Academical Village

In City of Bits William Mitchell writes about different types of virtual spaces and how they draw on real spaces. But what models do we have for hybrid spaces – institutions that are designed to have both physical and virtual extension? How do we think through what we can make if we were to design a new research learning space both for information technology and through it?

In chapter 4.6. Schoolhouses / Virtual Campuses Mitchell draws on Jefferson’s design for the University of Virginia. Jefferson’s “academical village” was designed to bring students and faculty together in a place of residence and learning. What do we want to bring together in a new media village?
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IBM 5100: First Portable Computer

The IBM 5100 computer from 1975 is apparently the first “portable” or personal computer. The 1981 PC from IBM was the 5150 model.

I learned from an improbably site – The Time Travel Tale of John Titor which provides posts from a purported time traveller from 2036 who came back looking for a 5100. (Thanks to Matt K for the link to this.)
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A history of computers

A History of Computers is a site that takes a broad view of the history of computers. It includes a page on Ramon Lull and his significance, for example. There aren’t as many entries for modern computing advances, but a good spread over time.

Update: Thanks to Jacinda, I was alerted to the fact that the link above is not longer working. You can still see the site using the Wayback Machine.

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.
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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.
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