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hypertext: as we may think? fdm 20c introduction to digital media lecture 07.10.2008 warren sack / film & digital media department / university of california, santa cruz outline apple demo tapes vannevar bush and his essay “as we may think”

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hypertext:

as we may think?

fdm 20c introduction to digital media

lecture 07.10.2008

warren sack / film & digital media department / university of california, santa cruz


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outline

  • apple demo tapes

  • vannevar bush and his essay “as we may think”

  • tristan tzara, william burroughs, david bowie and the method of “cut-ups”

  • reviewing project one


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today’s focus

  • Hypertext: One way that digital media has been understood is as new forms of writing, reading and thinking.


Recall computers can take many different material forms l.jpg

recall: “computers” can take many different material forms

  • “computer technology” does not necessarily start as silicon and gold;

  • “computer technology” does not necessarily need to be implemented as hardware or software.


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charles babbage, “difference engine” (1848)


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the two building blocks of computers

  • switches: a steering element that can combine multiple signals into a single signal

  • connectors: the connecting element must have the ability to branch , so that a single output can feed many inputs.

    see w. daniel hillis, the pattern on the stone: the simple ideas that make computers work (especially “chapter 1: nuts and bolts”)


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an or block built with hydraulic valvessource: hillis, p. 14


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hillis’ tinker toy computer


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claude shannon: “a symbolic analysis of relay switching circuits” (1939)


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today’s reading

  • Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think,” Atlantic Monthly, 176(1): 101-108 (July 1945)


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who was vannevar bush?

  • MIT professor

  • inventor of "differential analyzer"

  • science advisor to President F.D. Roosevelt

  • leader of the Manhattan Project

  • founder of NSF


Vannevar bush s differential analyzer 1931 l.jpg

vannevar bush’s “differential analyzer” (1931)


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what is the memex?

  • The Memex was based on Bush's work during 1938-1940 developing an improved photoelectric microfilm selector.


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what is a microfilm selector?

  • photoelectric microfilm selector is an electronic retrieval technology pioneered by Emanuel Goldberg (see Michael Buckland, “Emanuel Goldberg, electronic document retrieval, and Vannevar Bush's memex” here http://www.sims.berkeley.edu/%7Ebuckland/goldbush.htmlfor more on photoelectric microfilm selectors.

  • think of a photoelectric microfilm selector as a sort of electro-mechanical database


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photoelectric microfilm selector


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questions about “as we may think”

  • what is bush's stated motivation? (see page 37)

  • what problem is bush trying to solve? (see page 38)

  • what role do economical considerations play in bush's thinking? (see what he has to say about leibnitz and see page 43 on the telephone system)

  • who sponsors this work? (“Eastman Kodak and National Cash Register each provided $10,000 funding,” Buckland)


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questions about “as we may think”

  • who are the key people/types of people bush writes about?

    • scientists (see page 42)

    • men

    • girls (see pages 40 & 43)

    • secretaries/calculators


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questions about “as we may think”

  • what is “thinking” and what types of thinking are possible according to bush? (see pages 41, 43, 44 and 45)

    • repetitive v. creative thought (page 41)

    • what is repetitive thought? (p. 41)

    • what is creative thought? (page 41)

    • what is intuitive judgement? (page 42)

    • what role does arithmetic and logic play? (cf., george boole's laws of thought)

    • what is selection? (pages 43, 44)


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questions about “as we may think”

  • what is the "essential feature of the memex"? (page 45)

  • is the www of today the same thing as what bush dreamed of? (see, for example, how bush envisions books being read in the future, p. 45)


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from thinking to writing

  • what’s the difference between a text and a hypertext?

  • is it possible to do “creative thought” or creative writing using a methods of hypertext?

  • on selection and combination as the two operations of writing


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syntagmatic + paradigmatic

  • de saussure: syntagmatic + associative

  • roman jakobson: syntagmatic + paradigmatic


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Tristan Tzara's recipe for composing a poem

  • To make a dadaist poem:

  • Take a newspaper.

  • Take a pair of scissors.

  • Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.

  • Cut out the article.

  • Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in a bag.

  • Shake it gently.

  • Then take out the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.

  • Copy conscientiously.


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example “cut-ups”

  • William Burroughs, excerpt from Naked Lunchhttp://ubu.wfmu.org/sound/dial_a_poem_poets/big_ego/Big_Ego_12-burroughs.mp3

  • William Burroughs,“Origin and Theory of the Tape Cut-Ups” (3:43) http://www.ubu.com/sound/burroughs.html

  • William Burroughs, longer lecture by Burroughs. An example of cutting together newspaper stories starts at 7 minutes 20 seconds (1:16:13): note that Burrough’s doesn’t start his talk until the 4 minute mark http://www.archive.org/audio/audio-details-db.php? collection=naropa&collectionid=naropa_william_s_burroughs2

  • David Bowie, e.g., “Changes” (a cut-up or not?) http://www.lyricsfreak.com/d/david-bowie/36790.html

  • Sawad Brooks, Global City http://artport.whitney.org/commissions/codedoc/Brooks/globalcity.html


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conclusion for today

  • Hypertext: One way that digital media has been understood is as new forms of writing, reading and thinking.


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next time: programming


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