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<nettime> re: Cybernetics and the Control Society
brian carroll on Tue, 18 Sep 2007 22:26:32 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> re: Cybernetics and the Control Society


Brian Holmes wrote:

> But nonetheless, from around, well, let's just say, 1978 onwards, the
> whole interdisciplinary complex of ideas that had been called cybernetics
> fell into a kind of entropic disarray, and gradually retreated from the
> world stage of ideas to the point where, bizarrely, strangely,
> inexplicably, by 1994 when the seeds that all those people had planted
> suddenly blossomed into the enormous fin-de-siecle phenomenon of the
> World Wide Web, nobody had a thing to say about cybernetics anymore.
> Net.art and net everything-else developed basically without that
> reference (although please, please tell me there were exceptions);

  from a non-'net.art' historical perspective, some of the
  earliest resources from the days of the Lynx browser
  text-based internet and Mosaic browser's image-based
  'world-wide-web' were related to systems theory and
  cybernetics, such as the Principia Cybernetica (c.1993)
  and issues related to hypothetical systems engineered
  utopianism of 'new civilizations', etc. (seemingly born
  out of the high-tech Californian counterculture). it was
  "resources" such as these that gave the early internet
  its value, or potential for social change or collaboration,
  which migrated somewhat into mailing-list cultures prior
  to the online property-boom in website developments.

  [a way of considering it would be from an organizational
  viewpoint, in which systematic 'ideas' such as cybernetics
  could be modeled via hypertext, in a website as such, yet
  today so much is pursued via blogs as a method instead,
  and how may this influence the modeling/sharing of ideas,
  in terms of systematic knowledge and getting down to the
  logic of what is going on, versus the journalistic viewpoint.

  it would seem that the 'wiki' would potentially be more
  attuned to this error-correction modeling than a blog, for
  instance. and so, what if standards of communication are
  occurring in blogs, and thus this cybernetic aspect seems
  to disappear, including refining via editing (via peer-review)
  and establishing models of ideas, versus storytelling, etc.
  it would seem to be the difference between establishing a
  'circuit' of an event, versus a representation of this circuitry
  from a given, somewhat arbitrary perspective. no less real,
  possibly, yet always 'relativisitic' to modeling a larger whole.

  cybernetics would seem to underly all communications at
  the level of logic. to 'argue' with a cybernetic machine is
  seemingly to interact at a level of beliefs, in which the action
  and movement of this machinery will automatically parse the
  most accurate logical approach, given its parameters. this is
  not inherently against humanity. yet it is not inherently 'true'
  either, given the boundaries established (that is, they could
  be inaccurate, flawed, corrected). humans who then seek to
  interact with machineries would seem to only have a chance
  to influence this machinery for the 'greater truth' by basing
  their ideas in the clarity of logical accounting, basing beliefs
  on this foundation, and knowing what this foundation is, in
  terms of their reasoning. because - this is what the cyber-
  netic machinery does anyway, how it will interpret 'beliefs'
  and how communication unfolds. accurately or with error.

  the functional communication in 'beliefs' is the main issue,
  and this would seem to work against human communication
  with machinery, in requiring a human subjectivity to this POV,
  when the coldness and hardness of logic may appear to be
  inadequate to emotional conditions and how it is reasoned.
  'logic' in itself is capable of modeling these dynamics, if they
  are effectively modeled and based in 'truth'. and this could
  and can be accommodated by a machinery. it would need
  to be presented as such, in clear terms. emotions are not
  able to 'carry' this truth, into machinery. it becomes logic.
  weighted to given modeling, or so it would seem the case.

  the very many insights that people have become bounded
  by communications, methods of conveying ideas between
  peoples, versus the human-machine threshold or boundary
  in which the cybernetic organism appears to be constituted
  and to function, automatically, via programmed behaviors.

