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Week Twelve (Mon, 4/11): World Wide Mind

@ 3, we're going to Skype with Michael Chorost

til then, some coursekeeping:

Aybala & Franklin20

for Wednesday, watch Teknolust (on library reserve @ Canaday)
heads up from film studies students, about "how to watch"?

Anne's interesting reading, an extension from/challenge to our discussion of constructing on-line identities, from the MIT course (available in our password-protected file): Raka Shome, "Thinking through the diaspora: Call centers, India, and a new politics of hybridity." International Journal of Cultural Studies 2006, 9.1: 105-124.

what are the new politics of modernity and colonialism being produced by the global flows of 'techno-space' or 'informatics'?... this article focuses on forms of high-tech and virtualized disciplining of the 'worker' in Indian call centers from far away geographies in the West.... the new politics of race, hybridity, and diaspora which are being produced by global regimes of telematic virtuality that characterize our moment of digitalized capitalism.

the training... is about the control and regulation of 'voice', tone, phonology.... the voice of the third world subject is literally erased and reconstructed in the servicing of the global economy.... With the culture of call centers... the issue is... one of voice shopping.... Voice and accent become the prime commodities in this global body politics....

a significant part of the training is geared towards learning how to role play an American.... The pressure to come across as an 'authentic' American is tremendous... this 'mimicry' feeds into the further colonization and disciplining of the 'third world' workers....

The call center agents ... are private underground subjects in the global economy as they cannot disclose their true identities to the global public sphere.... It is a privatized dis-appearance.... The stress of living dual lives stretched across multiple times and geographies often takes the form of emotional toil and a transnational identity crisis... all kinds of personality problems caused by the con/fusion of temporal belonging.

Arnold, having never been physically 'away', nonetheless identifies more with the 'virtual away' of America that he lives in, in the technology park, for several hours a day.... there is a virtual migration in which the body both departs into another national world and time in the performances of American-ness through virtual technology but also simultaneously remains geographically and temporally situated in India.... the landscape of call centers can be seen as manifesting a... biopolitical invasion of the body's natural time....

All this is related to our conversations about constructing on-line identities, as well as to your postings in response to MIT students' observations.

See, f
or example, Katie's description of Frankenstein as not occupying a "post-gender" world, but operating rather as a warning against utilizing new technology:

rubikscube: Another part of Haraway's definition says a cyborg has no seductions to organic wholeness.... the monster did

vgaffney: the creature's desire to be more human-like, usage of gender binaries, and acquisition of human traits push against the cyborgian reading.

shin1068111: I do agree with the post that we must think about the implications... before utilizing new technology. However, I think that the question should be addressed is who are the ones responsible for thinking about the implications... it is the responsibility of the inventor... to deeply ponder about the possible dangers that could be associated with one’s project.

m.aghazarian: Haraway says that cyborgs have "no truck with bisexuality" ... the ability to flip between two sexes does not make one "post-gendered."

Implications of new technology, huh? ... People don't seem to be too good at judging these sort of implications, or rather, the need to consider these implications

See also the reponses to Kami's claim that Haraway defines a cyborg as a radical political creature (which the Creature isn't):

fawai: is the type of community desired the chief defining feature of a modern cyborg?

spreston: Frankenstein's creature is completely alone; he has NO community.... [if he had] a female creature like the one he asked for, he says that we would have stopped trying to assimilate with mainstream culture. He would have completely removed himself....

aybala50: He is accepting his isolation for his physical appearance and he is hoping that someone as "hideous" as himself will accept him because they are the 'same'. So, it all comes back to being similar, or normal again?  

There were responses, too (the most dialogic!) to Alicia and Juliann's postings about reproductive technology:

spreston: Frankenstein reinforces traditional notions of gender and makes me wonder what the consequences of using alternative reproductive technology are.... Shelly's text... is a warning against creating life in an atypical manner.

tangerines: I had the opposite reaction. I think that for modern audiences (or at least our class), Frankenstein forces us to see exactly what’s wrong with gender binaries and closed-minded ways of thinking.... I believe the novel wants us to ponder the true monstrosity of a society that privileges people based solely on appearance.

MissArcher2:  I completely agree with tangerines' reading of Frankenstein as an exposition of the "hardship, loneliness, and sense of abandonment" surrounding motherhood and childbearing.... But I want to try to bridge the gap between this view and spreston's reading, which sees Frankenstein as a warning against creating life in an atypical manner.... What Shelley wanted most was to successfully bear and raise healthy children, but... the concept was surrounded by heartbreak and dissociation from society for her.  

There were several postings also on ugliness:

MSA322: on beauty and relativity
merlin: on photoshopping
abayla: isn't it possible that it is more the unnaturalness of the creature that repulses people, rather than his "ugliness"?

And some about binary-deconstruction:
TiffanyE: Frankenstein as a Cautionary Tell About the Dangers of Binaries

ekthorp: My entire semester has been about binaries and how they do not exist....who is the real monster: the beast or the creator.

Preparing for Skyping?? (aurally and visually)

Are you there???


Anne's reading notes:
Prologue: A Dead BlackBerry

self-contained body vs. planet's information trove:
altogether wrong to have two separate worlds of experience:
an infinite supply of information and messages,
and infinite sensation and variety--how to bring them together?

Chapter One: The Push-Pull Dynamic of Evolution
self as irreversibly computational, a living example of integration
overcome separateness of humans and internet
by increasing speed, density of information exchange
in evolution: automatic increases in complexity and power
dynamic push-pull of synergy between human beings and the internet
internet has primitive ways of "sensing," "reacting," but no self-awareness
book as thought experiment in emergence of collective mind,
beyond individual imagination
perfect, unambiguous communication will always be impossible
old fear of technology harming human interaction (Plato on writing--
can't engage in conversation; knowledge only in interaction)
we seek autonomy and community, being alone and together
re-think what it means to be an individual in community:
re-configure personal boundaries (public figures on Facebook, Twitter)
nonstop texting redefines selfhood: enhance individuality by collective communication
technology as "enchanting": pulling people together, into harmony

Chapter Eleven: How Could the World Wide Mind Become Self-Aware?
could intelligence emerge from interlinkage of computers, humans?
perhaps not recognizable to us, if different from our own?
computers today not densely interconnected or
diverse enough to understand info: just store it
no evolutionary pressures to become more complex
In computer systems, a "mutation" is always deadly.
Google, Wikpedia functioning as nascent digital frontal lobes
brainlike combination of human knowledge, choices about it, computer system collecting those choices, and communications network integrating them all
cf. superorganism of ant colonies w/ possible hyperorganism of humans + internet
internet as our sterile worker class exhibiting atruistic behavior,
enabling us to make the leap to hyperconsciousness (cf. ant unicolonies!)
advances always lead to higher-level problems
(ex: language--> hallucination of voices that is schizophrenia)

course notes:
Aybala & Franklin20