Jordan Crandall on Thu, 31 Jul 2008 05:18:39 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Between Tracking and Formulating

On 7/27/08 12:54 PM, "Keith Hart" <> wrote:

> But the revival of this thread encourages me to return to the central
> premise of Jordan Crandall's original article which, in its undiluted
> empiricism, is simply wrong. Taking issue with the rhetoric is one thing,
> but to let a basic fallacy go unchallenged is quite another. The following
> extract sums up his position:
> >Increasingly, the tracking apparatus is able to reach far back into the
> past, further back than was humanly possible, through the use of
> regressions.  Regressions are statistical procedures that take raw
> historical data and estimate how various causal factors influence a single
> variable of interest (for example, the quality of wine, or an enemy's
> movement).  A pattern is revealed, derived from the past, and this
> demonstrates a likelihood, a propensity, for what could happen today. This
> pattern might be stabilized, made operational, in a formula.  You just plug
> in the specified attributes into a regression formula, and out comes your
> prediction.  A moving phenomenon -- a stock price, a biological function, an
> enemy, a product or part -- is codified and understood in a
> historical trajectory, in order to extrapolate its subsequent position.<
> It  is a scientistic fantasy that predictions can be made on the basis of
> statistical regularities observed in the past. Crandall's belief in the
> power of algorithms leads him to claim that number-crunching on a massive
> scale allows 'us' to dispense with theory altogether.

Keith, thank you for your response.  I want to point out that I don't
believe this at all. I was entertaining this position, trying to
creatively inhabit it, in order to follow the logic.  This belief in the
ultimate power of algorithms is part of a closed world mindset that I have
been critical of, and continue to be critical of.  But I am trying out
other approaches, working a bit from the inside, which can generate an
uncomfortable closeness or sense of complicity.  I realize this can be
easily misinterpreted.

I don't think this correction in your departure point changes much in the
broader context of your very informative historical analysis.  (Well,
except for the last sentence, the "intellectual failure" part, but, seen
from your deeper historical perspective, perhaps it's true!)


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