It always comes back to relationships

Every time I read a chapter in this Lexicon, I feel so inspired by the connections that it reestablishes between the material world and what we consider to be immaterial.  I think much of that feeling is a result of my own ignorance of the structural makeup of software and the fact that for so long I have merely been a consumer of such products.


I really appreciated the concept advanced by Licklider in that interaction was a shift in viewing and using the computer as less of a problem-solver and more of a problem-finder.  When I think about it, what use is the machine if I am the only one who can define the problem?

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I recently read an article about weather forecasts

–sounds random, I know, but I swear it was enlightening–

and the major advances that meteorologists have made since its inception primarily after they willingly acknowledged the limitations of computers.  We cannot rely on computers solely.  We must combine the computing power of the machine with our own human experience.  While computers can certainly speed up the process, human adjustments will always be necessary because the computers take language and instruction so literally. The chapter on interaction made perfect sense to me in this context because at the end of the day the practices we use computers to execute are very much connected to something we are trying to figure out in the external world.

This chapter goes hand in hand with that on “Interface” in the sense that both are forms of linking or mediation between the thing trying to be executed and the instructions set out to execute it.  When I think about the concept of the asymmetry of powers, it reminds me of the role that all consumers and producers play in the development of technology. Returning to Stiegler’s ideas about “originary technicity,” you realize that both human and non-human actants construct the power dynamics that create byproducts that might be considered advancements.


In all reality though, they are just momentary developments that offer us landing points from which to jump from as we think about what more can we accomplish.  It’s rhythmic almost, and–at least for me–helps to visualize technological advancements as more of a continuous spectrum rather than an isolated achievement.

Staying true to my area of studies, I am always moved by discussions on forms of micro-politics, which the idea of “Internationalization” touches upon in the context of software.  And it’s true!

Before any of these readings, I would have been so sold on the idea that technology was universal and that anybody, anywhere could use it.  But even in conjunction with some of the earlier chapters on “Ethnocomputing” and “Computing Power,” we see how software as universal is more of an illusion than it is a reality.  Like Mackenzie states in this chapter, “this occurs at a cost” and “it requires individuals to fit a norm of being human beings” (159).  At a foundational level, all software, languages, and sets of controls are designed or constructed by man, even if the processes are carried out by machines, and I feel that this is important to remember when we are tempted to view software as universal because there are many factors (language, time, location, etc.) that must be accounted for.

Further, the chapter on “Language” breaks down the subsets of this element and all of the complexities of the layering and overlapping of languages.

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ouch..this just hurts to look at

Despite my lack of knowledge and practice of all different types of languages, I can still acknowledge the fact that any language is strongly related to the cultural practices that materialize from it.  It is a two-way relationship in that practices both reinforce, develop, and change the signs or symbols of the language just as those signs and symbols affect the practices that are executed in its name.

I think one of the biggest takeaways I got from these chapters in particular is that as our digital literacy grows, we must take more care to critically examine the various forms of media that we engage with to live our lives.  It has been so simple to just be a consumer of the products available to me, but actually learning about their origins and evolutions has made me appreciate and better understand the networks of relations between all human and nonhuman actants.


–Kahala Bonsignore

~ by kahalabonsignore on March 21, 2016.

4 Responses to “It always comes back to relationships”

  1. Overall: I think this post is great! It explains the chapters and your interpretation to the readings in a clear way that allows me to understand easily (good blog voice). The GIFs also help to break the rhythm of the post and make it much more interesting to read!

  2. content: i always find that connecting all of the different pieces we read and watch into one coherent thought to be really difficult so I really appreciate that you were able to weave them together clearly.

  3. Content: First of all, I found this post really helpful academically and quite enlightening. I do have to say that I was quite surprised to find a post mostly focusing on the lexicon in this vast collective mass of posts dealing with last classes discussion. It was somewhat refreshing to read an informative piece amongst all the emotional (should I say?) posts.

  4. Overall: This post immediately caught my eye while scrolling down the front page. Your voice is incredibly honest, and how you connect yourself to the content.

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