McCullough writes a lot about generative structure, drawing on Chomsky and Piaget. While generative structure may no longer be a satisfactory explanation for human language, McCullough sees is as a principle of computing media.
“We have seen the role of structure, particularly generative structure, in several contexts already: the syntax of notation, the design of an interface, the constructions of a type, the essence of a medium. In each of these contexts, structure is revealed in transformation.” (p. 232 of Abstracting Craft)
We learn about the structure of digital media by playing with it – by playing with a software package and seeing what sorts of transformations happen when we try different features. (See the section “Generative Structure” in the chapter “Symbols” – starting page 98.)
This connects to play and games. Generative structures provide the constraints that make play possible and open the possibilities that give play meaning.
Continue reading Generative Structure
Would it be possible to make a machine conscious? Obviously I am not going to solve this, but what if we played with the idea. Lets say that consciousness is:
1. Attentive memory – a space of memory that is attentive to things from the outside. It can be distracted, redirected by strong input from outside.
2. Continuous attention – a continuous attention to things over time
3. Private attention – a thinking that is not accessible in the same way to others
4. Reflective – an attention that can take itself and its short term contents as subject for attention
5. Associative – a thinking that brings in new items by association. Note that the associative process is outside consciousness – it feeds consciousness but isn’t of it.
6. Willful – a thinking that can control itself to some degree, but not totally. The control emanates in balance from consciousness.
7. It would think of its thinking as I, itself.
So can we create a program that would fit some of these characteristics. It would serve no purpose other than to run continuously. It would manage a space of memory not accessible to others. It would be capable of being distracted, of making associations, and of willfuling responding.
Continue reading Conscious Machines
The third chapter in Abstracting Craft on “Tools” has definitions of technology and tool suited for discussing software and computers as craft tools. Some of the key terms he covers are:
Tool, Technology, Instrument, Probe, Mechanism, Machine, Engine, Power, Technique, Medium, and Artifact
“A tool is a moving entity whose use is initiated and actively guided by a human being, for whom it acts as an extension, toward a specific purpose.” (p. 68, McCullough).
Continue reading Tool and Technology
The Gender Genie will try to guess the gender of an author based on 500 words of text. It is a form of playful text analysis based on an algorithm developed by Koppel and Argamon.
Continue reading Gender Guessing
Historic Tale Construction Kit is a Web application which you can use to make a tapestry tale. Very neat.
Textism: Photos: is a collection of small image shows that are simple and clean. I like the way he sets up these shows. Beautiful. He has a photographic “found alphabet” of letters from farm images.
Continue reading Textism – Image Shows
dodgeit – free. receive-only. email. no set up. rss. This is like the skiprock idea, but better. You can get your e-mail as an RSS feed.
Malcolm McCullough is the author of Abstracting Craft (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996) a great book on craft in the digital age.
Continue reading Abstracting Craft
Pansophica is software that searches the web and generates an interactive visualization of the words and the pages.
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The War against Grammar is an essay by David Mulroy, but is also the name of a book by Mulroy (Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH, 2003?) in which he documents how grammar was driven out of the curriculum and what can be done about it.
Continue reading War Against Grammar