Hayles 2012

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Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

How We Think

"Needed are approaches that can locate digital work within print traditions, and print traditions within digital media, without obscuring or failing to account for the differences between them. One such approach is advocated here: it goes by the name of Comparative Media Studies." (7)

Traditional English curriculum "focuses on content rather than problems, assuming that students will somehow make the leap from classroom exercises to real-world complexities by themselves." need a problem-based approach (9)

"the Digital Humanities are not a monolithic field but rather a collection of dynamic evolving practices, with internal disputes, an emerging set of theoretical concerns interwoven with diverse practices, and contextual solutions so specific institutional configurations." (10)
"A Comparative Media Studies perspective can result in courses and curricula that recognize all three reading modalities -- close, hyper-, and machine -- and prepare students to understand the limitations and affordances of each." (11)
"When humanities scholars turn to digital media, they confront technologies that operate on vastly different time scales, and in significantly different cognitive modes, than human understanding. Grasping the complex ways in which the time scales of human cognition interact with those of intelligent machines requires a theoretical framework in which objects are seen not as static entities that, once created, remain the same throughout time but rather are understood as constantly changing assemblages in which inequalities and inefficiencies in their operations drive them toward breakdown, disruption, innovation, and change." (13)
"Materiality, like the object itself, is not a pre-given entity but rather a dynamic process that changes as the focus of attention shifts." (14)
"Comparative Media Studies, with its foregrounding of media technologies in comparative contexts, provides theoretical, conceptual, and practical frameworks for critically assessing technogenetic changes and devising strategies to help guide them in socially constructive ways." (14)

The Digital Humanities: Engaging the Issues

"The point, to my mind, is not that it is better (or worse) but rather that it is different, and the differences can leverage traditional assumptions so they become visible and hence available for rethinking and reconceptualizing." (24)

First wave -- Unsworth and big data; quantitative

Second wave -- Schnapp and Presner's Manifesto

"Digital networks influence print books, and print traditions inform the ways in which the materiality of digital objects is understood and theorized. Thus two dynamics are at work: one in which the DH are moving forward to open up new areas of exploration, and another in which they are engaged in a recursive feedback loop with the Traditional Humanities." (32)
"Conceptualization is intimately tied in with implementation, design decisions often have theoretical consequences, algorithms embody reasoning, and navigation carries interpretive weight, so the humanities scholar, graphic designer, and programmer work best when they are in continuous and respectful communication with one another." (35)

strategies for DH: assimilation and distinction

"Assimilation extends existing scholarship into the digital realm; it offers more affordances than print for access, queries, and dissemination; it often adopts and attitude of reassurance rather than confrontation. Distinction, by contrast, emphasies new methodologies, new kinds of research questions, and the emergence of entirely new fields." (46)

How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine

reading at risk – decreased literary reading – critical juncture of digital reading and print reading

"The crucial questions are these: how to convert the increased digital reading into increased reading ability, and how to make effective bridges between digital reading and the literacy traditionally associated with print." (56)

literary critics turned away from literary texts and to cultural "texts" in 1970s, 1980s -- loss of literary center resulted in rise of close reading's important, the "essence of the disciplinary identity" (58)

yet few seem to be able to identify exactly what close reading is

"symptomatic reading" of Jameson, searching for subsurface ideology of a text -- but becoming boring to critics; results seem preordained

"surface reading" of Best and Marcus; examining not hidden clues but "overt messages"; reading strategies focused on affect and pleasure

"Before opinion solidifies behind new versions of close reading, I want to argue for a disciplinary shift to a broader sense of reading strategies and their interrelation." (60)

James Sosnoski, "hyper reading" -- search queries, keywords, skimming, fragmenting; might also add "juxtaposing, as when several open windows allow one to read across several texts, and scanning as when oe reads rapidly through a blog to identify items of interest" (61)

"There is considerable evidence that hyper reading differs significantly from typical print reading, and moreover that hyper reading stimulates different brain functions than print reading." (61)

