The Real and the Loss of Cyberspace Last week, I wrote a piece entitled “There is no Cyberspace,” where I argued the today’s World Wide Web bears little resemblance to the thing that cyberpunk authors like William Gibson imagined as cyberspace. I explained that Gibson defined cyberspace as a “consensual hallucination” and proceeded to argue that the Web was neither consensual nor hallucinatory. I noted that even Gibson himself acknowledges that the cyberspace concept is outmoded—that, rather than being sucked into the world behind the screen, computers have “everted,” overlaying the physical with the digital. I concluded that the term “cyberspace” confounds our ability to makes sense of a social Web that has very real consequences in our lives because it evokes images of fantastical space apart from reality that we can enter and exit at our leisure. The piece received thorough feedback and critique in posts by Mike Bulajewski (on his Mr. Credit: Werner Kunz What do we mean when we say “the real?”
Speculative Fiction, Atemporality, and Augmented Reality “The future is there,” Cayce hears herself say, “looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we will have become. And from where they are, the past behind us will look nothing at all like the past we imagine behind us now.” –William Gibson, Pattern Recognition“This is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the late twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility.” –Bruce Sterling, “Slipstream”, SF Eye #5, July 1989 I first read William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition almost a year ago, after a long hiatus from his work. experience that I always find somewhat refreshingly like exploring a dark, richly appointed room with a small flashlight. And then something rather interesting happened. The divided categories of time have no intrinsic meaning aside from that which we give them through our perceptions of them–through our stories about them. But who cares what kinds of stories we tell?
The Myth of Cyberspace In the early 1980s, when personal computing first became a reality, the faces of glowing terminals had an almost magical aura, transubstantiating arcane passages of 1s and 0s into sensory experience. In fact, the seemingly impenetrable complexity of what was unfolding behind the screen created a sense of mystery and wonderment. We were in awe of the hackers who could unlock the code and conjure various illusions from it; they were modern magicians who seemed to travel between two worlds: reality and cyberspace. The term cyberspace was first coined by author William Gibson. a graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system … Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. A “nonspace,” meaning that cyberspace lacks the physicality that “space” conventionally implies. The history of the cyberspace concept’s evolution from a descriptive category to a moral one is somewhat varied.
Online students and teachers are no different from the rest of academia | Higher Education Network | Guardian Professional My name is David Newton, professor of business studies. I'm an online higher education tutor. Some of you may read that last sentence as a confession, rather than a simple statement of fact. Take me, for example. I'm not a radical, or anti-establishment – I've loved and respected working at every university I've joined. That's something I share in common with my students. These students don't pursue online degrees as second best, nor are they students who have somehow been enticed away from traditional universities with promises of a better answer. So what are online students like? Tutorials are another aspect of online higher education that seems to mystify and confuse the onlooker. When I was teaching on campuses, I often found students were reluctant to knock on my office door or kept quiet during a traditional face-to-face tutorial session – particularly those who were struggling with a topic. And what about the quality of the qualifications themselves?
Does fantasy offer mere escapism, or escape? – Damien Walter The only people who hate escapism are jailers, said the essayist and Narnia author C S Lewis. A generation later, the fantasy writer Michael Moorcock revised the quip: jailers love escapism — it’s escape they can’t stand. Today, in the early years of the 21st century, escapism — the act of withdrawing from the pressures of the real world into fantasy worlds — has taken on a scale and scope quite beyond anything Lewis might have envisioned. I am a writer and critic of fantasy, and for most of my life I have been an escapist. And I am not alone. Fans of J R R Tolkien line up squarely behind Lewis. Language is a powerful technology for escape, but it is only as powerful as the literacy of the reader. The world is not made of atoms. Video games might have seemed an unlikely escapist technology in the early days of Pong and Pac-Man. Today, video-game franchises such as Halo, Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty power an industry worth an estimated $65 billion globally in 2011. 12 July 2013
The transparent avatar in your brain: Thomas Metzinger at TEDxBarcelona A New Workplace Manifesto: In Praise Of Freedom, Time, Space, And Working Remotely The conventional idea of luxury is the antithesis of work. Sure, the gilded few are awarded trinkets to soothe their working experience, perhaps with a swanky corner office, a plush company-provided Lexus or--if they're wearing a T-shirt rather than a suit to work--with free gourmet lunches and ping-pong tables. (Or not, as the case may be.) But even for those with the grandest of paychecks and superfluous perks, work is still in direct opposition to luxury. The vast majority of workers across the world still commute in some form. And no matter how nice your company car is, sitting in rush hour traffic for an hour each way is still a special version of hell. So you suffer through that daily commute, and then the next chamber of the daily grind begins: You arrive at your office (if you're lucky; cubicle if you're not), where a thousand interruptions chop up your workday into tiny work moments. Of course, that seems like the antithesis of luxury! The fact is that most people like to work.
The future of work is rich in technology and drawbacks The nature of work and the workplace itself is changing for most of us. (Phil Noble/Reuters) We check e-mail as soon as we reach home, and sneak a peek at our inboxes along the way. We respond to calls, texts, and messages even while on vacation. At work, we use Cisco Telepresence or Skype to confer with colleagues all over the world. Companies often allow employees to work from home for one or two days a week; some let them live in remote locations. This has all become the norm. This is just the beginning. This is the future we are headed into, whether we like it or not. For our grandparents, “work” was almost always in a factory or on a farm. Note how accounting firms routinely outsource grunt work, as do lawyers, and as do doctors, for tasks such as medical transcription. Crowdsourcing is making it possible for work to be done simultaneously by many people — no matter where they are. Businesses are beginning to do this as well. This is all exciting — and terrifying enough.
#review: Technologically Mediated Embodiment This is the first post in a new Cyborgology series we call #review. #review Features links to, summaries of, and discussions around academic journal articles and books. This week, I’m reviewing: Goodings, Lewis and Ian Tucker. 2014. “Social Media and the Co-Production of Bodies Online: Bergson, Serres, and Facebook’s Timeline.” Media Culture & Society 36(1):37-51. Goodings and Tucker work to understand the difficulties of embodiment in light of pervasive technological mediation, and in particular, Facebook’s Timeline. The authors refer to technologically mediated embodiment as that embodiment which exists in light of, and conjunction with, pervasive electronic and digital media. Goodings and Tucker address the first issue—blurring of network boundaries—utilizing Serres theory of communication. …[W]hen online bodies are fed back to us through Facebook there can be a sequence of unanticipated connections. I love the use of Serres, and in particular, the “noise” metaphor.
Patients tell more secrets to virtual humans Patients are more willing to disclose personal information to virtual humans than to actual ones, likely because computers don’t make judgments or look down on people the way another human might. The findings show promise for people suffering from post-traumatic stress and other mental anguish, says Gale Lucas, a social psychologist at University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. In intake interviews, people were more honest about their symptoms, no matter how potentially embarrassing, when they believed that a human observer wasn’t in on the conversation. “In any given topic, there’s a difference between what a person is willing to admit in person versus anonymously,” Lucas says. The study provides the first empirical evidence that virtual humans can increase a patient’s willingness to disclose personal information in a clinical setting. Virtual humans ‘Way better than talking to a person’ Sense of anonymity Source: USC