technology

artifacts

According to Leroi-Gourhan: the technological object is nothing outside of the technological ensemble to which it belongs. "As one encounters a new device or system,...it is crucial to ask what the form of this thing presupposes about the people who will use it." (Langdon Winner)

Artifact/ideas: The ideas embodied in material things: the increased crystallization of knowledge and practice in the physical structure of artifacts, in addition to mental structures. Through the combination and superimposition of task-relevant structure, artifacts came to embody kinds of knowledge that would be exceedingly difficult to represent mentally. (see Bruno Latour, "Visualization and Cognition: Thinking with eyes and hands." Knowledge and Society 6: 1-40, 1986.) (see tech philosophy for "the fabrication of scientific facts and technical artifacts." )

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automaton

automaton

In Aristotle's sense of the term, automaton means sheer random happening, and tyche refers to some cause and effect sequence outside the usual pattern of development. In more current usage, an automaton would be a bit of machinery exhibiting somewhat complex behavior but completely lacking in awareness. An automaton is a "self-moving" machine, and the development of control mechanisms led to the possibility of programming automata. 

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clock

clock

The clock is a particularly emblematic piece of technology.The invention of the mechanical clock in the thirteenth century inaugurated a new representation of time. For the West, the clock symbolized regularity, predictibility, and control. A clock serves to produce a correspondence between events and vertices of time moments. 

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cyborg

Is the cyborg an improved hybrid species that has the capacity to be humanity's evolutionary successor? This is the starting point for Manuel DeLanda's evocation of future "robot historians" writing the history of " War in the Age of Intelligent Machines." Warfare has been the primary arena for the technological development of cybernetics, but the cyborg has become a figure that brings toget her science fiction and technology in unexpected combinations. If the Terminator and Robocop exemplify some of the issues of aggression for a masculine image of the cyborg in the contemporary imagination, the concept has been developed in a feminist perspective as well. 

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electronic media

"After three thousand years of explosion, by means of fragmentary and mechanical technologies, the Western world is imploding. During the mechanical ages we had extended our bodies in space. Today, after more than a century of electronic technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both time and space as far as our planet is concerned." (Marshall McLuahan, Understanding Media.) 

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Field of Vision

In War and Cinema, Paul Virilio traces the "fatal coherence" between the eye and the arm (weapon) in the logistics of military perception. As has often been observed, what can be seen in warfare is what can be destroyed, and the technical developments of twentieth century warfare are characterized by the joint progress of visibility and invisibility. For Virilio the techniques of cinema and those of warfare became so bound up in the twentieth century that for him, film criticism has no meaning. It is reality that must be analysed in filmic terms. Starting with Etienne - Jules Marey's invention of the Chronophotograph the first of many matings between the machine gun and the movie camera, which unites the repetition of the automatic weapon with the repetition of cinema, Virilio focusses on common themes between warfare and cinema: the projecting lights of anti-aircraft batteries as spectacle, for instance, from Nuremberg to studio logos.

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fordism

Ford's factories required a disciplined and deskilled workforce, willing and able to perform repetitive tasks on the assembly line. F. W. Taylor's Principles of Scientific Management published in 1911 had already described how labor productivity could be radically increased by breaking down each labor process into component motions and organizing them according to rigorous standards of time and motion. 

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immersion

There are a number of ways to approach the metaphors of immersion and navigation that suffuse descriptions of technology. The psychological theme of the "oceanic" is explored by Freud in Civilization and its Discontents among other places, and provides an interpretation of the sense immensity that the term conveys. 

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instrumentality

At the beginning of its history, philosophy separates tekhné from épistémé, a distinction that had not yet been made in Homeric times. The separation is determined by a political context, one in which the philosopher accuses the Sophist of instrumentalizing the logos as rhetoric and logography, that is, as both instrument of power and renunciation of knowledge. (ref to Francois Châtelet, Platon, in Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time, p.1) (is this a reference to Plato's Phaedrus?) 

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intelligent building

The first thing an intelligent building will learn is your credit card number.
In the opening pages of Ubik, written in 1969 Phillip Dick brilliantly describes a battle between a down and out protagonist and his apartment building, called a conapt. Early one hungover morning, Joe Chip hears the knock of unexpected guests at the door. After verifying that they are not rent robots or creditors, he tries to clean up before letting them in.

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machinic phylum

"In order to adequately understand their apparently idiosyncratic contributions... riddled with jargon and with a mysteriously ineffable systematicity..." (E. Grosz)

Describing the development of weapons such as the saber or the sword, Deleuze and Guattari relate how metallurgy follows variations in materials and their qualities (spatio-temporal haecceities) and transforms them into features (traits of expression) such as hardness, sharpness and finish.

"We may speak of a machinic phylum or technological lineage, wherever we find a constellation of singularities , prolongable by certain operations, which converge, and make the operations converge, upon one or several assignable traits of expresssion" ..."Each phylum has its own singularities and operations...which determine the relation of desire to the technical element."...