"What evidence indicates that these web-specific effects are making distraction a contemporary cultural condition? Several studies have shown that, contrary to the claims of early hypertext enthusiasts such as George Landow, hyperlinks tend to degrade comprehension rather than enhance it." (63)

"The small distractions involved with hypertext and web reading -- clicking on links, navigating a page, scrolling down or up, and so on -- increase the cognitive load on working memory and thereby reduce the amount of new material it can hold. With linear reading, by contrast, the cognitive load is at a minimum, precisely because eye movements are more routine and fewer decisions need to be made about how to read the material and in what order. Hence the transfer to long-term memory happens more efficiently, especially when readers reread passages and pause to reflect on them as they go along." (64)

Dehaene 2009 studies cited -- shows that most writing systems involve letters/symbols with 3 strokes; brain didn't evolve for writing but rather writing evolved to fit the brain (66)

hyper reading and deep reading both have value, but need to understand what deep reading does and add it to our daily lives, which tend to be overrun by hyper reading (69)

third factor: computer-assisted human reading

"Putting human reading in a leak-proof container and isolating machine reading in another makes it difficult to see these interactions and understand their complex synergies. Given these considerations, saying that computers cannot read is from my point of view merely species chauvinism." (72)

(distant reading lumps together human and machine reading; Hayles thinks its useful to distinguish) (72)

"The more the emphasis falls on pattern (as in machine reading), the more likely it is that context must be supplied from outside (by a human interpreter) to connect pattern with meaning; the more the emphasis falls on meaning (as in close reading), the more pattern assumes a subordinate role. In general, the different distributions among apttern, meaning, and context provide ways to think about interrelations among close, hyper, and machine reading." (74)

Romeo and Juliet staged on Facebook

Lev Manovich, Cultural Analytics

"What transformed disciplinary coherence might literary studies embrace? The Comparative Media Studies approach provides a framework within which an expanded repertoire of reading strategies may be pursued." (78)

Tech-TOC: Complex Temporalities and Contemporary Technogenesis

Bergson, distinction between temporality as a process and as measured

"Its contributions to the history of philosophy notwithstanding, the distinction has a serious disadvantage: although objects, like living beings, exist within duration, there remains a qualitative distinction between the human capacity to grasp duration and the relations of objects to it. Indeed, there can be no account of how duration is experienced by objects, for lacking intuition, they may manifest duration but not experience it. What would it mean to talk baout an object's experience of time, and what implications would flow from this view of objecthood?" (86)
"I will discuss the view that technical objects embody complex temporalities enfolding past into present, present into future. An essential component of this approach is a shift from seeing technical objects as static entities to conceptualizing them as temporary coalescences in fields of conflicting and cooperating forces." (86)

folding of time -- "technical ensembles ... create technical individuals; they are also called into existence by technical individuals" (89)

"the future is already preadopted in the present (future roads in present cars_, while the present carries along with it the marks of the past, for example in the metal ax head that carries in its edge the imprint of the technical ensemble that tempered it (in older eras, this would include a blacksmith, forge, hammer, anvil, buckt of water, etc.). On a smaller scale, the past is enfolded into the present through skeuomorphs, details that were previously functional but have lost their functionality in a new technical ensemble. The 'stitching' (actually an impressed pattern) on my Honda Accord vinyl dashboard covering, for example, recalls the older leather coverings that were indeed stitched. So perasive are skeuomorphs that once one starts looking for them, they appear to be everywhere: why, if not for the human need to carry the past into the present? These enfoldings -- past nestling inside present, present carrying the embryo of the future -- constitute the complex temporalities that inhabit technics." (89)
"physical attributes are necessary but not sufficient to account for technical innovation. What counts is rather the object's materiality. Materiality comes into existence, I argue, when attention fuses with physicality to identify and isolate some particular attribute (or attributes) of interest." (91)
"Materiality is unlike physicality in being an emergent property. It cannot be specified in advance, as though it existed ontologically as a discrete entity. Requiring acts of human attentive focus on physical properties, materiality is a human-technical hybrid." (91)

