Iain Cameron's Diary
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2005-12-20 - 10:38 a.m.

Nice to see Macca using the Epiphone Casino in his Abbey Road one person show - also to see a Leantown band at No 1.

James is back. He said that his pic is on the front page of the latest edition of the student newspaper which contains a brief interview with your unfestive diarist on the usual subject. I said that I had a German translation of another interview on the same matter. He made a pretty good fist of translating the first paragraph. His girl friend does German and Russian - I wonder if his Russian is as good? We talked about the Russian oligarchs a bit - the subject of his dissertation and what he wants to dig deeper into next year. I told him a bit about Latour and the ANTs (which seems more and more to be the only game in town.)

Laurence mailed about Heidegger and Rawls mentioning the Habermas-Rawls exchanges. I suggested that the chain ran Heidegger, Marcuse, Habermas. . Feenberg’s new book on Heidegger and Marcuse arrived today. So far so good and very timely.

I am playing with the idea that Latour and the ANTs have a way of answering the question Feenberg posed in the last book of his I read - what would a Heidegerrian approach look like from the point of view of engagement with technology rather than looking down your nose at it from above? The Latour I read over the weekend seemed to be trying to answer this - on the one hand technology disappears into life and we take it for grant especially when everything works. But as we all know computers have minds of their own and they instinctively know when we are especially dependent on them - and they select these times not to work properly. Printers have this gift in a very intense form.

We realise - through breakdown - just how closely our technology is woven into our lives. Breaking down is a form of ‘acting’ - which is why it is easy to impute malice to the devices in these circumstances. We pursue ends but mostly take most of the means for granted - I think there is a strict limit to how many means/ends links we can hold in our minds at any one time. So we find it hard to bear in mind any kind of higher end or low level means most of the time - the kind of means which we take for granted as we drive the car with our minds elsewhere.

Introducing a new technology is a risky journey which has the goal of getting a new artefact and its linkages to be utterly invisible in the taken for granted warp and weft of our lives. (Perhaps). Gas lights became quite common in the 1820s for example. Actually this was just about the time that the term ‘technology’ was first coined.

I took a punt on a new technology this weekend - a USB linked external hard disc. My portable was almost full and WAVs and AV seem to make the matter worse. For sixty pounds I bought something the size of bar of chocolate which has twice as much storage as the PC. I threw in a hiphop software package just in case. So far so good - the storage doesn’t seem to be acting up much. The software got me to buy some 70s funk WAVs for a couple of quid on line.. I should keep monitoring this stuff in terms of impersonal entities provoking network formation with me as a hapless node.

Meanwhile my MIT newsletter says:

"Future networks aren't going to be PCs docking to mainframes. It's going to be about some car contacting the car next to it. All of this is happening in an embedded context. Everything is machine to machine rather than people to people," says Dipankar Raychaudhuri, director of the Wireless Information Network Laboratory (Winlab) at Rutgers University..... Academic and corporate research labs have generated a number of promising technologies: ways to authenticate who's online; ways to identify criminals while protecting the privacy of others; ways to add wireless devices and sensors.'

Actor Network Theory.

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