[iDC] play, open-ended research, post-critical approaches

Simon Biggs simon at babar.demon.co.uk
Mon Oct 2 04:03:37 EDT 2006

On 01.10.06 20:51, "swilson at sfsu.edu" <swilson at sfsu.edu> wrote:

> Many human
> cultures have traditions of animism and the imanenence of space. Inanimate
> objects have been seen as full of spirit and history and connection to human
> activities.  I suspect that this cultural history is also part of the drive to
> make an Internet of Things.

What Steve is saying here is really wonderful. The technologies our society
develops are an expression of that society. Different cultures develop
slightly different systems, including different technologies - although it
is important to recognise that even the most distinct societies are still
human societies and there is far more that is shared and similar than is
different and alien.

The traditions of animism might seem alien to Western culture, but actually
they could fundamentally inform the sub-narratives that can be mined out of
our technologies. Looking back to the ancient Greeks we see a strong animist
tradition subsumed into an emergent rationalism. In particular we see this
in the development of mnemonic systems and language...the same systems that
underpin Western, and Arabic, rationalism (including symbolic logic,
dialectics and mathematics). Here is not the place to develop this idea (it
looks like a complex research theme). However, one could observe that this
subject is itself an expression of the political, but at a deeper level that
transcends specific times and places and allows insight into something more
fundamental about the human as a political animal.

It is politics at this level that we might be more profitably engaging with,
seeking to understand what makes people tick and how their knowledge and
technological systems are part of that, both conditioning and being a
function of that human condition. This deeper understanding in turn can then
be applied to the interpretation of more current events and developments.



Simon Biggs

simon at littlepig.org.uk
AIM: simonbiggsuk

Research Professor, Edinburgh College of Art

s.biggs at eca.ac.uk

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