Life as an Extreme Sport

Concluding Nostalgia

A running train of thought on the conluding passages of Ceruzzi’s A History of Modern Computing. Phillip intimates that we’re beyond postmodernism – how does he see it, then? Apple still follows a very modernist conception of business, controlling every aspect of its product and (save for a brief period in the early 1990s) not allowing anyone else to produce finalized hardware models. Or is that the key – that although they control the end product and look very vertical on the surface, they have actually differentiated out and adopted a postmodern strategy of allowing many other companies to make parts that are only assembled into a final Mac-whole at the end of the production cycle? One could apparently make an arguement for Apple following either vertical or horizaontal market – is this a new post-postmodern world where both models live and function side by side, depending on benefit offered,

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Intelligence Amplification

Douglas Engelbart (noted in the link as having been strongly influenced by Vannevar Bush, which is quite obvious when you read As We May Think and Augmenting Human Intellect back to back) covers a wide range of ideas in his paper Augmenting Human Intelligence. You see Greenblatt’s wonder (If he is a layman, his concept of what provides this sophisticated capability may endow the machine with a mysterious power to sweep information through perceptive and intelligent synthetic devices.), a heavy nod to Bush via predictions of future technology (Tablets, cell phones), a host of turtles running through the paper (If we ask ourselves where that intelligence is embodied, we are forced to concde that it is elusively distributed throughout a hierarchy of functional processes – a hierarchy whose foundation extends down into processes below the depth of our comprehension), and a strong thread of the synergism between science fiction and

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historicise *this*

I’m reading Ivo Kamps’ article New Historicising the New Historicism in preparation for class this afternoon; Kamps is basically deconstructing new historicism through the filter of the ever present year of 1968 and the Vietnam war. It’s an interesting take and criticism of both Greenblatt and the field of new historicism, and offers some good points for me to lecture on. At one point while reading, I came across a quote from Greenblatt that sums up why so many people avoid new historicism, literary theory, and CHID: Anecdotes are the equivalents in the register of the real of what drew me to the study of literature: the encounter with something I could not stand not understanding, that I could not quite finish with or finish off, that I had to get out of my inner life where it had taken hold I had typed this bit out to both Jen

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From Whence Comes Creativity?

Where does creativity come from? This has been floating in my head the past few weeks, as I read of the desire to augment humans and to remove rote task from our daily lives, leaving us free to be creative and creatively-minded. Many of the early thinkers in computer commuication technology seem to think that if we could just remove that 80% of the time we spend doing paperwork, our creativity would rapidly expand and fill that particular void created by delegating the filing of paper and basic research/fact-checking to some sort of automated, computerized task. I find this idea troubling, not because I enjoy mindless and repetitive tasks, but because while doing those mindless and repetititve tasks I tend to have the best ideas. There is something about having to do a project on a slight autopilot that seems condusive to creative thought; how many times have you heard

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Vision Does Not Require Technology

A large part of the charm in Vannevar Bush’s paper As We May Think is reading a 60-odd year old article and identifying the technology he predicted. Polaroid and digital cameras, virtual reality glasses, the TCP/IP protocol, cochlear implants, hard drives and eBook readers are a sample of ideas that could be read and extracted out to what we have today. (For example, take this passage: Is it not possible that we may learn to introduce them [sounds into the nerve channels of the deaf] without the present cumbersomness of first transforming electrical vibrations to mechanical ones, which the human mechanism promptly turns back to the electrical form? With a couple of electrodes on the skull… It is an abstract of cochlear implants.) What really struck me about Bush’s article was not so much the ability to predict technology, (science fiction has done that for years), but that it clarified

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