Looking back over week 3 (week 2 for me in reality) it looks like I take a rather humanist approach to most aspects of cyberculture.
My end of block visual artefact was not intended to represent my view of digital technology. I don’t see ‘it’ as something to be feared, although it’s clear that many do. It is the use we make of it as a species that is my primary concern. Reflecting on the media linked by my fellow students and content I have found myself brings some of this into sharp relief. Indeed the blog post mid-week that followed reading Katharine Viner’s article in the Guardian was rather more from the heart than the head. From a thematic point of view I’ve definitely been more interested in ‘the preservation of the authentic human’.
The Google Hangout on Friday was useful. As an on-line student it’s always good to know that you’re not alone and to hear first hand that others are having a similar experience. Availability of previous iterations of the course was queried and it left me in something of quandary. I had found Tweets and post from the 2015 course when researching some of the terms used in the reading, but I had avoided looking for the Lifestreams so as not to be influenced by them, or risk inadvertent plagiarism. However, I came away from the Hangout with two thoughts; firstly that the blogs posts of our predecessors would be useful in helping me understand the concepts we’re studying and, secondly, that I’m leaving a legacy in my own Lifestream. This latter galvanised me into making my Lifestream more accessible, with the bonus effect of helping me understand the inner workings of WordPress a little better.
I’m still catching up on the reading and film clips and have saved up (put off) the Cyborg Manifesto until early next week.
The fact that I’ve now written and rewritten this short blog post about five times is testament to the wrestling match I’ve had with this chapter. Nonetheless I’ve managed to gain an understanding of the need for an approach such as the authors are advocating.
Given that digital technology is present in and impacts on almost every aspect of our lives expanding the study of cyberculture into other histories such as communication, culture and politics, seems inherently sensible. When one considers the enormity of this task one can see why scholars have tended towards perhaps simplistic “there was analog, and now there is digital” / “everything before cyberculture leads up to it” approaches.
This appears to be yet another example of playfulness resulting in a technological breakthrough. The author of this article “remembers the scientists getting so frustrated by the expense and limitations of conventional computing technology that they started kidding about sci-fi alternatives. We thought, ‘What’s to stop us using DNA to store information? Then the laughter stopped. It was a light bulb moment”.
My first laptop computer had an forty megabytes of hard hard drive storage that held all of the operating system, application and my user files (other than those I chose to save onto a 1.44MB floppy disk. Today the Windows 10 wallpaper options alone would take up more than that amount of disk space.
I’ve found it fascinating the way that the data capacity of hard disk drives and now solid state storage has increased exponentially over the years. I can now buy a tiny high density SD card that stores sixty-four gigabytes of data, that costs just a few pounds and would enable me to carry around vast amounts of data.
For the average technology user I guess there’s a limit to the amount of data we storage we could usefully use in a lifetime but the idea of being able to store it in an organic medium brings with it some intriguing prospects. How long before we can directly insert data into our brains for instance? Could Neo’s instant learning of piloting or Kung Fu skills ever become a reality?
Despite sensational headlines early last year about research conducted by California research facility, HRL Laboratories, we would appear to be a way off from developing such technology just yet.
Meanwhile, back in the current world, I believe the limitations for the average technology user, including our students, appear to be not in data capacity, but in our ability to curate data in a way that enables us to access again when we need it. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, some of that still relies on the mushy stuff in our heads…and maybe Google.
Let the intellect alone, it has its usefulness in its proper sphere, but let it not interfere with the flowing of the life-stream. Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki