1 FIGURES OF UBICOMP: CONCEPTUALIZING AND COMPOSING ACTIONABLE MEDIA By JOHN TINNELL A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 John Tinnell
3 To Hutton
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like thank all of the amazing people in the English Department at the University of Florida, espe cially Greg Ulmer and Sid Dobrin everything I hope to achieve in my own. While I try to not follow his footsteps too obviously, I will always be seeking to further the insights and projects that his books so originally present. For me, Greg is among the masters that his motto gestures toward. Sid, perhaps more than anyone else, helped me come of age as a professional. Because of his constant encouragement and pinpoint advice, I felt as though I had made the transition from graduate stude nt to Assistant Professor before I even started my dissertation. It would have been inconceivable for me to complete this project in under a year without that level of confidence and support. The other two members of my committee, Laurie Gries and Jack Ste my writing to which I would otherwise still be blind. Jack voiced criticisms that I did not want to hear, which are the most important to hear. I thank my parents, emphatically, for their support and for doing what they are passionate about and always encouraging me to do the same. My mom has a very unique combination of unwavering determination and limitless generosity; I have relied on her lessons more than ever during the past year. My dad has always been brimming with ideas of all sorts, and many of my best ideas stem from conversations with him. Last but most of all I thank Kim, for her resilience, as a sounding board and a proofreader ; her patience, when I am in the zone; and her readiness to believe in me.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 9 2 THE SPECTER OF TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM ................................ ....... 19 The Humanistic Study of Media ................................ ................................ .............. 23 Technoge ................................ ............... 29 Orality Literacy Electracy ................................ ................................ ........................ 44 Toward a Grammatology of Ubicomp ................................ ................................ ..... 52 3 WRITING ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 58 The Technics of Writing ................................ ................................ .......................... 61 Sti egler and Derrida ................................ ................................ ................................ 63 Originary Technicity ................................ ................................ ................................ 65 Arche Writing ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 71 From the Lo gic of the Supplementarity to the History of the Supplement ............... 76 Grammatization and Grammatology ................................ ................................ ....... 86 Grammatization and Industrial Techni cs ................................ ................................ 90 The Grammatization of Real Time ................................ ................................ .......... 93 Grammatization as Method ................................ ................................ ..................... 98 Gram matization and Digital Rhetoric ................................ ................................ .... 102 4 UBICOMP: WRITING SPACES FOR THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY .............. 109 The Invention of Ubicomp ................................ ................................ ..................... 112 Beyond Mobility and Location ................................ ................................ ............... 131 The Space of Ubicomp ................................ ................................ ......................... 143 Beyond Digital Physical C onvergence ................................ ................................ .. 158 5 ACTIONABLE MEDIA: FROM WIMP TO ATLAS ................................ ................. 169 Introducing Actionable Media ................................ ................................ ................ 172 Techno Geographic Actant Networks ................................ ................................ ... 180 Figures ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 191 Layers: As Technocultural Category ................................ ................................ ..... 195 Layers: As Actionable Media Practice; or, Computing and Writing En Plein Air ... 208
6 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 237 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 245
7 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy FIGURES OF UBICOMP: CONCEPTUALIZING AND COMPOSING ACTIONABLE MEDIA By John Tinnell May 2013 Chair: Gregory L. Ulmer Major: English Since the rise of ubiquitous computing (ubicomp), a growing contingency of scholars from various fields have all attested to the need for new critical categories to help us understand the ways in which digital data now interlocks with physical space. Responding to this need, I propose five rhetorical figures specific to ubicomp interfaces, an d, on the basis of these figures, attempt to outline a whole new class of media emerging at the margins of social, mobile, and locative media. For instance, GPS navigation devices are mobile and locative, but these qualities do not begin to account for the multimedia in response to) the actions of human and environmental actants in real time. My term for this emerging set of technologies and techniques is actionable media Dra describes the compelling ways media can be designed to hinge upon what we are doing while we are doing it In more theoretical terms, drawing on Bernard grammatiza tion, actionable media concerns the modalities by which the flux of the Web gets broken down into gramme for acting upon in real time, as well as the processes by which media break down the continuous movements of actant networks into networked
8 gramme Tak ing GPS navigation, RFID tags, and AR browsers as paradigmatic examples of actionable media, I ask how we might extrapolate from these commonplace scenarios to imagine further possibilities for digital writing and audiovisual media that fully exploit the f eatures of ubicomp platforms. Throughout the work, I comment specifically on actionable media practices implicit in innovative projects done by digital artists, writers, and cultural institutions around the world. Ultimately, I argue that the value of ubic omp projects coincides with their potential to perform in t he capacity of actionable media. T hat is, while the technical phenomena associated with mobile devices, geoinformation, and digital physical convergence are often astonishing at first glance; the h istorical worth of these basic mechanics will have been measured by the advent of compelling cultural practices that we are just beginning to glimpse.
9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION paradigma tic horizon of current innovations in mobile media, locative networks, wearable devices, augmented reality, and smart objects. As an umbrella term, ubiquitous computing (ubicomp) typically signifies the onset a third wave in the history of the modern compu ter. Ubiquitous systems promise to break from the PC era and the models of computing that defined it, creating as many new possibilities and new problems as the shift from mainframe computers to PCs initiated during the 1980s. By virtue of this pending tra nsition, the Internet is also said to be entering a third stage often referred to as Web 3.0. Commentators who forecast this scenario which many people are already starting to experience claim that the Web will be all around us, always on and accessib le vi a smartphones, tablets, televisions cars, and many other everyday items. No humanities scholar can deny the profound changes undergone in the study of writing, rhetoric, and media in the wake of personal computing and Web 2.0. In the midst of societies ch aracterized by permanent technological innovation, many leading scholars are variously engaged in building theories of the present. They share an aim to understand current digital developments in reference to existing disciplinary terms in order to specula te on the language of new media the rhetoric of Web writing or the culture of digital tools Another common endeavor is to comment on the transformation of traditional spheres of practice in the digital age (e.g., democracy, journalism, literature, cinem a, economics, ethnography, historiography, surveillance, and so on). Each year of the new millennium has contributed even more new devices and software
10 than the previous year, and every year more humanities scholars turn at least some of their attention to the digital. We have amassed a wealth of vital research dealing with the cultural and rhetorical implications of digital media qua personal computing and Web 2.0. While this kind of research will of course remain relevant, some scholars currently generati ng theories of the present are now turn ing to the unique affordances of ubicomp, conceptualizing it as a technocultural paradigm in its own right. Ubicomp, as Mark Weiser made clear, seeks to do much more than simply extend personal computing. Pioneering u bicomp in the early 1990s, Weiser and his collogues at Xerox PARC prototyped entirely new categories of mobile, wearable, and embedded devices designed to bring the virtuality of computation into the physical world. The smartphones and tablets that dominat all conceptually bound to the tabs pads and boards 1991 st opposition to the virtual reality of the desktop screen, spec ifically the demands the latter makes of people: to stop whatever activities they might otherwise be engaged in, in order to interact stationary and isolated with clunky and conspicuous computers via specialized commands and technical jargon. Instead, Weis er envisions fluid networks of hundreds of tiny computers sometimes hidden from plain view that perform operations in response to a certain set of movements and behaviors. As suc h, computing comes to function in the bac kground of everyday life: objects bec ome smart objects, and environments become smart environments. Smart environments sustain a real time feedback loop based on sensing and actuating; for example, when a sensor embedded into a door identifies authorized personnel by tracking a microchip
11 embe dded in their wearable ID badge, the data processed by the sensor prompts or actuates a programmed action: in this case, unlocking and opening the door when authorized personnel approach. In such cases, computational media syncs with the action of humans a nd other actants, perform ing actions in response to real time activity come to interact less with personal computers (conspicuous desktops and laptops) as more everyday objects come to possess computing capabilities. Ultimately, the rise of ubicomp beckons parallel developments in the ways we understand and create new media projects. If we aim to write and design for ubiquitous platforms, we must attend to their most characteristic p rocesses. Since the turn of the century, many scholars writing about mobile and locative technologies have agreed that the most transformative aspect of the ubicomp paradigm is the unprecedented degree of interlocking occurring between networked media and physical space. Several descriptors for this phenomenon continue to circulate among current scholarship: augmented space, hybrid space, scripted space, physical computing, digital physical convergence, and augmented reality. While no term is ever perfect, these terms are hardly adequate. For instance, nearly all of the scholarly explications of these terms rely on constructions that pair the digital and the physical, in order to indicate a continuum or merger between the two realms, effectively signifying b y means of the very opposition supposed to be supplanted or obsolesced by the phenomenon in question In other words, whenever critics appeal to concepts like hybridity or augmentation to name the kind of space that emerges in the wake of so called digital physical convergence, they inevitable reinforce the categories of an ontology that divides nature from culture,
12 technology from society, media from materiality, and supplements from subjectivity. One could argue that it is precisely this quality that make s such terms useful, at least in a transitional sense. Articulating the new phenomenon through a paradoxical reconciliation of an established binary opposition at least calls attention to the the reconciled binary puts its own conceptual limits on display as it retains a long list of inherent contradictions. At best, the reconciled binary is a discursive placeholder, beckoning the invention of a new term. My project proposes a new term: actio nable media Drawing on the military can be designed to hinge upon what we are doing while we are doing it That is, more precisely, the modalities by which the flux of the Web gets broken down into gramme for acting upon in real time on location, as well as the processes by which media break down the continuous movements of actant networks into networked gramme Actionable media, in this sense, names the situations of ub icomp emerging at the margins of mobile and locative media and the critical discussions that center around those terms. My approach can be understood as an effort of grammatology, which essentially aims to theorize emerging media parallel to the history a nd theory of writing (broadly conceived to include acts of technical inscription like painting and cinema). A growing number of leading scholars across the humanities today are invoking the term and positioning their inquiries at the intersection of alphab etic writing and digital media. Leading the way, the recent philosophical writings of Bernard Stiegler effectively revive
13 the central concerns of a litany of grammatological thinkers during the 1960s to the 1980s: classicists and historians of writing ( e.g ., Leroi Gourhan, Havelock, Goody), French philosophers and literati associated with Tel Quel ( e.g., Derrida, Barthes, Kristeva), and North American media theorists ( e.g., Ong, McLuhan, Ulmer). that time, memory, and modes of economic and political organization are all cultural techniques constituted in conjunction with the technical evolution of organized inorganic matter. History, for period becomes defined by its processes of grammatization. Grammatization involves down the flux of speech into a finite system of recog nizable characters that are, on the one hand, iterable and modular, and on the other hand, capable of orthographic stability basis of incremental stages informing the gen eral course from early, preliterate writing to digitization processes that constitute ubicomp the emerging stage of the digital supplement. I aim to theorize these processes as rh etorical figures for conceptualizing and composing actionable media. Throughout the work, I also specify actionable media practices apparent in a number of contemporary digital art projects, as well as cutting edge projects managed by civic and cultural in stitutions around the world. Chapter Outline. With the study of new media and the rate of technological change both increasing at unprecedented rates, the question of techno human relations
14 has become a major issue in theoretical discourse across the human ities. Many scholars are starting to become more aware of the assumptions and first principles that define our conceptions of technology and its status relative to biological and cultural evolution. Moreover, media theorists and writing theorists are start ing to identify and think critically about the correlation between our theories of techno human relations and our respective approaches to the study of media, new and old, from digital computing to alphabetic writing. Just as specific technologies create s pecific affordances, certain conceptions of technology support certain ways of studying media. Chapter 2 examines several enthymematic appeals concerning techno human relations that have circulated from the modest institutional growth of media studies to t he arrival of digital humanities from technological determinism to contemporary technogenesis. After conception of technogenesis, I turn to the field of grammatology, part icularly the recent work of Bernard Stiegler, for an alternative account of technics and techno human relations. relevance for contemporary research on new media and digital rhetor ic. Premised upon the Derridean notions of originary technicity and the logic of the supplement, grammatization offers a highly nuanced theory of techno human relations, which breaks from the static, ontological opposition of humani ty and technology that still haunts other accounts. Technicity stands as the essential dimension negotiated the grounds and horizons of our becoming, in accidental increm ents.
15 Moreover, the historical framework that Stiegler constructs on the basis of epochs of grammatization creates an orthographic continuum along which one may theorize digital media parallel to key moments in the evolution of alphabetic writing, industri al machines, and other landmark grammatization processes. Finally, I explicate the significance of this approach relative to other process terms in new media studies (e.g., s uniquely equipped to support inquiry into the most unprecedented aspects of ubicomp. Chapter 4 describes ubicomp as a process of grammatization and as an emerging stage in the history of digital culture. First, because recent humanities scholarship tends to reduce the ubicomp to mobile devices, contemporary theorists as a technology and a discourse technocultural para of personal c omputing, his subtle allegiance with existential phenomenology, and the crucial ways in which he regarded alphabetic writing as the ideal medium to orient the future of computing. Next, I consider what has been, by far, the most sustained line of inquiry i nto ubicomp within the arts and humanities disciplines. Since 2004, architectural and cultural theorists interested in the transformation of urban environments have formulated a series of related concepts intended to explain the spatiality of ubicomp (digi tal ground, augmented space, hybrid space, scripted space, etc.). Now that
16 technologies (and more ubicomp prototypes in development), new media scholars are quick to declare th e convergence digital data and physical space. And yet, the majority and multimedia production only to the extent that these technologies and techniques reconfigure soc ial space. In other words, while scholars congeal around the idea that ubicomp produces a new kind of space, very little work attends to the grammatological constitution of ubicomp interfaces, and even less addresses the question of how to produce multimed ia for the writing spaces of ubicomp. Furthermore, before I take up these two issues in chapter 5 these spatial characterizations of ubicomp so consistently rely. I point out the c onceptual contradictions evident in such constructions, but also, more importantly, I argue that so called digital physical convergence does not actually emphasize the most exciting and unique affordances realized in the most compelling ubicomp projects: t he grammatization processes of multi media designed to hinge upon the action of actants in real time. I propose, in C hapter 5 that media theorists and digital rhetoricians need to invent new categories and figures commensurate to ubicomp interfaces. We ca n no longer rely solely on models inherited from personal computing and the desktop windows, icons, menus, pointers has served as an essential framework for understanding and learning to navigate the gra phical user interface. Examining numerous contemporary post desktop apps, tags, layers, actuators, and sensors. The transition from WIMP to ATLAS, which I contextualize with analogies
17 drawn from the hi story of writing, highlights the rise of what I call actionable media an avant garde array of technocultural practices emerging at the margins of social, mobile, notion o f a techno geographic milieu, actionable media qua sensors and tags sync with the actions of actants, effectively assigning a variety of rhetorical and/or aesthetic operations to the real time movements of humans, non humans, and even geographical flux. Ad ditionally, actionable media qua apps, layers, and actuators break down the flux of the Web to suit experience economies specific to particular situated actions. After outlining the ATLAS framework and actionable media in general, I give an in depth discus sion of layers, which is intended to suggest how each of the ATLAS terms may serve as a critical category and a rhetorical figure Finally I address the question of how we (e.g., scholars, artists, students, cultural organizations) might design, compose and write for layer projects. Two broad areas hold special promise for arts and humanities faculty looking to formulate a preliminary set of rhetorical and aesthetic principles to help orient multimedia production in the age of ubicomp. We can assemble su ch principles from cutting edge practices apparent in contemporary digital artworks and groundbreaking public exhibits curated by cultural institutions, as well as from relevant avant garde movements in select artistic, literary, and cinematic traditions. To illustrate this approach, I perform a comparative study of recent augmented reality (AR) projects and French impressionist painting at the end of the nineteenth century. Impressionists painters, spurred on by mobile inventions like paint tubes and the b ox easel, developed the first aesthetic systematically tailored around painting en plein air Similarly, AR beckons artists, writers, and designers to
18 create multi media projects that break with the logic of the studio and the lab: the virtual reality (VR) paradigm that has dominated popular computing since the 1990s. Beyond the en plein air analogy, I identify several aspects of the impressionist aesthetic (e.g., techniques of observation and principles of composition ) that are helpful for emphasizing the u surface of inscription from the VR paradigm. By way of conclusion, I suggest several other avenues of research for this comparative mode of generating actionable media practices tailored around other iter ations of ATLAS that p ervade contemporary mediascapes.
19 CHAPTER 2 THE SPECTER OF TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM Throughout the twentieth century, media theorists had to exercise caution when writing about the social, cultural, and existential impac ts of technology. On one hand, such impacts were becoming increasingly apparent as each succeeding decade saw more frequent and more staggering advances population than the last. From radio to the Internet, entirely new med iums cropped up on a regular basis, each of them being upgraded if not reinvented constantly. Few people who lived through it would deny the magnitude of this technological change and the differences it made in their lives. And yet, on the other hand, perh aps even fewer people especially humanities scholars regarded media and communication technology as anything more than tools that, though powerful when used effectively, held no agency or effectivity on their own. If societies transformed in the midst of n ew technology, it was because people had used technology as a means to help them achieve various anthropocentric ends, for better or worse. Such attitudes are flagrant in the critical reception of now canonical works of media theory. For instance, while Marshall McLuhan declared media to be the artificial extensions of the human sensorium, his writings frequently hinged upon phrases and constructions implying the technological modification of humanity. One continues to be struck by his shorthand typology humanity (as object) toward certain ends ( 50). Statements like these became cited by detractors as the basis for objections to his entire oeuvre and the
20 work of related thinkers objections that entire disciplines recited as a universal justification to ignore such arguments. Th e name for these objections was technological determinism. The tradition of objecting to various media theories in the name of technological determinism persists as a stand on behalf of humanity, a habitual refusal of any frameworks that suggest an inkli ng of technocracy or the idea of machines c hurning to the clank of their metal. At its core, technological determinism relies on a polarization between humans and technology. In this respect, it is a concept that reflects most The Phaderus episteme and techne in Nicomachean Ethics Discourse on the Origins of Inequality Several consistencies of this tradition can be traced. A finite set of qualities, capacities, values, drives, and desires (e.g., spirituality, reason, empathy) are thought proper or even innate to human beings These virtues and tendencies constitute which though circumstance may demand the aid of tools and other technical guises can only be tarnished or ill represented by artificial supplements. Artificial supplements (e.g., writing, weapons, farming tools) are therefore discarded from the study of nature and self examination, as they are but the inferior exterior shadows of the superior interior life of the mind and other transcendental forces. Humans, perhaps through divine inspiration, invent technologies in the ir own image; a technology is a mech anical extension of some human capacity designed as a means to help people achieve their own ends, effectively enlarging the power and
21 character of their own wills without fundamentally altering them. Agency lies resolutely on the side of human consciousne ss. The tool sits passive and inert, with no ontological import of its own, owing its material existence to a creator. From this vantage point, evocations of the technological determinism objection serve as a defense mechanism to guard against the loss of human agency, human nature, and human values. Any attribution of ontological or social influence to the materiality or techno logics of media and communication technology is consequently viewed as a loss from the human, in the manner of a zero sum game. Th is kind of framing yields the popular dystopian visions of futures in which technical machines operate and evolve without regard for human suffering, or futures where machines have developed autonomous sources of artificial intelligence that enable them to aggressively control and exploit humans, thus marking a new, horrific stage of the master slave dialectic. determinism evident in his portrait of computerized society perhaps best represents the dystopian nightmares still looming over current media innovations. Kittler aptly scrutinizes a decisive shift manifest in the transition from ninetieth century media (e .g., gramophone, film, typewriter) to the modern computer. He does not lament over technological determinism in general, which he acknowledges as a principle ncerting gap emerging, at the time of his writing, between human perception and machinic processing. Whereas these earlier modes of technical recording operated on an analog basis that captured and transmitted media by techniques that mimicked human percep tion and thus remained legible to us, the onset
22 systems designed to be processed and acted upon by machines, while remaining incomprehensible if not utterly alien to the va st majority of human readers. For Kittler, this technical scenario can only mean trouble for the political relations that had constituted power and social exchange throughout modernity. How could anything on the level of a public sphere survive when citize ns are no longer able to participate in let alone understand the primary social apparatus? Surely, forecasting the limits of this trajectory, authority would transfer exclusively to the few technologists able to instruct the apparatus, if not eventually to the digital machines themselves. Kittler is, of course, not alone in his diagnosis. At least until the rise of personal computers in the 1980s, technological determinism commanded two major lines of thought concerning the question of media technologie s and their limited study across the humanities. As a common objection, it fortified a faith in humanity in spite of rapid technological innovation and adoption that might otherwise suggest human dependence on or deferral to the increasingly awesome powers of technical objects. Moreover, as a dystopian inevitability technological determinism embodied the devil of an impending hell on earth an (un)becoming of man after the anticipated fall into machinic technocracy. The humanistic objection generally fed of f of anxieties induced by dystopian visions, in an effort to reinforce a critical resistance to not only new technology but also more aggressively to retain a worldview in which human culture presides distinctly over technical evolution.
23 The Humanistic St udy of Media Theoretical discourse on historical and contemporary media, which now reverberates across a wide range of more traditional humanities fields, has long been searching for a transdisciplinary enthymeme in the specter of technological determinism which we may now remember as the founding challenge that long bracketed technology from more established disciplinary concerns. The institutional growth of media studies in the recent past can be attributed to crucial work of the first premised upon a dialectical master slave portrayal of techno human relations and just as crucially, problematized the habitus by which scholars justified their routine neglect of technological matters in favor of issues that were p resumably more meaning ful from a social, cultural, or human standpoint. In other words, these early critics forged a place for the humanistic study of media by refuting technological determinism as an ill founded concept and as an ill founded objection to Techniques of the Observer attests to th e intellectual tension facing humanities scholars who wrote about technology while media studies was in its infancy as an academic field, especially in American higher education. The book considers the history of vision during the early nineteenth century, and Crary ultimately argues that this pe the way in which an observer was figured in a wide range of social practices and account of this transformation. Furthermore, he presents several of these devices (e.g., the camera obscura, the stereoscope) as critical
24 emblems suggestive of p articular techniques of o bservation that prevailed in a respective century. At a crucial point in laying out his methodology, however, Crary takes a preemptive stand against readers who may mistake him for a technological determinist. Here, Crary insists that technologies are simply material objects; he pins their significance on the Foucaultian premise that they act as vital site s of power/knowledge relations. Referencing his own position, Crary launches into a critique of historical narratives that, in his view, over emphasize the role of technological change: Clearly, this is to counter many influential ac counts of the history of photography and cinema that are characterized by a latent or explicit technological determinism, in which an independent dynamic of mechanical invention, modification, and perfection imposes itself onto a social field, transforming it from the outside. On the contrary, technology is always a concomitant or subordinate part of other forces. (8) Hence, if technology seems to play a major role in social and ontological transformations, it does so only in the capacity of a vehicle that is actually driven and Lacking any internal drives or logics, technologies observe or conform to anthropocentric conventions, ideas, and practices. Such were the early enthymematic arguments for negotiating the humanistic study these kind of cautious, qualifying statements. He posits that the camera obscura obs necessarily defines an observer as isolated, enclosed, and autonomous within its dark ve capacities of new technologies.
25 With rise of media studies as an autonomous intellectual discipline, leading ical determinism. For instance, persistent linkage between the rise of printing and t he cultural pedagogy of Ramism. byproducts of the more fundamental history of Western att cultural change associated with Ramism, and that the mechanisms of printing were but is hard pressed to square up writing (as a technology) restructures consciousness. Indeed, in cases like t his the evident pressure felt by commentators to clear media theor ies from all charges of technological determinism ultimately seems to create more confusion than clarity. The radical reconfiguration of techno human relations loses acquiescence of disciplinary norms. Johns that communication technologies restructure the epistemological basis of cultural practices (which is no doubt a point of emphasis in Ramus ) in the anticipation that this thesis would be brushed aside for its perceived resemblance to the determinism polemic.
26 To consider a more recent example, in introducing their 2010 collection Critical Terms for Media Studies as they aim to justify the unprecedented scope and consequence he attributed to media: Because he portrayed the media as technical devices that interacted with the human sensorium, the physical world, and the sphere of social life, [McLuhan] has often been truth his more common strategy was to examine the complex dialectics of This apology for McLuhan becomes an occasion for Mitchell and Hansen to present a broaden e d notion of media, which at once speaks to particular historical mediums and to the existential condition of mediation at the core of human becoming. Under this framework, to discuss the importance of media is to address the human question; how can technol ogy be thought to determine the fate of humanity if human being is already and inescapably enmeshed in technical systems? As I suggested above, we might understand the necessity to overcome the technological determinism objection and the conception of tech nology that it implies as the central challenge endemic to the intellectual institutional establishment of media studies as a humanities discipline. As the insights of media studies continue to be taken up by scholars in more traditional disciplines, those discip lines often change the way they regard technology relative to more established objects of study (history, rhetoric, literature, etc.). Furthermore, in addition to reconsidering the importance of technology, scholars from fields that previously disre garded media are marshaling the resources unique to their disciplines in a collective effort to invigorate the transdisciplinary study of media, in all of its historical and contemporary forms.
27 Now, even deeper in the midst of societies characterized by p ermanent technological innovation, many scholars across the humanities are variously engaged in building theories of the present. They share an aim to understand current digital developments in terms of existing disciplinary terms in order to speculate on the language of new media (Manovich), the rhetoric of new media (Brooke), or the culture of digital tools (Hawk et al.). Another common endeavor is to comment on the transformation of traditional spheres of practice in the digital age (e.g., democracy, jo urnalism, literature, cinema, economics, ethnography, historiography, surveillance, and so on). Each year of the new millennium has contributed even more new devices and software than the previous year, and every year more humanities scholars turn at least some of their attention to the digital. With the study of new media and the rate of technological change both increasing at an unprecedented rate, the question of techno human relations has become a major issue in theoretical discourse. We are starting t o become more aware of the assumptions and first principles that define our conception of technology and its status relative to biological and cultural evolution. Moreover, we are starting to identify and think critically about the correlation between our theories of techno human relations and our respective approaches to the study of media, new and old, from digital computing to alphabetic writing. Just as specific technologies create specific affordances, certain conceptions of technology support certain ways of studying writing, media, and culture. Judging from the present state of the field, technological determination, this once uber valid objection, appears to be approaching the status of a logical fallacy. Its
28 grounding assumptions are being unearthe d and ruthlessly interrogated by scholars in various disciplines, many of whom align their research with posthumanism and/or the digital humanities. While the average self respecting humanist of the twentieth century might have worried that the computeriza tion of society would lead to man versus machine conflicts like those dramatized in The Terminator or The Matrix a growing body of scholarship now assert s the inherently technological dimension of culture, as if it were already a routine matter. Assertion technological terms regularly factor into pop ular descriptions of contemporary revolutions: the computer revolution, the digital age, government 2.0, the Twitter revolution, etc. Even the most technophobic of scholars now acknowledge that techno human relations have always been much more intricate th an any invocation of on networked society suggest the palpable sense of tiresomeness with which many thinkers now seem to regard this suddenly outdated perspective: Technology does not determine society Nor does society script the course of technological change, since many factors, including individual inventiveness and entrepreneurialism, intervene in the process of scientific discovery, technical innovation and social applications, so the final outcome depends on a complex pattern of interaction. Indeed the dilemma of technological determinism is probably a false problem, since technology is society and society cannot be understood without its technological tools (5) variety of fields. Today, with the humanistic study of media alive and thriving, a transdisciplinary enthymeme seems to have arrived: technogenesis In her book How We Thi nk: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis N. Katherine Hayles
29 paleontologists, psychol ogists, and philosophers who all marshal their respective disciplinary resources to support the idea that humans and technology co evolve. In the context of the humanities, especially in the specter of the historical sentiments outlined above, technogenesi s functions discursively as a new theoretical enthymeme, in that it buttresses the research agendas of scholars seeking to incorporate the study of new technology into their research on more traditional areas of inquiry such as epistemology, subjectivity, or cultural politics. In this sense, we may understand technogenesis as a dialogical moment of synthesis ushering the field past the master slave dialectic of technological determinism. Building off her previous work on distributed cognition and embodiment, Hayles points to scientific studies of embedded and extended cognition in order to suggest that (98). As case in point in contemporary technogenesis, one of her primary theses about the impact of digital media is that our regular use of these technologies is changing the ways we read texts. For Hayles, close reading is a technologically and institutionally situated practice i possible and literacy education cultivates. The proliferation of audiovisual electronic media and digital networks are fostering a n which correspond to hyper rea ding strategies rooted in scanning and skimming, sometimes with computer aided searches (i.e., machine reading). Hayles views hyper reading as a necessary adaptive response to information intensive digital environments. She
30 concludes that close, hyper, and mobilization of technogenesis at releva nt points below Here, it is important to note the correspondence she draws between technological evolution and human evolution, particularly her fetishization of human attention as the ultimate site of techno human of the term technogenesis regularly connotes the co evolution of humans and technics, doing so with an apparent neglect of the to the human. That said, while she is cl early not the first proponent of technogenesis as work sometimes as truncated syllogisms in recent media theory and research in composition and rhetoric, such that commo nalities among these related fields are now more apparent, including overlapping insights and assumptions about techno human relations. Emblematic of the technogenetic dialogic departing from the master slave dialectic of technological determisism Lev Man evolution of humans and technology in the digital age. On the one hand, hardwar e and software underg o continuous transformation as cultural artifact s within societies committed to permanent innovation, and this innovation is often orien ted by interface metaphors bo rrowed from cultural artifacts that precede digital computing (e.g., d esktop, file, database). Once
31 transcoded into the computer layer, however, these figures take on a new digital life and upply new cultural logics, as in the case of Language 47). Also grappling with the relationship between technology and culture in the late 1990s, Steven Johnson bout the elements of modern interface design as though they were the cultural equivalents of a Dickens novel, a Welles film, [or] a imbued with the promise of humanistic signific ance; our scholarly and pedagogical task is to bridge the gap between our traditions of interpretation and composition and the new technologies of cultural production. interfa ces what Roland Barthes did for the dominant media of his era; among other pursuits, Barthes asked af ter the rhetoric of the advertis ing images that had come to propagate every channel of communication, and he meticulously analyzed the film stills of Serge i Eisenstein as if they were the paintings of a great master. In retrospect, the famous notion of the punctum Technics and Time 2 18 9). Moreover, changing consciousness calls for a changing the humanistic study o f emerging media is to identify and articulate how changing technologies change consciousness, and by extension, the social and existential
32 p redictions and aprs coup historical investigations. Scholars who study writing and rhetoric have also been keen to theorize the co distributed cognition. Often citi inherit technological dimension to both of these phenomenon as they model authorship based ideology of close reading, rhetorician Collin Brooke contends that authorship and rhetorical invention are much more networked activities than traditionally purported by composition theories that anchor writing in the intentional processes of individual writers. Moving away from ex pressivism and process pedagogy, Brooke refers to changes evident in digital writing technologies and, on the basis of these changes, he of digital networks, where the erasure of the print based separation of author and reader facilitates the creation of media ecologies in which users co produce aspects of the interface as they encounter it. Brooke suggest s (amidst) dynamic interfaces for hermeneutic closure manifest in thesis driven approaches to invention is tied to the discursive ec onomy of print in the same way that Hayles ties close reading to the deep attention economy of print. Thesis writing and close reading are not made obsolete in digital environments, of course, but from Brooke and Hayles one gathers that contemporary interf aces reveal the technological foundations of rhetoric and reading,
33 and that the shift from print to digital media must be accompanied by critical reflections, validations, and developments of alternative methods for engaging with texts, images, audio, vide o, and code. writing technologies in terms of the profound role they play in the production of subjectivity and the (re)formation of consciousnes s and cognition. Reid states, echnologies expand my cognitive functions, or more accurately they expand and shape functioning; thought occurs only through being in the world, amidst the pervasive medium of th e lived body. Acts of perception and communication yield further materials of media and instances of mediation. Being is thus always in the middle of things the body, writing technologies, archives, audiovisual equipment, etc. One thinks and senses only by means of various media. Reid criticizes scholarship on writing and rhetoric that composition as embodied, material processes (7). In retaining a mind/body split and teachin g writing as an internal process, the traditional scope of composition studies bars itself from ever accounting for what Reid clearly presents as the co evolution of writing technologies and human consciousness. Reid insists that, even after engaging postm for the radical exteriorization of the subject or the rhizomatic distribution of the r proponents of distributed cognition, the philosophical notions of the disembodied mind (e.g., the Cartesian cogito ) have become something of a cultural historical optical
34 frag mentary process incorporating multiple mechanisms that are both internal and Gregory Ulmer contend that this seemingly natural form of identity experience the isolated, ind ividual self is and has always been hand in glove with the development of alphabetic writing, literacy, and print cultures. In this sense, distributed cognition as a theoretical framework seems to be consistent with the organizational logic of the network, which has steadily manifest as a pervasive ideational basis for institutional relations and social practices over the course of the twentieth century. More recently, the spread of technogenetic theories of techno human relations has enabled scholars wit hin composition and rhetoric to wage decisive critiques of the critiques, as will become clear below, resonate with arguments made by theory driven digital humanists aga inst the instrumentalist stance of current work in humanities determinant in the evolution of the human and Postcomposition 71). Emphasizing the latter part of this equation, which displaces humans from the master role in the traditional dialectic, thus encourages us to attribute a substantial degree of ontological autonomy to techno logy. While technologies obviously depend on the acts of human initiative that organize them into being, technologies in turn reconfigure the material conditions of the world beyond human concerns; the general consequentiality of technology cannot be measu red only in terms of its anthropocentric use value.
35 And yet, for Hansen, many modern and contemporary philosophers continue to means of historicizing theoretical claims, of stamping them with the indelible mark of Technesis 71). A case in point here would be Sigmund treating recording technologies as extensions o f human capacities, saw the Mystic Pad as a solution to a material problem that had long plagued writing technologies (which he thought of as memory aids). Whereas practically all prior surfaces for writing either retain permanent traces at the expense of being receptive to future traces (e.g., stone) or receive unlimited traces at the expense of preserving any traces permanently (e.g., ready receptive surface and permanent traces of the notes that have been m 10). After making this initial connection, Freud proceeds to discuss the technology of the Mystic Pad only to the degree that it ser ves to illustrate his conceptual model of the psyche. Hence, technology is invoked to illustrate and perhaps attach a sense of contemporary relevance to a theorization of an allegedly non technical set of interior, mental processes. We see this exact te ndency at work in much scholarship dealing with new media in the context of composition and rhetoric. Over the past several years, scholars in the media. That the term rout inely occupies the title of conference panels, books, and of
36 the pragmatic equivalent of digital media or n ew media, which both seem to leave too loose a relation to writing. Contrary to this trajectory, we might regard digital tools scholarship not as a topic or object of study but as a position with regards to that object a certain way (and certainly not the only way) of occupying digital media. Emblematic of digital tools scholarship, the 2010 collection Digital Tools in Composition Studies their relationship to various composing processe Walker and Hawk ix). As the editors introduce the collection, they claim that one of the more provocative goals of digital tools research is to conduct a theoretical investigation on how the of a particular tool affects the use r. Given the terms by which the human technology the essays in the collection actually articulate how writers or writing becomes transformed in digital writing environments. The human writing subject, as a user of digital tools, is treated as a fairly stable foundation; tools may affect the user to a itself a narro w construct. In this sense, the user is always more or less the same user, since the term tool maintains a safe distance between the subjectivity of the user and the operations of a given writing technology. More often than not, the essays create a dialo gue between certain technical features relevant to their pedagogical use of a digital tool and certain themes from various institutionalized rhetorical traditions, all in teachers a fe w pedagogical tips on how to realize that value in their own composition courses.
37 In the grips of this logic, the primary means for considering and evaluating digital media consists in asking how common uses of a given program or application promote commo n rhetorical theories and conventional pedagogical aims. At least one condition for the digital tool mode of embracing digital media becomes evident here: the digital rhet orical theories with which many compositionists are already fluent, and thus in turn strengthen the case for the institutional preservation/expansion of composition and rhetoric into the twenty first century. In this respect, digital tools scholarship is a n exercise in technesis; the digital becomes reified as an array of Mystic Writing Pads whose value is measured by the degree to which it serves to illustrate and add contemporary legitimacy to institutionalized rhetorics. For example, the explicit thesi Digital Tools in Composition Studies is that MOO programming should be taught in writing courses because it satisfies the pedagogical agenda of current traditionalist rhetoric ( i.e., the Scottish School). For current traditi onalists, good writing is writing that conveys the mind. Programming demands this current traditionalist brand of good writing, so much so that any deviation from the conventions of computer logic is not even recognized by the computer as writing (Dorwick 83). In subjecting programming to the litmus test of current traditionalist rhetoric, however, Dorwick assimilates the digital so as to render it amenable to familiar constructs such as the rhetorical triangle. In his depiction, the scene of digital writing differs little from previous rhetorical situations. The computer is
38 the au dig ital writing actually appears to shelter students from some of the most profound transformations occurring in digital writing environments. Most obviously, the current linear potentialitie s of hypertext and multimedia authoring, which has inspired much innovative work in digital rhetoric and media theory. And by valorizing the skill required in the act of programming over the e ffectivity of the programm e d artifact Dorw ick keeps the scene of writing centered around alphanumeric text keeping images, audio, and video at the margins rhetorical situations of computer programming any sense of a public whatsoever. The scene of writing inscribed by the essay centers on the electronic writing space without even acknowledging the rhetorical ecologies of hypertextual networks. essay embraces aspects of digital media in the image of institutionalized rhetorics, under the condition that the act of writing remain anchored in a Cartesian or enlightenment view of the subject. Indeed, Dobrin observes that tendencies like these pervade the field: One of the failures of composition studies in recognizing the significance of the role of (information) technologies upon subjectivity is its continued adherence to ideas that writing technologies are somehow independent of subjectivity and tha t they serve as functioning tools for the production a nd distribution of writing. (72, my emphasis) writing within the interiority of the individual subject and to define it as a disembodied, prediscursive, and non technical process. By asserting the primacy of the individual
39 writer/user by clinging to the augmentation model of techno human relations digital tools scholarship endorses an instrumental view of writing that seems to be incapable of registering the dissolving border that (supposedly) once separated humans and technology. Dobrin argues that the emergent developments of our posthuman age call for nothing short of a paradigm shift in writing studies, and par focus not upon the individual as producer/originator of writing, but upon the complex systems in which the posthuman is located, endlessly bound in the fluidity and shiftiness Federica Frabetti establishes a critical link between writing and technology, as she attests to the importance of theories of both to current digital humanities debates. According to Frabetti, most digital humanities scholarship over the past decade has neglected theories of technology, and few share (much less understand) the perspective summed up in the notion technogenesis rhythms of human experience, acting as the generat ive tissue within which horizons of our becoming manifest. (I e xplicate this concept at length in C hapter 3 on Bernard Stiegler.) Instead, the bulk of digital humanists are driven by quantification (mining data in order to identify patterns on a massive sc ale), visualization (crafting representations of trends and findings for apprehension at a glance), and instrumentalization (building modern humanities, endorsed a sep aration of techne and episteme (granting the theoretical study of epistemology/knowledge superiority over the practical arts involving technologies/crafts), the humanities computing contingent of digital humanists clearly
40 advocates and practices an inversi on of Aristotle: they engage digitality in terms of techne at the expense of episteme emergent institutional space of the digital humanities offers a chance to rethink techno human relations in accordance with a reconfiguration of techne and episteme That is, we counter the traditional neglect of techne in favor of episteme not by a swift reversal (i.e., techne at the expense of episteme ), but by a thoroughgoing deconstruction of their very opposition. Furthermore, we can elaborate, as Frabetti begins to, a rigorous network of historical and theoretical connections between the deconstructive analysis of philosophy's neglect of technology and the expansion erasure of writing at the heart of the grammatolo gic he devaluation of technology in Western technology, perha ps the prototypical technology, along with fire Hence, the history and theory of wr iting constitutes a broadly insi ghtful vehicle for moving beyond or at least elsewhere than humanities computing, as well as the digital tools scholarship in composition and rhetoric. For Frabetti, The question to be posed at this point is: if digital tec hnologies exceed and destabilize the concept of instrumentality, do they not also destabilize the concept of writing? And what would the consequences of such a destabilization be for the digital humanities? (4) In order to seriously consider the question the concept of writing, one would need to account for the concepts and institutional processes by which the concept of writing has been stabilized in various eras. Derrida has of course done much work on the wa y philosophers and linguists stabilized writing by condemning it along the phonocentric leanings of the metaphysics of presence. One
41 could continue this work by examining the disciplinary formation of composition studies in the mid to late twentieth centur y, namely how compositionists have used rhetorical theory to stabilize an institutional conception of writing across American higher education, in the face of rapid technological change. While the large scope of this institutional critique is beyond my t heoretical focus here, one can see how digital tools scholarship stabilizes the concept of writing in the image of certain rhetorical traditions, just as humanities computing strives to maintain an instrumental relationship with digital media by building t ools designed to augment humanistic inquiry on traditional objects of study. In this latter scenario, scholars race to digitize print documents so they may be searched more efficiently and on a larger scale. Of course, the quantitative, machine reading or scholars pursue are bound to lead to important critical insights; however, these methods do not aim to generate theoretical knowledge about digital technologies and certainly do not destabilize the concept of instrumenta lity. Their view of computers closely computer is of interest for its potential to make researchers more productive. At crucial points in How We Think Hayles seems caught between two irreconcil able positions, in spite of her characteristic attempts at conflict resolution: humans and technics are not in conflict, they co evolve; it is best to combine digital humanities and print humanities under the banner of comparative med ia studies; close, hyper and machine reading can all co exist. For all that, Hayles clearly reverts to an instrumental, anthropocentric stance not too far off from the familiar master slave dialectic. For example, if ways of reading (and writing) are imm anently bound to modes
42 of attention, which are themselves co constituted by certain media ecologies, then what transformations associated with digital technologies] through m yriad decisions about 8)? That is, in spite of acknowledging a technological dimension crucial to acts of attention, cognition, and even the unconsciousness; Hayles repeatedly draws hierarchical oppositions between humans a nd technology, insisting that humans ultimately control technical evolution by their patterns of usage and the focus of their attention. Granted, the cultural status of a given technology significantly impacts how people are likely to engage with it. Like wise, our possible relationships with any technology emerge from the various ways we work and play with that technology; rhetorics and poetics are not technologically determined, even though technologies and other vibrant matter certainly massage, constrai n, and variously enable invention processes. After expounding dialogical propositions of co evolution, however, Hayles es tools to be synonymous with if not representative of technics in general (90). Hayles completely misses the more consequentia comments on technical objects. Namely, that the term tool signifies an instrumental, anthropocentric mode of engaging technical objects. Simondon distinguishes between technical objects and mere tools because he is chi efly concerned with situations in which technics excude consequences beyond their acknowledged use value for
43 humans. Indeed, he adamantly affirms the idea that axes and hammers are embedded within larger technocultural networks. That Hayles indirectly chid es him for excluding just after she finishes summarizing his example of the stone ax as a technical object seems to signal that something has gone awry at this point in her analysis. Hayles tool based understandin g of technics limits her technogenetic understanding of digital media to the paradigm of augmentation and to what Gregory history of Western metaphysics. In spite of her assertions that humans and technics co evolve, her anthropocentric conclusions and her hasty assimilation of theoretical terms to ordinary language suggest that she conserves traditional ideas about humans and technology, albeit in a more fragmented or dis tributed manner. If we regard digital technology as a highly evolved set of tools that is currently affecting human evolution, we are still imagining that technologies are exterior to and separate from our capacity for attention, perception, or communicati on; the technological exterior affects our human interior and co evolves with it, and vice versa but nowhere does this dialogical framework address the very constitution of the inside and the outside, the split between humans and technology. In this respe augmentation oriented relationship depicted in the master slave dialectic of technological determinism. Symbiosis is nothing more than mutual determinism. To articulate techno human relations in ways other than determinism, we need a new image of technology. Instead of holding on to a conception of technology founded upon
44 human relations and, consequential, digital technolo gies by substituting writi ng as the prototypical technics. Orality Literacy Electracy More than any other field or approach within the transdisciplinary matrix variously committed to studying writing and media, grammatology supplies a rich tradition of his torical and conceptual analysis linking writing and electronic/digital technologies, both of which the grammatologist regards as primary generators of culture, metaphysics, and social practice. In addition to the more infamous French strand of grammatology which I discuss in detail during C hapter 3 significant advancements in this often overlooked field were made by a crucial contingent of Canadian and Anglo American classicists, writing historians, and media theorists. Grammatology forwards a theory of t echno human relations oriented around major shifts evident in the history of writing systems and communication technologies. Abo commentary on technogenesis, classicists Eric Havelock and Jack Goody each garnered historical evidence to support their general theses that the early development of technologies and techniques of linear, alphabetic writing in Ancient Greece brought on a full scale cultural revolution. In ancient Greece, what was called poetry was in fact the only v erbal medium for collective memory, prior to the eventual, limited spread of alphabetic writing and literacy. Poetry, in this sense, designated the whole of rhythmic speech in a variety of context not limited to the literary genre with which the term has c ome to be associated. Oral poetry, as Havelock explains in Preface to Plato was a kind of makeshift memory technology. It required constant, e motionally intensive recitation qua public performances and private rituals. Education the transmission of cultur al traditions and values depended on these
45 processes of oral memorization as well Before Plato, Greek education was largely the memorization of the great epic poems; Plato claimed that Homer had functioned as the chief educator of Greece. The introduction of alphabetic writing furnished the Greeks with a new form of tertiary retention (or technical memory), and hence a new medium for educational practices. The literate students of early manuscript cultures (an elite group, to be sure) could inscribe the wo rd into relative permanence, and do it without emotional identification, regular recitation, or harmonious/mimetic style (the essential technics of oral poetry). Writing the words on paper (or papyrus) made apparent a general separation of knowledge from the knower, and Plato develops philosophy definitively on the basis of the knower as subject who desires to know the objects he encounters objects that exist apart from him but whose essences and attributes he may understand. In ion, philosophy in its infancy at the dawn of alphabetic writing was in effect an informal lab whose thought experiments cultivated the basic categories and practices native to literacy and analytical reasoning. Alphabetic writing and philosophy were both born through processes of abstraction. The alphabetic characters were abstracted from earlier, more intricate and cumbersome writing systems; the logos that drives the invention of philosophy was abstracted and eventually contrasted from the mythos of oral epics. Sharing the burden of memory with alphabetic writing materials, literate thinkers were able to move from acts of recitation to processes of abstraction. Marshall McLuhan complicates the question of this epistemological shift, however, in his descri ption of so called manuscript culture, which shows that the literate
46 societies before print still relied largely on oral traditions. His Gutenberg Galaxy claims that the ancient and medieval rhetoricians of manuscript culture generally taught writing as a method for cultivating oratory skills (117). The majority of civic and academic discourse still occurred through public speaking, given the extremely low literacy rates of the age, as well as the relative scarcity of writing materials and limited copies of books. Writing was regarded as a preparatory supplement to aid rhetorical processes especially memory on the way to oral communication. (This was in fact how teachers rec itation by the author or a professional orator, was the conventional mode of publication in manuscript cultures (McLuhan, Gutenberg Galaxy 106). The written document did not circulate very widely, if at all (equivalent to the dynamic between screenplays a nd movies today). Hence, much like the philosophers and linguists Derrida critiques in Of Grammatology pre Gutenburg rhetorics engaged with writing always in subordination to speech any writing not destined to be spoken was of little consequence. Even the scribes spoke the words aloud as they made written copies. In manuscript culture, according to McLuhan, the visual had not yet been fully intensified, abstracted, and severed from audible tactile experience as it eventually would be in print cultures. Goo dy, on the other hand, goes further back to examine writing before the development of literacy. He shows how the Greek development of science, history, logic, rhetoric, and metaphysics was actually prefigured by and intimately related to the pre alphabetic classification, and knowledge building. Though he indicates some social impacts of
47 apparatus shift, on their epistemological or cognitive implications how these early written forms (still) underwrite the growth of knowledge and the organization of information in literate societies. Goody formulates his argument in opposition to canonical social theorists like Durkheim and Weber, who directed the study of societies away from issues of materiality and that modes and means of communication are the key difference engines that promote and s grammatological account of cultural historical differences challenges dichotomous frameworks popular in structural anthropology, linguistics, sociology, and philosophy especially Levi literate societies are not born with a desire and capacity for systematic classification, nor are people of oral societies inherently tribal. The so called domestication of the savage mind, as Goody shows, is a matter of writing and its gradual manifestations in everyday life. Written lists become especially crucial to the formation of literate knowledge, so much so that the list functio ns for Goody as a cipher for the potentials of literacy in general. Starting with the earliest Mesopotamian writings on record (~4000 B.C.), Goody discusses the uses of written lists in quasi literate/scribal cultures, describing three major types of lists : administrative lists, event lists, and lexical lists. Administrative lists crucial to the development of the
48 newly agrarian Mesopotamian political economy, event lists became the basis for historical consciousness and scientific calculation, and lexical list s thus inspiring reflection on categories, classification systems, and the nature/order of entities in the physical world (94). Hence, list writing, as an a ct of orthographic recording, ultimately becomes a metaphysical activity of organizing, classifying, and creating knowledge of the world. The most sophisticated operations of literacy (dialectic, scientific method, etc.) all hinge upon an axiomatic princip le the category that emerges from list writing (especially playing with lexical lists in scribal training) and the notion of grammatological figures in C hapter four, where I elaborate and initiate the central task of my project: to develop an initial set of figures for composing and conceptualizing media designed to circulate across ubiquitous computing platforms Reading Goody reminds us that, despite the unpreceden ted speed of technical invention today, we are in all likelihood at the very early stages of what promises to be centuries of exponential innovation spurred on by the invention of binary code, the internet, and an array of other developments fundamental to modern computing. And its early iterations. The categorical principles of literacy and the desire for systematic classification of knowledge via orthographic recordi ng were operative in pre alphabetic writing, even before the Greeks. Of course, the Greeks further develop writing and categories, as Plato founds conceptual thought and Aristotle composes treatises establishing the terminology and cognitive jurisdiction o f the core intellectual disciplines
49 of the Western tradition. But, as Goody and Havelock make clear, the intellectual achievements of the literate revolution in Greece owe everything to the habits of mind associated with the earliest figures of the written word. Without the written list, history would have no archives, science would have no data sets, and philosophy would have no concepts. Writing enables critical reflection, and list writing inspired early scribes to reflect on and play with the systematic classification of information and to invent the category. Moreover, the systematic classification of information via categories characterizes the literate apparatus regardless of media specificity; categorical thinking only intensifies as writing moves fr om clay tablets to papyrus to paper to print. Noting the cultural transformations precipitated by the invention of specific forms of literate writing, Ong and McLuhan initiated similar efforts to understand the emergent media of their time, most notably t elevision. A keen student of both print and electronic effects of various media on the human sensorium. McLuhan insists that media effects affect the sensory ratio, such tha t while sight may have been the privileged sense in the public spheres of print culture, hearing becomes the chief currency of the global village supported by twentieth century electronic media. Both of these thinkers, for that matter, preferred to envisio n the spread of electronic, audiovisual communication as a kind of progressive return to pre secondary orality does enable description of some salient features of important mediums in the mid twen tieth century (e.g., radio/TV broadcasting, teleconferencing, video, etc.), the term has since prove d ill equipped to address the rise of personal
50 computing, the Internet, social media, mobile devices, and other technologies at the s digital paradigm. out of which his ideas on the shifting sensorium arise forwards an influential theory of technical evolution. Media ecology, according to McLuhan, considers the relations various media have wi th one Understanding Me 271). In doing so, the properties of a given medium (e.g., film) become more important as an object of study than any singl e instance (e.g., Casablanca literacy on These concerns of media ecology resonate with research in grammatology, and literacy studies with heuretics in order to theorize the digital apparatus across a continuum twentieth c asserts the novelty of electronic digital media and culture. Moreover, Ulmer offers a more nuanced account of what happens during an apparatus shift. The emergence of video or blogs, for example, becomes framed in terms of multiple streams of invention, none of which is absolutely determinate. The technological affordances of the new equipment may imply certain usages, but to valorize these (obvious) uses and
51 extrapolate from them the so called essential properties of the medium is to neglect the potential realization of future uses that inevitably emerge when such technologies enter into affecting and becoming affected by various embodied social contexts, which themselves are never sta ble. Lest we forget, the inventors of some alphabetic writing systems merely wanted a way to keep track of their grain supply; it was only after centuries of experimenting and playing with the affordances of alphabetic writing that we saw the functions of writing evident in the sonnets of Shakespeare or the United States Constitution. respective projects, we can be attentive not only to the new relations among previously separate medi a; contemporary grammatologists can also ask how emergent media and writing ecologies impact identity formation, such as to affect a significant historical shift in the way we experience thought and subjectivity. For example, McLuhan writes that, ne of t Clich 5). Provocative and prophetic as this statement is, theory than work familiar to many computers and writing scholars provides a framework for history and theory of w riting. Writing scholars may be better positioned to grapple with li teracy toward elec tracy. (M ore generally, the figures postulated by recent media
52 theorists such as network and database may be productively grounded in work, as I will demonstrate in C hapter five .) Prior to the invention of alphabetic w riting systems, Ulmer standing on the shoulders of Havelock, Goody, and Ong asserts that people in oral societies experienced their identities in terms of spirit habetic writing practices and the institution of the academy/school (eventually intensified by print technology) did individuals begin to experience their identity as selfhood While I, following Ulmer, do not mean to claim that everyone experiences though t in exactly the same manner, many of us clearly share the (literate) notion which theories of distributed cognition challenge that An icon of philosophy and the a The Thinker a highly regarded masterpiece of Western art depicts precisely this picture of thought, as do each of its many appropriations throughout the twentieth century. A powerful twenty first century appro priation of The Thinker would be to place a Toward a Grammatology of Ubicomp poetry as a cultural medium verses poetry in the modern/literate sense (i.e., specialized artistic pra ctice) is enormously suggestive for thinking about the history (and future) of personal computing and the Internet. That is, the apparent trajectories of computing seem to be developing in a fashion exactly inverse to the plight of poetry from orality to l iteracy; once relegated to isolated,
53 collective memory, education, economic tr ansactions, decision making, and communication of all kinds before becoming a relatively marginal activity relegated to specialists in the arts To outline its path to becoming a total cultural medium, we could posit five defining periods over the last thi hardware, software, and cultural status: (1) mass marketing of personal computers with a mouse and graphical user interface; (2) development of the World Wide Web & Web browsers; (3) powerful, affordable web and mu ltimedia authoring programs; (4) Web 2.0 and social media; (5) ubicomp : mobile devices, locative media, augmented reality, nano technologies, etc. This periodization is of course partial, and many other outlines would be possible and productive. Nonetheles s, this schema is useful for the way it both situates and differentiates emerging mediascapes in relation to the cumulative and still vital effects of the previous paradigmatic developments. As we already see with rise of mobi le media, ubicomp extends comp uting beyond indicators that computing will continue to seep into the majority of electronic devices and even previously non electronic objects that we use or encounter on a dail y basis. The less codified the activity of computing becomes, the more urgent is our need for techn(ont)ological categories to support theoretical inquiry and media production specific to ubicomp scenarios. It is precisely in this sense that my project add resses the becoming ubiquitous state of digital media and networked computing, which many will have shaped the history of computing and the Internet over the coming deca de.
54 Though new media scholars and tech journalists readily point out the potential significance of ubicomp platforms, current intellectual discourse remains at a level of phatic expression. The first reactions of pioneering critics, most notably Adam Green field, have amounted merely to a collective outcry against the erosion of personal ubiquitous systems. Recent scholarship on mobile and locative media raises critical questions abo ut the extension of the Web and Internet access, but only a few scholars address how these new models of computing actually transform, and not merely extend, the Web More generally, we see proclamations announcing that fundamental social changes will occu r the sort of claims that have been recycled every year throughout but no full length work has been devoted to exploring the unique character of this moment and its implications relative to digital writing and rhetorical thinking Schol arship in relevant disciplines has generated little insight since Lev Manovich established the issue of ubicomp, particularly the question of digital physical Augmented Spa most thoroughly digital physical, augmented spaces are only in their infancy (though on the brink of widespread adoption). And yet, Manovich proved able to speculate quite shrewdly about th e complexity and novelty of this emergent phenomenon even before smartphones hit the market. His method, very effective, was rather simple: to examine (and sometimes imagine) the cultural implications of interrelated strands of technical invention by refle cting on their historical and theoretical connections with traditional practices and recent experiments in architecture and the visual arts.
55 grammatology, which essentially aims to theoriz e emerging media parallel to the history and theory of writing (broadly conceived to include acts of technical inscription like painting and cinema). While Manovich does not overtly label his research as grammatology, a growing number of leading scholars a cross the humanities today are invoking the term and positioning their inquiries at the intersection of alphabetic writing Kirschenbaum sets out to articulate a grammatology of the hard drive, asking t he grammatological primitives, as it were of grammatology in her commentary on the ideographical turn of alphabe tic writing and its post phonetic digital life (11) Following the trailblazing work of McLuhan, Ong, Kittler, Derrida, and Ulmer; a growing contingent of scholars view the history of literacy and print culture which has grown considerable in its own ri ght as a vital, analogical source for theorizing contemporary technology and technocultural developments. In relation to these efforts, I want to suggest that the French philosopher Bernard Stiegler is the most important figure of contemporary grammatology His recent theoretical texts effectively revive the central concerns of a litany of grammatological thinkers during the 1960s to the 1980s: classicists and historians of writing (Leroi Gourhan, Havelock, Goody), French philosophers and literati associate d with Tel Quel (Derrida, Barthes, Kristeva), and North American media theorists (Ong, McLuhan, and modes of economic and political organization are all cultural techn iques constituted
56 in conjunction with the technical evolution of organized inorganic matter. Of all the technics and streams of technical evolution at work in the world, Stiegler privileges writing and communication technologies. He refers to these technol ogies under banner grammatization. Ultimately, Stiegler enriches the grammatological field with a more robust theory and history of techno human relationship and he clarifies the ways in which all manner of technics may be reimagined as forms of iteration of a generalized writing. The focal point of C hapter 3 is the key concept underlying his theory of technics and writing. Grammatization also marks the theoretical project; in other words, it constitutes a point of emphasis from which scholars of digital w riting and new media can practice a new approach to studying emerging technologies an approach associated with an understanding of techno human relations that differs radically from technological determinism, augmentation, and symbiotic co evolution. In si mplest terms, alphabetic writing, for example, breaks down the flux of speech into a finite system of recognizable characters that are, on the one hand, iterable and modula r, and on the the history of the supplement can thus be charted on a grammatological basis of incremental stages informing the general course from early, preliterate writing to present da y digitalization. In order to understand the social and ontological reconfigurations occurring at a given
57 historical moment, Stiegler maintains that our questions must foreground the role of grammatization as a constitutive force; that is, as an ongoing pr ocess formative of crucial aspects of our experience aspects which previous generations tended to regard as natural, transcendental, a priori, or otherwise unaffected by the material life of technics. tworked multimedia and material flux as an unfolding set of grammatization processes? Designed and practiced under the affordances of ubicomp, what becomes of medial interfaces constituted by the lauded interlocking of digital media and physical space? Wha t interactive modalities (will) shape ubicomp culture? Furthermore, what are some social and ontological implications of these modalities, and how can they be mobilized in community media practices by cultural and civic institutions? These are the guiding questions of my project. Before we explore the mediascapes of ubicomp, and before I propose a set of critical creative figures for conceptualizing and composing media relative to ubicomp platforms, I devote C hapter 3 theory and its relevance to the study of writing, rhetoric, media, and culture. The framework I construct leading up to the digital turn, as well as a conceptual basis for spe cifying ubicomp as an emerging stage relative to recent developments of the digital supplement.
58 CHAPTER 3 WRITING Bernard Stiegler may easily be misread as a technological determinist, simply becau se he attributes more ontological import to technics than perhaps any other contemporary philosopher. For Stiegler, technogenesis does not designate a symbiotic, reciprocal dialogic of co evolution between humans and technology. Not only is the genesis and evolution of the human a thoroughly technical process; beyond this, Stiegler believes that t echnics has its own genesis, it s own logics and tendencies. And genesis is structurally prior to socio Technics and Tim e 2 2). In other words, contrary to Hayles, Stiegler refuses to concede any afterimage of the master slave dialectic where humans still maintain control over technics on account of their habits of usage. In fact, he insists that the very question of techn o human relations must be posed differently; it is not a matter of asking whether the human controls technology or whether technical evolution determines human evolution. Working within these questions and coming to the conclusion of co evolution qua mutua l determinism produces no insights into the originary constitution of the human. First principles on the human and on technics remain unchallenged, since their origins as separate and separable entities are taken for granted. In his account of the Promethe us/Epimetheus myth, Stiegler posits that humans are fundamentally without qualities. Only with the Promethean gift of fire, which is conditioned on the Epimethean act of forgetting, do humans come into being. Fire in the myth is an obvious symbol for techn ics Our being, as humans, is and has always been a being in default to technics To support this reading, Stiegler refers to the paleontological work of Andr Leroi Gourhan, whose empirical and scientific findings on
59 the evolution of the cortex indicate t hat the structural advances in the brain followed landmark moments in the fabrication of the first prosthetics, such as flint, which Stiegler Technics and Time 1 142). Encompassing an enormous histor and social evolution but also aims to account for the co originarity of technics and humanity. Whereas most proponents of contemporary technogenesis propose that technology affects humans (and vice v s suspension over this very distinction as he theorizes a technicity that is essential to the human. Being in default, humans have no essence, which is also why the technicity essential to them is essentially acciden tal. That is, technical evolution is accidental because humans as essentially technical beings with no innate essence do not control the evolution of technics, as if they existed over and apart from technics. If one grants that all human capacities are fou nded out of play with technics, then it is impossible to claim that humans invent and use technics as mere tools For none of the capacities involved in the fabrication of technics can be said to be anything other than cinct explanations of techno human relations comes in his introduction to the second volume of Technics and Time : T echnics and humanity are bound together in a relationship that Gilbert c onstituted such that one cannot exist without the other where the elements are co constituents): humanity and technics are indissociable. (2) By means of this representative passage, we can see that Stiegler pursues the question of the techno human relati onship in an altogether different way than most current scholars, so much so that the thought of something like technological determinism completely foreign to his framework. The concept of technological determinism is only
60 tenable, either as a thesis or a n objection, on the grounds of an a priori separation between humans and technics. Those who accuse Stiegler of technological determinism would be projecting onto his work this very opposition that he rigorously deconstructs. In what follows, I argue that efforts to rethink techno human relations in light of digital culture. In particular, his technogenesis, symbiosis, augmenta tion, remediation, transcoding, convergence, and other canonical terms that have oriented the study of new media and writing technologies across the humanities. As one of the earliest American readers of Stiegler, Mark Hansen has gone so far as to claim th of transforming cultural studies into techno remains a relatively untapped sour ce for contemporary media theory, and researchers in composition and rhetoric have published next to nothing about him at the time of writing One of the supreme benefits of still expanding oeuvre is that it can help humanities scholars reconcil e the great dilemma that has hampered the humanistic framework, to study media and technics is to attend to the constitutive forces that condition the possibilities of h uman becoming, which are always shifting from epoch to epoch, especially in eras witnessing the rise of a new paradigm in memory and communication technology.
61 The Technics of Writing human relations thus puts writing and me dia at the epicenter of contemporary and projected social and ontological transformations. He does not point to a spontaneous, underlying change in human attitudes toward some non technical phenomenon. He never delimits the domain of technics in favor of a no longer properly of the human but of experience and its transmission in conditions where genetics and epigenetics are at work out of a certain default of being, an e idetic Technics and Time 2 taken by adherents of distributed cognition. Experience, not only cognition is written and rewritten in default to technics and not only distributed so as to af fect and be affected by surrounding environments. Technics are not (only) a part of the environment humans live amidst and experience; technics constitute our experience on every possible level, from retention to anticipation, and from cultural history to genetics. Mediation is reality. Attending to experience demands a joint focus on the essential technicity of human becoming and on the accidential becomings of technics. Humans, as a species, were not born into the world already equipped with the capacity for experience; these capacities developed over time in a transductive relationship with Neolithic technics and they are still developing today relative to the essential accidentality of contemporary technics. The question of experience and the conditions grammatization has the potential to redefine. Grammatization is above all a process term. The processes it names can be associated with the vital tradition of technocultural proces ses signified by critical terms
62 in media studies (augmentation, remediation, technogenesis, and the like). Similar to these terms, grammatization applies to discussions of different media throughout history; it hypothesizes a plane of immanence, inaugurate d at the dawn of orthographic writing, that proceeds in incremental stages and culminates (at least for us) in the current epoch of digitalization, defined so far by the industrialization of audiovisual media, the spread of global information networks, loc ative mobile computing, and the digitalization, we need to consider in detail exactly which processes he collects under the term grammatization, as well as why he attaches so much historical and theoretical significance to these processes in the context of contemporary technics. Lat er in C hapter 3 tory of the supplement) will also serve to distinguish grammatization from the more canonical process terms now endemic to the humanistic study of new media in various disciplines. On the Derridean basis of originary technicity and arche writing, we may ca st an initial description of grammatization as follows: grammatization names the processes by which a material or sensory flux becomes a gramme for writing, which taken in the broad sense of arche writing includes all manners of technical gestures that mai ntain their iterability and citationality apart from an origin or any one particular context. Grammatization processes underwrite the essential technicity of becoming. Technics signifies not only technology, but also the domain of techniques, as suggested by the Greek word techne Grammatization accounts for the necessity of thinking technologies and techniques together. As processes of grammatization break down an otherwise
63 continuous flux, certain gestures or traces become detached from the initial contin uity and form a technology capable of managing certain techniques or functions independently of any supposed point of origin. Alphabetic writing, for example, breaks down the flux of speech into a finite system of recognizable characters that are, on the o ne hand, iterable and modular, and on the other hand, capable of orthographic stability technologies and techniques that separate meaning from sound (McLuhan, Gutenberg Gala xy 61), which thus makes it possible to separate knowledge from the knower a necessary condition for the philosophical invention of the subject/object duality that underlies Platonic notions of the thinking subject (see Preface to Plato ). As I have just i Derridean terms merits closer attention, especially because they are not the more canonical buzzwords a ssociated with deconstruction. Furthermore, since I believe human relations, a more than superficial familiarity with Derridean grammatology will prove integral to the task of developing a critical insights. Stiegler and Derrida metaphysics must be replaced by dynamic compositions: one must think in terms, no t of hierarchies or totalizing systems, but of processes beyond the dialogic al sense of co evolution that technogenesis conveys the way forward is to abandon the persistent opposition between humanity and technology that
64 comm entaries on technogenesis still employ. The focus must shift to studying the constitutive processes that underwrite so called humans and technologies before we initiates t his very shift as he rethinks techno human relations on the premise of an originary, ongoing series of dynamic compositions that effectively write under erasure techni cal evolution can enrich scholarly invocations of technogenesis, in that he supplements this general position with a rigorous ontological account of becoming that thoroughly refutes the master slave dialectics at the heart of technological determinism and anthropocentric instrumentalism. Moreover, that writing, media, and communication technologies play a formative role in his account of becoming bodes especially well for bourgeoning perspectives in the digital humanities, technocultural studies, and comput ers and writing. In addition to the above instruction which he takes form Derrida, who was his Technics and Time series (which is still unfolding) can be introduced through an exam ination of two key notions he bo r rows from Derrida: originary technicity and arche writing. Much has been made of the tension Ethnographies of Television The scholarship pitting Derrida and Stiegler against one another is productive and revealing, and in a later section I address what might arguably be the most vital point of tension raised by such ry of techno
65 human relations in the context of its Derridean basis, and to indicate its ultimate value for those studying (new) media and writing across the humanities. Originary technicity and archi fo as one might study photography or television against the backdrop of alphabetic writing (as Stiegler does), comparative analyzes of Derrida and Stiegler attest to a genera l the theoretical specificity of their respective positions. Different as they are in certain respects, reading Stiegler apart from Derrida would be like studying digita l writing apart from the history of print or audiovisual media, which would bespeak a form of where he revisits the same authors Derrida famously deconstructed in his ma jor works, including Plato, Rousseau, Husserl, Heidegger, and Leroi Gourhan. Like Derrida, Stiegler thinks from the position of classic myths relevant to the issues he takes up. nicity closely technology (e.g., arche a quintessentially Derridean rationale that propels both of their projects: the logic of supplementarity. As we will see later, it is also this issue of supplementarity that marks what some critics have recently identified as Sti Originary Technicity may look at the myths that dominate the scope of Technics and Time The most
66 important of these the myth of Prometheus and Epimetheus Protagoras of techno Phaedrus in his deconstruction of the relationship between speech and writing. contends that the fault of Epimetheus his forgetting to dole out an essential quality to human beings illustrates a basic ontological circumstance (reinforced by Leroi Liu also argues frequently in her discussions of writing, that the development of hum anity and human civilizations are inseparable from (and would have been impossible without) the processual development of so called prostheses. That is to say, more precisely, that technical inventions are not prostheses in the sense of a secondary support that augments an a priori human nature (Stiegler, Technics and Tim e 1 152). For instance, Derrida concludes that writing is not (only) a secondary support system rationally developed to extend the reach of spoken language, but instead that writing is speech, as its Of Grammatology 315). The technics of writing, when reconceived in this manner, defies the orientations of classical thought, particularly the habit of defining th ings in terms of Stiegler amplifies the logic of the originary supplement in his thinking about all kinds of technics, which he
67 techn(ont)ologica awkward, accidental history whose result would be an essential becoming of the accident but which would also require speaking of an accidental becoming of the Technics and Time 2 30). Thus, whenever Mark Hansen accidentality of this dynamic, for that is precisely what distinguishes originary technicit y from technological determinism and, to inorganic matter that comprises all manners of supplements (or technologies) does not determine anything, for the supplement has no e ssence of its own to impose and it in fact depends on human acts of anticipation to fashion it into being. And yet, human anticipation is itself a capacity founded upon the temporal relations that the earliest technics open up (Stiegler, Technics and Time 1 143 ). Furthermore, the organization of inorganic matter exceeds and preconditions human intelligence, which can no longer be thought to exist before, over, and apart from the material flux of technics. Echoing media specify the givenness of time and but the trajectory of those becomings remain, al ways already, a matter of accidents. In human relations, mutual determination yields to essential accidentality.
68 Technics and Time provides another succinct way of appreciati ng the decisive role of originary technicity in his overall argument, particularly the way his project hinges on a rigorously ambivalent reading of Being and Time principle account of the history of being is that Heidegger posits a primordial, non technical technics (e.g., the vulgar time of the clock intuition that time is the constitutive element of Dasein, Stiegler contends that all ontological import. This maneuver of course Gourhan. premises to an inverse conclusion: man, not a transcendental state of being, is always in de fault of essence any natural equilibrium, by becoming other, by pursuing life by means other than life. In a word: by technics Furthermore, as I have already indicated, Stiegler develops his theory of techno human relations in conversation with Leroi humanity. Stiegler is quick to criticize Leroi Gourhan, however, the moment in his account of the passag e from genetic memory to non genetic memory when Leroi Homo sapiens proper. This turning point in Leroi so
69 severely criticized earlier t Gourhan relocates the genesis of life in the spontaneous formation of what he calls logical organization of ino rganic matter, and the premise that the human body and psyche develop only qua structural couplings with the technical. Stiegler writes off Leroi technical intelligence as a kind of rise out of technics that inverts but nonetheless mi mics the fall into technics imagined by Rousseau: both of these narrative breaks speak to an alleged gap separating humanity and technics. According to Stiegler, this unexplained and contradictory moment leads Leroi Technics and Time 1 84). Technics and Time proceeds to theorize techno human relations without recourse to anthropocentrism; Stiegler condemns Leroi and extend Leroi earlier premises and claims, which he himself abandons. Thus, whereas Leroi Gourhan goes on to chronicle rational and symbolic activity as the non technical inventions of a creative human consciousness (which now, having developed a sophisticated cortex t hrough technics, commands technics in its own image), Stiegler maintains that all of these so called non technical, human capacities are still constituted through the experimental organization of inorganic matter. If there is a historical turning point her e, it is not the birth of non technical intelligence to technical intelligence (not the emergence of the human proper from its technical womb); rather it is the formulation of mnemotechnics technical systems that retain inscriptions the emergence of the gr amme Consciousness develops during a stage in the history of life gramme Technics
70 and Time 1 138). For Stiegler, the production of gramme conditions the possibilities of consciousnes s; intelligence and symbolic activity are always already inseparable from the technics of writing and other mnemotechnologies. writing on technicity and temporality, t hough Derr to resist the level of specificity toward which Stiegler eventually orients them in his readings: It is necessary that the temporality of immanent lived experience be the cisely as a tradition; it is created only because it has a historic heritage. (Derrida in Stiegler Technics and Time 2 188) We can summarize this passage by means of another one the archive produces the event Archives, thought in the broad sense of a historical record, are not just passive receptacles for storing accounts of events whose structuration it does not contribute to. Writing and other media of technical recording constitute the basis of all our temporal relations even that which we regard as the records of a past we have not lived, but they also underwrite our own sense of futurity, by which we may anticipate the legacy of the events we do live and the circulation of the writing and media we generate (as its producer or its subject matter). We relate to our lived experience by the technical retention of a historic heritage and by the anticipation that the record of our own activities may be adopted to some extent, and that those retentions, in this life apart from us, will belong more or less to what will have been a tradition for a people yet to come, for whom our technical recordings will mark parts of the past they have not lived. Thus, we are shaped both by the historic modes of recording that condition our access to preserved cultural heritages and by the
71 contemporary modes of recording by which we anticipate (a nd often participate in) the archiving of our own lives. of the Mystic Writing Pad as an artifactual illustration of his theory of psychical memory. Ultimately, Derrida crit which retains the Mystic Writing Pad as a secondary support, in keeping with Western metaphysics and comes to argue instead Archive Fever 16). That is, the archive is never a mere representation of the proposes that the discourse on p sychoanalysis would itself have developed quite differently had Freud and his colleagues corresponded via email rather than the postal service. To the extent that Freud treats the Mystic Writing Pad as a secondary supplement, his thought remains continuous with the restricted conceptions of writing that Derrida deconstructs throughout Of Grammatology the book that also features here: arche writing. Arche Writing In his essay different than its usual connotation in critical theory) becomes the basic differentiator between traditional philosophical rhetorical linguistic attitudes toward writing and a grammatologic al study of writing. This distinction is intimately related to Of Grammatology and his reformulation of writing as arche writing, or writing in general. Ideological models of writing such as those found in classical rhetoric and Western
72 metaphysics are bui arriving at an idea in thought, one verbalizes this idea in the form of speech so that it may be transmitted to others as meaningful communication. If needed, writing comes in at the end of this process taken up as a sub species of communication in general, one that is regarded to be instrumental for the purposes of extending the spatiotemporal reac In descending this hierarchy, however, one pushes the initial idea into further levels of representation, with writing being the most derivative form of representing the eocentric models define writing in terms of an alleged representational function, doing so at the expense of a more general account of its functioning (Sanchez 99). How do these models of writing pull this off? By enveloping every given utterance in a dete rminable context against which to fix, denote, and assig n literal meaning This imperial deployment of context be it one of production or reception overcodes the structural absences of the written sign and renders a schema of writing wherein writing appear s merely as a modification (e.g., asserting the necessary absences that structure writing and permit for its functioning. As another case in point, Derrida shows how Sauss writing to experience on the basis of an ideocentric hierarchy. Saussure believes writing, as a secondary support, is inevitably inadequate for re presenting the presence s derivative nature: an exterior/additive twice removed from mental experience, a sign of a sign of experience,
73 thought. To write, for Saussure and for Rousseau, is to invi te contamination into natural/essential/original form. Along these lines, Saussure conclud Of Grammatology shapes the paradigm for modern linguistics (e.g., the linguis tic/phonetic signifier as the pinnacle and chief representative of all communication), is therefore even more dismissive of writing than Rousseau, who nonetheless believes, like Plato, that writing can be, if nothing else, a virtuous source of enjoyment to the extent that it may be pressed into the service of reactivating a past present, especially the memories of youth that one might otherwise forget in old age. Reversing the ideological hierarchy, then, one might claim that the communication of ideas is not the essence or purpose of writing; instead, writing proceeds and exceeds both communication and thought. Raul Sanchez claims, writing, but also that the idea of kno To be clear, Derrida does not simply flip the ideological model (i.e., thought communication writing) on its head. He generalizes writing beyond the narrow definition assigned to it in the ideolo gical model. From a grammatological stance, writing, understood as arche any hermeneutical authority, and it functions via spacing, iterability, citationality,
74 dissemination, and difference which Der communication via spoken language, would be possible without functioning as writing without being capable of becoming orphaned and separated from any single signified Each of these nuclear traits of arche grammatization processe s in general and his descriptions of particular epochs of grammatization, as we shall explore later in C hapter 3 Stiegler understands technics in the image of arche writing when he observes the structure of non presence at work in all manner of technical recording and machinic production. Rather than regarding media as forms of re presentation that extend the presence of interiority and thus contrary to Stiegler asserts that mnemotechnical systems come into being precisely by breaking down (meta)physical gestures into gramme Comprised of gramme technical ensembles like the typewriter or the factor y machine operate contingent upon its capacity to remain readable or iterable apart from any determined context, Stiegler defines industrial machines and computational programs in terms of Technics and Time 1 168). Where other thinkers see inert mechanisms of precisely calculated automation,
75 Stiegler sees technical objects as being radically open to and generative of accidental becomings. experience, without a trace retaining the other as other within the same, no difference Of Grammatology 62). This passage stands out as a critical hinge for discussing arche understanding of the act of technical recording: it is the retention of the other as other within the same the differance of the already depend on any sensib le plentitude, audible or visible, phonetic or graphic. It is, on the Of Grammatolog y 62). Technical retention, non genetic memory, the gramme this hollow structure of non presence makes it possible to differ because it makes it possible to defer. At this point we can summarize two definitive implications of arche writing, even if the term can never by defined once and for all. First, arche writing implodes conventional boundaries that regularly limit the num ber of activities that count as writing, in contrast to the restricted concept of writing that only recognizes linear, phonetic, alphabetic script. Commencing his analysis of writing before the letter and after the book, Derrida famously extends the scope of writing: whether it is literal or not and even if what it distributes in space is alien to the order of the voice: cinematography, choreography, of course, but also pictor system of notation secondarily connected with these activities but the essence and the content of these activities themselves. ( Of Grammatology 9)
76 If the three absences Derrida specifie s mark the nuclear traits of arche writing, then we might say that the gramme stands as the basic unit of arche writing, consistently at play proposition, and I return to his work on grammatology below in the course of further gramme marks the points of interrelation between techne and episteme I have already suggested this second sense of arche writing in t he above remarks on the constitutive force of the archive and the figure of the originary supplement. To reiterate briefly, arche writing in this sense evokes a writing before, within, and beyond speech that also founds cognition, perception, memory, and o ther topics traditional to metaphysical inquiry. Conceived as arche writing, Derrida insists one must discuss writing without recourse to the (literate) metaphysical hierarchies, which necessarily limit writing in terms of presence, speech, logos, etc. Tha t is, one must do more than simply emphasize and valorize, in the manner of a dialectical reversal, the exterior/inferior state that was previously condemned (e.g., the revaluation of writing over and above speech). To think the differance which is Of Grammatology 314). From the Logic of t he Supplementarity to the History of the Supplement arche its material circulation in the world, as an empirical entity; however, in doing so, one must also if a grammatological approach is to be
77 maintained philosophical, and even rhetorica (Sanchez 7). I contend, in fact, that this willful blurring is precisely what Stiegler performs throughout his generalization of technology, which is predicated on his understanding of writing as the techni cs par excellence sort of question about the meaning and origin of writing precedes, or at least merges with, a certain type of question about the meaning and origin of te Of Grammatology 8). Hereto, the scope of writing has traditionally been defined in instrumental and ideo/phono centric terms as a technical (e.g., inert, derivative) support system in the service of spoken language. As Of Grammotology makes clear, there is a restricted notion or repression of the technical at work in the very same metaphysics condemnation of writing is of preeminent consequence, and he is inclined to dem onize the technical in its restricted sense in order to differentiate his notion of a general writ ing a path for a writing is not a step beyond technical matters, but a stepping stone for a grammatological theory of technics. Throughout Technics and Time Stiegler appeals to writing as arche writing, trace, and differance in an effort to ascribes to all media of technical recording the logic of supplementary. The technical, as indicated above, writing the
78 evolution of civilization and ontology in accidental increments. Technologies, taken to be forms of iteration of arche writing, constitute the conditions and rhythms of human experience, acting as the generative tissue with which we negotiate t he grounds and horizons of our becoming. with a specificity a historical narrowness th at must be overcome in favor of an arche writing that encompasses not only other systems of empirical notions (e.g., hieroglyphics) but also processes that seem much less tangible (e.g., differance). Stiegler refers to writing always in the context of a gr ammatization process (e.g. linearization, alphabetiziation, etc.) that attests to its historical and technical character. concept of writing, in large part because Derrid Stiegler maintains that arche writing and the logic of supplementarity sufficiently displace the restricted concept of writing, such that one may now inquire into the historicality and technicity of a writing system wit hout necessarily limiting its scope to that of a secondary support system (which is exactly what Derrida saw as a common shortcoming the first histories of writing). All c oncrete writing systems manifest the logic of supplementarity, but they do so in hi storically and materially different ways, as Stiegler emphasizes. If Derrida generalized writing beyond its traditional status as a technical support system, Stiegler work s is the paradigmatic figure of technics. He understands all manner of technics on the
79 basis of the logic of supplementarity, but, beyond Derrida, he also believes we can build theoretical knowledge about specific technics through comparative studies of sp ecific historical stages in the technical evolution of supplementarity. Working between Derrida and Stiegler, one might generalize writing (in all its manifestations) to be operative at the apparently more general level of technics. That is to say, there i s a technics of writing and it is of profound import to ancient, modern, and contemporary technics in general even as the latter found forms of inscription that exceed the restricted (literate) concept of writing. history and writing as an emblem of technics in general (15). Grammatization accounts for a set of concrete processes collectively understood on the grounds of arche writing. With the notion of grammatization, Stiegler historicizes arche writing without diminishing the logic of supplementarity. Writing as a technics par excellence both supplies the logic cal framework, and he in turn situates writing its various concrete systems as stages in his history of the supplement, which proceeds incrementally from the first neolithic markings to present day digitalization on the basis of an orthographic continuum, thereby including all manners of mnemotechnologies of exact recording. tension in the published conversations between the two thinkers. Like Frabetti, Mark
80 calls t writing in relation to the material infrastructure of its appearance and efficacy in the world at any given moment ). On the other hand, Derridean critics such as Geof philosophical concept, which thus condemns [Stiegler] to a certain positivism, itsel f groun ded in the mechanism of transcendental contraband whereby the term suppo sed to do the critical work on philosophy (here ) is simply elevated int o a transcendental explanatory position whence it is supposed to criticise philosophy, while all the time exploiting without knowing it a philosophi cal structure par excellence. (184) Furthermore, in their conversation in Ethn ographies of Television Derrida questions technics as an object of theoretical knowledge, given the premise which they both share that technicity conditions the very possib ility of critical reflection. How can one presume to know the very conditions that make knowledge possible? Noting that Ethnographies in terview, Ben Roberts provides a reading of Derrida, wherein Roberts Technics and Time never really explicitly poses the question of how the theory of technics or a history of the supplement is possibl ). Moreover, while Derrida (and theoretical knowledge, Stiegler in turn finds it problematic that Derrida opposes arche
81 writing to artifactual notation and v alorizes a logic of the originary supplement all the while claiming that conditions of its emergence and inherence are inaccessible. In the specter of technological determinism and the ascent of technogenesis, the question that Derrida puts to Stiegler is arguably the most fundamental question for media theory today. Now that a critical mass of discourse both in scholarly and popular contexts admits as a basic axiom the formative role of media and communication technologies in cultural and cognitive evolut ion, theorists must offer rationales to support the collective desire to know how various forms of media generating theoretical knowledge on the social and ontological dimensions of media is to study the processes of grammatization elemental to different historical epochs. If techne ) condition the possibility of theory ( episteme ), then Stieg proposes that we can study this very process and build knowledge of technics in general by comparing different stages of media and mnemotechnologies. If alphabetic writing reconfigured the epistemological conditions for peop le living during the apparatus shift from orality to literacy as demonstrated by Havelock, Goody, and Ong then we can extrapolate from such studies to speculate about the epistemological implications of contemporary media. Obviously, we have every motive t o try to gauge the impacts of contemporary technics as they unfold. Technics and Time 2 confronts him. Stiegler
82 statements about writ ing in Of Grammatology Taking the Derridean critique of phonocentrism as a focal point for his own critique of Derrida, Stiegler outlines a set of specificity of line ar writing, even as he stipulates that the phonetization of linear writing preconditions episteme Technics and Time 2 tendency would not immediately claim superiority [for the phone over the gramme Furthermore, grammatology, which can be broken down into a pair of interdependent imperatives: t o and t isturb and destabilize metaphysical privileging accorded to speech, through the very writing that is truest to it In other words, Derrida blurs the specificity of linear writing and tries to circumnavigate the phoneticization of writing because of his resolve to equate phonetic writing with the logocentric metaphysics of presence. He wants to overcome phonetic writin g and the metaphysics of presence by theorizing arche writing and the logic of supplementarity. Stiegler devotes more positive attention to this immensely significant connection attests.
83 Stiegler commits his project to the specificity of linear writing and the concrete outcomes of its phonetization, as well as to particular operations of more recent orthographic recording technologies, within the context of a generalized writing ( i.e., arche writing). Both Derrida and Stiegler argue that writing and more generally all mediated retention configures temporality, including the so called immediacy of the present ined moment Of Grammatology 88). Rather than elaborating this point further, however, Derrida sets up lines of flight from phonetization and its monopoly over writing w ithin the history of order to conjure a broader notion of writing beyond the letter, in s reign over the past two thousand years. Since Derrida bounds the concept of history to the phonetization of writing, he calls into question the work of modern historians of writing, like I. J. Gelb (from whom he appropriates the term inue to (83). Derrida imagines an alternative grammatology, which his early writings no doubt inaugurate: Through all the rece nt work in this area, one glimpses the future extension of a grammatology called upon to stop receiving its guiding concepts from other human sciences or, what nearly always amounts to the same thing, from traditional metaphysics. ( Of Grammatology 83) Henc phonetization of writing as so called true writing is to, from the outset, reduce the
84 question of writing to the binary oppositions of a metaphysics that its operations exceed i f not completely elide. If writing is an originary supplement past s/he has not lived same way we might approach the history of the automobile or the history of the United States. Histories of writing must acknowledge the indebtedness of historical consciousness and critical reflection (so called interiority) to the orthography of writing (so called exteriority), without which no memory traces could be preserved and analyzed independent of living memory. That the phonetization of writing preconditions the literate experience of history does not preclude the possibility of reflecting on the specificity of linear writing, but attention to this insight demands that we rethink what it is we are studying we when study the history of writing and other communication/memory technologies. Writing is not a secondary prosthesis, in the sense that it comes after speech, as if it were invented merely to represent a matured language (with principles of logic and rhetoric already installed) in regards to which its de facto function would be to preserve copies. Moreover, conceived as an originary supplement, writing cannot be the invention of people who already posses sed the capabilities for abstract, categorical thinking; it cannot be conceived as a retroactive extension of a natural human intelligence supposed to precede it. According to Derrida, writing exceeds (literate) metaphysics on all sides, and therefore we n eed to understand writing more generally by ways other than classic logic and static oppositions. it actually
85 weakens the grammatological project in advance (30). In fact, Stiegler mobilizes the hasis links alphabetic writing with subsequent recording technologies as an initiation of exact recording, and App lied Grammatology 8). In this sense, by stressing the exact recording of the voice rather than the exact recording of the voice one can construct an orthographic continuum between early picto/ideo graphic writing, alphabetic writing, photography, and cine ma as Stiegler indeed does. In establishing this orthographic continuum, which is also a continuum of arche writing and differance Stiegler remains interested in characterizing the unique technical operations and experiential effects of media, for which h e adopts a more concrete, comparative approach to technics than that of Derrida's grammatology. Again, no task is more urgent to Derrida than that of overcoming the logocentric limitations associated with traditional concept ions of writing. Owing to the su perhaps also to the rise of digital media at the beginning of his career, Stiegler is less concerned with this task, a s if logocentric limitations have already been dismantled, or are at least no longer as overwhelming. Ph less a target for deconstruction. He wants to understand phonetization in terms of its grammatological operations and historical impacts, which he consults as a source of analo writing and the deconstruction of the history of philosophy become inseparable ( Of
86 Grammatology 86). While Stiegler participates in the deconstruction of the history of philosoph references to writing typical ly serve a different agenda. For Stiegler, the mediation on the history of writing (i.e., orthographic supplements) becomes inseparable from philosophic al speculation on the essential, dynamic technicity of humanity. Only by accounting for the historical specificity of the supplement in its various stages can we generate theoretical knowledge about what possibilities a certain because its general principle that exteriority (e.g., technics) constitutes and preconditions the possibilities of interiority (e .g., time) does not in itself help us gain insight into the constitutive writing, as will be demonstrated in the analysis below, the history of the supplement comes t o supplement the logic of supplementarity His focus on describing processes of grammatization engages specific media and writing technologies as if they were forms of iteration of archi writing This method avoids the tendency to conceive of and treat med ia and writing as secondary support systems or mere tools (following Derrida), and it also endeavors to generate episteme on techne (challenging Derrida). Grammatization and Grammatology tr ansdisciplinary field provides a framework for situating the unique character of unpacking the scholarly value of the concept of grammatization. According to Ulmer, grammatology developed in three phase s, all of which remain ongoing. First, the historical phase featured a variety of
87 archeological and paleontological investigations into the evolution of writing systems. Each of these historians of writing attempted to account for the actual invention of w riting in ancient civilizations, as well as devise elaborate taxonomies for categorizing animals. Derrida, the first theoretical grammatologist, finds fault with t hese taxonomic histories; n asking after the essence of writing with the problem of the origin Applied Grammatology 6). Racing to gather new empirical facts surrounding the orig ins of particular writing systems, early historians of writing rarely paused to consider the theoretical significance of writing, nor did they question common assumptions about which activities and artifacts count as writing. For this reason, Derrida embar ks on a point by point repetition, of the history of writing into a theory of writing Ulmer, Applied Grammatology 17). That is, adjacent to the empirical facts, Derrida identifies a thorough correspondence between these historical studies of writing and the philosophical tendency to suppress, neglect, and outright condemn writing as a secondary support system in the service of the natural bond between speech and thought (i.e., the interior life of the mind). Having adopted this restricted concept of writ ing without any reservations, historical grammatologists thus limited their study of writing to phonetic systems, or at the very least, included non phonetic writing only to the degree that it was seen as a moment of progress toward phoneticization. Thus, over the course of his deconstruction of the metaphysical opposition of speech and writing, Derrida assembles something of a counter history, wherein non phonetic systems like hieroglyphics
88 function as figures or emblems with which he theorizes writing in general, beyond the limits of phonocentric discourse. variation of grammatology that, while centered on contemporary technics, routinely enacts a point by point techno histori cization of the theory of archi writing and the logic of supplementarity In this sense, Stiegler negotiates historical and theoretical connections between Anglo American and French grammatologists whose texts rarely reference one another. The third phase of grammatology Ulmer outlines is applied grammatology, which his book of that name and his subsequent work has initiated. Inspired by the rhetorical and aesthetic strate applied phase aims to invent new picto ideo phonographic writing practices and rethink humanities pedagogy in the emerging contexts of electronic and digital media. An over arching ambition driving his developmen and literature [and arts and humanities] disciplines into a more responsive relationship Ulmer, Applied Grammatology gaging the history and theory of writing shares distinct eras of the technocultural apparatus. The two thinkers, however, do employ different frameworks for mapping app aratus shifts. Building off pioneering research in orality literacy studies, Ulmer adds electracy to the schema and often uses historical insights concerning the transition from orality to literacy as a methodological basis for formulating theoretical ques tions critical
89 to the current transition from literacy to electracy. His latest book, Avatar Emergency m of identity experience, which Ulmer charts this emergence in terms of the tripartite apparatus Avatar Emergency x). Furthermore, another premise inquiry is that major changes in communication or information technologies produce or condition new social institutions and cultural practices, in addition to new forms of identity experience. Hence, if avatar is sup plementing the experience of selfhood which literate metaphysics and schooling cultivated then we need to develop new venues and practices for education designed to accommodate and further cultivate the emergent experience. The heuristic (or heuretic ) prin ciple applied grammatology is to move between the three apparatus es in search of literate practices ( e. g. genres of composition, deliberative rhetoric, inference paths which many theorists fail to regard as technologically situated) that now demand to be rethought or developed anew relative to the electrate apparatus. While Stiegler occasionally refers to literacy as a technocultural period, his primary vehicle for identifying and explicating apparatus shifts amidst the history of t he supplement is his notion of grammatization processes. Grammatization happens with all kinds of writing and communication technologies (which Stiegler typically calls clas s of technics. Crucially, though, grammatization is not limited to mnemotechnics. Noting these other cases of grammatization processes is paramount to understanding
90 grammatological analogies driving his insights. Grammatization and Industrial Technics gesture and its force autonomous and iterable across the range of manufacturing tasks that characterize modern factories. As a result, the human laborer acts an operator of industrial machines more often then s/he acts as a craftsperson who uses tools according t o his or her own locomotion. (The significance of this historical moment in technical evolution is also discussed by Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt and Vilem Flusser.) The movement from stylus to printing press indeed mirrors the dynamics of this transition. An d one could also understand how this historical trajectory the technical autonomy of industrial machines informs the subsequent manifestation of the the fundamental dial ogic operative within contemporary digital culture. The link gesture, industrializat part of the working class, if not all but a technocratic elite and a dwindling number of independent artisans ( Stiegler, the craf tsperson to machine operator foreshadows another proliterianization managed by the global programming industries today: the reduction of the citizen to a consumer. This hyper industrialization entails a general short circuiting or liquidation of the collec tive individuation processes, which are disrupted and superseded by corporately
91 managed and marketed processes of adoption that regulate existence to matters of subsistence (Stiegler, Decadence 34). For Stiegler, industrialization thus constitutes a pivot al stage of grammatization, which has become intensified by the onset of digitalization, wherein, as we shall see, industrial resources and investments become centered around the programming of behavioral models engendered through the production and commod itization of audiovisual temporal objects. Whereas prior grammatization processes dealt primarily in logo edia turned dependent reproducibilities of the visible and the Stiegler, hyper all a claim that I take up in Chapter 4 on ubicomp ( ) Industrialization and hyper industrialization does not, therefore, indicate a closure of or break from the grammatization processes that characterized writing and communication prior to the industrial revolution. As a process of grammatization, industrialization is especially significant with regards to media of technical recording because the rise of industrial technics the grammatization of bodily gestures tr via hand gestures In fact, the printing press was the first industrial machine, though movable type was invented in a non industrial context centuries earlier in Asia. As such, the printing press grammatizes an other grammatization process: print breaks down the flux of alphabetic script into the discrete elements of moveable type.
92 account of technical evolution and techno human relations than the familiar notion of augmentation, which models all technologies as prosthetic extension of innate human capabilities, in keeping with the repression of writing and technology evident in Derrida and Sti processes of grammatization, the organization of inorganic matter that technologies are results not from an extension but an appropriation, a writing defined by its disjunction from the continuity of a flux or movement, human or otherwise. Once disjointed and inscribed autonomously as inorganic matter, the movement becomes a gramme and therefore unfolds by the logic of the supplement and the nuclear traits of (arche )writing. Augment ation cannot account for the autonomous, iterability of technics and its originary, constitutive force within the development of social organization, ontology, and even the human body itself. With grammatization, then, Stiegler directs inquiry on techno human relations toward processes of dynamic composition and away from the static opposition of humans and technology, upon which augmentation oriented theories and even technogenesis more or less rely. He willfully blurs this traditional dichotomy in his f inheritance of genetic and cultural codes, as well as the formative ways in which nks before us, being always already before us, insofar as there is a being before us; the what precedes the premature who has always already pre ceded it. The future is in the thinking of (by) techn ics. ( Technics and Time 2 32)
93 In thinking of or about technics, we must remain aware of the fact that every act of thinking is itself conditioned and supported by certain assemblages of the technical apparatus. Theoretical knowledge of technics builds not as one thinks about tech nics but only as the thought of technics attends to the facets of its own constitution by technics, which precondition thought but nonetheless manifest in the technical act of underpinnings of thought in general by comparing and distinguishing the grammatization processes characteristic to specified archival modalities throughout the resonates sharply with this imperative thinking of (by) technics is his discussion of the technical evolution of temporality from alphabetic grammatization to the audiovisual objects of contemporary programming industries. The Grammatization of Real Time In Technic s and Time Volume 2 photography and cinema, but especially live news broadcasting) reconfigure our experience of temporality and the techn(ont)ological structure of the event. As usual, Stiegler builds a theoretical framework for pursuing this claim by laying out an analogy ( Technics and Time 2 43 ). The significance of this transition for Stiegler, as for Vilem Flusser, is that it marks the emergence of historical consciousness. Flusser locates historicality in the formal, geometric conventions that became altered in the mov e from oral to literate cultural practices. The difference between history and pre history is a matter of lines and circles
94 calculate, criticizes, pursue knowledge, philosophize...Before that, one turned is no doubt indicating the seasonal patterns of Nature that structured ancient agrarian life, and also, perhaps more profoundly, the habit of immersive recitation that was a cornerstone of everyday life in oral societies. Since the recitation of rhythmic verse (i.e., myths and traditions were virtually inscribed into l iving memory, education was degree that they were poetic. Rhythmic, imagistic discourse governed the politics of oral memory. Contradiction, fallacy, and reflection wer e antithetical to the necessary circularity of tribal recitation that sustained the oral modalities of archivization. That acts of critical reasoning would have threatened the very archivization modality the definitive grammatization process of pre litera te societies leads Stiegler to argue against historians of writing, such as Jean Bottero, who attribute the invention reason could have only occurred when a new process of grammatization suspended and in some ways obsolesced recitation, making possible an alternative modality of archivization capable of supporting institutions of cultural inheritance and social adoption. Moreover, the course of this transition is accidental in that the emerging (e.g., school, law, etc.) that come to displace the traditional programs (e.g., immersive recitation, poetic decrees, etc.) are fundamentally unthin kable without alphabetic grammatization, for rational habits of mind short circuit the circular inscription living
95 memory. In effect, an oral person could not practice let alone invent critical reasoning without simultaneously losing their ability to acces s and retain traces of their cultural record. Oral rationality would thus be completely empty of content, such that it could not be said to properly exist. Reasoning only becomes possible when, by virtue of orthographic writing, one can access the cultural record without having to incessantly maintain it via total immersion in imagistic, rhythmic recitation. Eric Havelock attributes this ability, manifest as critical reflection, to the alphabetic separation of knowledge from the knower, such that the cultur al record maintains a material existence apart from living memory. The orthographic line permits re reading, reflection, and revision; whereas the self referencial circles of recited, living memory cannot be stepped out of without dissolving. The former mo dality of archivization conditions a structure of event ization necessary for the linear movements of historical consciousness and the abstractions endemic to logical thinking. One can access a past they have neither lived nor memorized; singular moments c an be marked down on an individual basis and deferred for later reading, rather than having to be collectively ritualized following the instant of their occurrence. Orthographic lists of written signs make apparent any relations potential to a set of items making it possible to recognize and label perceived semblances by making still more written marks that come to signify this semblance. On the basis of this analogy, Stiegler argues that, because audiovi sual temporal objects are currently displacing the archival modalities of literate writing, the literate
96 contemporary technics. Since the rise of the culture industry in th e twentieth century, grammatization processes operative from photography to television have each of the deferred time quintessential to alphabetic writing. This be g the question of what it is exactly that real time processes of grammatization effectively suspend or obsolesce with regards to the deferred, historical time consciousness of literate writing. And, further, what does real time grammatization enable and su pport in the way of event ization? How does it alter the production of the cultural record and the all important conventions for preservation and access? (following Roland Bart with th Technics and Time 2 16). As an indexical medium, the photograph is always and absolutely a measure of singularity. ( Technics and Time 2 19 ). The real time of photography allows it to capture what remains unnamable in the image, owing to its i rreducibility to cultural codes codes that have themselves accumulated from the deferred economy of linear writing and which can therefore, no more capture the singularity of an instant than the rhythmic economy of living memory could retain abstract, prosaic statements. depth look at the live feeds of televisual news broadca sting. Live streaming conjoins primary retention and tertiary
97 retention, such that any distinction between lived perception and technical recording Technics and Time 2 242). The literate tradition fo r selecting historical events operates according to the deferred input precedes its dissemination Technics and Time 2 121). In such cases, historians p reside over the accumulation of cultural heritage as they manage the task of tertiary retention on behalf of a collective, carefully evaluating in retrospect the significance of various moments of a preserved past they typically did not live. In the contex t of literacy, people can distinguish between their perception of live events and tertiary artifacts impacts, even constitutes, the criteria (i.e., secondary retention) that direct his or her lived perceptions (i.e., primary retention). Nevertheless, this impact occurs over time it is deferred on account of the technics of alphabetic writing. With live streaming, on the other hand, the technics of real time footage and the es sential technicity of perception become synchronized: effect and its real transmission, take place in one and the same inst ant, in one and the same temporal reality, as an omnipresent temporal object inaugurating an entirely Technics and Time 2 121) presented according to the p rimary and secondary retentions of the media producers, many of whom still represent the culture or programming industries. This process a politics of memory attune to the ways in which, despite its apparent immediacy, live streaming constitutes an already there, a
98 mnemotechnology, in that real Technics and Time 2 242). Thus, tuning in to live streams on television or the Web supports or engenders an altogether different kind of perception and memory than its literate equivalent. The ready been selected and crafted as a there. Obviously, this affects the course of events and structures their unfolding. Stiegler also contend s that the production o f real time affects knowledge building; all information, communication, and memory practices that generate and preserve knowledge are of technics and therefore not outside of time and its technical evolution. Grammatization as Method What I have just pres ented is an overview of a few successive stages in Technics and Time series that emphasize the formative relationship between grammatization processes and temporal expe rience. In more recent essays, Stiegler turns this grammatological framework into a method for theorizing particular elements of emerging media in relation to specific points in the history of the supplement. His recent essay on YouTube, for instance, exem plifies his basic strategy for pursuing the grammatization processes makes a theoretical method out of writing/media histories rical grammatology that Derrida criticized. In positions on contemporary technics by making grammatological analogies between digital video sharing platforms and the rise of h ome video in the 1980s, on the one
99 hand, and some of the earliest forms of writing on the other hand: the advent of cuneiform in Mesopotamia, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and alphabetic writing in Greece. With these comparisons, Stiegler shows that the major te chnical inventions throughout the history of writing did not engender philosophical thinking or a culture of critical reflection immediately upon their adoption that cuneiform was performed exclusively by an elite class of scribes whose primary And yet, eventually these systems of notation a nd inscription as they evolve toward abstraction, efficiency, and phonetization psychic and collective individuation that makes the appearance of the law as such which Stiegler then claims is also the preconditi on for democratic citizenship and literate forms of knowledge such as tragedy, geometry, history, philosophy, rhetoric, and logic ( 44 5). What this grammatological commentary suggests, when considered in the context of digital video platforms at the dawn of the Web, is that certain habits of mind and forms of knowledge will likely arise (through experimentation) as digital video continues to develop. For Stiegler, the urgent question that media theory must face up to now which he derives from the analogy to early writing is this: what concerned with new media, which is remarka of electracy, is to stop lamenting over the society of the spectacle as if it were an essential property of audiovisual media, and to start contributing to the development of
100 theories and practices capable of fac ilitating something like a literate revolution commensurate to our own stage in the history of the supplement. Why does Stiegler attach so much historical and theoretical significance to Web 2.0 platforms like YouTube? Again, he is motivated by his analog y to early writing systems. He proposes that the twentieth century monopolization of analog media by the cultural industries mirrors the scribal culture of early writing in that both situations hold to a pervasive opposition between producers and consumers The creative class of the 50). Digital technologies, akin to the introduction of the phonetic alphabets, generalize access to the means of production and to recording p ractices themselves, thereby extending the economy of contribution to encompass the activity of people other than just the audiovisual scribes. To an extent, this transition already began with the mind, Stiegler locates the Up to this moment, the production of meta data, whose digital concept was formulated in 1994, but who se practice goes back to Mesopotamia, had always been executed in a top down way, by the official institutions of various forms of symbolic power. Produced automatically for the semantic alytic and synthetic capacities of judgment for the social Web, this new type of metadata opens up the possibility of delinearizing audiovisual works to include editorial markers, to inscribe pathways and personal annotations, to make signed readings, sig ned listening and signed vision accessible by all users. ( 52) Stiegler uses this insight to counter popular concerns, expressed by critics from Jurgen Habermas to Al Gore, that the public spheres in which democratic debates occur are threatened by the ascent of image culture, which they oppose to a more rational model of exchanging ideas via reading and writing (i.e., the circulation of printed words).
101 Justified by the analysis above, Stiegler concludes that the separation of producer and consume r is not an inherent consequence of audiovisual media, just as the public sphere is not an automatic feature of alphabetic writing and print. There was no public sphere in early scribal cultures. YouTube and, more importantly, the process of grammatizatio n we can ascertain from its emergence shows that electronic and digital media have not hopelessly handed over our culture to the cultural industries. In short circuiting processes of collective individuation, the consumerist model of the cultural industrie s is the threat to democracy not audiovisual production in and of itself, which is ultimately a pharmakon Indeed, these new technologies appear to be evolving in ways similar to those of alphabetic writing, such that recent advances in digitalization seem modify relations to the audiovisual temporal flux, allowing one to imagine the 41). From down, manipulate, annotate, and revise the analogue audiovisual flux. Moreover, the bottom up production of metadata introduced in Web 2.0 platforms displaces that sha ped the calendarity of mass media cultures (Stiegler 52). Instead, platforms like YouTube offer on stocks of traces called data and metadata, and no longer to the flow of programs that constitute radio and television (Stiegler 52). The first literate philosophers responded to alphabetic grammatization by developing a series of logical techniques, designed to be practiced by individual thinking
102 subjects who sought to exploit the new relations to speech tha t alphabetic writing made possible. A key task of media theory in the age of digital networks, then, is to formalize with the literate revolution in ancient Greece or the rise of print in early modern Europe ( out in his books are all inconce ivable without his a nalogical method for m obilizing concrete studies of hist orically specific technologies in an effort to theorize the new forms of individuation, knowledge, and social organization that digital media will have preconditioned. In other word s, his mission is not to predict the future of technical evolution by inventing it, but to conceptualize possible futures for digital culture by scrutinizing the prevailing processes and potentialities of contemporary technics in the context the broad hist ory of that technocultural evolution which got set into motion important processes is grammatization. Grammatization and Digital Rhetoric s notion of grammatization, critical as it is to his project, could also act as a critical creative framework for humanities r esearch concerned with theories and practices of writing and culture pertaining to digital milieus. Focusing on grammatization pro cesses adds a point of emphasis, if not a methodological orientation, that is complementary to current approaches such as orality literacy electracy, comparative media studies, and digital rhetoric. To the orality literacy electracy framework, grammatizati on supplies a greater degree of specification when characterizing a given apparatus, and the concept also extends to logic of
103 supplementarity to forms of technics, such as industrial machines, that are not traditionally associated with communication or mem ory technologies. Stiegler shows how industrialization profoundly influenced the organization of social flows, breaking down the flux of labor into discrete and iterable vocabulary of gestures; furthermore, his assessment of hyperindustrialization draws atten tion to current grammatization of affects and all forms of knowledge managed by the programming industries, beckoning a redoubling of proletarianization in the domain of aesthetic and political capacities. Attending to the grammatization processes unique t o contemporary technics can give us a more distinct and differentiated sense of the manifold flux es that constitute electracy and digital culture. purpose into the convention of making historical comparisons. To o often in recent scholarship, terms like remediation, convergence, and technogenesis are put into the service of mere academic exercises. One delves into the historical circumstances of an older medium in order to show tha t, in fact, something was developed in that medium that is vaguely fundamental to the basic operations of contemporary digital technologies. We learn that the jacquard loom and the difference engine were among the first machines to employ binary code based on simple presence and absence; that telegraphy anticipates the shift from natural language to increasingly complex and artificial code groups, which have since become endemic to the modern computer (Hayles 142). But these history lessons do not reveal mu ch about new media. Indeed, critique could be level against this mode of comparative media studies similar to the one Derrida leveled against historical grammatology: the researcher enters the history of
104 technical evolution with the intent to trace older m edia operation to an apparent or conventional understanding of new media, which in turn yields little insight into what is new with new media. Lev Manovich says as much when he explains the role of comparative media studies in his methodology: This perspec tive is important and I am using it frequently in this book, but it is not sufficient. It cannot address the most fundamental quality of new media that has no historical precedent programmability. Comparing new media to print, photography, or television wi ll never tell us the whole story. ( Language 47) Of course, no single approach to writing, media, and culture can tell us the whole story; clearly, though, certain approaches exhibit an inclination to tell certain kinds of stories. tive media studies tends to rely on causal narratives of progress and continuity While Manovich acknowledges the value of these kinds of stories, he is clearly more interested in moments of discontinuity when something radi cal and unprece dented suggests a framework for generating these rapturous turns in otherwise harmonious histories of writing and media, which underpin the most conservative theories of new media. As Manovich implies, historical inquiry is most beneficial to media theory when it assembles disjunctive comparisons and generative juxtapositions that help us identify what is most transformative and unique about new media, and to theorize the implications of those r adical elements in the context of comparable effects and consequences of prior media that are now evident in retrospective analysis. In syncing relevant stands of inquiries from media theory with theories and histories of writing, writing theorists can con nect their research to urgent questions facing contemporary digital culture. In addition, media theorists can look to the history and theory of writing to broaden their historical reserves for a grander sense of what is contemporary.
105 that relationship with time that adheres to it through a disjunction and an anachronism Contemporary technics only appears as such in the juxtaposition of technics from different stages in the history of the supplemen t. Finally, grammatization stands to compliment current work in digital rhetoric, especially the ongoing efforts the remix the fundamental terms of classical and modern rhetorical theory. As a scholar leading this effort, Collin Brooke has critiqued work in remediation as an explanatory framework. I anticipate that some readers might be inclined to equate the concept of grammatization with this more familiar idea of rem ediation, since both are process terms that employ comparisons among different media to comment on technical evolution. My own position, however, is that grammatization differs completely from remediation. Like the historical narratives that characterize c omparative media studies, scholarship guided by the assumption of remediation seeks out an earlier medium to function as a point of origin from which to question of a new m analogies, which juxtapose the history of writing and technics with the present state of digital media, refer to older media with the aim of pinpointing the transformative or unprecedented a spects of emerging technologies. The analogy becomes a generative ground for theory, not a means of legitimating a myth of origin. Moreover, complimentary to efforts to demonstrate the technological dimension of traditional rhetorical principles and writi ng genres, a comprehensive grasp of
106 grammatization process puts rhetoricians in a better position root out retrofit appeals that insists upon approaching and evaluating digital practices with assumptions and values presumed to persist in spite of technolog ical change. As a theory and method, grammatization counters the scholarly operations Brooke associates with rhetorical applications of remediation. Brooke concludes that remediation works best as an f media] that have already recent texts prove, grammatization thrives as a generative heuristic for studying emerging media that are ripe with indetermination and rad ically open to cultural definition. Grammatization reflects on the already there, the thinking of (by) technics, in order to gain insight into what is new about new media, which a rhetoric of new media must account for before it can claim to invent practic es of (by) new media. If writing is prototypical of technics in general and if, as Stiegler asserts, technics command a constitutive ontological status (in spite of the philosophical tendency to opposed techne and episteme ), then scholars who claim to stud y writing and technology need to be attentive to the social and ontological transformations wrought by the forms and processes of digital writing/media, and not only ask after or attempt to demonstrate their use value as communicative instruments. As I cla im in C hapter 2 studies of writing technologies within rhetoric and composition have largely neglected their ontological This failure to address contemporary techn(ont)ologies is one of the reasons why the field, as Brooke shows, has been quick to see the affordances of digital writing
107 environments in the image of traditional academic genres a maneuver reinforces the value of rhetorical frameworks rooted in the discursive economy of print. If we aspire to rethink the concepts that help orient new media practices, then we need to engage with theories of techno human relations and technical evolution that emphasize the constitutive force of technics a nd foreground the most contemporary aspects of new media. A decade into the twenty first century, one can already identify a multitude of technocultural innovations that each, in one respect or another, occasion scholars to challenge conventional paradigms classical rhetoric is the ascent of Web 2.0. While much work in the field is still engrossed in this mission and with good cause since much of what emerged from these platforms has since become paradigmatic to networked media in general technologists and media professionals have already become to herald a third wave in computing and the Web. Grammatization, as a historical theoretical framework, stands ready to orient early inquiries into what is new about this third wave, often called ubiquitous computing or ubicomp. Ubicomp, more than any other historical stage of grammatization, provides us Stiegler theorizes. For Stiegl er, there is no human prior to or apart from technics; technologies do not augment or extend human intelligence they constitute or marks
108 easingly entails medial interfaces that shape a multitude of human computer interactions. The ontological import of technologies such as Google Glasses is right before your eyes; software is everyware So called prostheses of this sort (e.g., wearable devi ces) are normative, not corrective, and they we might ask: what (emerging) figures (stand to) pervade the programmatic state that is ubicomp ? Which of these figures en able us to comprehend this historical moment in the evolution of technics and writing? What are some key figures of the ubiquitous interface? I address these ques tions in C hapter 4, and C hapter 5 proposes a set of figures for media theorists and digital rh etoric scholars to consider. In C hapter 4 my primary objective is to describe ubicomp as an emerging stage of grammatization. What, in other words, are the key flux es and processes by which the continuity of those flux es are broken down into gramme ? As I have argued above, identifying the definitive grammatization processes at play in an emerging medium or an entirely new paradigm, in the case of ubicomp is a n effective way to ascertain it s most unique, unprecedented qualities. It is only on the basis of an ep isteme of (by) contemporary technics that we can invent new practices, strategies, and concepts for a contemporary techne
109 CHAPTER 4 UBICOMP: WRITING SPACES FOR THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY Ubicomp signifies a broad perspective on current technocultura l shifts occurring throughout much of the world; the term, as I evoke it here, denotes scenarios in which the personal computing paradigm bifurcates amidst an array of emerging digital technologies that are mobile, locative, wearable, projected, embedded, and implanted. My aim here is to describe ubicomp platforms as if they marked a crucial stage in the history of the digital supplement. The questions formulated and taken up here will propel my analysis of contemporary mediascapes in Chapter 5 What new pr ocesses of grammatization appear to define the ubicomp paradigm? As computer programs and digital writing continue to migrate toward post desktop interfaces, how do acts of computing and writing transform? How might the unique affordances evident in cuttin g edge developments provoke parallel innovations in digital rhetoric and design thinking? As I argued in C hapter 3 historical and theoretical support for inquiries into contemporary technics. Positioning new media parallel to the broad history of writing, communication, and memory technologies as well as that of industrial machines and the culture industry enables theorists and designers to pinpoint the most unprecedented and consequential developments acc ruing in societies of permanent innovation. A crucial factor separates than consult histories of technical evolution in order to ground an already noted capacity of new medi a in the lineage of previous technologies that exhibited similar capacities in the manner of a myth of origin Stiegler works by disjunction and juxtaposition. The historical grammatization processes he assembles in his work become a basis for
110 generating an unthought insight about digital media culture. While the apparent continuity between the phonetic alphabet and Web 2.0, for example, motivates the comparative gesture, his methodological premise is to pursue the novelty evident in differance Moreover, St grammatological understandings of writing and the logic of supplementarity, and thus departs from more common instrumentalist views of techno human relations rooted in the image of hand tools and the lo gic of augmentation. My approach to ubicomp incorporates the core concepts and techniques of also depart from the more grandly philosophical ambitions at the heart of his Technics and Time philosophy on the basis of technics, the scope of my project hones in on the grammatological implications, as well as the rhetorical and aesthetic prospects, as sociated with ubicomp platforms, which Stiegler addresses only in passing, in the mists of more general remarks on digitization. My objective is to develop an interpretation of the grammatization processes unfolding today, and to formulate some rhetorical and aesthetic principles to help orient multimedia production amidst the transition to ubicomp. In conversation with recent scholarship across media studies and computers and writing, I aim to contribute a productive theory of the present This phrase comb ines a term employed by Jay Bolter productive theory with the Productive theory, as N. Katherine Hayles abstracts of her interview with Bolter, builds poststructuralist theories to create a hybrid set of approaches
111 combining political, rhetorical, and cultural critique with the indigenous practices of How We Think erstand the logic driving the development of the language of new Language of New Media 7). Here, I take up this collective project, with a special emphasis on the gramma logics driving the development of computing, writing, and multimedia producti on in ubicomp scenarios. Ultimately, the rise of ubicomp in computer science beckons parallel developments in the ways humanities scholars understand and create new media projects. If we aim to write and design for ubicomp platforms, then we must attend to their most characteristic processes of grammatization. Since 2006, many scholars writing about mobile and locative media have agreed that the most transformative aspect of the ubicomp paradigm is the unprecedented degree of interlocking occurring between networked digital media and physical spaces. Taking smartphones as a general emblem for ubicomp, scholars tend to emphasize the on the go, anytime anywhere connectivity of the mobile Web (the sudden detachment of computing from ation based gaming and social networking (the ramped attachment of digital data to specified places, delivered for mobile access). Pioneering ubicomp in the late 1980s, Mark Weiser and his collogues at Xerox PARC prototyped entirely new categories of mobi le, wearable, and embedded devices st however. Increasingly, developers are
112 computational fluxes that Weiser broadly re done relatively little to account for this latter dimension of ubicomp, which is now increasingly orienting experiments within and beyond the mobile Web. By revisiting theorize this emerging paradigm in a way that acknowledges the full spectrum of its revolutionary potential, beyond the basic cap acities of mobility and location based data. In addition, we might move beyond theoretical accounts that characterize the spatiality show in the second half of C hapter 4 have dominated humanities scholarship on ubicomp over the past decade. The Invention of Ubicomp Nearly every book and article dealing with ubicomp begins with a basic outline of desktop future, which he sketched in a series of brief articles st publications). Twenty years later, leading researcher in computer s cience and interaction design single out this text for its guiding role in establishing vital research agendas in both fields; widespread innovations in mobile devices, as well as many cutting edge experiments in wearable computing and smart environments, can all be traced rather directly a concept or prototype Weiser introduced (Want 32 33). The connects lab research in human computer interaction, user experience design and
113 software engineering with scholarship in new media studies, mobile communications, has been offered thus far. His essays belong in the tradition of canonical tex ts written by twentieth century technologists, such as those featured in Noah Wardrip Fruin and Nick The New Media Reader which have received considerable attention from Computer Lib/Dream Machine proved vital to the technocultural development of the theorizing ubicomp at a paradigmatic level (i.e., transversal to feature level innovations in a given product area). Conceptual work that strives to think at the level of the paradigm carries a key benefit: one does not willfully subject the rhetorical life of his/her insights to the planned obsolescence intrinsic to capitalist economies of per manent innovation. Moreover, as Adam Greenfield argues, the academic habit of carving out niches of hyper ways in which people actually experience ubicomp platforms (15). Because W they invent ubicomp in both a technical and a discursive sense I engage with them from the standpoint of heuretics That is, I among other things identify and articulate the logic of invention operative in avant garde discourses on method ( Heuretics the generative resources that function as contrasts and analogies for his formation of ubicomp, the theories he dr aws upon, the domain of application that his work targets tale we can gain a more nuanced of
114 the grammatization processes orienting current ubicomp development, particularly those that have been overlooked by r ecent scholarship across the humanities. frustration with PCs provides historians of computing with a decisive schema for indicates a three wave progression: mainframe computers, personal computers, and ubiquitous computing. As the terminology implies, there is a shift from computers to computing from rooms full of clunky machinery to desktops to laptops to an expanding array of smart mobile/wearable devices, smart objects, and smart environments. What motivated Weiser (and his colleagues at PARC) to push computing rel entlessly in the direction of these latter manifestations? Why was he so contemptuous of PCs, which after all, had only been on the market a few years before his publications started to appear? 1) PCs demand too attention and arrest their movement; (3) PCs are too isolated from one another; and (4) as a general result, PCs tend to alienate or at least temporally bar p eople from one another, their surroundings, and non computational activities. In raising this first point, Weiser maintains that the modalities of human computer interaction (HCI) typical to PCs reinforce a fundamental split, instituted by mainframe comput ers, between the actions required to engage computation and the more conventional actions that people engage
115 he computer nonetheless for the 21 st ad learned programming artists who learned to draw with the mouse and keyboard), people had to devote the bulk of their awareness to translating their actions into comm ands or at least gestures that the PC recognized. Of course, the Graphical User Interface (GUI) of early PCs like the Apple Macintosh transformed the HCI modalities of command line interfaces, such that computers could be operated by clicking on windows, f olders, and icons displayed visually on a virtual desktop. And yet, in making basic computational operations easier to master, the GUI still did not solve what Weiser took to be a larger problem: the underlying fact that PCs regulate human attention and mo vement to the virtual space of an isolated box/screen and its limited set of arbitrary interaction modalities. Noting the spaces in which computation could take place via PCs, Weiser casts several general descriptions that more or less evoke his central i nabooks, [and] netbook workflow and daily activities. Making the computer mobile multiplies the spaces in which PC interaction modalities can take place; mobility alone doe s nothing to alter character of the interaction modalities themselves. People equipped with mobile computers may
116 be able to engage computation amidst otherwise non computational, pedestrian settings (e.g., parks, subways, sidewalks, etc.), but mobile devic es that retain the basic interaction modalities of the PC era do not sense or engage with the real time actions taking place in the surrounding environment and so operating them requires users to disengage, if only momentarily, from their surrounding as we ll. According to Weiser, carried to the beach, jungle or airport. Even the most powerful network computer, with access to a worldwide information network, still focuses attent Today, amidst the proliferation of smart mobile devices, reminding ourselves of this below in my critique of recent mobile media schol arship, much of which has all too readily proclaimed smartphones as the emblems of ubicomp. In contrast to the PC paradigm, Weiser and his colleagues sought to circumnavigate virtual reality. Weiser believed that virtual reality of which the desktop GUI i s a basic model created maps that excluded territories (94). The icons and figures of the desktop interface, as Steven Johnson explains, create a visual metaphor that uses the familiarity of a typical office environment as a vehicle to help people navigate a seemingly infinite and incoherent array of binary code and electrical currents vehicle, Weiser envisioned the opposite scenario: he wanted to install computing pow er into everyday objects and environments, so that people could engage computation without disengaging from the things that surround them the things they already operate and/or live among. In doing so, the ubicomp paradigm would not turn these
117 things into computers but would instead aim to dissolve into things and animate them with the task specific functionality, always with for t he 21 st wherein each smart object communicates with other smart objects to perform operations in respons e to a certain set of movements and behaviors. Emphasizing this relational and contextual mode of operating, Weiser draws a further distinction between PCs and ubicomp, as he suggest that, in the latter paradigm, computing power comes these devices (100). In other words, one designs and evaluates the computing power of a smart object in proportion to the relations it sustains with/in smart environments. Smart environments sustain a real ti me feedback loop based on the sensing and actuating capacities afforded by smart objects relating to each other; for example, when a sensor embedded into a door identifies authorized personnel by tracking a microchip embedded in their wearable ID badge, th e data processed by the sensor actuates or prompts a programmed action: in this case, unlocking and opening the door when authorized personnel approach. In such cases, computational media syncs with the action of humans and other actants, and they perform actions in response to real time activity conventions that had, during that time, successfully oriented industrial productio n and consumer expectation. Because his vision for ubicomp was such a radical departure,
118 of them and alienated them from the surrounding environment, then why burden people with more computers? Ubicomp no doubt calls for a tenfold increase in computing; however, understood as a new paradigm, ubicomp is not just about living with more computer s, but rather about inventing whole new kinds of computers to live with. Searching for solutions, in contrast to the problems of PCs, Weiser repeatedly consults the history of writing. For Weiser, computing needs to become more like writing, which he clas sifies as that we can carry with us and easily embed into our everyday environments (94). In fact, each of the three categories Weiser formulates to guide the production of ubicomp hardware tabs, pads, and boards are inspired by and defined by analogy to forms of writing commonly found in modern offices: post it notes, pocket size notebooks, sheets of paper, chalk or dry erase boards (98 9). Many of the paradigmatic differ ences between ubicomp and personal computing stem from this basic maneuver: to envision computing in the image of writing, and no longer in the image of furniture. In this sense, Weiser redirects the tradition of constructing interface metaphors drawn from the modern office; he looks beyond the scene of the desktop, toward the writing that circulates at its margins. Writing is already ubiquitous, at least in the context of literate societies ooks, magazines and newspapers convey written information, but so do street signs, billboards, shop signs
119 to books in general; to fully appreciate the inescapable influence of writing within contemporary life, one must note the more subtle written texts spread across the build environment. For instance, imagine navigating your way through a large international airport without any writing no gate numbers, no arrival/departure boards, no written flight information, etc. Entertaining this thought experiment, applied to any complex site of social interaction (and even relatively simple venues), brings into focus wh absorb [written] information without consciously anchored in sender receiver, signal transmission models of communication. Later in C hapter 4 I will explore the prospects of theori zing ubicomp from different perspectives on writing, namely those of Derrida and Stiegler introduced in C hapter 3 Throughout his influential papers, Weiser like Stiegler draws analogies between the current state of computing and relevant periods in scriba l, manuscript, and print cultures. After he depicts writing as the ideal medium of seamless human technology interaction, Weiser projects the future of human computer interaction ing has evolved in immense and evidently unforeseen ways from the clay tablets of ancient Sumer to the experimental novels of James Joyce (102). Weiser situates PCs toward to the
120 period when scribes had to know as much about making ink or baking clay as they did readers to see the history (and future) of computing in three progressive stages culminating in ubicomp which, by virtue of its position in the analogy, shines as the most democratic, sophisticated, convenient, and productive stage. In short, the ubicomp research agenda intends to develop computing in the same manner that the great W estern civilizations developed orthographic writing: from specialized usages among elite groups toward mass adoption and fluid integration into everyday life. themselves into the fabric o st writing sets iteration, demands active attentio n. Regardless of their literacy levels, readers of Being and Time or Of Grammatology for example, will not get very far if they do not inhabit peal to writing emphasizes one its circumstantial capacities, not its essence. From this circumstantial capacity exhibited most widely in public writing embedded at particular scenes of decision (street signs, ads, product packaging, etc.) Weiser pontifica tes on the nature of technology, and, more to his point, on the For Weiser, good tools and profound technologies effectively recede into the background of human activities all t he while enhancing them. He believes, A good tool is an invisible tool. By invisible, I mean that the tool does not intrude on your consciousness; you focus on the tasks, not the tool.
121 Eyeglasses are a good tool you look at the world, not the eyeglasses. T he blind man tapping the cane feels the street, not the cane. Of course, the tools are not invisible in themselves, but as part of a context of use (7). should be, above all, premised upon invisibility. He objects to the common metaphors associated with desktop GUIs (virtual windows, intelligent agents, television and multimedia) because each of them makes the computer the center of attention (7 8). Indeed, the rise of ubicomp may warrant critical perspectives that question the inherent privilege with which radio film television scholarship has claimed to study new media, as if those three media held an undisputed parentage over computers. Many cinema and media scholars, includ ing N. D. Rodwich and Lev Manovich, have professed to see in digital computing the virtual life of film, to s uch an extent that Manovich proclaims What was cinema is now the human Language of New Media 86). Manovich insists further that, th century, cinema has become the dominant cultural logic and interface metaphor of our time ifestos, however, these cinematic understandings of interfaces appear well suited to the virtual reality of PCs, but not necessarily appropriate writing is being obsolesc ed by cinematic computing thus seems less of a historical certainty and more a technoculturally situated observation specific to recent conditions. The future of computing, as Weiser leads us to imagine, is resolutely boundless. one comes upon what must be some of the most poetic moments in the history of computer science discourse. In addition to being like writing,
122 21 st like our childhood: an invisible foundation that is quickly forgotten but always with us, Five years prior to t Winograd and Fernando Flores published Understanding Computers and Cognition a widely read book that, among other things, introduced computer scientists and HCI researchers to the philosophy of Mart in Heidegger. Weiser only cites Heidegger once in to metaphors. Briefly put, in Heideggerian te rms, readiness to hand signifies a mode of encountering entities as equipment ; that is, Dasein takes up the entity (a pencil, a screwdriver, a gun, etc.) in order to achieve certain tasks. Ontologically prior to scientific reflection, readiness to hand nam es an instrumental orientation to entities in the world. Heidegger elaborates on this notion through the everyday example of using a hammer: The less we just stare at the hammer thing, and the more we seize hold of it and use it, the more primordial does our relationship to it become, and the more unveiledly is it encountered as that which it is as equipment. The kind of Being which equipment possesses in which it manifests itself i n its own right to Being and Time 98) readiness to Dasein of the PC paradigm essentially depicts desktops and the HCI conventions associated with them as a set of un readiness to hand circumstances to which people have been forced to succumb (if they want to engage with computers). In other words, the normative functionali ty of PCs amounts to, at best, a socially accepted dysfunctional
123 system: they are pieces of (un)equipment that require us to consciously reflect upon eiser does not just want ubicomp platforms to be easier to use than PCs; the ubicomp paradigm, in its most radical iterations, creates modes of HCI in been installed in everyd ay objects and settings, computing becomes more in sync with the established rhythms of daily life, apparently dissolving into so called natural behaviors and environments. on the philosophical underpinnings of ubicomp, and commented specifically on the of wh om advanced their field in similar directions in response to roughly equivalent problems. Breaking from the Cartesian dualism of his mentor, Edmund Husserl, Heidegger rejected the mind/body split conventional to Western metaphysics; rather then reflecting on the mental phenomena within the brackets of the cogito at the expense of being in the world (Dourish Where the Action Is 107). In order to think, first I must be, and being is always being in the world. More generally, phenomenology sought to (re)assert the primacy of d
124 split (i.e., digital dualism) that still structures popular and scholarly conception s of digital he Computer for the 21 st in the world effectively promoted a reconciliation of embodied action and abstract meaning, as Dourish suggests, then we might understand the ubicomp research agenda prop elled by this theory in terms of an ongoing drive to reconcile or sync computational operations with established rhythms of human actions. If existential phenomenology theorizes the meaning of being on the basis of action, ubicomp develops computing from t he standpoint of action, and so as I will argue in C hapter 5 digital media that circulate amidst ubicomp platforms stand to encounter, affect, and be affected by the actions of actants in new ways. How do technologists begin to make computers function more in tune with human action? Where is the site of intervention that initiates this paradigm shift? Producing more computers that are smaller and capable to networking with one another is necessary, but not sufficient. As Weiser and his PARC colleague John S eely Brown The Coming Age of Calm Technology ubicomp targets the general flow of information across the workplace, the home, and other everyday environments. A goal of ubicomp is to make these flows of information calm
125 W ting information requires our utmost attention, and further that, due to the un readiness of in the manner of a zero sum game. break down the flux of information circulating among personal computers. Here, we can begin to describe work that processes of writing, for example, breaks down the flux of speech into a finite system of recognizable characters that are, on the one hand, iterable and modula r, and on the other hand, development of the GUI and its WIMPs in the 1970s broke the command line interface into a set of visual cues and symbols. In contrast to the c appropriate option to click on from a drop down menu, and no longer needs to remember (or cumbersomely retrieve) precise bits of arbitrary comma nd language in order to perform even the most basic operations. To a degree, the impact of this process mirrors that of the alphabetization of speech. Both cases establish a new relation between hypomnesis (i.e., the technical exteriorization of memory) an d anamnesis (i.e., the embodied act of remembering). Whereas speech and the command
126 line require people to perform anamnesis, qua deferring to content stored in another computat ional text), alphabetic writing and the GUI have language and commands structurally embedded into them. To engage with alphabetic characters and WIMPs is to mobilize those signifying functions of phonetic language and computer code, respectively, which hav e been rendered discreet, iterable, and modular. One can signify via these entities these gramme without having to recall, let alone consciously engage with, the fluxes of pronunciation or programming. Now, from the standpoint of ubicomp, the recognizabl e entities that have structured the flow of data/information since the PC era GUIs and WIMPs have become the new flux, the new continuity that will have been broken down further through the subsequent invention of yet another discrete set of gramme Every process of grammatization accrues by articulating (itself as) a figurative breakdown of a prior process of grammatization. First and foremost, ubicomp cuts into the flux of inputs orienting the continuity of HCI conventional to PCs. Beyond the mouse and ke yboard, classes of so called input mechanisms. Creating a new technics of input creates a new economy of contribution, which conditions the possibility of interaction modalities w hereby flows of data/information become generated, organized, presented, and manipulated in unprecedented manners. For instance, two related stands of current development efforts strive to build interfaces that render digital data tangible and ambient In the case of tangible interfaces (sometimes referred to as physical computing or NUIs), one no longer clicks
127 on keyboard and mouse buttons to manipulate virtual elements on the screen; instead, the presentation of information and the capacity to manipulate it are both integrated into actual artifacts qua smart objects. Computer scientist Aaron Quigley describes the novelty of tangible HCI modalities as follows: a user manipulates a physical artifact with physical gestures, this is sensed by the system, act ed upon, and feedback is given. TUIs [i.e., tangible user interface] attempt to bridge the digital physical divide by placing digital information in situ coupled to clearly related physical artifacts. The artifacts provide sites for both input, using well understood affordances, and can act as output from the system. Unlike the GUI, a classical TUI device makes no Tangible interfaces assign a more indexical role to bodies in motion, and t o a much wider vocabulary of gestures than those registered by PC input mechanisms. We have moved form typing remembered codes into a command line, to double clicking recognizable visual cues, and now exhibited most notably in Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Ki nect game play to manipulating (and received real time haptic feedback from) computational objects via a range of spontaneous, intuitive, or, at the very least, non proscribed bodily gestures. Furthermore, recent developments in the area of ambient interfa ces suggest emerging modalities of interaction that circumnavigate the PCs reliance on intentional human input; ambient interfaces are alternatively designed to register and respond to a diverse mix of dynamic variable in a targeted area. On the infrastruc tural basis of low cost sensors, which can be embedded in environments or worn on and implanted inside of bodies, ambient interface design radically opens the domain of computational operation, such that the flow of information amidst ubicomp platforms ebb s and shores according to the gramma logics emergent from a general economy of actants, many of whose actions and properties are structurally excluded
128 from the feedback loops at the core the PC paradigm (i.e., transition from pre determined programs to pro grams). Ultimately, in syncing computing with everyday actions and environments, Weiser hopes ubicomp will attune us (and computers) to a wealth of relevant computational information and functionality, but do so in ways that do not require us to attend constantly and explicitly to those information streams. Computing should decentralizes the flux of comp utation, making it more pervasive and localized, but also more marginal. Ubicomp exists everywhere (theoretically), but always defaulting to the periphery center and the periphery of our attent (Weiser and Brown 3). In contrast to PCs, ubicomp interaction occurs at the periphery of otherwise non discursive action. We already see all sorts of scenarios, absolutely impractical if not impossibl e with PCs, in which people engage with computing while they remain engaged in another activity. A runner wearing a Nike+ sensor, for example, generates a digital data visualization as she runs; each stride produces an indexical trace recorded and stored o n an online database. She runs, and her running is computing. Situated actions like these, occurring in traditionally non computational environments, become computing and the flow of digital information. Moreover, the flow of information and
129 functionality bifurcates into the most elemental configurations, becoming more and more discreet, until it resides calmly in the periphery of a given HCI situation. The final slot of Ulmer Heuretics 4). In the case of ubicomp, int beyond the scene of his writing, as he reports on technologies in development at PARC, which were being designed to manifest some of Weiser outlines merit further atte We must also note, however, the distinction Weiser makes between his near term expectations and his far future ambitions. In order to apprehend the scope of the latter, we must also attend to Weise ubicomp development. Accounting for the full spectrum of his tale will help us see that e Computer for the 21 st the article that introduced tabs, pads, and boards Weiser referred to these three classes of devices the thought process that oriented his project, starting with the ultimate question guiding his research on ubicomp: Could I design a radically new kind of computer that could more deeply participate in the world of people? ... As I began to glimpse what s uch an information appliance might look like, I saw that it would be so different from out, instead, to build some things that my colleagues and I could put in use, things as diffe technology that could be made solid today. Using these things would then change us. From that new perspective, I would then again try to glimpse our
130 Tabs, pads, and boards are the computers one needs to build and engage with, in order to then rethink computing for the twenty first century. In other words, distributed or mobile computing is a bridge to more creates new ports that effectively scatter established PC information flows across a multitude of inch scale (tabs), foot scale (pads), and yard scale (boards), with the intended consequence of making compu ting more amenable to real time tracking, rapid prototyping, and multiple forms of collaboration. Tabs, pads, and boards as Weiser pitches them create the conditions for ubicomp experimentation; he does not present them in the manner of a product demonstra tion, as is most often the tale of through which lab based technical inventions are put on display for general audiences. Of course, a variety of commercial products from first generation PDAs to iPhones and iPads have since proven the value and appeal of these three hardware genres as standalone mobile devices. And yet, as I will begin to argue in the following sections, one can clearly distinguish between contemporary mobile media (and scholarship about them) that currently act as a site for ubicomp devel opment and, more commonly, cases in which mobile hardware is appropriated merely as smaller extensions of the PC paradigm. professional (named Sal), who lives at some unspecif ied period in the future, when mobile and embedded devices have become thoroughly integrated into the social fabric of everyday life. Hence, the narrative imagines some ways in which mobile and embedded devices might function relative to the ubicomp paradi gm, not as tiny PCs.
131 From the moment Sal wakes up, she encounters a series of computers, each build discreetly into her home and work environment, that operate on the basis of her movements, speech, and gestures; and in accordance with a range of custom se ttings specific to her preferences. Her coffee maker syncs with her alarm clock; some of the recent pedestrian and vehicular traffic that occurred near her property for the 21 st smart pen, the highlighted text is sent to another computer at her office. During her drive ction as interfaces, displaying real time navigational information, even recommending an optimal parking spot. As soon as Sal enters the office building (wearing her ID badge), all of the electronics at her workspace turn on, while she chats with a few col leagues. At work, Sal uses tabs and pads to share her screens, her location with collaborators, and edit documents projected onto the walls. With so many devices active, whole new kinds of tored in search friendly formats, just in case Sal ever needs to access a fractional bit of this information in the future. Beyond Mobility and Location mobile devices to smart environments w herein the embodied interactions among the devices and specific bodies in motion have become the crux of computation and ad hoc networking. Obviously, this day in the life overview provides only the slightest glimpse of potential ubicomp scenarios, and the life as an employee at Xerox PARC, where research revolved around workplace
132 agined from the standpoint of a research scientist.) turn out to be an unrealistic technological utopia, or at least a highly exclusive luxury reserved for a privilege d elite, adding another level to the digital divide. For instance, mobile media scholar Jason Farman predicts that smart objects, let this claim, as well as statistics indicating the global spread of smartphones, Farman aims to justify his methodological decision to limit the ubicomp paradigm to current mobile devices. He suggests that theorists who associate ubicomp with broader develop ments beyond mobile are living on a prayer, so to speak, bs, pads, and boards) would reach a critical mass by 2011. Consumer reports from 2012 show that worldwide PC sells are decreasing dramatically, accessing the Net from mobile devices will surpass the n ( Anderson and Wolff). And yet, we must remember, the popular success of mobile computing marks the onset of the ubicom p paradigm. For Weiser, these mobile devices, which he helped invent, from the outset marked the enabling conditions within which to invent more radically; tabs, pads, and boards are not the pinnacle or culmination of ubicomp. While I agree that certain it erations of mobile media do act as an intriguing
133 his willful reduction of ubicomp to smartphones to be consistent with the PC paradigm, at least to the extent that he considers personal ownership o f a codified device a criteria for the arrival (or lack of arrival) of a given technology. more widespread than multimillion dollar mansions are now; most small businesses ca ubicomp is not about personal computing. Cities all over the world (and not just the pu blic access, in the service a variety of civic and cultural initiatives. For example, in 2007, the Spanish city of Zaragoza commissioned architect Carlo Ratti and his lab at MIT to build the public smart environment eventually titled the Digital Water Pavi lion writing, which senses dynamic variables in the surrounding environment and actuates structural and rhetorical changes in response to real time activity. Accountin g for current growth of public ubicomp projects like this allows us to engage the full spectrum of the to the medium specificity of the latest product line of electronic boxes. Noting the environments rather than postulating a division between them is paramount to cultivating a paradigmatic understanding of ubicomp and the shifts it is giving rise to in various domains of technocultural practice.
134 The critical question, as Stiegler insists, concerns the kind of interpretation we give to ubicomp, as an unfolding process of grammatization. What technical capacities do our theoretical characterizations foreground? How do we understand emerging social practices in relation to this paradigm shift in popular computing? The idea of desktop age. Scholarship on ubicomp qua mobile media stresses, above all, the c apabilities and phenomena associated with anytime anywhere Internet connectivity. Smart mobile devices have certainly extended computing to an unprecedented array of everyday activities: surfing the Web while waiting in line at the grocery store, transferr ing funds between bank accounts while the waiter prints the check, replying to email while walking the dog, etc. In this sense, Internet enable mobile devices initiate a stronger link between human action and computational media than the more stationary us e parameters inherent to desktops and laptops. That said, the majority of mobile media practices today at least those measured by American statistical studies constitute nothing less than the coopting of ubicomp technologies by the PC paradigm, perhaps Wei words, while smart mobile devices clearly bring the virtuality of computation out of clunky computers, the models of computing that they bring are those of PCs. Most alarmingly, the bulk of smartphone usages perpetuate modes of human computer interaction that divide the virtual reality of the screen from the activities occurring in the total one, of course; I may read an email on my smart phone that adds to my environmental awareness in that moment, and at any rate, a dialogical co influence always exists between my geographical situated experience and whatever media I am
135 accessing on the go, regardless of its relevance. What we cannot igno re, however, is the statistical evidence the pragmatic reality that the PC oriented design of most mobile platforms requires people to disengage from their surroundings in order to engage with computation media, if only for a fatal moment. Had he lived to see the rise media practices spread the very elements of PCs that Weiser so vehemently critiqued; the ways in which one must engage with a desktop have now become regular wa ys of behaving anytime anywhere. What were once simply points of irritation among America. The theoretical task to think ubicomp beyond PC oriented, mobility centered interp retations is at once an ethical imperative. In this context, the wisdom of Weiser context a valorizing anytime anywhere connectivity as the quintessential capacity of post desktop computing, many designers and scholars of mobile media neglect to address the discord that is computationa l media. Nowhere is this more evident than with the issue of distracted driving.
136 As with guns, one can always claim that PC oriented mobile devices in themselves do not kill people, and that the real problem is irresponsibly on the part of certain people. Such claims, valid as they may be, do not solve the problem. Public service announcements and awareness raising commercials cannot inspire overnight changes to deeply engrained social practices, let alone cases of media addiction. Any addictions to guns a nd to shooting people are (fortunately) not as widespread as the addiction to videogames and shooting digital characters, and perhaps the psychological pull of the latter pails in comparison to the drives of text messaging and social networking. At the tim e of writing, smartphone related distracted driving kills more people than do bullets in America. Reports indicate that distracted driving is statistically more dangerous that drinking and driving. According to the National Safety Council, one forth of all while, studies released in the f all of 2012 show that the percentage of American adults rose thirty five percent since the Spring of 2011 smartphone use while driving have failed to slow the steady increase of crashes, especially among teenage drivers nearly half of whom admitted, in a 2012 NHTSA survey, they send t ext s and emails while driving ( Halsey). Acknowledging the futility of legislative regulations and calls for mass self discipline, software developer Erik Wood created an mobile app called Otter, which is designed to pull up customized, already composed text messages in response to an incoming text; this feature minimizes the effort needed to send a reply one chooses from a list of likely relevant responses, replying in one click, rather than typing an entire message. Technological quasi
137 solutions such as the se represent the threshold of what is possible when conceptions of ubicomp platforms remain wedded to the PC era. Beyond the PC oriented models of mobile media, we need a new interpretation of ubicomp to help orient contemporary technical development, mul timedia production, aware computing marks a productive step on the way to a more comprehensive framework. With the rise of geoinformation and the democratization of GPS over the p ast decade, scholars increasingly discuss mobile devices in terms of their evolving capabilities to help us locate places, attach digital data to particular locations, and trace the current position of users within location based social networks. Several m edia critics, including social production, along with Situationist practices such as detournement and derive as theoretical resources for understanding the potential of loc ative media practices to reconstruct both our experience of everyday places and the arrangement of media on the Web. Whereas most early commercial iterations of location based services were limited simply to consumer way finding (e.g., helping tourists fin d the nearest Starbucks generated geomobile cording to Adriana de Souza e Silva, location that such networks and
138 (i.e., mobile users) wander through physical space, thereby attribu ting a level of importance to location, which in the early years of the Web was, by contrast, largely (267). The difference, then, between mobile media and locative media as interpretations of the ubicomp paradigm is that locative media theories and practices hinge upon the intersection of digital media and physical locations, which is an affordance of mobile technologies, of course, but the anytime anywhere connectivity d riving conceptions of mobile media is, in locative frameworks, no longer the chief focal point orienting design, user experience, and critical reflection. compositionists Tim Lindg the history of composition scholarship exhibits a clear division between, one the one hand, place based studies of writing pursued by scholars associated with ecocomposition, environmental rhetoric, cultural geography, and public writing; and, on the other hand, the work of scholars exploring the rhetorical and pedagogical import of various digital writing technolog place based pedagogy and new media technologies providing mechanisms for the articulation, monitoring, and evolutio
139 American cities. Collectively, these p rojects showcase the potential for place based writing pedagogy to integrate digital technologies into assignments designed to build local knowledge, cultivate environmental awareness, and strengthen existential ties to place. Locative media and the geospa tial arrangement of the Web have transformed the relationship between place and technology, such that digital information and physical location site and screen co construct one another. If the 1990s Web qua cyberspace endorsed a dualistic model in which di gital worlds represented a virtual (as in fantastical) territory apart from the material realities, the geospatial Web resides on location as a virtual flow, which, in a Deleuzian sense of becoming, actualizes new potentials amidst already perceptible actu alities (De Souza e Silva and Sutko 33). Now that online content can be organized and accessed on the basis of geographical coordinates, opportunities abound for local groups to initiate crowdsourcing projects in which members of a neighborhood or city con between a place and locally curated media about that place qua news, narratives, Crawford and Goggin, is that these community bas ed locative media projects model a promising trajectory for rhetoric and composition pedagogy amidst the ongoing development of ubicomp writing spaces. considerations of recent di gital artworks. Most importantly, for our purposes, she provides a board view of ways in which mobile media give way to locative media; below, I will suggest that the emphasis on location has begun to reveal limitations of its own, and that we need a new, more precise focal point to make better sense of contemporary
140 communication, Raley moves from the anytime anywhere quality of SMS poetry toward participatory interfaces set in public spaces. While she seems to prioritize the latter, Raley insists that even poems and narratives delivered to mobile users on a global scale entail an environmental aesthetic, even when authors do not attach their work to any specific geographi cal locations. That is, the general ability to be in motion among places is a core dynamic underlying the reception of such works, such that they comprise a genre apart from the kinds of webtexts traditionally catalogued under headings like net art or elec text [message] creates situations in which the chance meeting of text and reading emerge, singular and perfor In the case of public installations, artists create participatory interfaces, which in effect establish smart environments, as pedestrians with mobile d evices contribute time for all to experience and possible interact like mobile media poetics, are tending toward multiple ra ther than single screens, live performances rather than private consumption, and crowds rather than the single Mobile Interface Theory and/or access locative media) signals a similar progression, from PC oriented mobile
141 media to ubicomp inspired locative media, unfolding over th e course of his book. His introduction strenuously qualifies smartphones as emblems of ubicomp; his conclusion s privileging of mobile especially his reflections on information landscapes, which I touch on below. That said, a critical distinction can be drawn from his study of mobile and locative media, as well as the related articles I have discussed above. As I stated at the onset of C hapter 4 ubicomp platforms are mobile, locative, wearable, projected, embedded, and implanted. Transversal to each of these categories, the ult whereby people can engage with (or unconsciously be engaged by) computational media without having to disengage from whatever else the might be doing, without having to bracket the surrou nding environment. Much of the recent scholarship on mobile and locative media appeals to the ubicomp paradigm only as a means to historicize the rise of smartphones, GPS navigators, and other recently widespread devices. One gets the impression that mobil e and locative computing has succeeded we readily gather that the most popular iterations of mobile and locative media today have much more in common with the PC pa radigm. The most common activities supported by anytime anywhere connectivity (i.e., checking email, playing videogames, consuming news), as well as location location to the Web (e.g., Foursquare), tend to reinfor ce the HCI models of PCs, even
142 as they vastly extend the reach of computing. On the other hand, the outliers of mobile and locative media the technologies and practices that constitute smart environments (be they elaborate architectural installations or cl oud based ah hoc networks) do resonate with the ubicomp paradigm. In such cases, mobile devices facilitate location aware capabilities; for instance, one finds a video about the Jefferson Memorial by ooking at it via AR glasses), rather than searching Google or YouTube in order to find the video. Nevertheless, when we really push at this emphasis on location, we will find that it cannot bear much critical or creative weight. How does the fact that an image, a video, a song, or a website has been geotagged for random access at a given location become significant? If I make a geoannotation in a forest that no one inhabits, does it mean anything? Does it have any effect on the world? How many iterations o f locative media today do people find compelling enough to engage with on a regular basis? I venture that any locative media projects which people do find compelling, such as those artworks and community practices acknowledged by multiple scholars, are com pelling not because of their relation to physical location, but rather due to their relation to actions that may be occurring at a physical location. In other words, I am compelled to watch a video on the Jefferson Memorial because I am taking a tour or do ing research not because I am passing by the monument on my way to catch the bus. The technical phenomenon that the video is geotagged at the memorial site enables it to correspond with my actions there, but the significance accrues from relations between the multimedia and my actions not yet significant. Just as locative media has proven a more salient term than mobile
143 media for discussing post desktop scenarios involving the conjunction of digital da ta and physical location (the significance of which, in any notable cases, implies a relation to embodied actions of some sort), a new term is needed to support invention and inquiry into an emerging wave of ubicomp development whereby media syncs with the real time actions of a variety of actants, human and nonhuman. I propose a new term and framework for this class of media in C hapter 5 First we still need to address another central theme that has defined scholarship on ubicomp across the arts and human ities disciplines. The Space of Ubicomp Tragically, Weiser died in 1999, at the age of forty six. His work on ubicomp, leading researchers and inventors in computer scie nce and interaction design. The global proliferation of smart mobile devices, recent advancements in smart infrastructure, and other ubicomp projects currently in development all stand as strong research team at PARC] indicated above, the recent commercialization of ubicomp qua smartphones has put it e done, particularly in fields beyond computer science where scholars and non academic professionals have just started to think seriously about the cultural implications of ubicomp. Observing trends in computing and scholarship, Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell reflect insightfully on the rhetorical life of ubicomp discourse and its ongoing circulation from undercurrent to new wave across a number of intellectual milieus:
144 [Ubicomp] has come to be broadly recognized in academic, commercial, and government se ttings worldwide as one of the key agendas for information technology research. And it has held sway, in a range of sites and guises, for more than twenty years. Influencing more than two generations of scholars, it has become a foundational story, a techn omyth, in computer science and allied fields and as a result has shaped the kinds of technologies that have been made and also made possible. (3) urban public spaces we re the first to seize upon the transdisciplinary significance of ubicomp research. Their spatial meditations over the past decade constitute the most sustained line of inquiry connecting lab based research and development with the conceptual resources of t he arts and humanities disciplines. Indeed, one may claim, without hesitation, that the vast majority of humanities scholarship about ubicomp has been about ubicomp and space. Taking inventory of key texts in this area will prepare us for the task of theor izing scenarios in which media circulates across the writing spaces of ubicomp. Additionally, recent efforts to rethink spatiality and architectural practice in light of ubicomp will also serve as critical departure points for taking up pragmatic questions concerning writing, rhetoric, and multimedia production in similar contexts. Digital Ground was the first major work to explain ubicomp (or pervasive computing) to a general humanities readership. More specifically, McCull ough attempted to persuade architects, designers, and scholars that this emerging technocultural paradigm carries new challenges and new opportunities for built environments in the twenty first century. In shaping the build environment, architects have alw ays been privy to the ways in which materials frame and cue social based virtual worlds also organize informational flux, doing so via
145 an autonomou s, computational logic that marginalizes the otherwise decisive impact of physical arrangements. Prior to ubicomp, architects engaged with digital media as a design and modeling tool, which, in spite of its utility, seemed to represent a new spatial order (i.e., bits) in opposition to both architectural and natural entities (i.e., atoms). significance of ubicomp is that it promises to write this opposition under erasure ( McCullough xiv). In asserting the relevance of ubicomp to architecture, McCullough constantly lling into architectural structures the operations and functions associated with computational interfaces (McCullough 47). Henceforth, architects must incorporate this pervasive digital layer as a spatial, structural variable in their design thinking. McCu llough lists several technical components (e.g., microprocessor, sensors, actuators, tags) that (49). Sensors, for example, are embedded into physical environments in order to recognize any changes in the state of some dynamic variable. When enough sensors programmabili patterns (in traffic, weather, etc.) and reconfigure themselves via actuators in response to those patterns. Sensors detect action, which becomes written into the system as input t o be interpreted by actuators, which then perform a programmed
146 action. One might say that sensing and actuating are the machinic equivalents of reading and writing. Furthermore, like sensors, tags link networked digital media to precise locations and to bo dies in motion. QR codes and geotags render all manner of living pets or commercial products, can be tracked in order to determine the identity and location (current and past) of a variety of actants in real time. digital between computers and a rchitecture. By embedding computation into the build environment, architects can create structures that not only affect action and behavior, but also become affected by the variety of social, geographical, material, and discursive flows that traverse terri tories within the reach of a given sensor network. The real time arrangement, sends cues back to the building in turn, effectively altering some aspects on. Ultimately, the ubicomp technologies that support context aware structures provide architects with more resources to gauge and design for inhabit those structures (72). D etermined to make the most of these ubicomp affordances, McCullough reframes architectural design around the following question: negotiating, places for monitoring, etc.) outlines thirty ways of designing physical digital systems optimized for commonplace modes of human activity, and can thus be read productively alongside the work of fellow
147 architect critic Anna Klingmann. Departin g from the modernist imperative to make form follow function, Klingmann calls for a paradigm shift in her field as she urges her perfection of the object to the transformation of the subject t the intersection of ubicomp and architecture, the action of embodied subjects (or actants) and the composition of the architectural object (re)shape one another in real time. Whereas Digital Ground emphasizes the structural fluctuations potential to physical digital systems and context Poetics of A physical space. Though the article is explicitly addressed to architects, Manovich gives much more attention than McCullough to the media (texts, images, sounds, etc.) that circulat e amidst ubicomp convergence of digital data and physical space lies less in how computing can sense and actuate real desktop plat forms can foster new interactive modalities between digital images, text, audio, etc. and the physical entities that comprise architectural spaces. hen formulate some initial principles to help orient screens, embedded in public and commerc ial venues, that display multimedia to mobile viewers who navigate freely amidst physical entities. Such scenarios were, at the time
148 ever, keenly aware of the ubicomp research and development agendas driving technical invention in university and corporate labs. Indeed, confident in the vitality of these agendas (e.g., augmented reality, smart objects, wearable computing, sensor networks etc.), Manovich predicted that, if the 1990s were anchored in PC cyberspace, then the coming decade(s) will be defined by the augmented space associated with mobile, post desktop multimedia experiences. He extends the analogy further: The previous icon of the computer era the VR user traveling in virtual space has been replaced by a new image: a person checking his or her email or making a phone call using a PDA/cell phone combo while at the airport, on the street, in a car, or any other actual existing space. (221) Hence, ambient video displays and mobile computing both stand, for Manovich, as early indicators of a new paradigm in media and space, with which he aligns the more radical ubicomp experiments expected to emerge from research labs in the futur e. Following Manovich, theorists of media and culture have increasingly begun to consider the ways a data space: extracting data from it (surveillance) or augmenting it with data (cellspace, other scholars have since proposed augmented space it is worth noting two examples Manovich discusses as aesthetic exemplars. the aesthetic potential of layering new information [i.e., multimedia] over a physical ay, a basic audio tour designed to provide museum visitors with relevant art historical information as they view
149 sort of fixed frame to stabilize the phenomena in question Her objective is not merely to contextualize art objects, but rather to trigger aesthetic, contemplative experiences physical, in these cases, is dynamic and never totally shaped (227). That is, Cardiff exploits the (disjunctive) interplay between multimedia sensations and environmental sensations; one hears the audio she has programmed (i n the past) while seeing whatever visual phenomena occupies or traverses the environment at that moment (in the present). A founding principle for a poetics of augmented space, then, is to design multimedia at the level of live, spatial experience amidst sp ecific physical places. incorporates multimedia displays into the very fabric of the designed retail space. In virtual physical dynamic whereby the audiovisual advertisements and the materiality of the clothes coalesce into a sort of general equivalence: By positioning screens showing moving images right next to clothes, the designers ironically refer to what eve rybody today already knows: we buy objects not for themselves but in order to emulate the specific images and narratives that are presented by the advertisements of these objects. (235) Premised on the ability to design both the physical space and the dig building suggests similar opportunities available to cultural institutions that manage curated spaces for visitors to inhabit. in his poetics between solo authored projects and large scale collective ones, which
150 typically involve more resources. Opportunities for rhetorical and aesthetic in(ter)vention abound at both ends of this spectrum. In either case, multimedia production has vital roles to play in the convergence of architecture and computing. Moreover, Manovich encourages critics to theorize points of interplay between the spatial dimensions of public cultural venues such as museums and the physical digital interaction modalities strive to understand artistic experiments with ubicomp platforms as incubators of avant garde interaction modalities ripe for development or appropriation by cultural, civic, and educational i nstitutions looking to engage ubicomp in their rhetorical or communicative endeavors. Since the emergence of mobile computing, communication r esearcher Adriana de Souza e Silva has played a leading role in scholarly efforts to describe the meeting of digital meeting is depicted in terms of convergence She employs the notion of a hybrid space, which, transversal to the opposition of a physical real and digital imaginary, merg es mobile users inh abit a third dimension of spatial experience hybrid space wherein remote (digital) contexts become accessible inside the present (physical) context (262). De Souza e Silva defines hybrid space and hybrid reality in contrast to augmented space and augmented reality, which she claims do not deal adequately with communication and social interaction. In other words, what she calls hybrid space does
151 not begin to emerge as a critical category until we account for its social production whenever people use mobile i nterfaces in public to access spatially remote contexts. De Souza e Silva maintains that the quasi telepresence supported by mobile devices differs mobile technologies is precisely the possibility of moving through space while the impression of digital physical con vergence is rooted in embodied acts of communication; borders between the digital and the physical dissolve only when people connected to distant contexts via mobile interfaces amidst public social space not nd of itself (de Souza e Silva 265). distinctions between the digital and the physical, or the virtual and the real, no longer hold critical value in the face of recent ubicomp de velopments. Writing in 2009, Rod focuses on the proliferation of smart objects as a key site of hybridity. In addition to digital physical convergence, he explains that smart objects things installed with computing power suggest a broad erasure of the subj ect/object dualism, on which user centered perspectives on design and HCI have been based since at least the 1980s. User centered frameworks align with a basic anthropocentric habit of Western metaphysics: to prioritize humans as thinking subjects in oppos ition to things as passive objects. (Eric Havelock argues that this crucial distinction owes its conceptual existence to the grammatological basis of alphabetic writing, as well as to the Plutonic development of literacy.) Rod believes that familiar user c entered approaches do not
152 opposition coincides with new materialist ontologies, which pro fess the vibrancy and agency of all inorganic matter, as well as the ways in which human minds and bodies are material assemblages. In light of this new techn(ont)ology, Rod proposes a fundamental shift in design thinking, which he addresses to the HCI com centered design, which too often treats things and places as mere props and inert backgrounds for human activity. This animate environments framework takes the com plexity of dynamic ecological relations as the departure point for design; in doing so, Rod hopes technologists will concentrate on thinking about the flow, that is happening between both human and non human elements, as well as between the environments a nd their elements and saturated animate environments, practically any actant (e.g., bodies in motion, inorganic matter, s multimedia production and circulation, and also programmed reactions to perform structural modifications any networked materials. Rod refers to experimental interactive design projects in technologists equip animals with wearable sensors, which gather da ta
153 potential to influence social action. For instance, in one of the projects called Fish Commu nication, underwater sensors created an interface that visualized the movements of otherwise imperceptible fish; upon realizing this, some people tossed food in the water, toward the real Focusing primarily on mobile dev ices, Jason Farman contends that the site specific affordances of the locative media create new conditions in which landscapes can now act as information landscapes. Whereas Rod comments about smart objects focus largely on things installed with computing power during the manufacturing process, Farman discusses various techniques by which people may create ad hoc links among physical surfaces, geographically locations, and digital media. For example, the placement of QR codes onto the surface of a material entity effectively creates a mobile accessible link between that thing and a selected website or multimedia file. Physical environments can thus be approach as sensory assets and navigation schemes for mobile Web design or any other endeavor of information architecture. Location time locations into their online status, transforming geography from an optional, contingent variable into a central piece of data that the app constantly tracks in order to orient the presentation of information to the user and to transcribe information about that user to other users on the network, whose identities are also geo spatially discerned. Furthermore, augmented reality apps particularly those that work in conjunction with ge otagged data establish a context aware mode of computing, whereby digital/networked media becomes triggered by and experienced in the same semiotic
154 frame as the particular landscapes which a developer has programmed that media to inhabit. As such, augmente d reality sometimes invoked as a paradigm unto itself supports medial interfaces that operate much differently than virtual reality platforms conventional to the PC era. Farman, after surveying these and other mobile interfaces on the horizon, predicts th and digital space since these spaces will simultaneously inform our experience of physical convergence already underway w facade doubles as a 24 story information interface that connects mobile users to URLs, AR content, social m edia feeds all of which stream (real time) information about the shops in the building and status updates from people (employees and shoppers alike) currently inside the shops. SixthSense, a much celebrated prototype at the time of b ased mobile technology that is worn around the neck...pictures [and other media files] can then be projected onto any surface and interactive with [via landscape or physica l entity (including human bodies in motion) can be made to serve as a computational screen and a surface of inscription an interface for digital reading and writing. QR codes link multimedia to physical entities, Sixthsense projects multimedia onto physica l entities, and augmented reality apps are capable of both projection and linking. All of these linking and projection capabilities lead Farman to emphasize the
155 potential roles that digital physical interfaces might play in the contextualization of places He reminds us that landscapes, especially in urban areas, have always been blanketed with texts and images in the form of street signs, graffiti, statues, billboards, digital information landscapes and the user driven, bottom up models of indexation and data management that often characterize them collectively re sensitize us to Derridean observation that context is never stable, certain, or even determinable a realiza tion that perhaps evades print cultures and the text/context distinction fundamental to most rhetorical traditions. And so, even though digital culture is just starting to explore the with the rhetorical and aesthetic activity contributing to the digital physical convergence carries with it a potentially significant sphere of influence impacting the everyday social ontological processes by which spaces become places and locations become locales (53). Researching urban living and digital aesthetics, Christian Ulrik Andersen and Sren Pold describe ubicomp as process of transcoding, whereby digital writing and computer programs migrate from desktops to everyday urban settings. Highlighting the discursive traditions quintessential to the rise of modern cities such as str eet signs, advertising, and graffiti (110). In recalling such practices, Andersen and Pold locate the Andersen and Pold, what distinguishes ubicomp from these other practices is the
156 laced with texts, images, and audiovisual electronics; that this media and other par ts of the street level infrastructure can be managed through computation is a recent phenomenon. Electric traffic lights provide an important albeit mundane example of the evolution of infrastructural media over the twentieth century. Invented in 1914, the first electric traffic lights were wired to switches that city employees operated manually from First Electric Traffic Signal traffic lights during the 1960s, and we have since witnessed a gradu al transition from detecting the presence of Toronto Traffic FAQ as high traffic intersections, we are experiencing the execution of computer scripts. Traffic light systems are visual media, situated at and responsive to crucial scenes of decision; at present, they constitute one of the most successful ways in which ubicomp has been integrated into the rhythms of everyday life, for the sake of enhancement. The system is very simple, of course. A column of thr ee colors arbitrates the flow of traffic, effecting patterns of social organization that almost never emerge spontaneously when drivers are left to their own devices. Traffic lights, emblematic of other mediums of scripted space, have been and remain a top down, state controlled production. The spread and democratization of ubicomp, however, enables the bottom up production of
157 scripted spaces. One can create media for ubicomp platforms well beyond simple traffic lights that resides at important scenes of de cision and action, with the aim to effect new patterns of social becoming. As Andersen and Pold suggest, rhetorical and aesthetic enterprises of this sort to support scrip ted spaces, Andersen and Pold observe that much of the computing people actually do in public while moving among one another remains personal or move through scripted sp always) competes with ou r ability to engage with the activities of the actants that surround us. Whereas embedded traffic lights prevent accidents, mobile text messaging contributes to them at an alarming rate. Rather than linking primarily to information pertaining to various re mote contexts, a collectively engaged scripted space would blogosphere and other vir tual agoras as they inhabit an urban setting, Andersen and participation computation out into the physical world is not in itself sufficient for creating a cultu re in
158 which digital media become integrated with for the sake of enriching the extra Beyond Digital Physical Convergence Several insights can be drawn fro m these spatial inquiries, and thus serve as cardinal points orienting the formation of a new conception of media in the age of ubicomp, beyond the limitations associated with terms like mobile media and locative media. Perhaps most importantly, theorists from Manovich to Farman clearly show how vital the architectural circulation of digital writing and multimedia will be to the increasingly sophisticated information landscapes that organize social flows, particularly in urban settings. As popular computing continues to shift toward the ubicomp paradigm, digital creatives must face up to new opportunities and new challenges. By all recent accounts, the discursive space of ubicomp differs from the model of cyberspace through which we have traditionally unders tood the Web. Environments can no longer be regarded as stable contexts or backdrops for personal computing; landscapes and cityscapes become navigational schema and sensory assets that play crucial rhetorical or aesthetic roles within the new writing spac es ubicomp founds. The domain of public writing that has always organized social flows is now open to ad hoc, bottom up production and indexation. Early architectural engagements with ubicomp prove instructive for thinking about post desktop futures of m ultimedia. Like ubicomp infused buildings, media texts become variety of otherwise non discursive flows within the reach of a given sensor network. A key objective in designin g and writing for ubicomp platforms is to cultivate
159 environmental knowing or aesthetic events by targeting experience economies specific to certain situated actions. Nevertheless, ubicomp breaks from restricted economies (instrumentalist and anthropocentri construction of users The image of the user a person staring intently at an isolated electronic box, either desktop or mobile, consciously imputing data via mouse, keyboard, or touch screen is no long er the exclusive (let alone central) focal point in ubicomp design processes. Beyond user centered models of HCI, contemporary ubicomp development broadens the scope of computing to emphasize the relations and alliances accruing in real actant among other actants, each of which supply movement or behavior to be sensed, actuated, and, in effect, translated into digital writing (i.e., networked gramme ) that initiates media effects, str uctural/architectural changes, or programmable reactions. Furthermore, we cannot address the social experience of augmented hybrid and scripted space without accounting for their grammatological constitution of (by) mnemotechnics (techniques and techn ologies of tertiary retention). While the spatial theories outlined above touch upon computational operations and multimedia production, they do so only to the extent that these technologies and techniques reconfigure social space. In other words, while sc holars congeal around the idea that ubicomp produces a new kind of space, very little work attends to the grammatological constitution of ubicomp interfaces, and even less addresses the question of how to produce multimedia for the writing spaces of ubicom p. Instead, transformative instances of writing and technology are gathered as a kind of obligatory scaffolding that is useful
160 for making claims about space, as if spatiality was the more fundamental issue. From the standpoint of grammatization, ubicomp is not primarily a spatial phenomenon that carries secondary potential to a space. The space of ubicomp is founded by the post desktop migration of writing and programming. Andersen and Pol key premise that writing theorists have invoked for decades: space (and time) are grammatological productions. Instead of leaping toward general propositions about space professing convergence, augmentation, an d hybridity media theorists might, in grammatization that underwrites this range of spatial impressions. Understanding the space of ubicomp requires us to think of (by) contemporary be responded to on a grammatological basis. Before taking up such calls, however, one must take note of a basic conceptual flaw they share with (or inher it from) all of the above spatial theories; namely, I wish to problematize their tendency to frame ubicomp platforms in terms of a general merger, coalescence, or convergence between the digital and the physical. For example, the highly innovative MIT arch itect Carlo Ratti increasing wealth of digital data layered over top of physical space of bits layered on s discussion of digital data being extracted from and delivered to mobile users in physical spaces, and de Souza e Silva, Rod, and digital and
161 physical spaces. Of course, each of these digital physical assertions could be traced to terms of a homogenous convergence of digital and physical space rests on a blatant contradiction and these theorists are themselves no doubt aware of it. Each of their insights catalogued at the start of this section can be strained away from logic of dig ital physical convergence, and be reframed to constitute the basis of a new position relative to ubicomp. In order to formulate that new approach; however, we can no longer resort to appeals professing a reconciliation of the digital and the physical. Ult imately, the problem with these reconciled binary approaches to ubicomp is that critics and scholars who invoke them seem to equate the mere acknowledgement of conceptual limitations with their transcendence. Nowhere is this tendency more evident than in N Jurgenson pinpoints a critical fallacy that highlights the wea kness of much media theory, especially with regards to the question of the interface in ubicomp contexts. Basically, Jurgenson accuses critics of engaging in digital dualism whenever their work hinges upon an explicit or implicit opposition between digita l or virtual spaces and the physical or real spaces. So called digital worlds and virtual realities have always owed their every pixel to the inorganic matter that technologists have organized into the hardware, satellites, and other infrastructure support ive of networked computing. The digital is not immaterial, even though the form of the hardware often reveals little about
162 the function of the software. Electronics bears serious material consequences, which, while this may be painfully obvious with phenom enon like e waste, often elided the early adopters of cyberspace who quickly acclaimed the Web as new frontier cut off from Technics and Time Vol 3 proved to be a n early rejecter of the notion of cyberspace that many commentators still use to distinguish online activity and digital venues as a world apart from Earthly, material existence. Moreover, as Stiegler suggests, the phantasmal separation of digitality and m ateriality has become even more flagrant with the recent spread of geoinformatics and systems driven by geo referential databases. In such cases, materiality is not only a technological support; geotagged locations and GPS tracked entities actually orient the production and presentation of digital data. called cyberspace stays in cyberspace, or that digital activity occurs in a vacuum. Even the most apparently benign videogames can influence the way we apprehend and act in phones have done the same for home telephones. Jurgenson ultimately argues that social networks, search engines, blogs, and other venues a re no less real for being events as clear examples of how Internet activity regularly informs and organizes our social existence, to such a degree that it is becoming mo re and more absurd to speak of cyberspace or of the real world as if those spaces were neatly sealed off from one another.
163 Instead of digital dualism, Jurgenson contends that the nature of reality in digital cultures should be rethought as augmented realit y For Jurgenson, the term that his usage of the term me ans to indicate a general transcoding of the synthesis that AR technologies perform. In other words, the suggestion is that we experience digital physical convergence not only when using AR apps, but also whenever and wherever social media and the mobile Web shape, impact, or alter events. AR technologies, in fact, play no evident role in his assessment, and this ways in which the digital and the physical intersect and influence social interaction could just as easily be referencing print or even manuscript culture. That Twitter helped spur on political revolutions would hardly surprise the Colonial readers of Tho Common Sense many of whom were themselves inspired to fight in a war that was fought and al dualism are theoretical solution he pursues with his notion of augmented reality seems redundant in the context of contemporary technogenesis and originary technici ty. Rather than theorizing the specific interactive modalities that constitute meetings between atoms social/mobile media) as a collective example in favor of a theor y that pre dates this
164 technological unfolding. The more original task for media theory with regards to ubicomp is to ask after the specific interactive modalities now orienting the technocultural paradigm shift toward ubicomp. Such questions involve thinki ng more in terms of grammatization, and not merely in terms of convergence. If we take digital physical, physical digital, physical virtual, etc. While I agree with the high degree of importance that Jurgenson and other theorists each place on the relations between digital media and physical places in their analyses of mobile interfaces, I object to their notion that these relations can be conceiving of digital physical milieus as hybrid spaces, media theorists and practitioners ween physical and digital regard to their constitutive processes of grammatization leads us to construct a very different model. One asks what flux(es) become broken down i nto systems or networks of gramme rather than assuming homogenous convergence. Alphabetic grammatization was not a matter of speech converging with writing; the written alphabet broke down the flux of spoken language into a system of gramme that never exi sted in oral socities. In creating this new system of gramme alphabetic grammatization As a process of grammatization, ubicomp is reorienting our relationships to computing a nd multimedia. Imagined in this way, the digital and the physical each
165 comprise their own respective fluxes, which never converge to form a unified flow. Instead of founding a homogenous third space, the digital and the physical continually break down each other, conceptually if not syntactically, such that the digital flux of the Web, for instance, becomes modular and iterable across the physical flux of, say, a street corner. All of the material, dynamic variables that make up the physical flux of the str eet corner at a given moment thus act as a surface of inscription for discreet bits of digital data; however, each constituent of the physical flux retains its capacity to act as a continuity autonomous from whatever digital media might be layered over tha t particular location. Further still, the flux of the physical can be broken down into discreet and traceable points of information, which in turn may function to geo organize the Web or to trigger the presentation of digital data on a geographical basis. The breakdown of the digital flux, in such cases, is conditioned by the breakdown of physical flux and the real time movement of various human and non human actants. I sketch these convoluted, abstract scenarios not as proof in support of conclusions, but as swift indications that a rigorous account of so called digital physical relations is needed. In particular, we need approaches that challenge the tendency of recent scholarship to congeal around discussions of spatiality that often neglect the grammatol ogical operations that underwrite the production of ubicomp space. In order to think critically but also productively about the impact of digital, networked media amidst everyday, physical spaces; we need to reflect further on the emerging interactive moda examine these interactive modalities in light of other historical grammatization processes, the more prepared we may be to comment on their contemporary social and
166 ontologi cal impacts, and to formulate rhetorical and aesthetic principles for multimedia production designed to circulate across ubicomp platforms. habitual dependence on digital ph ysical assertions. If we agree that categorical distinctions between the digital and the physical are fundamentally misguided, then why do we continue to perpetuate this opposition (albeit in hyphenated forms) in terminology intended to signal alternative positions? Hybridity, convergence, and augmentation always refer back to the oppositions from which these terms are supposed to get beyond. Hybridity and convergence denote the fusion of two (sometimes more) previously distinct species, flows, or substance s. While some apparent truth value may accrue in critical descriptions that account for mobile and ubiquitous computing in terms of the mergers such systems instantiate between digital spaces and physical spaces, this framework still plays off of the assum ption that the digital and the physical are two distinct domains. Of course, the brightest critics who work with/in these terms acknowledge that the digital is thoroughly material, and that digital media can only be experienced and engaged with in some phy sical space. In other words, desktops have always occupied certain locations; computer labs and Wi Fi venues have always existed as physical spaces permeated by digital media. Places where mainframe and PC computing occur are no less augmented spaces. Inde ed, if we take the idea of originary technicity seriously, we might claim that all the spaces of human civilization have always been augmented spaces, and that any realities associated with human existence have always already been augmented qua the history of supplements. Humans only emerged through merging or converging with technics. Humanity is inescapably hybrid.
167 If we acknowledge digital dualism as a critical fallacy, and if we understand techno human relations according to originary technicity, then the descriptors of augmented space, hybrid space, scripted space, digital physical convergence, and augmented reality become empty, floating signifiers. While no term is ever perfect, these terms are hardly adequate. As I have indicat ed, nearly all of the scholarly explications of these terms rely on constructions that pair the digital and the physical, in order to indicate a continuum or merger between the two realms, effectively signifying by means of the very opposition supposed to be supplanted or obsolesced by the phenomenon in question In other words, whenever critics appeal to concepts like hybridity or augmentation to name the kind of space that emerges in the wake of so called digital physical convergence, they inevitable rein force the categories of an ontology that divides nature from culture, technology from society, media from materiality, and supplements from subjectivity. One could argue that it is precisely this quality that makes such terms useful, at least during the te chnocultural transitional from PCs to ubicomp. Articulating the new phenomenon through a paradoxical reconciliation disruptive force. In showcasing disruption, however, the re conciled binary puts its own conceptual limits on display as it retains a long list of inherent contradictions. Digital physical assertions derive their signification by referring to the very opposition/ontology they mean to critique; thus, the reconciled binary overcomes nothing it is a transitional vocabulary not a framework for conceptualizing or composing media specific to the technocultural conditions of ubicomp. At best, the reconciled binary is a discursive placeholder, beckoning the invention of a ne w term.
168 Not only is the heralded meeting (e.g., merger, convergence) of the digital and physical premised upon the problematic assumption that they were once separate, even opposed spheres; more to the point, the sheer correspondence digitality and physica lity to entertain this reconciled binary for just a moment is in itself an utterly uninteresting phenomenon. Similar to conceptions of mobile media and locative media, what lends significance to indications of digital physical fusion in scholarship and pop ular discourse is that such statements often pertain to media practices in urban environments and public settings. Why is the alleged merging of digital spaces and physical spaces most significant in these contexts? It is in these cases where computing syn cs most profoundly with action, and where the ubicomp paradigm founds interaction modalities through which actants may productively engage with (e.g. consume and/or produce) multimedia without disengaging from whatever else they might be doing.
169 CHAPTER 5 ACTIONABLE MEDIA: FROM WIMP TO ATLAS There is an undeniable relationship between technical invention in computer science and rhetorical invention in media theory. Concepts such as mobile media and locative media are interpretations of post desktop innovati ons; artists and humanities scholars discussing derive from computing discourse, often with the hope that their aesthetic and critical insight will influence our cultural understanding of new technologies, help shape new digital practices across society, a nd, in turn, perhaps inspire new directions for future technical invention. Points of intersection between re field when the moving images, sounds, shapes, spaces, and texts become computable, that is, simply Language of New Media ndational work in new media studies is exemplary for its capacity to negotiate between histories of media and computing. When writing about new media, Manovich often includes specific examples depicting the platforms and gadgets of the day, but he always offers conce ptual and historical insights beyond these media specific analyses. His ultimate focus is on the database as a symbolic form, or the poetics of augmented space not an isolated operation in Final Cut Pro or a bit of videogame code, though these serve as exa mples or grounds for his theoretical work. He appropriates and abstracts from technical industrial buzz words the terminology of computer science and tech promotions to develop aspects of this language that aptly signify broad cultural impacts that circula te
170 beyond the websites, videogames, or devices that nevertheless support (our recognition of) the emergence of major cultural shifts. On one hand, it makes little sense to couch critical framework in industrial technical vocabularies, for such terms usuall y to bear a relatively short shelf life no matter how much buzz they create at the peak of their hype. On the other hand, new media theory should still be recognizable as being part of current conversations about emerging technologies. It is not as if theo rists are referencing some other world apart from the technologies that fill many our lives. The strategy for negotiating this dilemma is to choose words from popular technology discourse that evoke concrete associations with an array of specific media wor ds that create conductive, contingent links between actual devices without succumbing to a hyper media the planned obsolescence of a specific instance, iteration, or content of that me dium. Since the industrial revolution, societies of permanent innovation have altered the historical course of technical and scientific invention. Invention in the technical system has come to outpace innovation in other social systems, such as law, gover nment, and education; the current speed of technological change overdetermines the conditions under which all the other social systems must adopt the advancements of the technical system. The computer revolution continues to intensify this rift, as industr ial production gets rerouted toward the production of tertiary retentions technical systems that archive individual and collective memory. The rapid innovation of digital networks increasingly disorients and scrambles the traditions, conventions, and pract ices that have defined national institutions during previous centuries. Bernard Stiegler associates this disorientation most fundamentally with the current upheaval of temporal and spatial
171 conventions, which he calls systems of calendarity (time) and cardi nality (space). As computing becomes more ubiquitous, global networks introduce a new world order that require[s] the digital electronic industries to produce new techniques to assist with orientation. These techniques are needed to help us navigate, no lo nger through past experience handed down by history, but through the real time of information events that occur on this planet, by the hundreds of Relatively stable until the 19th century, the communication technologies or which have traditionally been heart of the religious or educational apparatus are now under the sway of industrialization. In fact, Stiegler insists that the industrial productio n of tertiary retentions and mnemotechnologies are Technics and Time 3 134). Industrial programming manufactures digital devices and networks, ultimately creating a situation is, the industrialization of mnemotech nologies installs mnemotechniques into the devices and software that hit the market. Whereas schools used to be the institution tasked with teaching citizens about the technics of calendarity and cardinality, the spatiotemporal conditions of the new retentional systems displace these educational programs. And since the programming industries control the process of adoption, educational institutions like other social systems appear ill equipped to adjust their prog rams to permanent technical
172 The international programming industries are gradually replacing national educational systems and their national institutional program mes which, as a result, no longer seem compatible with the transmission imperatives defined by the planetary industrial and mnemotechnical system. ( Educational Stiegler is drawing critical attention to the fact that technical inventions managed by the paradigm of use relegating the dominant cultural functioning of new technologies. Educational, cultural, and civic institutions must, therefore, find ways address to this maladjustment (or misalignment), which as Stiegler indicates, has been a recurring challenge for social systems in times of apparatus shift (i.e. revolutionary periods initiated by intense technological change). Introducing Actionable Media While it could pass as a merely academic pastime among theorists, the quest to formulate new paradigms of media, relative to recent shifts in computing, issues from the urgent social and political dilemmas that Stiegler outlines. Likewise, Johanna Drucker calls for digital humanities scholars to raid their own disciplinary traditions for terminology to describe contemporary interfaces and media effects. Whereas Stiegler recoils from the consumerism and general proletarianization he associates with limitations she finds in the engineering centric discourse on interface design and stud ies of human and computer interaction, which obsess over maximizing efficiency and eliminating ambiguity: This language does not come from a theory of interface, but from a platform of principles in the software industry. Deliberately mechanistic, it elim inates the very element crucial to humanities work substituting the idea of a
173 world could be modeled on the insights gained in the critical study of the subject in literary, media, and visual studies. (1) intervene in systems of calendarity and cardinality, and fo rmulate alternative techniques for orienting amidst the industrial production of tertiary retentions and transmission imperatives (Drucker 12). The problem with many of the humanistic conceptions of ubicomp interfaces, as we saw in C hapter 4 is that they deal with media specific features of ubicomp (e.g., mobility, geoinformation, digital physical convergence) rather than the full scope of its revolutionary potential as a new technocultural paradigm. Moreover, existing humanities scholarship on ubicomp has all but neglected the question of what this moment means from the standpoint of multimedia production. As a result, critical media studies and digital rhetoric remain maladjusted to current ubicomp developments. Theorists tend to discuss post desktop medi ascapes in terms of models and metaphors inherited from the PC era; digital artists and designers have only began to search for new aesthetic principles suited to their experiments with context aware technologies. In sum, current and near future technical invention in computing has found its definitive agenda in ubicomp, and conceptual development across humanities disciplines concerned with new media is lagging behind, maladjusted. Hence, I propose a new concept a new critical/creative framework on the h day leading technologists, computing has become increasingly synchronized with real time actions; as such, ubicomp beckons media designed to sync with action, as well as new media theories t hat reflect and speculate about this crucial capacity. Drawing on the military
174 actionable media describes the compelling ways multimedia can be created to hinge upon what we are doing while we are doing it. In this emergin g paradigm, multimedia accrues at and becomes delivered to the periphery of situated actions, rather than or at least in addition to the virtual reality of the Web. There is no longer a fundamental split between the actions required to engage computation a nd the more conventional actions that people engage in while doing other tasks at work, home, and other everyday environments. One interacts with computation while doing something else, and so media must become a part of what is happening around us, becomi ng informed by and informing, affected by and affecting, dynamic environmental variables in real time. Actionable media assumes that computing computational matter and events. Among everyday gestures; designing and navigating ubicomp mediascapes suggests an affinity with the ways we inhabit and interact with landscapes or cityscapes. Actionable media, in this sense, pertains to the situations of ubicomp emerging at the margins of social media and mobile media, and the critical discussions that center around those terms. Social media calls to mind the vast array of Web 2.0 platforms, epitomized by Facebook and Twitter, which establish digital networks in which every this potential, but with social media networ ks, a critical mass of people who lack technical expertise and/or the time required to write computer code on a regular basis can now build robust online communities and participate in relatively powerful ways,
175 quickly and cheaply. Social media can be orga nized around or otherwise related to location, but location awareness is certainly not its definitive characteristic. The term locative media describes scenarios and systems that connect digital information to geographical places (some designers and critic media is generally accessed through internet enabled mobile devices, most recently smartphones and tablets. In addition to tags situating media via GPS, however, embedded or spatial techniques for linking information to place are becoming more varied and robust. Mobile media indicates digital devices that can be carried with relative ease, allowing people to access the Web and other Internet applications and media files on the go, as they inhabit and move amidst any l ocation covered by their service provider. Of course, mobile media indefinitely expand our potential to engage with the Web and digital media at large. These devices mark the emergence of a new stage in computing and in culture where one can almost always be connected to and surrounded by online activity. Just having the ability to check, write, and send email and the modes of social interaction that constitute our pers onal and professional lives. Still, actionable media foregrounds situations that while having emerged in social, mobile, and locative media flattening of networks, accessing the Web on the go, and the linkage of digital data to place. Adding a new term actionable media to this chain of descriptors does not in any way diminish the importance or relevance of the kinds of media associated with the more established terms. Desktops and PC oriented mob ile interfaces still occupy vital
176 roles in post desktop media ecologies. In fact, a critical area of actionable media development targets commonplace computational experiences (e.g., reading ebooks, searching the Web, video chatting), many of which do not rely upon any of the technical notion of calm computing in every aspect of its design. The website Social Book, for example, grafts the logic and functionality of popular so cial networks onto the otherwise isolated experience of reading books online. This juxtaposition founds an original kind of social network and a different reading experience. Whereas conventional social networks such as Facebook or Linked In serve as user generate content systems without any necessary referents, the design of Social Book insists on the primacy of EPUB documents every user comment necessarily posts at the periphery of a given EPUB document. By situating comments in the margins, Social Book e ncourages communities to form around shared/public readings of specific books. Hence, the flux social networking is broken down and reassembled according to the experience economy of online reading. The iPhone app Summly stands as another telling example o f actionable media on the (mobile) Web. Summly aims to combat information overload particularly in the case accessing news on a smartphone by using machine learning techniques to generate on the fly, four hundred character summaries of online articles. The app effectively breaks down the textual flux of articles into a discreet set of attention than would sifting through entire articles on the Web. Furthermore, in beta at the t ime of writing, the iPad app MindMeld runs in the periphery while people video chat. The verbal
177 the con versation as it unfolds. Of course, Social Book, Summly, and MindMeld mark only the bleeding edge of a broader tend in development. Having become social and mobile, media is now becoming actionable, on the Web and especially beyond it. Amidst ubicomp plat forms, actionable media syncs with the flux of activity in a given network in order to circulate data (text, image, audio, video) specific to extra computational experience economies and/or generate data in response to real time movements and gestures. Whi le the PC oriented examples above clearly indicate the relevance of actionable media principles actionable media I lay out here is more explicitly cast around instances of interface design and multimedia content t hat exploit context awareness, calm inputs, and other affordances unique to the ubicomp paradigm. Increasingly, developers are working to computers that interface with the multitude of autonomous, non computational flux he is. But such technology has been commonplace since the early 2000s. We just have not yet articulated a robus t theory of the possibilities it raises for the future of multimedia production writ large. Consider GPS navigation devices the twenty cardinality par excellence otherw ise non computational gestures and movements. As opposed to a map, a printout of directions, or a list of directions pulled up from the Web; GPS navigators delivery bits of actionable media to drivers such that they need not disengage from the
178 act of drivi ng in order to engage with computation. The GPS speaks the directions to the driver during moments of decision; the audio refers to street names and landmarks that show cases the two processes of grammatization at the inventive core of actionable media: it breaks down the digital flux of the Web, rend ering multimedia as a discreet and dynamic periphery relevant t o situated action in real time; it generates multimedia (and often reorganize s existing Web content) on the basis of calm inputs that record the action of certai n entities or variable in real time. At this moment in digital culture, turn by turn GPS navigators are arguably the most pervasive and influential manife station of actionable media. More than the latest means of vehicular navigation, GPS devices manifest new modalities of interaction among media, humans, and environments. Starting with GPS navigation as a commonplace example of actionable media, we can ask, th ereafter, how we might extrapolate from more recent ubicomp inventions to imagine further rhetorical and aesthetic possibilities. In her analysis of the GPS as a rhetorical artifact, Amy Propen foregrounds questions of text and agency: what kinds of multi modal utterances are generated during GPS navigation, and who/what (co)produces them? Propen outlines visual cues through which the GPS digitizes territories (e.g., highlighted routes, place indicator icons, real time mileage approximations), as well as th e audio cues by which it communicates instructions to drivers (e.g., recalculation announcements). Having conducted interviews with a pool of GPS users, she presents insightful reflections about the various techno human relations apparent in embodied exper iences of GPS navigation. Throughout the
179 construct an interactive agency that is malleable and involves a process of ongoing exchange, her interviewees, for example, described their techniques for commanding the GPS issued driving instructions; the drivers would purposefully disobey certain instructions, knowing that the device would in turn adapt to their movement (123). One might say, discursive acti ons. The radical distribution of agency in GPS rhetorical production suggests a mode of environmental knowing that (123). In such iterations (i.e., navigation aids for auto motive transportation), the GPS has redefined the navigational experience for many people throughout the world; and yet, the GPS the global positioning system is a vast, all purpose technology. The familiar navigational aids many drivers have in their vehi cles provide access to the GPS, but they are not actually themselves the GPS; this reduction has been thoroughly naturalized in everyday speech patterns and in product advertisements. Strictly speaking, the GPS is a system of twenty four satellites launche d by the U.S. Department of Defense, which became fully operative and available to civilians in the of the GPS proper. With the rise of smart mobile devices and other ubic omp platforms, we are witnessing the start of a generalization of GPS technology, which has recently
180 inspired an expanding array of new applications concerned principally with action oriented production and circulation of writing, media, and digital data o f all kinds. Propen current computing trends, however, I believe that actionabl e media promises become integral to an increasingly diverse mix of everyday activities. That is, the actionable media operations of the digital age are no longer unique to the rhetorical situations of vehicular transportation. From rhetorical consideration s of GPS navigators, we can move to extrapolate insights relevant for conceptualizing and composing all manner of actionable media emerging with the spread of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile and locative media and even more so with pending developme nts in wearable computing, augmented reality, ambient informatics, and nanotechnology Techno Geographic Actant Networks Before exploring more examples, I want to elaborate further on the philosophical underpinnings of actionable media, initially in clos interplay of gramme relations linking humans, machines, and geography s erves as a second pillar for theories of actionable media. Attending to this avant garde array of technologies and techniques is to at once ask larger questions about the orientation of contemporary technocultures. What new modes of interaction among peopl e, technologies, and might these changes inspire conceptual and pragmatic innovations in digital rhetoric, design, aesthetics, community media, and other technocultural prac tices? Profoundly
181 relevant to these questions and to actionable media especially various machines integral to the technical systems driving indus trial production throughout the twentieth century: steam turbines, automobile engines, boilers, electron tubes, and power plants. Techno geographic milieus occupy a privileged place in t a new epoch of gramme and gesture, we can begin to assemble some theoretical and historical building blocks necessary for articulating a robust framework for conceptualizing and comp osing actionable media. principle photograph, cinematograph, audio recording, and so on from all the questions of s: these are not the only gramme For Stiegler, some of the most important processes of grammatization historically and especially today involve the becoming gramme of territories, bodies, and even cells. In addition to writing by virtue of bodily gestures today by virtue of machines we write with our bodily gestures, which have been broken down from the flow of muscular continuity, detached from our bodies and iterable in their absence. For instance, the gesture or action of hammering a nail can be perfor med by a discreet and replicatable machinic configuration, just as the letters of the alphabet can be arranged includes all manner of machines, which variously enable and d elimit a general writing of bodily gestures. Describing archetypal factory machines as a writing system, Stiegler
182 day, digital machines and computer programs undertake the grammatization of thought processes and affects, initiating what Stiegler calls a general proletarianization through which consumers (no longer citizens) undergo a loss in their capacities to know, think, and feel just as Marx writes of the industrial age laborers and their loss of craftsmanship. Moreover, in genetic engineering and experimental biotechnologies, Stiegler sees the onset of the industrial production of bodily organs and cells as a new kind of gramme From the standpoint of originary technicity, living organic matter (e.g., the human) has always been organized by organized inorganic matter (i.e., technics). Technics, being inventive before having been the invented, is the pursuit of life by means other than life. Increasingly, as Stiegler suggests, life treats living organic matter as if it were technics, as if it were gramme ; indeed, the autonomous act ions of living organic matter are becoming gramme by virtue of contemporary technics. While, on the one hand, we are witnessing the continued expansion of traditional gramme (e.g., words, images, to a writing space a surface for digital inscription. At the same time, more and more materials act as gramme or at least can be manipulated to perform as such. Here, I am not simply referring to the act of writing letters in the soil, an act that is as o ld as letters themselves. Rather, the movements of the soil can be tracked via satellite and microchips, in the absence of a human writer, such that soil produces its own traces, in conjunction with data visualization software.