  it would seem that 'truth' is something such machinery must
  acknowledge, due to this logical accounting, and if it does not
  it risks its own self-defeat, in which its ability to function breaks-
  down via the inaccuracies of modeling, confined limits, etc. it
  would seem to be an issue of humans, machinery, and truth,
  in terms of logical reasoning, versus trying to keep a realm of
  human communications outside of this automated machinery
  and 'its truth' -- at some level it is the same truth, and human
  perspectives can potentially model it more effectively than it
  has been, by previous generations. the 'discourse' then would
  seem to be with a machinery if not a cybernetic organism, in
  which this does not necessarily indicate it is against humanity,
  simply by existing. it would seem to involve how it is constituted,
  in what terms, how it is functioning or operating, which may be
  anti-human in many ways. yet which can be modified/changed
  via this logical accounting of truth, via logical reasoning, etc.

  yet if this 'reason' is not grounded in empirical truth and that
  is removed of inaccuracies and extraneous beliefs, this would
  seem to be the noise which can have vast repercussions on
  others, via relativistic viewpoints which retain inaccuracies and
  then model a situation, which ultimately oppresses others who
  are not the given seer, due to issues of perspective, limits, etc.
  these types of issues can only be resolved by moving into logic
  and modeling ideas in terms of logic and ideas as circuitry, in
  which this communication is neutralized of inherent inaccuracy
  potentially due to the need to 'say' in customized ways, what is.

  in other words, it could be the serial, non-looping aspect of the
  text which is functioning against this truth, via shared relations
  which jump around the main issues, which are this cybernetic
  modeling and engaging this machinery in terms of ideas/beliefs
  that are accurately, effectively, and expertly grounded in relation
  to the conditions that exist, for the 'other' (machinic) perspective.
  and that it could be an issue of governance, between humans
  and this machinery, reliant upon the integrity of reasoning, for
  rule of law and rights and freedoms of action/speech, yet within
  a logical context, to engage this situation, which the future relies.

  so it would seem an issue of coming to terms with this situation.
  and how to move into this more peer-based logical evaluation in
  which 'communication' can become collaborative at the level of
  the text, of the ideas modeled in signs, in various types of circuits
  which could range from a point, to a line (between two concepts),
  to a plane, to a volumetric 'idea' (moving into the 'spheric, say).

  it would seem the wiki-approach has a lot to offer, yet the social
  relations between people and models of communication do not
  seem to hold the same 'open' collaborative spirit of earlier days,
  if not due to issues of identity, privacy, surveillance, security, and
  spam. yet, what if every 'group' or culture were able to begin to
  write or inscribe their shared knowledge, via this cybernetic-like
  modeling, of logic-based accounting, in which a process could be
  established which grounds reasoning, akin to a 'scientific' method
  yet for online communications in terms of developing collaborative
  or collective knowledge resources, in which the goal is to get the
  ideas into a single framework, and work-through 'difference', etc.

  the tools would appear to be here. the customization issues also
  appear possible to resolve, given technical skills of programmers
  and hackers and others, to modify software to advance is partial
  functionality into a more robust modeling, potentially. what seems
  to be the missing piece is the people who think and reason and
  who are ready and willing to collaborate on ideas, to take the risk
  of sharing ideas, albeit imperfect in absolute terms, yet in order to
  establish a contingent modeling of [events], wherein 'many' can
  begin to forge this more singular perspective, including debate it,
  its points, premises, hypotheses, theories, statements, claims,
  propositions, and so on. and that maybe that is why 'lists' exist,
  to some extent, or blog-comments which could feed into lists, or
  wikis, and that maybe the issue of independent web development
  and blogging establishes a barrier to some of this, if only in terms
  of an existing status quo of rote social-technological functioning,
  yet which could be malleable, could be adapted or changed, if
  'the ideas' took the leap into this grounded condition or realm.

  i myself have kind of given up on the whole idea, due to futility
  of trying to 'reason' such a perspective which becomes self-
  evident via the alienation that logical reasoning now provides.
  it turns logical reasoning into the antithesis of popular 'reason',
  as as belief system of 'communications', including of exchange.
  yet how much of this is actually impacting cybernetic machinery,
  enough to challenge it or change its fundamental structuring? it
  would seem possible that if ideas were grounded, there would be
  a possibility that ideas could effect this automated functioning, it
  is simply an issue of beginning to mediate this ('new') condition.

brian c.

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