Tag Archive for 'Virtuality'

What happened to Virtuality Week?

Mid-February, I started a ‘virtuality week’, promising small pieces of a research project on virtuality every day. I started off well enough and continued through the second and third post, promised to continue on Saturday, and never did. So what happened?

Well, the short answer is you don’t really want to know, because it’s all tedious stuff about workflow coupled with a slight dysfunction in the interface I use for scheduling blog posts. Either way, I apologize, and I will be posting the two missing parts during the remainder of this week.

Now, instead of dwelling on what went wrong, let’s recap by considering what I would be doing if I declared virtuality week to be not broken but virtual, i.e. a virtual week that spans the first half of the real week beginning Feb 14th, and continuing during the second half of this week. I think this immediately creates an intelligible idea in our heads, right? But what is that idea about, and why would we accept the word ‘virtual’ to describe it, even as a rough metaphor?

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Interface and Virtuality

‘Virtuality’ is a word with an etymology so promiscuous as to be downright obscene. The rivalling explanations for the original reason for the word’s current usage with reference to new technology are plentiful and can be disorienting. What might be even more surprising, however, is that the historically defining introduction of the term into computer studies is rarely mentioned, much less examined in detail. »»»»

Questions on Virtuality

Welcome to virtuality week on Signifying Media. This is all about the second of the three larger projects I outlined at the beginning of the year. But as opposed to what I did with the topic of textual control, for which I wrote one big theory dump of a post and have just been following that up with short observations on current cases in point, I’ll break this up into smaller pieces, because that’s where this project currently stands: A few questions and several miscellaneous hints towards parts of answers. »»»»

Limits in Mechanical Communication

Dirk Baecker has just made an intriguing post extending Shannon/Weaver’s concept of communication (or if you like, pointing out that its scope always has been greater than many people think). Michael Seemann recently included a fascinating argument against Kittler’s denial of software in some posts on his concept of ‘queryology’. This post right here is basically what happened when I read the two directly after each other; it is intended to spell out what I think is an interesting connection between the two, and a launching point for a critique of a dualist concept of mechanics as limits and limits as mechanics in communication.

So in case you were wondering, yes, this is going to be one of those posts. The ones for which I made the ‘theory’ tag. Consider yourself warned. »»»»

Web Interfaces and the Habits of TV’s Publicity and Privacy

Do we still use the web as if it were television? Do we mistake internet terminals for TV sets?

Obviously, in some ways we do. It seems preposterous to think that we could avoid it. But where this gets especially interesting is in those areas where our behaviour towards TV was already formed by operative confusions, by an uneasy cultural adaptation to those peculiarities of a technology that do not completely match our actual use of the medium. I think that our troubles with imagining watching while being watched is central to our trouble in dealing with privacy issues online. And this is true not only for our failure to imagine that the web is watching us back; but also for our fear that it is. »»»»

Plans for 2011: Sentimentalism, Textual Control and Virtuality

Happy new year, everyone! :)

This blog has been around for one year now. I have sometimes enjoyed writing it, sometimes felt harassed by an imagined obligation to feed it, and sometimes I have all but forgotten about it altogether. Some of the things I was planning when I started it 365 days ago worked out well, others fizzled out, and still others never happened. In short, it’s a blog.

So since life is what happens while we are making other plans, here are some of those plans for 2011 and beyond. »»»»

Vortrag in Mainz: Formen unsere Fiktionen unsere virtuellen Welten?

Am kommenden Samstag laden Ulrike Weymann, Simone Schröder und Andreas Widmann zur Veranstaltung Spielball der Götter im Café 7 Grad in der Kunsthalle Mainz ein. Ich steuere einen Vortrag bei, der sich mit der gegenseitigen Beeinflussung von Fiktionen und virtuellen Welten beschäftigt. »»»»

Before fiction or fact: Is there a semiotic degree zero of reference?

Just a quick note to say I will be speaking on this subject at FU Berlin (Rost- und Silberlaube, Habelschwerdter Allee 45) this Saturday afternoon, as part of the Netzwerk Fiktion‘s third workshop. »»»»

‘The Way That People Are Watching’ …Caprica (Part 3)

This post contains specific spoilers for the first few episodes of Caprica.

One of the first key scenes in Caprica‘s pilot has a virtual version of teenager Zoe comment on the use that humans make of her virtual world, in which promiscuous and brutal orgies are commonplace: It is not the questionable reality, but the way that people are watching these deeds that discomforts her. After real Zoe’s death, virtual Zoe finds herself downloaded into a robot’s body. While very few persons know this, it is the way that people look at the robot, and the way it gazes back, that informs the viewer. This implementation of the functions of the gaze is probably the most enduring and most successful trope of the series so far. In a fascinating and productive way, it also seems to go somewhat beyond the producers’ explicit intention. »»»»

‘The Way That People Are Watching’ …Caprica (Part 2)

This post contains some very specific spoilers for the pilot and the first episode of Caprica.

When Caprica‘s pilot came out on DVD last year, it took me three attempts to watch it. The first two times, I eventually gave in to my drooping eyelids and increasingly irritated yawns: The show had managed to put me to sleep, and I obliged and went to bed half-way through. It took all the discipline I had to stick with it the third time, and when I rewatched it at the beginning of the series’ full broadcast now, I capitulated after the first 20 minutes. It is a testament to the loyalty that Battlestar has earned from me that I went on to watch the series, and so far, that loyalty has been ever-so-richly rewarded, with the first two episodes offering everything in involvement, fascination, provoked thought and engaged tension that Battlestar boasted and Caprica‘s pilot lacked. So what can account for such a difference in my viewing experience? »»»»