‘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. »»»»
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. »»»»
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. »»»»
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. »»»»
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. »»»»
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. »»»»
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? »»»»