new unconscious, adaptive unconscious -- "creates the background that participates in guiding and directing selective attention. Because the adaptive unconscious interacts flexibly and dynamically with the environment (i.e., through the tecnological unconscious), there is a mediated relationship between attention adn the environment much broader and more inclusive than focused attention itself allows. A change in the environment results in a change in the technological unconscious and consequently in the background provided by the adaptive unconscious, and that in turn creates the possibility ofr a change in the content of attention. The interplay goes deeper than this, however, for the mechanisms of attention themselves mutate in response to environmental conditions. Whenever dramatic and deep changes occur in the environment, attention begins to operate in new ways." (97-8)

"In short, the variety, pervasiveness, and intensity of information streams have brought about major changes in built environments in the United States and comparably developed societies in the last half century." (98)
"I propose that attention is an essential component of technical change (although undertheorized in Simondon's account), for it creates from a background of technical ensembles some aspect of their physical characteristics upon which to focus, thus bringing into existence a new materiality that then becomes the context for technological innovation. Attention is no, however, removed or apart from the technological changes it brings about. Rather, it is engaged in a feedback loop with the technological environment within which it operates through unconscious and nonconscious processes that affect not only the background from which attention selects but also the mechanisms of selection themselves. Thus technical beings and living beings are involved in continuous reciprocal causation in which both groups change together in coordinated and indeed synergistic ways." (103-4)
"the computer instantiates multiple, interacting, and complex temporalities, from microsecond processes up to perceptible delays" (104)

Technogenesis in Action: Telegraph Code Books and the Place of the Human

"With the advent of telegraphy, messages and bodies traveled at unprecedented speeds by wire and rail. This regime of speed, crucial to telegraphy's reconfiguration of cultural, social, and economic environments, led to troubled minglings of bodies and messages, as if messages could become bodies and bodies messages. At the same time, telegraphy was extraordinarily vulnerable to the resistant materialities of physically embodied communication, with constant breakdown of instruments and transmission lines and persistent human error. In this sense telegraphy was prologue to the ideological and material struggle between dematerialized information and resistant bodies characteristic of the globalization era" (124)
"Time and space were not, common wisdom to the contrary, annihilated by the telegraph, but they were reconfigured. The reconfiguration had the effect of entangling monopoly capitalism with the new technology so that it was no longer possible for capital to operate without the telegraph or its successors; nor was it possible, after about 1866, to think about the telegraph without thinking about monopoly capital." (126)
"Subject to a complex transmission chain and multiple encodings/decodings, telegraph language began to function as a nexus in which technological, social, and economic forces converged, interpenetrating the native expression of thought to create a discourse that always had multiple authors, even if originally written by a single person." (130)
"code books, by using certain phrases and not others, not only disciplined language use but also subtly guided it along paths the compilers judged efficacious. In addition to inscribing messages likely to be sent, the code books reveal ways of thinkinig that tended to propagate through predetermined words and phrases, a phenomenon explored in more depth below." (132)
"The progression from natural language to artificial code groups, from code words drawn from the compiler's memory associations to codes algorithmically constructed, traces a path in which code that draws directly on the lifeworld of ordinary experience gives way to code calculated procedurally." (142)

Teletype, ASCII -- 146

"Although military forces could not prevent their telegraph lines from being tapped, the code books, as print artifacts, could be protected and kept secure. The problem of communicating over distances while ensuring that only the intended recipients would have access to the messages was solved through the coupline of code and language." (155)
"Code books had their part to play in these sweeping changes, for they affected assumptions about how language operated in conjunction with code. They were part of a historical shift from inscription practices in which words flowed from hand onto paper, seeming to embody the writer's voice, to a technocrataic regime in which encoding, transmission, and decoding procedures intervened between a writer's thoughts and the receiver's understanding of those thoughts. AS we have seen, the changes brought about by telegraphy anticipated and partly facilitated the contemporary situation in which all kinds of communications are mediated by intelligent machines. The technogenetic cycles explored in this chapter demonstrate how the connections between bodies and technics accelerated and catalyzed changed in conscious and unconscious assumptions about the place of the human in relation to language and code." (157)
"A revolution in language practice, with important theoretical implications, occurred when the conception changed from thinking about encoding/decoding as moving across the printed page to thinking of it as moving up or down between different layers of codes and languages." (160)

