July 9, 2007

Remediating Literature Conference: N. Katherine Hayles’s Keynote

by Scott Rettberg · , 9:54 am

Katherine Hayles’s keynote talk at the Remediating Literature Conference was focused on the concept of Intermediality.

Steven Wolfram — Cellular Automata. Complexity of system comes from the interaction of many individual agents.

Emergence: Flocking Behavior

*Digital and analog synergistically cooperate

Analog: Transfer of information between differently embodied morphological resemblance.

Digital: Error control, fragmentation, and recombination.

*Evolving Complexity Across Levels: Dynamic Heterarchies

Results of lower level system captured and re-represented in a different symbolic system.

Feedforward and feedback loops dynamically interconnecting media.

*Intermediation: Crucial Components

Different levels of complexity
Different media
Heterarchical (Mutual Symbiosis)
Emergent complexity

Douglas Hofstadter: Fluid Concepts and Dynamic Analysis
Cognition is recognition:
Jumbo: pattern recognition
Program that could find a dictionary word in an alphabet soup.
Copycat: analogies
Program was able to find analogies in sequence of letters.
Metacat: analogies between analogies
Program was able to find analogies between analogies.

Implications: We have media specific assumptions.
Humans and machines: cognizers in different media.
Intermediation as a theoretical framework.

Synthetic Framework for Human and Machine Cognition

Ed Franklin “The meaning of information is given by the process that interprets it.”

From object to process.
From intentionality as human consciousness to “aboutness” as a spectrum.

*The Vision

Humans and intelligent machines are bound together through intermediation.
Computers create sub-cognition and ground for analogies.
Humans create analogies between analogies.
Humans engineer computers; computers re-engineer humans (co-evolution).

*Evolution of the Literary
Literature as a 2000-year exploration of perception, cognition, and consciousness.
Change of media and diachronic embedding.
Transmission and transformation.

*What’s the Difference
Codex boom: storage and transmission vehicle for cognition.
Computers are active cognizing agents.

*The Perils of the Vision
Metaphoric or literal?
A spectrum of possibilities with recursive loops.
Some works of electronic literature function simultaneously on the metaphoric and literal level.

Intermediating Dynamics

“The Jew’s Daughter” by Judd Morrissey and Lori Talley — Always only a single screen of text, with some blue words, when reader mouses over, the text changes.

Creating “sticky” phrases

From JD: “Words are always only words, but these waiting words pause, are cautious, self-aware; know that what is said determines what is has been and will be, what has already not yet happened . . .”

Text is both premature and belated. Overlapping process that produces temporal complexity.

Daniel Dennet — Multiple drafts model of consciousness: consciousness is an emergent complexity trying to make sense of multiple different processes going on in the brain at the same time — narrative suture for the brain. The Jew’s Daughter illustrates this model of consciousness, in which forward and back, precognition and memory, are functions of multiple cognitive processes at work simultaneously.

Spectrum of possibilities bound together with feedback loops.

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