell Google Glass if you’re uncomfortable with the temperature, and sensors in the surrounding area can adjust the temperature.

None of these seem like a bad thing, but my fear is about our reliance on them. If we depend on all of these resources to get us through our day to day life, what happens if it fails? Blackouts are not common, but they still happen…what happens if one day we lose all power? How will we be able to function as a society? Will we be able to? Maybe the reason we can’t fully do #1wknotech is because doing so would ruin us.

Google Images and “1 week no tech”

November 12th, 2014 | Posted by David Builes in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Google Images and “1 week no tech”)

image

 

This is what google images thinks “1 week no tech” is.

Thinking about what a week without technology would be like helps us reflect on our dependence on technology.  Because the progress of technology is often gradual, it may be that one day we wake up and realize that technology has taken us to places as a society where we really don’t want to be. Having a “1 week no tech” might serve as a partial antidote to this phenomenon of gradually being lulled into an undesirable place. Alternatively, it can make us grateful for the many benefits that technology gives us every day, since often these go unnoticed.

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.

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.

Electronic Literature Critique – Because You Asked.

October 28th, 2014 | Posted by Norma De Jesus in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Electronic Literature Critique – Because You Asked.)

With technology revolutionizing all aspects of life, it is no surprise the humanities have been altered by its advances. Electronic literature is a medium through which the written word can be observed and taken in from a different perspective, and like many technological-based advances, “electronic literature is entwined with the evolution of digital computers” (Hayles). The types of e-lit pieces swirling around in the Internet can only exist with the help of computational programs such as code and other types of elements that bring these literary ideas to life.

One example of electronic literature is Alan Bigelow’s Because You Asked. Alan Bigelow is an artist who produces interactive stories on the web, and Because You Asked is an interactive version of his autobiography. It is found on a website with a blank, faceless canvas that decodes a portion of his face every time a button is pressed and abstract music playing in the background. Each button is a symbol of an idea that helps make up his personality. For example, by clicking on a button shaped like a home, words under the canvas convey that he “always had the comfort of home” and the next button, which is a symbol of a clock, tells us he “works to support [his] art” (Bigelow). After each button shows us a Bigelow truth, the picture of his face slowly begins to appear. Apart from the house and the clock, there are eight more buttons that represent specific ideas that help decipher his personality as well as his facial construct. With both technology and the humanities intertwined in this type of project, Because You Asked is an example of electronic literature, a “born-digital literary art that exploits, as its muse and medium, the transmedia possibilities of the digital” (Gould).

Before being categorized as electronic literature, Bigelow’s interactive story had to be qualified by specific criteria that distinguish the electronic from the nonelectric. It had to possess elements that allow it to fall within the definition of electronic literature. “Electronic literatures have rearranged the literary and reconfigured textual potentialities” (Gould). It is clear that this project utilized the computer interface to create an interactive project through where a story can be told. It took the humanities and technology and synthesized them together to create electronic literature. Katherine Hayles, a literary professor at Duke University, states “because electronic literature is normally created and performed within a context of networked and programmable media, it is also informed by the powerhouse of contemporary culture, particularly computer games, films, animations, digital arts… and electronic visual culture” (Hayles). Bigelow’s humanistic qualities were brought forth with the help of computer digitalization. Because You Asked constitutes as an example of electronic literature since it holds the elements Hayles describes as what makes a project e-lit worthy.

Bigelow’s project caught my attention in particular due to the way he presents his story. Although quite simple, the fact that he engages us in his project helps with the way the story is being delivered. We place ourselves in front of Alan Bigelow. With every single fact about himself that he shares with us, we are able to see his personal self as the self-portrait demystifies through his past and his human intentions. This in itself is a type of electronic literature that’s both immersive and thoughtful. Because You Asked captures the idea that behind every face, there are everyday thoughts and decisions that help construct a personality for said face. By immersing his audience, apart from getting to know him and how he looks like, we allow ourselves to be self-reflective on the message the project is trying to convey.

The literary element of the project is seen through the narrative that the author himself shares with us. We see the thoughts he has of himself, and he uses that to not only tell, but also show his audience a story about himself. We are then able to infer the meaning of the project and the reason for why he utilized the form of electronic literature to show his story. Another element this project possesses that gives it literary merit is the fact that it poses dialogue. People are able to talk about this piece and find the meaning behind it. People can relate to the story he tells and offer their opinion over his reason for creating something that exposes his human qualities.

Through the use of computers and technology, electronic literature is able to advance contemporary literature. We live in an era where technology touches everything, and there is no doubt that there is dialogue disagreeing with literary scholars intertwining literature and technology. Some state that “the place of writing is again in turmoil” and they question whether “electronic literature is even literature at all” (Hayles). Many more argue whether a literary piece should even be seen of literary merit if it has various aspects of digitalization, but to question whether “literary quality is possible in digital media” is futile due to the pace technology is advancing. It was only a matter of time until a book was published electronically. Now, contemporary literature is seeing a phase shift in the way it is being presented. Sure, it may not just be written and printed in paper, but electronic literature holds as much merit as a narrative bounded in paper. Transitioning the humanities from the written form to the electronic form should not have a negative impact on the audience.

