Computers and the development of Interactivity is a great essay on the history of computers from the perspective of interactivity. An important strand that gets attention here, but needs more work is the theoretical developments of cybernetics (control and response) as a foundation for studying interactivity.
Is hypertext a fundamental concept in the theory of digital media? My first view on this was that it was not – hypertext was just an important form of interactivity that built on ways we connected ideas and text in the print world. It does, however, seem to be the key form of interactivity for so much digital media, especially the web.
An stronger view would be that hypertext (defined as a work that chunks information into nodes that are linked) is an important primitive to digital media. If we consider the layering of information where information on the computer is gathered in ever larger chunks – then hypertext is the chunking at the cognitive level and the link is the basic way of connecting such chunks. The argument is the reverse of analysis – digital media is analyzable in the sense that it has to be stored as digital codes (codes that are distinct as digits are.) We then build up from the primitive codes more complex entities, whether it is vectors, fields and records in a database, elements in an XML file and so on. A hypertext node is an entity that makes cognitive sense – a chunk that is more or less comprehensible by itself. It also has, for historic reasons, a relationship with the screen in that such nodes tend to be a screen sized chunk – that which can be held in view (and mind) at a time. Such chunks can then be woven into larger wholes which we will call works. The primary human way of connecting them is by authoring links.
Continue reading Hypertext and Analysis
Guardian Unlimited: Playground evolution is a review of a book by games designer Eric Zimmerman called “Rules of Play.” This presents itself as an examination of the field of game design. Should be good. From MIT.
The Devil’s Details by Chuck Zerby is a great little book about footnotes, from the first to the Web.
What would it be like to work for a week without computers. Could we design a project where people would spend 5 working days without touching a computer and report back in the end about what it was like and what they learned.
Continue reading Humanities ComputingLess
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
Hacking Memes looks like a good article on counteracting marketing memes.
Beyond Portals and Gifts is an article in First Monday about the problem of aggregation and gift economies.