Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 235. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 2019-09-09 05:58:35+00:00 From: Willard McCarty
Subject: cybernetics Possibly not many of us are all that familiar with the hugely influential field of cybernetics. Cybernetics went through two major phases, the first, as Wikipedia puts it, "a transdisciplinary approach for exploring regulatory systems — their structures, constraints, and possibilities", and the second shifting to a focus on relations between cybernetic systems, including the role of the participant-observer. It was once thought to be an arena of activity that would gather in all disciplines. To explain its importance to us now (other than to those who are historians) would simply take too long even for a message on Humanist :-). Experience tells me that for interdisciplinary enquiry into some, if not many of the directions in which digital humanities could most rewardingly go, its history is a most powerful resource. Two books bring it to mind: (1) Jasia Reichardt, ed., Cybernetic Serendipity: The Computer and the Arts. London: Studio International, 1968; reissued 2018. See the announcement at: https://www.studiointernational.com/index.php/cybernetic-serendipity-the- computer-and-the-arts. Histories of computing and the arts during this exciting time are important (see e.g. Brown et al, White Heat Cold Logic), but Reichardt’s collective documentation of the event brings us wonderfully close to the primary evidence and points to the literature of the time. The artists who got involved then were WAY ahead of their time. (2) Philip Mirowski, Machine Dreams: Economics Becomes a Cyborg Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. There are other ways into cybernetics and its deep influence on the sciences; Steve Heims' The Cybernetics Group and Jean-Pierre Dupuy's Aux origines des sciences cognitives, trans. On the Origins of Cognitive Science, come to mind. But Mirowski's book is, I think, best for an understanding of the longer-term future under that continuing influence. Read them tonight, as my old friend used to say to me distressingly regularly. Yours, WM ------ Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor emeritus, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20) and Humanist (www.dhhumanist.org) _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: email@example.com List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
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