Electronic literature is simply yet another medium through which a story can be told. Because You Asked is a narrative of Alan Bigelow’s life and thoughts. Through this piece, the audience can infer different meaning and see how it shares a single story, what it means to be human. After all, literature should be used as a medium of self-expression through which humanistic disposition is offered, regardless of whether it is printed word or digitalized word.

Electronic literature helps augment the reading experience through the different mediums it is presented. Through electronic literature, “the academic world and the world of popular culture” are being bridged in order for today’s generations to interact with the humanities (Mott). In a society where technology dominates a wide part of our lives, we have to find ways to hold on to our stories and allow them to survive. Electronic literature is a new medium through which stories can be shared, but it helps engage readers and keep them attuned with the humanities.

 

Work Cited:

Bigelow, Alan. “Because You Asked.” Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

Gould, Amanda. “A Bibliographic Overview of Electronic Literature.” Electronic Literature Directory. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

Hayles, Katherine. Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary. Notre Dame, IN: U of Notre Dame, 2008. Print.

Mott, Chris. “Electronic Literature Pedagogy: A Questionable Approach.” Electronic Literature: New Horizons For The Literary. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

Data Tracking

October 10th, 2014 | Posted by Norma De Jesus in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Data Tracking)

A medium that is able to analyze the thoughts you put out into the world constitutes as data tracking. Sometimes this is beneficial. By tracking the data of individuals, the government is able to track down the mood of the nation. Also, it is able to find individuals who are planning to threaten the peace. But because data can be utilized to threaten society, privacy rights where established in an attempt to set boundaries and diminish problems. Then, through the development of various programs, data reading applications were born. These apps such as PrivacyFix, Wolfram, and Tweet Report, synthesize our data in order to show us our Internet footprint. These types of apps are quantified as data tracking due to their nature of grasping our information and regurgitating it back to us in more simplistic forms. Regardless of whether this sounds creepy or not, we allowed them to go into our history in order to bring back to our present the data trends we put out into the internet. In retrospect, this can be considered type of way humans think alongside technology, since without our help, technology wouldn’t have had the ability to create this. In other words, technology needs us as much as we need technology. Through these types of experiences we are able to see on a broader perspective, how we present ourselves to the world through the Internet. A great example is the amount Privacy Fix calculates in order to show us how much we are worth to companies like Facebook. Clearly, such companies are making revenue from our activity, but we as well benefit from their functions. Those 18 dollars Facebook makes through my activity may seem insignificant, but considering they possess a large audience, it is clear how it became a multimillion-dollar company. Thinking about the way we affect data and how data affects us provides us with more awareness of the way we affect this multidimensional cyberspace filled with an almost infinite amount of information.

Novel Blog Post DN

September 8th, 2014 | Posted by Diego Nogales in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Novel Blog Post DN)

This past week our class went to the DiVE (Duke’s Interactive Virtual Environment), a cube with projected walls creating a 3-D interactive atmosphere, and we tested various different simulations within this environment. Looking back at this experience, after having read Neuromancer by William Gibson, I am fascinated and at the same time scared by how quickly technology can, and is, evolving human life. In my mind, the perspective of the DiVE and the perspective of Neuromancer on the subject of technology’s future uses were opposites.

The DiVE team has many developing projects focused on training simulations that can prepare someone for a real life situation, removing the real risk of a dangerous situation, while still mentally and tactically schooling an individual. One example the DiVE crew gave us was the cave military training that can be implemented to mentally prepare soldiers before they would actually have to perform the mission. These potential projects demonstrated the usefulness and positive outlook that technology can have to enhance our real (non-virtual) lives.

In contrast, the Neuromancer reading takes an approach where a dystopian futuristic society rises through the evolution of technology. To me, Case was an example of how technology had, in a sense, overpowered and belittled a life without the matrix. In a setting where there are holograms and where characters all had some level of technological or physical modification, technology was intertwined to the point of blurring the distinction between technology and the natural. Case explains the view of the sky as, “the color of television, tuned to a dead channel” (Gibson 1) due to this technology-driven culture.  Furthermore, Case represents the dependency that continues to grow for technology, after the “adrenaline high… jacked into a custom cyberspace deck that projected his disembodied consciousness into the con sensual hallucination that was the matrix” (Gibson 8), he prefers the virtual life of a hacker in the matrix than the real in his life. His disregard for the real in his life is perfectly depicted by his sense of confinement within his own body, a “relaxed contempt for the flesh. The body was meat. Case fell into the prison of his own flesh” (Gibson 8).

This perspective on a technology-dependent future is a scary thought, and it is dangerous to think about how just as technology can prove to be so beneficial to society, society can also become an “unsupervised playground for technology itself” (Gibson 11). Technology is already creating dependencies in our lives, but looking as to how fast technological advancements are occurring, I wonder how is it that we can “supervise” ourselves from reaching a point such as this Neuromancer society.

 

Gibson, William. Neuromancer. New York: Ace, 1984. Print.