Ethan Miller

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ELO 08: Day 2

Jun 21 2008, 6:14AM

Ok, it's been about 3 weeks since the conference, but I'm just now getting the time to review my notes and post...


Sue Thomas started with a discussion on transliteracy. Defined simply as "the ability to read, write, and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media," transliteracy insists on a lateral approach according to Thomas : "global, historical, holistic." As several others discussed later as well, Thomas made the point that reading/writing in the traditional sense isn't a privileged means of communication anymore.

On the topic of the convergence of media/communications technology she quoted Henry Jenkins as saying there are at least 5 processes that are a part of convergence: technological, economic, social/organic, cultural, and global. The article Convergence? I Diverge by Jenkins explains more...

Another interesting thread that was picked up in other discussions was a reference to Katherine Hayles' Hyper and Deep Attention and the point that hyper-attention probably developed first, where as the deep-attention our culture/educational system emphasizes for literacy now is a kind of luxury that developed later.

In discussion from the audience the question was raised: why use the term 'literacy'? It's connected to the book tradition that we're de-emphasizing.

Log in

Sandy Baldwin's presentation felt more like spoken word poetry then an academic paper - it was great, but flew by a little quickly. He talked about the paths that a packet takes across the network to it's destination, what a tool like traceroute tells us about that 'landscape' and how logging on is 'inscribing' yourself into that landscape.

Alan Sondheim presented remotely. He first showed a video, something similar to the video at the end of this blog post. I like that glitch-art aesthetic. He talked about the 'mess' or 'debris' that fills cyberspace (and is the 'essential character of culture'). Logging on and off used to be a simple binary - but now we're always partially logged on, logged out but recognized (say by a cookie in your browser), using multiple logins for a given service, or victims of a confused identity. It's neither a, nor b, but something in between, or something that overlaps. He describes that liminal place as the place where the ego is.

Rita Raley's talk I find difficult to summarize - but I felt that her perspective was closest to my own. She talked about using data, either gathered like Hansen/Rubin's Listening Post or solicited. Seemed to me to be related to social networks, and data visualization.

ReVisioning Electronic Literature

Mark Marino talked about the history of chatbots, AI, and the Turing test. He used an interesting model in his talk based around actor network theory - humans and machines are both conversational actors within a common network. He also brought in an interesting historical perspective on this kind of network : military IFF systems. I liked this presentation because it de-emphasized the concern over traditional AI (can we build a real thinking machine?) and presented a bigger context - the network as a whole.

Jeremy Douglass is a researcher at Software Studies, a program I've been tracking with much interest. He talked about the mental 'geography' that a user might develop during an interactive process with a given software system. For a non-programmer in particular, there's that negotiation where they develop a model of how the system works, test out their model, and adjust as needed. Douglass calls this model 'implied code.' As he discussed, interesting games/systems allow enough room for the user to explore, and experience that moment (as a surprise) when their implied code and the machine code sync, and new possibilities are discovered.

Elit as IS

The final group of presentations was somewhat more technical/pragmatic. Juan Gutierrez led an interesting discussion about applying the multitier model from software (presentation/logic/data) to electronic literature.

Tags : conference elo08 literacy networks software transliteracy

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