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Nature versus smartphones

People are eager to extol the benefits of fresh green vegetables, education, marriage, and a walk in the countryside, but are instinctively suspicious of new technologies.  That’s the tagline selected by the editors for the cover story I wrote for Interactions Magazine published this month. Interactions is a bimonthly publication of the ACM, and sees itself … Continue reading

What is nature for?

Nature means different things to different people. The meaning depends on the context of discussion and action. According to geographers Phil Macnaghten and John Urry in their book Contested Natures, nature has to be negotiated. So we are entitled to ask what nature is for — as a concept. I’ve identified at least two main discursive uses of the … Continue reading

Less of one and more of the other

The natural is in opposition to the artificial — or so we think. Some oppositions lie at either end of a spectrum, with gradations between. e.g. light versus dark. That’s an opposition with an inverse relationship. The more light you add to an image, the less dark it is. The louder things get, the less quiet; the hotter, the less … Continue reading

Digital “detox”

According to the Ofcom annual report on the communications market published this week, “digital detox” refers to “a period of time when a person makes a conscious decision not to go online or use connected devices.” It is also “an opportunity to focus on offline activities such as exercising, socialising with friends and family, doing housework or homework, or … Continue reading

Natural enemies

It’s tempting to think of the natural world as a casualty of sophisticated communications technologies. Everywhere, always-on networked phones and computers diminish spatial demarcation, and threaten the uniqueness and placeness of natural environments. In their 1998 book Contested Natures, sociologists Phil Macnaghten and John Urry draw on various sources to argue the converse. “As spatial barriers diminish, so we become … Continue reading

Windowphilia

Windowphilia is a fondness for windows —  or fenestraphilia, or parathyrophilia. A Google search doesn’t reveal much about either term, but biophilia is in common usage, and in the OED. I’ve been reading the book by Sue Thomas called Technobiophilia: Nature and Cyberspace. (Technobiophilia hasn’t yet made it to the OED.) Her book endorses the role of digital technologies in expanding … Continue reading

Blog archive (and About)

What this blog site is about I draw on philosophy and cultural theory to help understand current affairs, architecture and developments in digital technology. These are not opinion pages, though my strongly held view that academic reflection really matters as we try to understand contemporary living may seep through. These posts are scheduled to appear … Continue reading

Site index

Results appear in reverse date order. You can also use the search box above or the Google menu. 3D printing 4D printing Accelerationism Activism Affective and emotion Africa Agon Alberti Ambience Anger Animals Anime Apocalypse Art Artificial Intelligence Attention Audience engagement Augmented reality Aura Ayn Rand Bad Actors Bauhaus Belief Big Bang Theory Big data … Continue reading

AI revisited

John Lee and I sat down to talk about AI (artificial intelligence). Both of us were involved in the field in so far as it related to computer-aided design. That experience dates back to the 1980s. In our conversation we touched on how the AI focus has changed since the 1980s. We started by identifying … Continue reading

Music makes it better

“A child in the dark, gripped with fear, comforts himself by singing under his breath.” This is the opening sentence of an essay by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari called “1837: Of the Refrain.” Then follows an exposition on the power of rhythm and melody to mark a territory: “The song is like a rough sketch of … Continue reading

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