183 The machines that inspired geographic milieu, which Stiegler evokes throughout his work on contemporary techincs, signify a turning point in the history of grammatization. The twentieth century technologies that Simondon examines can serve as a pri mer for understanding the generative interface modalites between technical machines and geographical flows that, as we shall see, characterize k ey operations of actionable media. A st udent of Maurice Merleau Ponty during the 1950s, Simondon was one of the first French philosophers to assert the cultural and ontological import of technical objects. He treats technical objects as if they constitute an important class of beings. For Simondon, the historical transition from hand tools to industrial machines mar ks a new era of techno human relations, such that Simondon introduces the notion of a techno geographic milieu to describe what he sees as an especially unique kind of m achine. Generally put, these machines establish an unparalleled degree of interlocking with their surrounding environments; they assign a multitude of technical functions to the geographical flows that they have been designed to accommodate if not exploit. Such machines are distinct from older windmills and watermills in that the former sync geographical flows with electrical networks. Simondon presents the Guimbal turbine (in the context of a wave power generation factory) as his primary example of a techn o geographic milieu. The Guimbal
184 Guimbal turbine, Stiegler summarizes the way in whi ch the seawater becomes a the [techno geographic] milieu structurally and functionally associates the energies and natural elements composing this milieu, such that nature becomes a function of the technica l system. This is the case of the Guimbal turbine, which assigns to saltwater (the natural element) a triple technical function: to furnish energy, to cool the structure of the turbine, and to catalyze the water proofing of the stages. This p Nature becomes a standing reserve of energy, ready to hand, and thereby reducible to a reservoir of resources available for (and subservient to) human use. Both Simondon and calculation and usage; so much so, in fact, that S imondon and Stiegler constantly refuse to discuss technics as a mere tool or utensil. In other words, if Heidegger associates modern technics lar gely with a technocratic and inauthentic way of dwelling, the two French philosophers (particularly Stiegler) theorize technics as the originary condition of human becoming and cultural development. Contra to the more conventional manner of discussing mach ines in terms of calculated automation, geographic milieus, then, wh at is most significant is the fact that this machinic margin of indetermination syncs with and becomes sensitive to the geographical flows, which retain some degree of autonomy and accidentality even as
185 they perform certain functions assigned by the technical system. As such, we migh t say, geographic milieus as he broadens the concept to account for ways in which digital networks have begun to converge with geographical flows. According to Stiegler, many current technological and particularly networked technology, the tech Throughout the third volume of Technics and Time occurring with the emergence of geo informati to indicate all manners of digital simulations and reproductions of Earthly locations, as well as all mobile devices that operate in accord with geo referenced data. Akin to the Guimbal turbine, geo information assi ( Stiegler, Technics and Time 3 138). That is, territories effectively enter into the vehicle for action and informati on in a three way [transductive] relationship involving information, territories become a constitutive element in the essential technicity of perception, memory, and decision makin g and not merely a standing reserve to be seen, retained, and acted upon by an already constituted subject. Ultimately, we might understand the phenomenon of geo information in terms of graphic perception and cognition fuse with the writing ( graph ) of the Earth ( geo ). Attending to
186 both senses of the phrase, the writing of the Earth signifies the (f)act of making inscriptions upon the Earth as a (digital) writing surface, and it also signifies the and actuated) into written traces or at least affect the arrangement and/or presentation of digital data amidst the real time functioning of techno geographic interfaces. No longer restricted to turbines and power plants, techno geographic modes of operating have contributed to a definitive class of digital interfaces, the iterations of which many of us already engage with on a daily basis. In the ca se of GPS navigation, the machine or, more precisely, the software program (in conjunction with larger technical systems) assigns a polyfunctional role to automotive moveme nts and, in many cases, the movements of other automobiles qua the tracking and displaying of nearby traffic patterns. That GPS navigators function in real time relative to dynamic, geographical variables marks a crucial dimension of the paradigmatic shift away from print cultures rooted in the epistemological habits and temporal conventions of alphabetic literacy. In the context of (pre digital) literacy, people can distinguish between their perception of live events and their engagement with forms of tert constitutes, the criteria (i.e., secondary retention) that directs his or her lived perceptions (i.e., primary retention). Nevertheless, this impact occurs over time it is defe rred on account of the technics of alphabetic writing. Stiegler argues that, because audiovisual media are currently displacing the archival modalities of literate writing, the literate experience of historical consciousness
187 is becoming supplanted by the real time of contemporary technics. Streams of real time information events conjoin primary retention and tertiary retention Moreover, Stiegler also contends that the production of real time affects knowledge building; all information, communication, and memory practices that generate and preserve knowledge are of technics and therefore not outside of time and its technical evolution. For instance, when accustomed to GPS devices, we tend to make navigational decisions in the real time of a geo graphical ga ze that is processually co constructed between lived perception and technological memory, and not primarily on the basis of our own historical consciousness. geography showcases the constitutive role of geographical flows in the production processes of contemporary technics, his work does not speak to the wider array of flux that are becoming gramme through the rise of actionable media. Moreover, in spite of his thorough demonstration of essential technicity, Sti egler has not yet formulated a term that would enable him to rhetorically sidestep the anthropocentric connotations his work so pointedly critiques. As technologists aim to develop computers that function more in sync with human action, they often assign c omputational functions to non human entities or flows as a means to achieve anthropocentric ends. Whether or not ubicomp inventors bias human action in their theoretical discourse, the multimedia practices that develop in tandem with ubicomp platforms indi cate a kind of ontological flattening occurring within twenty first century writing spaces. A text no longer travels, in tact and in itself, apart from its longer just a co ntext for an already constituted text these fluxes actually compose the
188 text (figures) and textual field (grounds) of actionable media. As such, the production and composition of actionable media accrues through circulation. action offers us a way to account for the ontological flattening inherent in (and extensible beyond) the techno geographic operations of actionable media. According to Latour, actions can never be undertaken by an ind ividual human actor; action is fundamentally a relational capacity engendered through contingent chains of association s among humans and non humans ( denotes any source of action, and he employs the term indis criminately to humans, animals, weather, technologies, raw materials, fabricated artifacts, etc. Obviously, humans are an important source of action, but no actor acts alone, and so Latour refuses to attribute a heightened degree of agency to any species o f actants in his resolutely flat ontology. Any kind of actant may play a pivotal role and make a difference that affects the network or chain of actants with which it associates, at a particular time networks in the context of political theory, Jane Bennett insists that we need to consider the vibrancy of material fluxes and non human entities in our evaluations of political issues and our debates about public policy. Akin to Bennett, rhetoric scholar Laurie Gries dr to think beyond the human centricity bound up in conventional theories of discursive 8). Bennett and Gries both highlight
189 influenced by encounters with mat In the actionable media ecologies, rhetorical and political actions become distributed in yet another sense. Here, texts do not just draw attention to vibrant matter or the parliament of things; the text is itself produced by the real time actions of actants. The actant network doubles as a networked gramme Hence, in addition to the grammatization of human gestures an d human bodies, and in addition to the grammatization of geographical flows (qua the digitization of territories), actionable media assign rhetorical and aesthetic actancy to the vast array of non human actants that constitute the chains of association wit hout which no human actions would be possible. We have already indicated how actionable media can be generated calmly in the periphery of the real time movements of human (or animal) bodies, via mobile, wearable, and implanted computers. As an ongoing MIT experiment demonstrates, such processes are also operative at the level of inorganic actants. The TrashTrack about the circulation of garbage and its environmental impact s. Researchers attach ion to Items of trash are pivotal actants in the environmental issues about which we propose public policies, yet we know little about the afterlife of our things, after we have thrown them away. Where do they end up and how exactly do they get there?
190 Translating the movement of trash into a real time data visualization, TrashTrack traces the actant networks that actually circulate particular kinds of trash around North America. Every pixel that is composed on the screen has been generated i n response to the actions of various actants as they intersect with and propel the movement of the trash. These actants include the machines and employees at waste management facilities, the vehicles that transport trash, the highways and airports that str ucture their journey, etc. Each one of these actants, consciously or not, becomes embellished with a rhetorical function that composes an aspect of the visualization. The visualization is the writing of the actant cartridge that traveled 3,823 miles in order to reach the recyc ling facility to which it had been sent. More than a laboratory experiment, TrashTrack visualizations have been set up as installations at several museums and libraries. Assaf Biderman, the associate director of SENSEable City Lab, believes ubicomp project s like TrashTrack individuals to monitor and describe their environment, while also providing an insight production, TrashTrack orchestrates a rhetorical aesthetic poli tical performance on the basis of the real time actions of actant networks. However, the delivery of this rhetorical performance the real time data visualizations displayed in cultural institutions falls short. The display of the visualizations remains iso lated and out of sync with the actant network in which it is designed to intervene. As the project continues, I expect the research team to develop ways to display the visualizations at settings more relevant to
191 the scene of the behavior they are trying to influence. As such, the visualizations could also be designed to project or highlight certain traces on a case by case basis, rearranging its content in response to the action of actants present at the display Figures We need a new set of figures for nav igating the digitization of territories, the linkage of media to bodies in motion, and the becoming gramme of actant networks. These emerging grammatization processes, which I have just collected under the heading of actionable media, variously condition t he post desktop breakdown of the Web and inform the creation of digital content designed to circulate across ubicomp platforms. Since the rise of PCs, the desktop GUI interface metaphor has structured the majority of software development initiative and pop ular computing experiences around four basis figures: windows, icons, menus, and pointers (WIMP). As I explained in C hapter 4 the WIMP framework broke down the flow of information characteristic to command friendl computer interaction. Taking the distracted driving epidemic as an emblematic symptom, I argued that WIMP and other PC oriented models are fundamentally ill bile media still revisit desktop archetypes. What figures today constitute the ubicomp equivalent of WIMP? What new acronym might we construct to serve as a conceptual framework for understanding and creating multimedia in the age of ubicomp? Before outli ning the new acronym what I will call ATLAS we must note the long historical tradition in which this enterprise is inherently situated. Since the invention of writing, scholars have proposed and developed figures relative to the emerging cultural technolog ies of their era. In the disorienting wakes of apparatus shifts, people
192 seek new techniques of orientation to make sense of their new relationship with language, texts, images, sound, machines, computers, etc. Historians of rhetoric have of course, several of these rhetorical figures (e.g., metaphor and metonymy) are still fundamental to contemporary thought, literary expression, and everyday speech. Historians of writin formulas, etc.) were formalized relatively soon after the birth of writing in the West just before the onset of concepts, definitions, and philosophers in Athens. According to developme nt of science, history, logic, rhetoric, and metaphysics was prefigured by and intimately related to the pre alphabetic invention of figures of the written word, which classification, and knowledge building. Consider the formation of rhetoric, for example. While pre literate societies certainly practiced persuasive speech, rhetoric as a distinct art and body of knowledge came into being by virtue of the modes of critica l reflection Akin to writing and rhetoric, the history of new media and modern computing is rid dled with pivotal metaphors and critical categories that we might refer to collectively as the figures of the digital interface. In fact, Colin Brooke proposes that digital rhetoricians should adopt the interface in place of isolated textual objects as the ir
193 new media theorists were already identifying important elements characteristic of early PC interfaces. Jay Bolter and Steven Johnson both historicized figures from the WI MP framework; Bolter discussed icons as an element of writing foundational to the graphical building command line. Buzzwords associated with the Internet and computing get picked up and appropriated by humanities scholars throughout the 1990s: Web, hypertext, link, etc. Manuel Castells expounds a theory of contemporary society structured upon the notion of networks; Manovich counts the database among the dominant cultural forms of our era. Even the future of hardware (i.e., the mobile devices we have now) was figures he invented via analogies to the history of writing. current software development and multimedia content. While post desktop devices have or, stated in terms of actionable media, to sync multimedia wit h the action of actants. My contribution will be two fold: (1) I will assemble and outline a set of figures evidently orienting technocultural developments specific to the ubicomp paradigm; (2) then I will generate some rhetorical and aesthetic princip les for creating multimedia relative to each of these figures. The five figures that comprise my ATLAS acronym apps, tags,
194 layers, actuators, sensors already circulate as quasi terms in computer science, engineering, and tech journalism were in regular use before media theorists infused them with unprecedented conceptual, social, and semiotic weight. Whenever humanities scholars include terms such as apps or layers, they typically employ them as a matter o f fact descriptor, as if flashing a passport permitting them ventures into foreign intellectual domains. In other without bringing their own disciplinary resources to bea r on the matter. And yet, to the extent that the circulation of digital media continues its post desktop migration; apps, layers, and the like will become the very figures many of us read, write, design, and think with. We need to develop cultural, humanis tic, and rhetorical approaches to what Manovich and others did for the digital forms that arose during the 1990s. In theorizing ATLAS as a set of ubicomp oriented figures f or conceptualizing and composing actionable media, I thus draw from the history of rhetoric, writing, and interfaces. If the classical rhetorical figures of speech distinguish among formalized structures of verbal expression that variously remix convention al usage, then each ATLAS figure marks a discrete configuration syncing multimedia with the action of actants. In terms of grammatization, each ATLAS figure models a notable way of managing to break down the flux of the Web and/or a way of transcoding acta nt networks into networked gramme Moreover, important scholarly reflections on the figures of the written word also prompt us to consider what new modes of cognition and social organization might emerge amidst the technocultural conditions that ATLAS
196 ite ration of the latter, a discrete part has been detached (or grammatized) from the desktop GUI and now stands in for the whole of post desktop computing. Note Hugh creates the relation between its objects, while metonymy presupposes ). As an excise in metonymy, ubicomp presupposes our familiarity with the virtual space of the personal computer and its core operations. ATLAS interfaces found new configurations of media that refer to but at once transform those of the PC era. Software applications with intricate menus and multiple windows become streamlined down to apps Tags are lifted from thei r backstage function in computer code (e.g., HTML) and promoted from their supporting role in Web 2.0 (e.g., blogs, social media), such that Web 3.0 tags (e.g., QR, RFID) now orient the delivery, circulation, and, sometimes, the very composition of digital media. In each case, these figures have become vehicles for inhabiting, interacting with, and making sense of the world at large. If the desktop brought the office into the machine, then ubicomp transcodes the entire The easiest way to comprehend the post desktop life of layers is to trace the lines of flight by which they transgress WIMPs. As we have noted, layers existed during the PC era in two ways: (1) as dynamic menus constitutive of and subordinate to WIMP in te rface logic; and (2) as discrete video manipulated independently within GUI authoring software. Still today, one surfs the Web by pointing and clicking on layers qua dynamic menus; multimedia files are c omprised of discrete layers of graphics and audio/visual footage. So what becomes of layers in the technocultural conditions of ubicomp? First, they are no longer subordinate
197 to WIMPs; rather, they operate in conjunction with apps, tags, actuators, and sen sors to orchestrate a new relationship between multimedia and the lifeworld. In particular, layers are media files (texts, images, audio, video) that reside, appear, and function amidst the infinite richness of the universe, the contingencies of everyday l ife, and the action of actants. Whereas HTML tags often stipulate the arrangement of media files within conventional websites, Web 3.0 tags sync digital content with the movement of (non)human bodies, geographical coordinates, and architectural structures in 3D built environments. Here, one no longer designs a menu layer for navigating media on the Web; digital content exists as networked layers outside of the Web, and these layers obsolesce websites and become a chief system of cardinality in ubicomp media ecologies. As such, we no longer browse the Web we browse the world. Image and audio editing becomes world editing. Ubicomp layers transcode the modularity of multimedia production onto the world. In addition to uploading our media files to a Web server, we can deliver those files anywhere via everyware surface, and many of the mobile bodies that traverse them, have suddenly become a networked surface for digital inscription. In this sense, layers signal an immense extensio n of arche writing, which, according to Sharon Crowley (commenting on Derrida), broadly conceives writing as surface is nothing new, but prior modes of inscription such as carving or graffiti are both invasive and limited. You cannot (legally) write via graffiti on the gallery walls of the Museum of Modern Art, but you can easily do so via ubicomp layers qua mobile augmented reality. The novelty of world browsing (as oppose d to Web browsing) lies in
1 98 the fact that they graft the manipulability and hyper circulatory conditions of digital strictly computational surface of desktops and lapt a transmittable stage not primarily, acts as a hypertextual link analogy that teleconferencing is to global theater what radio is to the global village it becomes clear that the notion of staging i s what attracts both McLuhans to the word theater In the global theater described by both Eric and Marshall, the world serves as a stage for tele performance, and because virtually any space on Earth can serve as a backdrop for live footage, people live w in this footage at any given moment intentionally or not. Without dispensing with the possibility for almost anything in the world to function as a hypertextual link. Through a radicalization of the link, ATLAS interface s not only multiply the stages on which media content and online networks can perform, but also support new styles of interaction. For instance, the layers of the ubicomp paradigm are often managed through sensor networks, which supplant pointing and clicking with an expansive general economy of gesture and presence. Examples of these layer projects have been emerging all over the world for the past decade. Davi in Dallas is a sensor network located at a high is a
199 representative ubicomp installation in that it plays or actuates aud io and visual layers in direct response to the movements of pedestrians who pass within the range of its audio layers generated from a database as melodic tones and visual layers, more visible at night, are simply programmed sequences of LED lights that punctuate the audio layer. In addition to its aesthetic dimensio n, the project serves to the busy street they are about to approach. The audio layer, which in most cases evokes a jungle vibe, delivers a gentle shock that thr ough cognitive dissonance can surrounding environment ahead of you. Most crucially, from the standpoint of actionable media, layer projects of this sort configure multi strive to engender a certain attunement to the activity of the actant network in which s/he participate s at that moment. The bifurcation of layers (representative of ATLAS) in digital culture from PCs to the ubicom p paradigm resembles the grammatological transformation of the written line throughout the history of alphabetic writing, specifically the evolution undergone from lists to diagrams. In Of Grammatology account of ancient farming and the development of the line in writing suggests an insight about the emergence of the line as proto of writing by furrows agr
200 Of Grammatology 287). The transcoding of the line from the ancient workplace (the farm) to the page parallels the transcoding of the desktop from the modern workplace (the office) to the screen. As a commonplace interface figure, the symbolic power of the line reaches beyond the functionality of the page, becoming the basis for linear processes of thought, time, and social organization as argued by Derri da, Heidegger, McLuhan, and Flusser The line had been a structural element of the field/farm since the dawn of agrarian societies; hence, from a purely geometric perspective, the line is not new when it manifests on the page in the form of written lines. Lines had long shaped the way people went about farming. But more broadly transformative dimension of lines did not unfold until they became incorporated into one of the primary cultural technologies for communication, expression, memory, numeration, and economic exchang e. As soon as it becomes an axiomatic constituent of figures of the written word, the line starts to shape and orient the bulk of human activities, eventually disrupting the circular habits of being in oral societies. Historians of writing and literate c ulture attest to the epoch defining impacts of specific configurations of linear orthography. As I noted above, the list and the diagram are the two most relevant of these figures for our purposes here. Examining the ways in which early writing transformed speech and thought in ancient Western societies, Goody chronicles the emergence of pre alphabetic lists, insisting that the list was not form created the technocultural conditions necessary for the intellectual achievements that fellow classicist Eric Havelock describes in his account of the literate revolution in
201 ancient Greece (80 demands (and thus cultivates) entirely different forms of cognition than does speech (80). Fo r instance, The list relies on discontinuity rather than cont inuity; it depends on physical placement, on location; it can be read in different directions, both sideways and downwards, up and down, as well as left and right ; it has a clear cut beginning an importantly, it encourages the ordering of the items, by number, by initial so und, by category, etc. And the existence of boundaries, external and internal brings greater visibility to categories, at the same time as making them more abstract. ( Goody 81) As lists bring categories to the forefront of human attention, Sumerian scribes begin to posit and recognize unspeakable relationships among the items they inventory. Lists allow them to see, reflect upon, and reor der items apart from particular circumstances and in accordance with more complex and systematic notions of order and resemblance. Categories effectively transform words into definitions, terms into opposed to the continuity the flux my emphasis). Lists, like all forms of writing, break down the flux of speech, yet lists can be distinguished from other orthographic techniques, other figures of the written word. In in which concepts, verbal items, are sepa rated not only from the wider context in which ( Goody 81). The list, perhaps more than any other form of early writing, configures
202 orthographic lines in a manner most conduci ve to systematic classification and abstract/analytical reasoning via the creation of conceptual categories. While diagrams existed in various and intricate forms throughout the Middle Ages, they did not become a dominant figure of the written word, according to Walter Ong, until the n immense education reform throughout Europe. While the arrangement of items in a list does, as we have noted, enable and support critical inquiry and conceptual development, lists still seem to function in the service of speech and phonographic expression This is precisely because lists separate items from one another; the only relationship they proclaim is that of genus and species, category and categorized. Diagrams, on the other hand, impart a different configuration among orthographic lines and linear phonography. In a diagram, namely of the type that Ramus popularized, each verbal item functions as a category unto itself. T he relations among categories are what the diagram maps. Rather than taking an inventory of material things, the diagram writer pr esupposes conceptual which the terms of thought [are] conceived of as things, which could be sorted, arrayed, inear arrangement of spatial scheme multiplies amount of relations between individual line items, as well as the significance of each items placement relative to over all structure. Where lists may only imply an argument, diagrams can make arguments more explicit, and they do so
203 on the basis of a resolutely spatial visual epistemology. For the first time, spatial visual montage eclipses spoken dialogue as the standard m ethod of education and knowledge building. WIMP interface design relies on this same spatial visual epistemology; operating a program on a GUI desktop appeals to the cognitive processes involved in the top left corner of word processors, for instance, activates a layer in the form of a drop down menu, which reveals a list of operations (e.g., Save, Print, Close) that have been collected under the File category. Further considerations of WIMP software reveal the immeasurable persistence of literacy throughout contemporary computing, which only begins to recede and rupture with the emergence of ATLAS interfaces. In treating thoughts as things and terms as concepts, the grammatological evolution of li near orthography from the pre alphabetic list to the Ramist diagram indicates the intensification of what Goody takes to be one of an outcome that may s implify reality for the observer but often at the expense of a real 3). Separating knowledge from the knower/speaker, writing institutes an unheard of opposition between text and context, precisely becau se, structurally speaking, writing preserves traces regardless of their context s Technics and Time 2 55). Name ly, alphabetic writing remains structurally consistent apart from the circumstances of its production and in spite of the absence of a given writer or reader. In the case of elf
204 Technics and Time 2 56). As sign systems, the pictograph require s duce the implied vowels based on a given context ( Technics and Time 2 55). As a process of grammatization, alphabetic writing founds a system of abstract yet discreet characters that are iterable in space without any necessary relation to place PCs and WIMP alphabetic literacy. WIMP interfaces, qua icons and menus, equate select images and words with binary codes prompting a set of assigned computational operations. WIMP design achieves user friendliness through the creation of what J.C.R. Licklider called to speak phenomenological l y about conventional PC hardware, the keyboard and mouse are only representatives of my action the computer recognizes me only in so far as I type, point, and click. In order to do those three things, I must remain stationary at my computer and often withi n range of a power outlet or a wifi connection. The recorded index of my actions (let along those of other actants) the ratio of gestures that get recognized as gramme is infinitesimal. This is as true for papyrus scrolls, manuscript pages, and print books as it is for desktop computer screens. In each case, a restricted economy of writing clearly delimits the intelligible from the sensible, enframing texts and textual production in boxes set apart from their surroundings. Contemporary technologists who de velop ubicomp platforms insist that they are
205 ubicomp paradigm, layers radical ly disrupt the literate opposition of text and context, which has been foundational for much rhet orical thinking since Plato and subsequently inflated by the discursive economy of print. Layers of multimedia that interface in real time with actions of actants continue the spatial epistemology popularized by the Ramist diagram; however, at the same tim e, these layers which can be visual, textual, auditory, or tactile obsessed method sought to silence the dialogue driven curriculum he revolted against (the scholastics who preceded him often prohi bited their students from taking notes), layers found a writing space that is neither a return to secondary orality nor an intensification of the visual. In order to speak affirmatively about layers, we need to interrogate the idea of context awareness in light of the contextual wrenching evident in the evolution of the figures of the written word. Texts circulate from context to context, and texts cannot accrue any meaning outside of a context. But no single context ever determines (the meaning of) a tex t; in a text whose meaningfulness depends on the contingent and ephemeral context of another text ( Of Grammatology 158). After Derrida, what can one possibly mean in claiming that a technology is context aware? One could say that, by virtue of ubicomp platforms, texts (i.e., any media file) react or respond to contextual activity; granted, we could easily describe Trash Track or in precisely these terms. Ad riana de Souza e Silva (citing Katherine Hayles) describes mobile telephony/computing as a matter of
206 nfolding remote context are the digital information or channels that people access while they move through the physical Hence, in addition to relying upon the ontological problematic endemic to theoretical assertions of digital physical convergence, a critical taxonomy is established here on the premise that we may indeed speak definitively about a given context, to the extent that we can even determine whether that context is remote or present. Imagine a crowded New York City subway station: over half of the people are listening to music or engaging with their smart mobile devices. Do we count each of these cases as a remote context? If someone is in the middle of an impassioned argument on their cell phone, are the strangers surrounding that person still more present to him or her than the voice at the other end of the line? What about the people who are reading the newspaper, writing a letter, or sim ply daydreaming? Do these remote contexts reassemble the present context any more or less than those supported by an anytime anywhere Internet connection? The notion of context, already unstable, measure and support ever increasing degrees of telepresence. Moreover, ever since the ramped circulation of print texts (mobile, embedded, even wearable), public spaces n de Souza e Silva 269). already manifest in print cultures.
207 that contemporary technics incite an erasure of context rather than a multiplication of remote contexts. She insists that all prior modes of arranging information in the world where every context is yet another central text or vice versa. Digital media make relations and connections accessible and allow m ovement between contexts. They undermine the very notio n of context, enriching it while rendering the concept of Writing about an array of locative media art, Paul advances the claim that different types of site specific projects facilitate different kinds of environmental kn owing. Some of these projects mobilize information about a place according to geospatial relevance, others actuate architectural changes to a built structure (and/or formal changes to a multimedia composition) after sensing and recognizing certain patterns of activity exhibited by the inhabitants of that structure (400 1). Despite her in sightful probing of the concept of context early in the essay, Paul maintains a text versus context distinction in her definitions and evaluations of the locative media genres she outlines. I e her recommendations to writers and designers. While ubicomp from orality to literacy, they retain from literate forms, such as the diagram, the basic capacity to build knowledge through montage a capacity which has become both routine and increasingly more complex through the rise of film and television during the
208 twentieth century. In moving from site specific soundscapes to the image driven medium of mobile augmented reality (AR) one encounters another emerging set of rhetorical issues at hand in the production and circulation of visual layers. Like sound layers, visual layers (which may include audio components) bring digital images, texts, and video out of the WIMP framework and foun d a new (techno geographic) relationship between multimedia and the sensible plentitude of the lifeworld, whereby actant networks inhabit the visual frame in real time. While visual layers mimic the spatial visual epistemology of diagrams, layers do so wit inherent to literate figures of the written word. This epistemological reconfiguration has important technological underpinnings. Most notably, visual layers in the ubicomp paradigm exist on a screen camera Whereas, in film making, there is often a clear distinction between camera (production) and screen (reception), in AR a key area where ubicomp layers are emerging today the screen is a camera and the camera is a screen. Hence, i n the latter medium, the viewer is always at once a cinematographer. Layers: As Actionable Media Practice; or, Computing and Writing En Plein Air The cultur al status of AR has shifted dramatically since Boeing researcher Tom Caudell coined the term in 1990. Witnessing the first decade of AR research which revolved largely around prototypes of clunky headgear and demos of basic imagery projected from quick response codes, novelists and filmmakers captivated popular imagination with sci fi scenes of how life might be if this technology ever became rob ust, sophisticated, and mainstream. Minority Report for instance, featured built environments embedded with transparent screens and sensor networks, which personalized adve rtisements to them as they shopped for clothes or navigated a
209 building. like The Terminator before it, presents a dystopic future in which the AR medium has become a vehicle for militaristic world domination, as if the capacity to overlay an d attach digital media content to places and people would lead invariably to new levels of surveillance and subjugation. Most characters in these narratives are portrayed as pure consumers (if not targets) of AR content, and so they emote a sense of disori entation or inefficacy. Yet, in spite of these literary and cinematic nightmares, leaders in various fields today are optimistic about the potential for AR applications to enhance education, tourism, publishing, retail, architecture, manufacturing, and cul tural heritage. Since 2010, popular discourse on AR has turned toward the promise of everyday use scenarios, which have become more pronounced with the convergence of AR and smartphones. Of course, militaries use AR as a platform to deliver actionable int elligence to combatants in real time, but this is just one of many applications. Of the multitude of technologies being developed worldwide, the 2011 Horizon Report identified AR as one of two technologies most likely to change the face of higher education beginning as early as 2014 (Johnson et al. 5 ). Magazine publishers from Esquire to Playboy have sought to revitalize their print editions by incorporating AR icons that effectively link their pages to exclusive digital content. Retailers oscillate betwee n excitement up stores which bring e commerce to a target audience at a particular place and time, without any brick and mortar expenses. Archivists and museum professionals around the world now display their digital c ollections out in the streets; in London and Philadelphia, the historical
210 photographs of a city block are readily visible to smartphone users as they move through that same space. Still, at the time of writing, these apparent trends are referred to in tec h journalism as early experiments. While smartphones and tablets have made AR feasible for everyday use, industry leaders believe that AR is in its technological infancy and that the cultural impacts of current uses are but the ripples of an impending medi a re volution. Claire Boonstra the co founder of Layar Augmented Reality, exemplifies this position when s once it moves from mobile devices to wearable devices Indeed, a s AR co evolves with advancements in wearable computing and nanotechnology, technologists expect to bring to market AR glasses, AR contacts, and similar iterations in the near future. What all of these predictions and forecasts take for granted is the id ea that, once the hardware becomes optimized, people will start to find AR compelling enough to engage with on a regular basis. I contend, however, that AR will not be primed to become a mass medium until early adaptors be they technologists, scholars, or designers become more attentive to matters of content creation. More seamless hardware may be necessary, but it is not sufficient in itself. Merely consider the bulk on content now available on AR platforms: Wikipedia entries, restaurant reviews, real esta te listings, etc. Save for an avant garde of noteworthy exceptions, several of which discuss below, current AR mediascapes simply redistribute information from the Web on use
211 While this phenomenon is not without significance from the standpoint of information architecture, the experience yields little aesthetic or rhetorical value aside from an initial shock and awe moment. Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor for The Atlantic tested publishing platform might be betw een locative AR apps and standa rd Web browsers, Madrigal concludes that the projected futures of that will challenge traditional assumptions about genre, audience, and context: No one publishes a city they publish a magazin e or a book or a website. If breakfast table or curled up on the couch or sitting in their off ice. No one knows how to create words and pictures that are meant to be consumed out there in th e world. Conventionally, literary texts, artworks, and films exist on an opaque page, canvas, or filmstrip; they are stored, circulated, and experienced in libraries, galleries, or theaters places designed for immersive con templation, bracketed off the distractions and disruptions of open air spontaneity. In short, the technological conditions of mobile AR support new writing and design spaces that demand new aesthetic and rhetorical principles As the page differs from the screen, so too do the hybrid spaces of AR differ from the virtual reality of the Web. Caught in the transition from the personal computing era to the ubicomp paradigm, multimedia producers in many fields will need to adapt to AR platforms. This article fo cuses principally on the cultural development of the AR medium; in particular, my aim is to establish a historical vantage point for generating aesthetic insights that may help orient digital design and content creation in AR environments.
