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” • tristan tzara, william burroughs, david bowie and the method of “cut-ups” • reviewing project one
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 • “computer technology” does not necessarily start as silicon and gold; • “computer technology” does not necessarily need to be implemented as hardware or software.
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”)
claude shannon: “a symbolic analysis of relay switching circuits” (1939)
today’s reading • Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think,” Atlantic Monthly, 176(1): 101-108 (July 1945)
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
what is the memex? • The Memex was based on Bush's work during 1938-1940 developing an improved photoelectric microfilm selector.
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
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)
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
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)
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)
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
syntagmatic + paradigmatic • de saussure: syntagmatic + associative • roman jakobson: syntagmatic + paradigmatic
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.
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
conclusion for today • Hypertext: One way that digital media has been understood is as new forms of writing, reading and thinking.