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<nettime> McWiener digest x3 [newmedia, mckelvey, newmedia]
nettime's_drive_thru on Fri, 7 Jun 2013 02:49:50 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> McWiener digest x3 [newmedia, mckelvey, newmedia]


Re: We are what we tweet: The Problem with a Big Data World when Ev...

     Newmedia {AT} aol.com
     Fenwick Mckelvey <mckelveyf {AT} gmail.com>
     Newmedia {AT} aol.com

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From: Newmedia {AT} aol.com
Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2013 08:20:55 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: We are what we tweet: The Problem with a Big Data World when Ev...

Fenwick et al:
 
> There's no coherent analysis to be had of this at the moment. 
 
Incoherence is precisely the problem we all face and, around here, it  is 
largely because people have been reading too much Deleuze and *not*  enough 
McLuhan or Wiener (or, for that matter Leibniz).
 
Read McLuhan's "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man" (1964) and will 
 get some clues about how to recognize media-environmental patterns and 
then read  "The Laws of Media: The New Science" (1988) and you will get a 
methodology for  understanding how media operates in our lives.
 
Read Wiener's "The Human Use of Human Beings" (1950) and you get some clues 
 about the dangers of "simulation" and "God and Golem, Inc." (1964) and you 
will  get a fuller view about what happens when we try to "make a better 
world." by  engineering new-and-improved humans.
 
Plus, when it appears later this year, I suspect that you will be surprised 
 at what you learn about "human engineering" when you read Fred Turner's 
new "The  Democratic Surround."
 
None of this is available in Deleuze, who can't even get Leibniz straight  
(about whom I'd recommend the recent Antognazza biography, as the best place 
to  learn what he was really up to) . . . !! <g>
 
Mark Stahlman
Brooklyn NY
 
 
In a message dated 6/4/2013 5:01:11 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
mckelveyf {AT} gmail.com writes:

     Hi  Nettimers,

     I have been a long-time reader to Nettime and I'd like to share
     a piece I co-authored with Matt Tiessen and Luke Simcoe. We just
     posted it on the blog Culturally Digital
     (http://culturedigitally.org/) and  I thought Nettime readers
     might also enjoy it. You can see it one  the site at:  
      
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From: Fenwick Mckelvey <mckelveyf {AT} gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2013 11:53:11 -0700
Subject: Re: We are what we tweet: The Problem with a Big Data World

Hi Mark,
Well the Deleuze at the end was one strategy for this problem of
simulation, one among many. I found the vacoules quote very pertinent
after claiming that the primary purpose of social media is data mining
with the second being free expression. Its meant to be provocative,
but certainly my own input in this piece comes from an appreciation of
McLuhan and Wiener.

I've seen Fred Turner present a few times on this book, especially
about the Family of Man exhibit. His work and this post share an
interest in the concept of control. That concept draws on Deleuze, but
also Wiener and in some of my readings McLuhan as well. Its
interesting to read how both McLuhan and Wiener relate themselves to
the cybernetics project both as critics and architects.

After reading books like the Closed World, Fred's book as well as the
history of computing, I am very interested in this early fear of
simulation and control as manifest in books like Simulacron-3. These
references I hope in the future can lead to a discussion of the
evolution of control and its relation to control myths.

Thanks for the comments.

Best,
Fenwick


On Tue, Jun 4, 2013 at 5:20 AM,  <Newmedia {AT} aol.com> wrote:

> Fenwick et al:
>
>> There?s no coherent analysis to be had
>> of this at the moment.
>
> Incoherence is precisely the problem we all face and, around here, it is
> largely because people have been reading too much Deleuze and *not* enough
> McLuhan or Wiener (or, for that matter Leibniz).
 <...>

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From: Newmedia {AT} aol.com
Date: Tue, 4 Jun 2013 15:59:33 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: We are what we tweet: The Problem with a Big Data World when Ev...

Fenwick:
 
The point I believe Fred Turner will be talking about in "Democratic
Surround" will be the origins of the notion of "control by choice" --
particularly as this was seen to be part of the "democratic personality"
(as  opposed to the "authoritarian personality") which became a major focus
in  the psychological warfare community before/during/after WW II.
 
As I highlighted in an earlier post, Gregory Bateson was particularly
important in formulating all this -- as reflected in his 1942 "Comments on
'The  Comparative Study of Culture and the Purposive Cultivation of
Democratic  Values'" (where the original study was by his then-wife,
Margaret Mead), which  was then reprinted with the title "Social Planning
and the Concept of  Deutero-Learning" in his 1972 "Steps to an Ecology of
Mind."
 
This is where Bateson talks about "rigging the maze" to give the  illusion
of "free will."  It is important to remember  that *control* was widely
understood by the early 50s as something that  could only be done by people
to themselves -- which then became the basis for  the entire Cold War theme
of "freedom" and "democracy" against the  "totalitarianism" of the Soviet
enemy.  Later this becomes the basis of  "terror," which is mass-media 
technique meant to drive behavior through  broadcasting fear, as 
specialized in by CNN etc.
 
Accordingly, social media "free expression" isn't that at all, since what
gets expressed is limited by the "design" of the *maze* and "data-mining"
can  only produce statistics on which direction people go when they come to
a "corner" and make one of the predetermined "choices."  For  better-and-
worse, you really don't learn much about people when you treat them like
rats!
 
All of this, btw, derives from the Calvinist/Puritan fascination with  
"predestination" and the desire to be "as Gods" (i.e. the ones who set up
"the  maze") -- as reflected in the slogan of Stewart Brand's Whole Earth  
Catalog. 
 
Just for the record -- *neither* Wiener nor McLuhan were "architects" of
anything that could be called the "cybernetics project," importantly
because  neither of them had "Puritan" (i.e. make a more "pure" human)
pretensions -- unlike Bateson, Mead and many others.
 
Architects -- No.  Critics -- Yes.  
 
Wiener is explicit in the Introduction to his 1948 "Cybernetics" that he
refused to work with Bateson/Mead and McLuhan (despite what Richard
Barbrook has  to say about him <g>) had little to do with any of this,
other than  criticizing what he called the "Deutsch-Wiener" approach for
being "quite unable  of itself to see beyond or around technology" (as
published in his March 1951  letter to Harold Innis.)
 
If the people at York/Ryerson (or elsewhere) have linked McLuhan to  
"cybernetics," then they have made a basic mistake in scholarship.  Norbert  
Wiener was my "godfather" -- which means my father was one of a few in the
room  when they coined the term (and he brought a rose to my mother the day
after I  was born) but my father was strongly advised to avoid cybernetics
and  Wiener himself completely dropped out when he was threatened with a
HUAC  investigation (circa 1953).
 
While I think it's appropriate to try to trace a thread from *cybernetics*
into 1950s/60s social engineering, the central figures in all this are
neither Wiener or McLuhan and instead generally cluster around the field of
Social Psychology and Communications Science -- as discussed in Chris
Simpson's  1996 "The Science of Coercion: Communication Research and
Psychological Warfare,  1945-1960."
 
Mark Stahlman
Brooklyn NY 

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