Andrew, Hallner, The Scientific Dial Primer -- concentric rings for generating code words

"In linking natural language with codes that became increasingly machine-centric, telegraph code books initiated the struggle to define the place of the human in relation to digital technologies, an agon that remains crucial to the humanities today." (170)

Narrative and Database: Spatial History and the Limits of Symbiosis

databases said to be "self-describing" -- its structure is contained within itself, "so that the database's contents can be determined just by looking inside it" (177)

narrative -- "Narrator and actor inscribe the situation of a subject constantly negotiating with agents who have their own agendas and desires, while causality and inference represent the reasoning required to suture different temporal trajectories, motives, and actions into an explanatory frame. These structures imply that the primary purpose of narrative is to search for meaning, making narrative an essential technology for humans, who can arguably be defined as meaning-seeking animals." (180)

"Bund to the linear order of language through syntax, narrative is a temporal technology, as he complex syncopations between story and fabula demonstrate. ... Data sets and databases, by contrast, lend themselves readily to spatial displays, from the two-dimensional tables typical of relational databases to the more complex n-dimensional arrays and spatial forms that statisticians and data analysyts use to understand the stories that data tell." (180)
"Databases tend toward inclusivity, narratives toward selectivity." (182)
"The flip side of narrative's inability to tell the story is the proliferation of narratives as they transform to accommodate new data and mutate to probe what lies beyond the exponentially expanding infosphere. No longer singular, narratives remain the necessary others to database's ontology, the perspectives that invest the formal logic of database operations with human meanins and gesture toward the unknown hovering byond the brink of what can be classified and enumerated." (183)

Doreen Massey -- replace container notion of space with one of space as emergent

"Does the 'spatial turn' in digital history projects imply that the traditional focus on time for historians has now been transformed into spatializations that take the Cartesian grid as the basis for historical representations?" (183)
"concpetualizing place not as a fixed site with stable boundaries but rather as a dynamic set of interrelations in constant interaction witht he wider world, which nevertheless take their flavor and energy from the locality they help to define" (185)

memes -- "do not allow new insights to emerge as a result of establishing correlations between existing databases and new datasets; rather, they serve as catalysts for reframing and reconceptualizing questions that are given specific contexts by the writer appropriating the memes for his or her own purposes" (188-9)

temes, "ideas that replicate through technical objects rather than human brains" (189)

relational vs object-oriented databases (192)

"The object approach is navigational, whereas the relational approach is declarative. ... Object-oriented databases encourage a view of the world that is holistic and behavioral, whereas relational databases see the world as made up of atomized bits that can be manipulated through commands." (193)

critical GIS (196)

Transcendent Data and Transmedia Narrative: Steven Hall's The Raw Shark Texts

Mapping Time, Charting Data: The Spatial Aesthetic of Mark Z. Danielewski's Only Revolutions

Joseph Frank, "Spatial Form: Some Further Reflections"

paradigmatic vs syntagmatic

"From unity to assemblage, from subjects who create/apprehend patterns to assemblages that create dispersed subjectivities, from cultural generalizations to technical media as causal agents: these transformations mark the deterritorialized spatial dynamic instantiated and reflected in novels of information multiplicity and media assemblages." (223)
"The rich conceptualizations and intricate patterns of TOC, RST, and OR show that technogenesis has a strong aesthetic dimension as well as neurocognitive and technical implications." (247)