ahorbinski: a bridge in the fog (bridge to anywhere)
I haven't had time to mention this until now, but HackFSM ended on April 12, and it was a smashing success! I think it's fair to say that all the organizers, including myself, were blown away by the variety and quality of the entries we received, and that we're very hopeful that this can be a model for many more successful hackathons at Berkeley.

Some links
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ahorbinski: a bridge in the fog (bridge to anywhere)
I'm participating in the Day of DH 2014, and you can find my first blog post of the day on my blog on the site: This Is What a Digital Humanist Looks Like.
ahorbinski: My Marxist-feminist dialectic brings all the boys to the yard.  (marxism + feminism --> posthumanism)
Bibliographic Data: Allison, Anne. “The Cool Brand, Affective Activism, and Japanese Youth." Theory, Culture & Society 26 (2009): 89-111.

Main Argument: The rhetoric of "J-Cool" signifies a transformation in the Japanese economy and in Japanese and society, masking a double phenomenon in discourse: "when a construct of youth sells commodities, it is claimed as 'gross national cool.' But when real youth fail to get steady jobs or reproduce, as did their parents, they are castigated for not assuring Japan's future–what gets rendered as a crisis in reproduction" (91). Allison argues that immaterial labor, which comprises two forms ("labor that is primarily intellectual or computational, involving symbols, ideas and codes" and "affective labor that engages affects such as well-being excitement and ease") in its affective form is epitomized by J-Cool. But the new form of capitalism--informational capitalism--that immaterial labor exemplifies and that is hegemonic in the 21st century is deconstructive and destructive of previously solid constructs such as the family and the social safety net, leaving youth in Japan (and all over the world) in an increasingly precaritized position. Allison looks at youth activism in Japan and argues that affective labor can also be thought as "biopower from below;" precisely because affective labor involves the stuff of being human (vita breva aka ὀ βἰος, not just vita nuda aka ἠ ζωἠ), affective labor can allow citizens to forge connections among atomized individuals that can replace and supplement the caring deficit which characterizes society in the C21.

Critical assessment: This is, frankly, a much better work than Millennial Monsters, which was far too anthropological and far too seduced by culturalist explanations. Here, Allison correctly follows the breadcrumbs to capitalism and its discontents, and does a much better job of illuminating the promises and potentials of things like Pokémon and the youth who consume them and who constitute Japan's (and the world's) precariat.

Bibliographic Data: Haraway, Donna. "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, technology, and socialist-feminism in the late twentieth century." The cybercultures reader (2000): 291-324.

Main Argument: Haraway argues for a "cyborg feminism" that will be provisional, ironic, political, postmodern, non-totalizing, and makes two arguments:
…first, the production of universal, totalizing theory is a major mistake that misses most of reality, probably always, but certainly now; and second, taking responsibility for the social relations of science and technology means refusing an anti-science metaphysics, a demonology of technology, and so means embracing the skillful tasks of reconstructing the boundaries of daily life, in partial connection with others, in communication with all of our parts. It is not just that science and technology are possible means of great human satisfaction, as well as a matrix of complex dominations. Cyborg imagery can suggest a way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves. This is a dream not of a common language, but of a powerful infidel heteroglossia. It is an imagination of a feminist speaking in tongues to strike fear into the circuits of the supersavers of the new right. It means both building and destroying machines, identities, categories, relationships, space stories. Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess. (316)

Bibliographic Data: Svensson, Patrik. “The Landscape of Digital Humanities.” Digital Humanities Quarterly, vol 4, no. 1 (2010).

Main Argument: Svensson lays out the current landscape of the digital humanities--its tensions, and some of its divides (i.e. between humanities computing versus digital humanities, between assimilation and distinction)--and considers the digital humanities via various paradigmatic modes of engagement between the humanities and information technology, namely as a tool, a study object, an expressive medium, an exploratory laboratory, and an activist venue: "the mapping activity itself is as important as the resultant patchy map, however, and it is argued that the challenges and possibilities ahead call for a shared awareness and rich collaborations across the landscape of the digital humanities" (11). A new distinction that Svensson identifies is the growth of the term "digital humanist(s)," which are apparently "more commonly used in relation to the digital as tool (and the humanities computing tradition) than the digital as study object;" furthermore, "people in the digital humanities may seem to have a stronger sense of the humanities as a conostucrt and as a whole since they often operate across several disciplines and since their position and identity are more strongly linked to the humanities at large" (53). In sum, "the current landscape is multifaceted and characterized by a range of epistemic traditions and modes of engagement, and while there is a great deal of overlap and common interests, there is also a need of increased shared awareness" (176).
ahorbinski: a bridge in the fog (bridge to anywhere)
Bibliographic Data: Moretti, Franco. Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History. London: Verso, 2005.

Main Argument: Moretti is arguing for a literary history that is based on "distance reading," "where distance is however not an obstacle, but a specific form of knowledge" (1), and in which one moves from texts to models so as to get a sense of the interconnectedness of general elements. Rather than high theory, he draws on the natural sciences as an inspiration.

Graphs, Maps, Trees )

Critical assessment: Give me a lever long enough and I'll move the world; the lever need not be particularly long if it is a book. It's sort of hard to critique a revolutionary text, and so it is with this one. One can only take what it says to heart in whichever way one pleases.

Further reading: Anne Burdic et al., Digital_Humanities; Stephen Ramsay, Reading Machines; Patrik Svensson, "The Landscape of Digital Humanities"

Meta notes: Don't miss the forest for the trees.
ahorbinski: a bridge in the fog (bridge to anywhere)
Bibliographic Data: Ramsay, Stephen. Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2011.

Main Argument: Ramsay calls for an "algorithmic criticism" that "seeks, in the narrowing forces of constraint embodied and instantiated in the strictures of programming, an analogue to the liberating potentialities of art. … It proposes that we channel the heightened objectivity made possible by the machine into the cultivation of those heightened subjectivities necessary for critical work" (x). Furthermore, Ramsay argues, "scientific method and metaphor (or, more precisely, the uses of these notions within the distorted epistemology we call 'scientism') is, for the most part, incompatible with the terms of humanistic endeavor" (ibid).

Textual formations and deformations )

Critical assessment: This little book is a thought-provoking read and a good introduction to the digital humanities. I read it as part of my work with Prof. Gail de Kosnik on internet and fandom history last summer, and it's no accident that many of Ramsay's conclusions about digital humanities inquiry are ones we learned, so to speak, in our own bodies: first and foremost, the data by themselves are not sufficient to tell the story.

Further reading: Neal Stephenson, Anathem; Alfred Jarry, Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician; Lucretius, De Rerum Natura; the I Ching

Meta notes: "If code represents a radical form of textuality, it is not merely because of what it allows us to do but also because of the way it allows us to think" (66).

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ahorbinski: shelves stuffed with books (Default)
Andrea J. Horbinski

May 2016

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