Public Group active 5 years, 11 months ago

Software, Globalization and Political Action

This interdisciplinary seminar will explore concepts and methods from both critical theory and software studies. It is taught by Prof. Susan Buck-Morss (Political Science), and Prof. Lev Manovich (Computer Science).


Black Mirror

  • I just wanted to post this before I forgot but I was reminded in class today of the British TV series by Charlie Brooker “Black Mirror” (For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a kind of Twilight Zone for contemporary times where the ‘black mirror’ of the title refers to our many shiny black screens).

    I was particularly thinking of an episode in season 2 (episode 1) ‘Be Right Back’ where a woman’s husband is killed in a car accident and she happens upon a new service that will use all his existing social media accounts and digital output to reconstruct a facsimile of him that she can talk to. This is a more sophisticated version of the kind of reproduction that Amazon or similar gives you based on your previous searches and what you say in public and the woman instantly feels that it’s not quite her husband but rather a kind of ‘distortion’ (a more polished, perfected version – the self he wanted to project to the world). Something the episode brings up is the fact that despite the fact that we’re performing a large portion of ourselves in a networked realm, there are still things that we filter or edit or keep locked within our fleshy heads that make our mirror image selves a close approximate but immediately and obviously different.

    I think the idea of the performed self an interesting and relevant concept here. It’s clear that our choices online are a reflection of a performed identity rather than a complete picture of our desires, emotions, behaviors, etc. Are we moving toward a point where this is no longer the case? Or will there always be things that evade quantification?

    I was also thinking recently about the idea of self-surveillance. We’re told to assume anything we put in electronic communication is basically public. What are the implications of this?

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