Archive for January, 2010

Mouse controls the Pointer

Augmenting Human intellect interestingly contains the values and problems of technology, and by extension, digital storytelling as a class.  Allow me to briefly lay out the problems and strengths of the article.  It is in many places difficult to read and understand.  This complexity makes it difficult to read and intimidating, much as the idea of operating my own website was intimidating.  Secondly, the complexity was not simply in the article’s depth, but also in its scope.  Page upon page of topics, far too much to discuss here.  Simply put, it was simultaneously too long and too complicated, too old and too speculatory.

While I found it tedious to discuss the mouse at length (I understand it was revolutionary,  I also already know enough about it, it is too ubiquitous) the description of moving through “trails” is simply a description of wikipedia half a century before it rolled around.  However, I do agree with the argument that the article is hurt by its age.  I would greatly prefer discussing the ways in which human intellect should be augmented, the ways which are most effective, and where we have gone wrong.  We already know what wikipedia is, and I’d rather spend time discussing the benefits and problems of it than the speculations about what it might be like from 40 years ago.

These ‘problems’ are in many ways the strengths of the article.  As far as being too long, I feel that by going into depth on a variety of topics, the author gave everyone something to be interested in.  I, personally, was most fascinated by the notion put forward by Vannevar Bush about integrating human nerve systems with computer data receiver technology.  This is a topic of interest for many reasons.  Its complexity and bredth of topics were certainly strenghts at the time it was written and the time it was intended to be consumed.  The article certainly had a definite vision.

And that is my point.  I didn’t like the article, and I wouldn’t have read it for fun.  I might have found it interesting to discuss the topics presented in it, but I wouldn’t have normally spent the time to get through it to do so.  However, I can not deny that whatever faults the article had, it certainly did not lack for vision.  It looked carefully into the future and sought to predict what technology might do, mostly successfully. But that is what we need to take from the article, even if we don’t discuss it any more, is definite direction.  I’d love to discuss wikipedia’s multiple postitive and negative effects.  I’d love to discuss the integration of tech systems and biotic systems, I’d love to discuss the increases in freedom in webcomics as opposed to newspaper comics, I’d love to write compelling stories on my blog, post interesting pictures (like the header on the blog, which was taken while on vacation with Caitlin ).  But right now I feel like I’m lost, and I don’t have the direction the article does.  It might have been confusing and outdated, but from our vantage point in 2010, we can see clearly where it was headed.  I want to know where we are headed.



Something that the discussion with Gardner Campbell (as well as discussions with Caitlin Murphy) got me thinking about is our notion of identity.  In class we have talked about owning or having our own digital space.  I find this particularly interesting because it sets this sort of technology apart, it makes computers and the internet more than a tool.  Rather, the space you own on the internet, and even the persona which one uses, are part of what we consider to be our selves.

There are many ways to explain this, but the clearest is to compare it to my car.  When driving, my control of the vehicle is so instinctual (shifting from gas to brake, steering) that the car is not simply a thing I use to get around.  The car is my personal freedom of movement.  It extends my notion of local space, and is then (especially when I am driving) an extension of my self.  This became very clear when I was nearly run off the road by a mack truck that didn’t see me (note the construction,”didn’t see me” as opposed to “didn’t see my car”).  In the instant of my realization that the several ton machine was about to contact my car and start pushing me into the median, I judged the distance between my front driver’s side wheel and the curb of the median and inched over as far as I could while flooring the gas pedal.  This anecdote is interesting in that I have a distinct memory of the image of my wheel approaching the yellow line at the edge of the road.  I had a good enough conception of where the wheel was to form an acurate (I did not run off the road or touch the curb) mental picture.  This conception of where the car is in space seems to me to be quite similar to the innate sense of proprioception, or your ability to know the location of your limbs without seeing them.

How does this mumbo jumbo relate to teh intarwebs?  I would argue that “my own space” on the internet is more than a place where I put data, or where I communicate with others.  It is an extension of my self into the digital realm.  In the same way I feel a lurch in my stomach when I jump my Paladin off of the dam at loch modan and sense the location of my car in a crisis, so does this space provide a means with which to organize and explicate my thoughts.  The extension of my self into the digital realm is also an improvement of my ability to explain myself, my self, and my thoughts.

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