Plowing the Dark of Virtual Realities

Is there a difference between the halucinations of a confined imagination and virtual reality?

This is one thread in Richard Powers’ brilliant historical fiction about 80s VR and politics, Plowing the Dark. Two narrative threads are intertwined in this book: an artist recruited to develop compelling demos for a VR cave being developed at Seattle R&D lab in the mid-80s; and a Lebanese-American who is kidnapped after going to Beirut to teach ESL. The artist reaches back through the history of art (Rousseau, Lascaux cave paintings, and the Hagia Sophia of Byzantium) to create sites for the VR cave. The kidnapped man reaches back through memories until an ex-girlfriend becomes present. Powers reaches back to that moment in the 80s when VR technology was going to be the next paradigm shift.

The first Gulf war brings all this to an end. The war that may have been virtual in popular imagination.
Continue reading Plowing the Dark of Virtual Realities

History of Computing

M.S. Mahoney – Articles on the History of Computing is a page of links by the Princeton historian to articles about the history of computing. He argues in “The History of Computing in the History of Technology” that “the history of computing has yet to establish a significant presence in the history of science” (p. 1 of the PDF). As a result a lot of the popular history of computing out there is “heroic” and focuses on people or companies and insider knowledge.
Continue reading History of Computing

A Day in Humanities Computing

What if we organized a project around documenting what computing humanists do. “A Day in Humanities Computing” would be a voluntary project where selected HC people with digital cameras would take pictures of what they are doing and write a TEI encoded document that describes their day. It could be coded with subject headings to allow people to search the journal entries. Above all it should be accessible to give people an idea of what we do.
Continue reading A Day in Humanities Computing