212 To which tradit ions, then, might we turn for aesthetic models? Cultural critics writing about emerging technologies commonly employ historical practices associated with traditional media as analogies for interpreting digital practices. Fo r instance, Lev Manovich turns to Dziga Vertov and other avant garde filmma kers in order to and other new media operations as homages to collage and montage techniques developed in the 1920s In addition to posing analogies (and co ntrasts) for the sake of analysis and criticism, Jay Bolter, Maria Engberg and Blair MacIntyre assert that the humanistic study of media can also develop[ing] a kind of media aesthetics that can guide designers as they exp lo (Readers familiar with Heuretics his call for humanities scholars to mobilize critical theory in the invention of new media/texts.) Bolter et al. p resent the history of panoramas in parallel with their discussion of AR browsers; charting the emergence of panoramic paintings as a nineteenth century form of exhib ition, Bolter et al. imagine possible use cases in twenty first century museums for AR pano ramas that are designed to graft onto a displayed artifact a visual representation of its original context (41) This analogy also exposes a fundamental difference that distinguishes AR panoramas from the panoramic tradition in prior media, from photograph y to VR. That is, with mobile AR, viewers encountering a composed work remain more or less aware of their surroundings because the medium is fundamentally porous. work, I aim to contribute to AR media aesthetics by examinin g contemporary artistic practices in light of latent connections with French
213 Impressionist painting. Impressionists painters, spurred on by mobile inventions like paint tubes and the box easel, developed the first aesthetic and methods of composition syste matically tailored around painting en plein air. Similarly, AR beckons artists and designers to create digital media projects that break with the logic of the studio and the lab: the virtual reality (VR) paradigm that has dominated popular computing since the 1990 s. Indeed, Manovich argues that AR though not exactly the opposit e of VR is a needs a struct A steady stream of aleatoric and place based art practices prolif erated in the wake of Impressionism throughout the twentieth century; several of these traditions (e.g. kinetic sculpture, land art, improvisational street theater, French New Wave cinema, etc.) carry their own potential to jump start efforts to theorize and generate innovative cultural expression in AR. My rationale for concentrating on Impressionism here is that, beyond the en plein air models a way of seeing the world in the image of media effects, as well as an artist ic precedent for developing design principles inspired by the invention of a new media technology. I will unfold the analogy with impressionism and its generative value for AR media aesthetics over the course of two themes: techniques of observation and pr inciples of composition. Inquiry into these respective topics will be initiated by analyses of the place of Impressionism in art historical narratives, the critical reception of practices. The insights garnered from Impressionism will provide through lines for conceptualizing recent scholarship in media theory.
214 Impressionist painting and early photo graphy are linchpins in many historical accounts of modern art. The most familiar narratives characterize the Impressionists as imaginative ways of seeing that embraced visual experience, and thus defied the normative, mechanical realism captured by photography. Put differently, the advent of photography frees painters from the storian Jonathan Crary objects to such n is premised upon an ill binary model I n his rebuttal, Crary shifts the temporal focal point; he contends that Impressionism and photography in the 1870s are the symptoms of a more significant technocultural development that occurred during the 1820s: the formation of The perceptual techniques of the observer possibilities conditio ned by optical technologies like the stereoscope rest upon the notion that visual experience is subjectively constructed and, in some cases, technically manufactured. Impressionism and photography, then, both serve as mature expressions of this techn(ont)o logical reconfiguration, whereby people begin to conceive of perception as a contingent activity that is open to (if not inherently interrelated with) various intellectual, psychological, and technical processes. onventional narratives he critiques, however, remain oblivious to a third position argued by Aaron Scharf in his 1974 book Art and Photography which has been largely overlooked by historians of painting. Scharf posits that the most novel stylistic element s of Impressionist painting were in fact its accidents and glitches, in
215 merits close attention. If we can und erstand impressionism as a way of seeing the world in the image of media effects then we will have established a productive basis for further analogical insights relevant to AR media aesthetics. When the artists we now call Impressionists (e.g. Monet, R enoir, Pissarro, etc.) came to Paris in the 1860s, they arrived as Realist landscape painters amidst the first Venturi 35). For the first time, professional photographs and stereoscopic images circulated as popular spectacles readily available to a mass viewership, though amateur cameras would not be marketed until the turn of the century. The spread of photography incited debates among painters who felt themselves torn between imitation and expression; many artists began working from photographs, though they rarely admitted to it for fear of losing credibility with dea lers and patrons (Scharf 125). To date, no documentation confirms the notion that French Impressionists painted directly from photographs; in any case, it is a mystery of little aesthetic importance. As Scharf suggests, the paintings themselves attest to a greater, figurative dimension of photographic influence at the level of perception, which furnished the Impressionists with techniques of observation as they painted en plein air brushwork and 1860s photographs of Parisian settings, which had been on exhibit throughout the city. Whereas portrait and still life photographs o f the period could capture images that passed as exact likenesses, photographs of m odern urban life were Due to slow exposure speeds (by current standards), photographic images tended to blur whenever pictorial subjects were in motion : pedestrians walking
216 th flags in the wind lost their angular contours, and horse 129). These surreal distortions, which technologists regarded as a probl em to be solved, contain the same stylistic tendencies that came to define Impressionist painting. While these features were common in early urban photography, the seems entirel y new in art [i 29). Further stylistic commonalities intense contrast of light and dark areas, elevated viewpoints, diffusion of details collectively support S tural light and shade, amounted to a kind of perceptual extremism which wa s germane to photography And yet, the first art critics writing about Impressionism (and most since then), failed to note this transmedia influence, which appears unde niable from the side by Ac cording to What the Impressionist painters actually accomplished was the finding of a form closer to the first impression of the appearance of things than other credits this innovatio in their mind[s] [were] sufficiently free of traditional principles of abstract form which Venturi borrows from Ruskin and Monet, is conceivable only in the wake of ni neteenth century advancements in o ptical technology (Crary 66). The techniques of observation that propelled Impressionism were not the equivalent of pressing the reset button on
217 Western artistic consciousness. Rather than learning to s ee like a child or a blind man suddenly gifted with sight, Scharf maintains that Monet, consciously or subconsciously, not as the eye would see them but as they might be recorded by a From this angle, the Impressionist aesthetic is not one of tr anscendence but of transcoding That is, inste subjectivity in opposition to what Ve innovations may be attributed, at least partially, to their abil ity to transcode the basic operations and visual logic of photography into their perceptual experience and, subsequently, their principles of composition. Understood in this manner, the relationship between Impressionist aesthetics and early photography contemporary recording technologies have complicated the phenomenology of schema of retentions, is premised upon his radical conception of technics. Through his Technics and Time series, Stiegler routinely defines technics The term refers both to the history of fabricated objects (e.g. flint, hammers, pencils, computers, etc.) and to domain of techne all techniques, pra ctices, and skills or making (something with) technology (Stiegler Technics and Time 1 93). For Stiegler, as I have discussed in C hapter 3 the invention of technical objects creates ho rizons of social becoming within which new techniques develop through experimentation, play, and adoption. Similar to Manovich, Stiegler An essential part of innovation is accomplished through transfer whereby the functioning of a structure in a technical apparatus is analogically transposed into
218 ( Technics and Time 1 34, my emphasis). If Impressionism can be regarded, first of all, as an innovative technique of observation, which was inspired by photography in no small measure, th en it behooves us to account for the technical evolution in (and perceptual ramifications of) visual media technologies since photography, so that we might comment more specifically on the aesthetic transfer to be gained by conceiving of AR practices in re lation to Impressionism. technique of observation, and he also supplies a techno logical bridge that implicates a tacit link between photography and AR. Stiegler accuses H usserl of bracketing out technics in his accounts of perception and memory. In particular, Stiegler problematizes categories of retention: primary and secondary. Primar y retention s are synonymous with perception and are regarded as properties of whatever phenomena are present to consciousness right now ( Stiegler, Technics and Time 3 14). As one hears a s retained as a residue against which each succeeding note is heard. This cumulative resonance is what distinguishes melody from sheer noise. Grounded resolutely in perception, primary retentions are never imaginary; they are always presented to consciousn ess by an object or flux that is present ( Stiegler Technics and Time 3 16). Secondary retentions are activated by intentional or involuntary recall; consciousness projects to itself the properties of a past s living memory. Because Huss erl he does not address any retentions that accrue outside of human perception and individual memory retentions which Stiegler
219 believes play a constitutive role in the basic activi ties of consciousness ( Technics and Time 3 21). Stiegle r thus introduces a third term to theorize the interplay of recording technologies and so called immediate perception and living memory. When we listen to a melody that has been recorded (and view a photograph or framework proves to be false. In such cases, the melody remains exactly th e same, yet tw o different musical experiences ( Stiegler Technics and Time 3 21). The retained phenomena of a past present ) supply consciousness with criteria that (re)orients perception qua primary retention, which is always a process of selection, due to retentional finitude. In contrast to hema, Stiegler ties his fluid theory of perception to a c ritical awareness of the intervention of the imagination at the heart of perception, is only made obvious by tertiary retentions by a phono gram [in this c Technics and Time 3 18) Furthermore, twentieth century recording technologies and audiovisual media generated a new mode of temporal experience, which, in turn, informs the perceptual conditions unique to AR and augmented spaces. F or Stiegler, the historical progression from photography to film to tel evision The real time of contemporary technics, beginning with photography, can be distinguished from deferred time of orthographic writing (painting included). In the contexts of alphabetic literacy, people can easily differentiate between their perception of live events and their engagement with forms of tertiary
220 ( i.e. secondary retention) that directs his or her lived perceptions (i.e. primary retention). Nevertheless, this impact occurs over time it is deferred on account of the technics of alphabetic writing. Stiegler traces the dawning of real time to what he calls real ity of photography. That the photograph, at least in theory (see abov conjunc tion of the past and of makes for a temporal situation very differen t from that of linear The instant of the capture coincides with the ins ( Stiegler Technics and Time 2 16). Film transforms the photographic image into a temporal flux, so as to render audiovisual objects that correspond to the stream of human television, and digital video ( Technics and Time 3 9 12). time culminates in an in depth look at the live feeds of televisual ne ws broadcasting. Live television incorporates the consciousness like audiovisual flux of cinema and effect, such that the instant of projection coincides (more or less) with the instant of recording. After singling out br oadcasts of the first moon landing as a model for the real time eve nt, Stiegler has nonetheless bec Technics and Time 2 242) Hence, the real further. Streams of real time information events signal a general convergence of perception and recording, of in of real time is alwa ys an already there Live footage is promoted and archived as an event before
221 having happened. Hence, real time media do not constitute a departure from exteriorization. With mobile and wearable AR, the convergence of primary and tertiary retention, initiated by photography, has intensified to an unprecedented degree. For the Impressionists, the technique of observing the world in the image of media effects was a figurative process t hat manifested in differed time; for AR artists and designers, this process becomes literal and happens in real time. Digital artists and cultural institutions now experimenting with AR are currently in the position to do for computing what the Impression ists did for painting in the nineteenth century. Whereas many early Impressionist paintings depict urban scenes in a style informed by 1860s urban photographs, mobile AR projects tend to transcode the logic of digital image layers onto contemporary urban e xperience. Collectively, the following examples most of which are based in New York City forecast the potential for a more widespread transformation of public spaces and built environments, which may take hold if, as AR technology continues to evolve, a cr itical mass of designers and content creators incorporate such techniques of observation into their media practices. An ethos of transgression circulates across several of the most noteworthy AR works to date. In addition to fleeing the studio in favor of plain air, so to speak, AR artists have invaded museums and galleries, taken over ad space, and occupied financial districts. In the fall of 2010, artists Mark Skwarek and Sander Veenhof organized We AR in MoMA at curators, included a wide range of digital works appearing (for smartphone users) in the
222 same gallery spaces as the physical, curated exhibits. In many cases, the digital works while others took a more conceptual or performance based approach, such as n the MoMA lobby and are normally displayed, the invasion exhibit which the MoMA staff actu ally came to embrace raises several questions concerning the future of cultural institutions. How does the space of a museum change now that practically any digital work can be virtually exhibited within its walls? What becomes of our relations to exhibite d artworks when user generated, social media commentary is seen alongside the expository text panels that accompany professionally curated collections? The Invisible Artist a London based AR project created by John Goto and Matthew Leach, poses as a guide by a well dressed, headless 3 D figure who provides historical commentary about these assembles a satirizing the ). In turn, work is routinely marginalized for failing to appeal to the finite tastes of appointed Academicians (in the obvious resonance with the Impressionists, whose submissions to Pa annual Salon were overwhelmingly rejected by the French Academy.
223 Indeed, AR works often echo quasi Impressionist sentiments, such as the will to resist, expose, and subvert various institutional criteria by pursing a kind of revolution of everyday life. In two 2011 NYC AR projects The AR|AD Takeover and AR Occupy Wall Street what I have qualified as an Impressionist technique of observation becomes politicized with the Situationist tactical imagination. Critics writing about locative me dia often appeal to Situationist notions such as derive detournment and psychogeography in order to interpret contemporary projects Parallels with Situationism are illuminating, but these approaches seem best suited for thinking about mapping projects t generating cartographic traces supposed to represent alternative productions of social space (e.g. Amsterdam RealTime ). While The AR|AD Takeover and AR Occupy Wall Street certainly invoke Situationist politics, both projects are less about the visualization of locative data in relation to virtual a way for the user to experience the world around her as a mixed and hybrid reality of informatio n on the one hand and physical locat 44). The AR|AD Takeover targets one of the most ad ridden places in the world: Times Square. Times Square epitomizes the discursive conventions that have, in many America n cities, largely restricted the production of media in urban environments to signage made by companies or government organizations with the intent to promote corporate or utilitarian interests. Realizing that AR holds the potential to disrupt this dynamic BC Biermann and Jordan Seiler th use street level ads and billboards to trigger a citywide curated art ins tallation in augmented
224 consum ads and ad space can be regarded as contestable grounds to be overlaid with provocative juxtapositions and visual counter arguments, or simply as blank canvases for playful abstractions and otherwise arbitrary digital overlays. The AR|AD Takeover thus presents a welcome alternative to the hyper consumerist depiction of AR and advertising in Minority Report As content creators curators in potential, equipped with apps that en citizens will possess the choice of what messages, if any, they consume in public space and whether they are commercial, artistic, political, 3). AR Occupy Wall Street suggests content va riety and user choice will also extend to the ways we perceive building facades and the institutions they house. As a crowdsourced initiative, AR Occupy Wall Street was a wide ranging collaboration between artists and activists; some of its most intriguing overlays were concentrated around the New York Stock Exchange. For example, one piece transforms the a streaming NYSE stock ticker, such that pedestrians moving in the background of the frame are obscured by arbitrary flows of financial data. In both cases, the metaphors occur at the interstice of live urban geography and programmed multimedia. The technique of observation attends to the range cinematography potentia l to the experience ecology of a city block. Buildings, traffic, weather, pedestrians, and street debris these are all inevitably constitutive elements of AR works, just as they were for Impressionist paintings.
225 Impressionism was, of course, more than a way of seeing; the transcoding of photographic media effects bleed from perception to pictorial composition. While the technics of early photography clearly inform Impressionist aesthetics, the encounter was by no means deterministic. Indeed, had they not developed a loose set of painterly aesthetic principles the Impressionists would have been remembered as little more than gimmick artists, whose novelty would have worn off once photography became acculturated as a mass medium. One of the most amusing e vents in the story of Impressionism lies in the 1874 critical reviews o These critics were blind to the trace of photography, as noted above, and several did in fact dismiss the Impressionists whose reviews read like a contest amongst themselves to see who could best ridicule the paintings principles which also seems to be echoed in recent aesthetic discussions of ubicomp and the AR medium. Impression, Sunrise emerged as an emblem for the movement during its early years. In addition to inspiring c (which he used scornfully), this pai nting was the object of Wallpaper in its embryonic state is m ore finished than Exposition des Impressionnistes Reviews by Ernest Chesneau and Jules Castagnary also focused o n the notion of finish in their back handed compliments of the exhibition. Chesneau Boulevard des Capucines before reve Clearly, this is not the ultimate
226 statement of art in general, nor of this art in particular. This sketch must be tr ansformed Le Plein Air Despite a lavish assessment of several artis potential, Castagnary nonetheless dismissed impressionism as a flimsy, unfounded exaggeration of a minor tend ency in more established styles of painting (what he ), and ultimately stat perish where they stand In each review, the mockery, the satire, and th e objections hinge upon the assumption that fine art entails a high degree of finish: figures should be well defined and every aspect of the scene rendered in painstaking detail. Not until roughly a hundred years later would continental philosophers champi on the unfinished in their reflections on modern literature, music, and visual art (e.g. ). Stylistically, Impressionism emerged in point by point contrast to the then cri tically and in many ways this dichotomy foreshadows critical differences between AR and VR. Academic painters (who dominated the annual Salon) typically portrayed his tory, myth, and imagined wo 10). Even in portraits of their contemporaries (e.g. Breton Brother and Sister ), academicians contrived the scene so as to immobilize their human subjects in a classical pose, whereby all is clear and discrete, without a hint of movement or change. In accordance with these remains. By contras discern and this, for art his t orian Meyer Schapiro is their key feature one that is all the more
227 evident when seen in person (51) Whereas most prior styles of Western painting work to conceal artifice, the Impressionists emphasize materiality and movement, both in their representatio n of the landscape and in their material engagement with the paint itself. Paradoxically, Imp both the illusive image appearance of a scene in deep space and the tangible substance of the painting as effects produced by the a rtist on the framed surface ( Schapiro 52). That is, the twofold style indicates a representational or virtual image, but does so in a decidedly painterly and materialistic manner. Unlike academic art, Impressionist paintings present scenes of a world constantl y because nothing alive is finished. The foundi 9). Lines stabilize the play of phenomena into defined objects with essential properties. In metaphysical terms, to delineate objects via lines is to finish the impression and to institute a hierarchy of the intelligible over the sensible; or, borrowing from Deleu ze and Guattari it is t o experience nature as a product rather th Anti Oedipus 3). Impressionism, as an aesthetics (and even a metaphysics) is not rooted in intelligible essences of defined objects; rather, it is uprooted by the accidents of the sensible. Photography shares this dynamic. As an indexical document, the photograph is a measure of singularity. This is wh y pho ( Technics and Time 2 19). The real time of photogra phy allows it to capture what remains unnamable in the image, owing to its irreducibility to cultural codes codes that have themselves accumulated from the deferred economy of linear writing, which can
228 no more capture the singularity of an instant than the rhythmic economy of living memory could retain abstract, prosaic statements ( Havelock 137 ). As indicated above, AR intensifies the real time of photography, such that the instant of digital media consumption or production can coincide with the locative flux of geography. If Impressionism dev eloped painterly principles composition that transcoded photographic media effects at the level of artistic practice, then what design principles might theorists and practitioners propose for an AR med ia aesthetics premised on a transcoding of digital image layers? On a concrete level, Impressionist practices revolve around a unit of composition that may help situate and orient AR design practices. When asked to describe his approach to painting, Monet once replied: Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here is an oblong of pink, here is a streak of yellow; now paint, just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape until it gives you your own nave impr ession of t he scene before you. (cited in Schapiro 49) The principle of composition is to abstract shapes of color from any subordination to an 589). Conversely, we can describe the AR medium in t erms of metonymy; here, designers abstract layers of multimedia from their subordination to GUI/WIMP frameworks anchoring the desktop metaphor. Since the 1990s, l ayers have been a commonplace form essential to authoring software such as image, audio, and video editing programs. In Photoshop, for instance, image f that can be manipulated independently. Since The Language of New Media Manovich has returned often to the significance of layers in software; his recent di s cussion of digital image layers resembles
229 comments (above) about the two planes An image is thus redefined as a provisional composite of both content elements and various modification operations that are conceptu a principles of modularity and variability, design researchers Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Co Layers allow the designer to treat the image as a collection o f asse Now, with the emergence of mobile AR and ubicomp, layers of multimedia are primed for post desktop circulation amidst extra computational entities and events in the lifeworld. As such, the modular logic of visu al layering method of composition will likely become transcoded as a preeminent cultural form. Increasingly, the ways we interact with digital images in Photoshop or audio tracks in Audacity serve to model more th an human computer interactions. The array of media effects typical to desktop authoring software are becoming constitutive dimensions at play in our relations to all kinds of environments, provided we are within range of an Internet signal. Graphic design becomes experience design, and Web browsing becomes world browsing. Moreover, painting en plain air and computing en plain air involve processes by which the virtuality of intelligible essences scrambles, blurs, and bifurcates in the face of the var iability of sensible plentitude, or what the in finite richness of the universe which, he claimed, was excluded from VR systems the 21 st Abstracted from the WIMP construct, the layers of multimedia curr ently hosted on AR browsers mark a crucial site of the paradigm shift from personal computing to ubicomp. AR layers incorporate the activity of autonomous physical
230 entities as s that a digital image constitutes. Scholars writing about AR works today take the exact inverse stance of the art critics who condemned Impressionism for its lack of finish. For instance, Bolter et al. and Christiane Paul attribute aesthetic value to the unfinished when they e ach caution AR designers against creating the kinds of immersive experiences fundamental to classical storytelling, Hollywood film, and VR narr atives. Bolter et al. advocate for contingent fragments of narrativ often seem mes ay Writing about locative media narratives, which often involve AR, t (410) Writers, artists, and designers should aim, then, to produce texts that do not block out the contexts of their reception. And yet, in spite of this gu ideline, Paul wonders inevita She takes this dilemma to be an urgent cultural challenge of the ubicomp paradigm. Contrar y to Paul, I contend that as long as we maintain text/context oppositions we will be caught in the catch 22 to which her argument succumbs. The more fundamental challenge is to learn how to conceptualize and design multimedia without recourse to text/conte xt oppositions. Akin to the impressionist conception of shapes of color, AR layers of multimedia beckon theorists and practitioners to consider the integral role of sensible plenitude in digital de sign and composition practices. Layers, in the ubicomp para digm, are not merely a category of electronic textuality;
231 layers mark a new attentional form wherein any and all so called contextual noise becomes a constitutive element in the visual, sonic, tactile, or textual field. AR layers, by default, assign an aes thetic or rhetorical function to the sensible plenitude immanently perceptible within and around the mobile screen, which is always permeable because it is simultaneously a live camera. Though I have emphasized the visual, AR layers exist in what Maria Eng berg a combination of sight, hea 44). Consider the aesthetic role of sensible plenitude in site specific sound installations, which may be regarded as AR or MR works in a broad sense. Sonic artist Paths II: The Music of Trees created an embedded sound layer throughout Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle. Aresty spent roughly a year recording audio at specific spots in the Arboret um, then composed seven tracks seven speakers were installed in the Arboretum at the respective spots from which each s amidst whatever noises (and other sensory elements) took place on the spot. Aresty bring these simultaneous yet distinct layers of sound into dialogue (e.g. s ounds, sights, tactile sensations) permeates the audio of a sound layer; more precisely, the sound layer is audio plus noise. The sound layer that each piece is is a singular performance that accrues at the interstice of the composed audio and the spontane ous aural visual tactile noises of blowing leaves, wildlife, nearby auto traffic, air traffic, fellow park visitor s, etc. Aresty
232 depend on it to b ring new life to e straining to listen exclusively to the audio would be the equivalent of bringing sheet mu sic and earplugs to a concert. designe rs of layers (sound and otherwise) must learn to regard them as techno geographic processes of production instead of finished products. In addition to being hermeneutically unbound, the musical compositions that Eco cites as open works actually distribute the act of arrangement to the initiative of the people who perform them. Rather than spelling out a well defined arrangement of notes to be reproduced handed to the perform Eco 4). We might understand media files at the scene of layer writing on this basis: as units of construction to be assembled by the autonomous movement of each listener /viewer relative to the real time movement of geographical flows and o ther (non)human actants. Accordingly, creators of site specific soundscapes and more image driven AR layers must make decisions about subject matter in two interrelated registers: (1) multimedia files, and (2) the locations or entities to which those file s are attached or tagged. While plenty of relevant insights could be drawn from on location filmmaking geographic milieus as aesthetic forces provides a productive heurist ic for contemporary relationality and several AR works created by artists of the Manifest.AR collective for the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial. Art historian John House characterizes
233 sky, water, fog, and patc the keynotes of [his] painting forming kaleidoscopic spaces in which the identity of an y object diffuses (House 19 ). According to House [Monet] was insisting that the significance of the objects he painted lay in the relationships between them, in the multifarious elements which together went to m ake up the modern scene, and not in any extern al ordering process imposed by the artist in order to elevate one aspect above the others. (17) For Monet, particularly in his later landscapes, sensation and mood intensify around places that generate their own abstractions and afterimages qua reflections, weather filte Londo n would not 29). Beautification is not the principle aim of the Manifest.AR pieces on exhibit during the ZERO1 Biennial (wi Parking Lot Decorator the selection of subject matter in the design of AR layers. The two AR works I comment on below each of them se t at computer company headquarters around Silicon Valley technique, the identity of a place becomes diffused or compounded by the gravity of its relations to historical events, soci al issues, or environmental problems relations that casual observer. Clouding Green converts the findings of a Greenpeace report on hi tech compan visualizations. Using a black green color spectrum to indicate the degree of each
234 headquarters, thus making the companie waste or clean energy practices an integral (or inescapable) element of their public image. From Lewisburg, PA to Silicon Valley a collaboration between John Craig Freeman, Mark Skwarek, and Lily & Honglei mobilizes a more complex matrix of history an d geography. The juxtaposition between composed multimedia and the indexcality of the scene is visually striking but conceptually puzzling: sketched images of plainly dressed young men and women float ters; their bodies upside down and contorted, lacking any notable facial expression, they appear to be drifting whimsically through the scene like plastic bags caught in the wind. In notes on the piece, Freeman et al. describe the city of Lewisburg as a ma nufacturing mecca during the postwar era Starting in the 1970, however, a critical mass of American companies began to move their facilities away from uni onized towns like Lewisburg to to states, and later internationally to Mexico and China, in pursuit of ever lower operating costs. Coupling this labor migration with the fact that China is now the an intricate constellation of political and econ omic outcomes in which companies like Apple and digital media consumers like us are thoroughly implicated. As the user holds her iPhone up the Apple building, she beholds the displaced American workers whose factory jobs have been outsourced and whose rela tively high quality working conditions have been sacrificed for the sake of high profits and low prices. The piece creates an exemplary kaleidoscopic scene of globalization that enmeshes now with then here with there and me with them
235 Each of the AR pro jects I have discussed forecast rich democratic possibilities that might emerge with the spread of AR and ubicomp, which are not without hegemonic affordances, as critics so frequently note Computing en plein air supports the production of multimedia amid st public spaces without physically altering or defacing economy of contribution than other forms of place based cultural expression. Pa ul called public typically relies on the authorization and limited funding of governments or other institutions; such terms and conditions vario usly [public art] has frequently been used by tota litarian regimes Convers ely, street art forms such as graffiti have long been illegal in most American cities; it would be unthinkable for graffiti artists or even mural painters to make works on the facade of the New York Stock Exchange. The cultural significance of AR works ma y be akin to that which Stiegler attributes to video sharing sites, when he insists that YouTu be and other Web 2.0 constitut[e] a radical nove 52). After c onstructing an analogy be Me of the twentieth century culture industries, Stiegler locates the unique value of p always been executed in a top Countering Habermasian concerns that image culture poses a fundamental threat to rational, democratic debate, Stiegler concludes that the separation of producer and consumer is not an inherent consequence of audiovisual media, just as the public sphere is not an automatic feature
236 of alphabetic writing and the print ing press Indeed, there was no public sphere in early scribal cultures. New media technologies appear to be evolving in ways similar to those of alphabetic writing, such that recent advancemen deeply modify relations to the audiovisual temporal flux, allowing one to imagine the appearance of a more refle 41). From 1980s home video to contemporary AR browsers, an expanding range of people are becoming positioned to break down, manipulate, annotate, produce, and revise the audiovisual flux. That artists are pioneering much of the early innovative work in AR should come as no surprise, especially observati on new medium, who recognizes that the future is the present, and uses his wor k to The AR medium supplies unique technological conditions that facilitate the rise of digital public spheres set in vibrant public places Impressionist aesthetics, as I have suggested, provide digital artists, designers, and content producers en plein air avant garde with a rich art historical referent as they endeavor to see the world in the image of multimedia effects and develop principles for composing real time mediascapes.
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245 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH John Tinnell was born in Asheville, North Carolina. He studied American literature and creative writing at Stetson University, earning his B.A. in 2007. After a year of teaching English at a Florida high school, he chose the Un iversity of Florida for graduate school and received a M.A. in English in 2010. Prior to receiving his Ph.D. in 2013, h e published scholarly articles in Environmental Communication The Fibreculture Journal Enculturation Deleuze Studies and Ecology, Wri ting Theory, and New Media: Writing Ecology His research leverage s the rich legacies of poststructuralism and grammatology, in order to engage theoretically with avant garde new media practices, as well as the rhetorical and aesthetic potential of cutting edge cultural technologies. In the fall of 2013, he began his career as an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Colorado at Denver.