Buttons pushed

30th September, 2006

Second, I undertake an investigation of the process of delegation of human agency to Code (computer language). Through this delegation of social agency, new forms of communication and sociality (such as hybrid online/offline social formations) are engendered, with potential benefits and liabilities. The delegation of social agency to Code per se is not always negative and need not always contribute to the Irrelevancy of the Near, as it can facilitate new social formations that were simply not possible before such technologies were available. In order to examine this process in more detail, communities and networks can be differentiated by the way social agency is distributed amongst humans and Code. Communities, under this definition, allow individuals to retain their social agency, while networks mandate that individuals relinquish most of their social agency to Code. I am interested in researching the links and interstices between communities and networks, as well as the complex ways in which humans assert their social will as users or through Code.”

Buttons struck me initially as an elegant, poetic meditation on the idea of an expanded, multidimensional moment.  “Here” as a site of profound integration and connections beyond the individuated self.  But after spending a bit of time imagining what it would be like to experience the piece, based on watching the video and reading about it, its lack of interaction, and its minimization of user agency made me conclude that I’d rather use similar tools to conduct some research on just how connected we really are, and how participant’s actions may be logged so that people may in fact be put in contact with each other to explore otherwise hidden connections collaboratively.

In short, the work seemed to render the near irrelevant, minimize the agency of the user while maximizing the agency of Code, and produce a shared moment that seemed “shared” – somehow meaningless – but, again, I love the idea, it just seems that there might be a better way to model it so that the ownership of the event is more explicitly shared between the two participants, and less authored by sascha via Code.

I was thinking about this when Ricardo Dominguez gave a great talk to our department last night and raised some ideas about research/empirical data vs. mass-hallucinatory actions (no disrespect intended, quite the contrary) that, to me, relate clearly to the issues raised above and below – how the poetic/hallucinatory express the illimitable and the empirical expresses atomization and rigid categorization – but I’ll get into those in another post.  In the meantime, here’s what I’m wondering:


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