"We will call an assemblage every constellation of singularities and traits deducted from the flow of matter-movement. The assemblages cut the phylum up into distinct, differentiated lineages, at the same time as the machinic phylum cuts accross them all." (Thousand Plateaus, p. 406) Examples of these assemblages include the nomads' invention of the man-horse-bow assemblage.

"The machinic phylum is materiality, natural or artificial, and both simultaneously; it is matter in movement, in flux, in variation, matter as a conveyor of singularities and traits of expression...This matter flow can only be followed. The artisan is one who is determined to follow a flow of matter as pure productivity. The artisan is the itinerant, the ambulant. His work is a legwork. To follow the flow of matter...is intuition in action." (p.409) (this is neither nomadic nor sedentary, but in contact with both) -- minor science.

"Why is the machinic phylum, the flow of matter, essentially metallic, or metallurgical?" (p 410) "Metallurgy is the consciousness or thought of the matter-flow...The machinic phylum is metallurgical, or at least has a metallic head, as its itinerant probe-head or guidance device." In this respect, Deleuze and Guattari follow the trope established by the Futurists and followed by the architectural avant-garde, that described engineers as noble savages at the vanguard of technological innovation, "men of the people without culture or education," endowed with "the gift of mechanical prophecy, the flair for metals." (Marinetti, Le Futurisme, Quoted in Reyner Banham, A Concrete Atlantis, p.204)

According to Manuel de Landa, for Deleuze the machinic phylum is the overall set of self-organizing processes... in which a group of previously disconnected elements suddenly reaches a criticial point in which they begin to "cooperate" to form a higher entity. The notion of a machinic phylum blurs the distinction between organic and non-organic life. Phenomena of self-organization occur whenever a bifurcation takes place in phase space: when a new attractor appears or when the system's attractors mutate in kind.

According to de Landa, Deleuze realized the philosophical implications of trajectories, attractors, and bifurcations in phase space . He emphasized the ontological difference between "actual physical systems" (represented by trajectories in phases space), and "virtual physical systems" represented by attractors and repellors. Although he did not mention bifurcations by name, he explored the idea that special events could produce "an emission of singularities", that is, the sudden creation of a set of attractors and repellors. Thus in addition to "actual machines", there are two layers of "virtual machines" . The world of attractors (the first layer) defines the long-term tendencies of reality. The world of bifurcations modifies those tendencies and represents the source of creativity and variability in nature. (see de Landa p. 236 and Deleuze Logic of Sense)

mirror

mirror

In the tenth book of the Republic, Socrates differentiates the maker of an object, such as a bed, made in accordance with the Idea of the thing (this is its eidos or form) , from the artist, proceeding in a quick and easy fashion, as if using a mirror. But "What should a painting be called," asked Alberti, "except the holding of a mirror up to the original as in art?"

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orrery

orrery

An Orrery is a clocklike object which models the movements of the solar system. The orrery is often referred to as the paradigmatic embodiment of the Newtonian "clockwork"universe. Note that the orrery, like Newtonian time, could conceivably rotate in either direction. What was the origin of "clockwise" motion? Should we see it as one of those bifurcations that could equally have gone either way? Newton believed that from time to time the Creator had to interfere in the course of material processes in order to secure the normal progress against disturbances. Leibniz mocked this idea by asking him whether God had produced an imperfect mechanism

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path dependency

Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that the world would beat a path to the door of the maker of the better mousetrap, yet this is often not the case. Familiarity and custom make the accepted mousetrap seem "good enough," particularly if an effort is required to learn to use the new one. Group use accentuates individual acceptance. (cf. Rupert Sheldrakes concept of morphic fields

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printing

As Elizabeth Eisenstein points out in her study of Printing as an Agent of Social Change , the effect of printing on culture is generally ignored or considered to be so broad and self-evident that it is rarely studied, except by authors such as Marshall Macluhan, who she considers irresponsible. (see electronic media

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Prosthesis

Prosthesis

"Prosthetics: The castration complex raised to the level of an art form." J. G Ballard. "Nothing is more disembodied than Cyberspace. It is like having your everything amputated." --John Perry Barlow (former lyricist for the Grateful Dead, "electronic frontier" advocate, and major supporter of the Republican party)

The medical prosthesis was developed to replace amputated limbs (for which war is the great experiment and driving force) As Mark Wigley points out, "Prosthetic technology alternated between producing substitutes for the body parts that military weapons had destroyed and producing these very weapons." (p. 23) see Ambroise Paré , "A Supplement to the Defects in Man's Body" in Collected Works, Paris, 1579.

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railway

"If there had been no railway to conquer distances, my child would never have left his native town and I should need no telephone to hear his voice; if travelling accross the ocean by ship had not been introduced, my Friend would not have embarked on his sea-voyage and I should not need a cable to relieve my anxiety about him." (S. Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, p.35) Freud's family moved several times when he was a small child. As a result, he had a phobia of traveling by train which never altogether left him. 

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real time

The ironic nature of this concept is that real time is human subjective time. When we do not notice lags in communication, calculation, etc., we currently use the expression "in real time". But the reality of this time is simply a function of our motor habits, of the brief but real lags in our sensory systems, in our perceptions and neural activity. 

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