research on the emerging environments
influence of new medium, processes on communication, relationships between people and on their collective and individual identities.

— Gerlinde Schuller | Designing Universal Knowledge: the world as flatland
Lars Müller Publishers (2009)

Knowledge is power. If one possesses a collection of the ‘universal knowledge’ of the world, one has ultimate power. Establishing comprehensive, global collections of knowledge already fascinated mankind thousands of years ago. Today, modern communication and information technologies offer quick and prompt collecting, high memory capacities and wide-ranging access. In addition, globalization and the Internet advance a mentality which moves away from the local and regional towards the international and universal. Collections of knowledge, such as archives, encyclopedias, databases and libraries, also follow this trend. They are engaged in a race against time in both the technological and creative area. Their clearly formulated aim is to establish for us a complete and up-to-date collection of ‘universal knowledge’. (summary)

— Norbert Wiener | The Human Use of Human Beings
Eyre & Spottiswoode (1950)

Wiener was the founding thinker of cybernetics theory and an influential advocate of automation. Human Use argues for the benefits of automation to society. It analyzes the meaning of productive communication and discusses ways for humans and machines to cooperate, with the potential to amplify human power and release people from the repetitive drudgery of manual labor, in favor of more creative pursuits in knowledge work and the arts. He explores how such changes might harm society through dehumanization or subordination of our species, and offers suggestions on how to avoid such risks. (summary)

— Vilém Flusser | Gestures
University of Minnesota Press (2014)

People express their being in the world through a sweeping range of movements — gestures. Flusser reconsiders familiar actions — from speaking and painting to smoking and telephoning — in terms of particular movement, opening a surprising new perspective on the ways we share and preserve meaning. A gesture may or may not be linked to specialized apparatus, though its form crucially affects the person who makes it. Fusser defines gesture as “a movement of the body or of a tool attached to the body for which there is no satisfactory causal explanation”. Flusser analyzes it as the expression of a particular form of consciousness, that is, as a particular relationship between the world and the one who gestures. The urgency of this text is related to the increase use of human gestures as the language and tool in the development of the emerged technology: we move from writing to typing and eventually to touching screens for zooming, scrolling, swiping, etc. (summary)

— Bret Victor | Simulation as a practical Tool
Worry Dream (2009)

Mathematics, as currently taught, consists of the manipulation of abstract symbols. For most people, the level of abstraction makes math unpleasant or unusable as a practical tool for exploring the problems of their lives. I believe that software makes possible a new form of practical mathematics, based on concrete modeling, simulation, and visualization. I believe it is possible to design a tool that enables people to pose and answer their mathematical questions in an entirely concrete domain, without having to invoke abstractions, symbols, or arcane rules. This tool would eventually displace many symbolic forms of math, in the same way that the pocket calculator has displaced manual arithmetic methods. This interactive essay is an early step towards justifying and motivating the development of such a tool. I take a typical school problem which is intended to be solved with equations and geometric reasoning, and present a solution using physical modeling and simulation. This inspires the posing and solving of more interesting problems. The simulations represent the problem concretely, without abstractions; provide a broader context, allowing a deeper understanding of the situation; easily handle problems which are difficult or impossible to solve analytically; and can be used to actively create, not just passively understand.

— Steve Rushton | Masters of Reality
Sternberg Press & PZ Institute (2012)

Masters of Reality brings together the first collection of texts by Steve Rushton. Second in a series of publications on contemporary art inaugurated by the Piet Zwart Institute, the book explores the interrelations between art, anthropology, social sciences, psychology, media, politics, and economy. Central to Rushton’s research is an investigation into the conception of feedback, social control, and the culture of “self-performance.” Through his writings and collaborative work with artists, he has developed and articulated a thorough analysis of the techniques and processes of information management and subjectivization in Western society since the second half of the twentieth century. (summary)

— Sven Lutticken | Life, Once more: An Arena in which to Reenact
Witte de With | Center for Contemporary Art (2005) pp. 17

In the 1960s, Guy Debord and the Situationist International conceived of spectacle as a theater perfomed by commodity-images, consumed passively by people who lead impoverished lives. What was not sufficiently emphasized in this analysis was the spectacular imperative for people to present themselves, to perfom themselves as commodities.

— Hito Steyerl (edited by Nick Aikens) | Too Much World
Sternberg Press (2014)

Hito Steyerl is rightly considered one of the most exciting artists working today who speculates on the impact of the Internet and digitization on the fabric of our everyday lives. Her films and writings offer an astute, provocative, and often funny analysis of the dizzying speed with which images and data are reconfigured, altered, and dispersed, many times over, accelerating into infinity or crashing into oblivion. (summary)

— Steven Heller | The Future of the Future of the Book
Print Magazine (2010)

The future publishers will be programmers, the future authors will be social and the future reader will be electronic. Books that are stitched or glued will become a different type of artifact in the post press world. That is Post Press. e-books and digital publishing: sites for James Bridle and Craig Mod. (interview with Scott Thomas)

— Andrew Robinson | Jean Baudrillard: Hyperreality and Implosion
Ceasefire Magazine (2012)

The model of the code does not represent a prior social reality. It creates a new social reality, which Baudrillard terms hyperreality. Hyperreality is a special kind of social reality in which a reality is created or simulated from models, or defined by reference to models — a reality generated from ideas. The term has implications of ‘too much reality’ — everything being on the surface, without mystery; ‘more real than reality’ — too perfect and schematic to be true, like special effects; and ‘para-reality’, an extra layer laid over, or instead of, reality. It is experienced as more real than the real, because of its effect of breaking down the boundary between real and imaginary. It is a ‘real’ without ‘origin or reality’, a reality to which we cannot connect.

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