Monday, November 28, 2011



How did this happen and why? 

Well the hopeful email from a student asking if Whileaway dates had been changed set me thinking.

First, I thought maybe I forgot I had changed the dates! But I checked with three students, and I had not. (Whew! I did make some other changes in another class and became a bit confused myself, once the question was raised.)

But while trying to find that out, I considered seriously whether this actually was a good idea or not.

I am still going back and forth on this, put it up on facebook to get ideas from other teachers, and trying to consider how this would work with the final assignment.

BUT I HAVE DECIDED TO GO FOR IT! Let your buddies know and as you see, I am also putting it up here on the class website.

It means several things though: there are consequences for doing this.

1) We will spend this coming week in class talking about what we are doing and why all this matters. Make a point of being there and participating and reflecting. This will matter a lot for the final learning analysis!

2) After Whileaway, there will be only one class left, and you will need to write up your learning analysis immediately after Whileaway and bring it in that very next class.

That final assignment MUST BE TURNED IN ON THAT LAST DAY!! So you have to be on the ball getting it done immediately after the con. If you are now ready for the con, you should be working on it this coming week, and finish it up afterward.

On the last day everyone will present speaking from what they have written in that last learning analysis.

So, you have this coming week to work on Whileaway and do a really great job! And use it as a way of figuring out what has mattered the most to you in this course, which will inform the con, and will also be the heart of the Learning Analysis. So be thinking about that at the same time.

Let's finish up with a lot of spirit then!

Learning Analysis for Sf Feminisms
Tuesday 29 Nov – Spacetime Travels in SF Feminism: Complexity 
• (optional) Weston, Introduction to Gender in Real Time
Starship Gender and wormholes are necessary for feminist theory according to anthropologist Kath Weston, as we rethink women’s liberation, globalization, colonialisms, and more. SF feminisms are not just about SF. They are about feminist theory, activism, and practices in the so-called “real world”! 

Premediation? Grusin, R. A. (2010). Premediation: Affect and mediality after 9/11. Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Anticipation work: Adams, V., Murphy, M., & Clarke, A. E. (2009). “Anticipation: Technoscience, life, affect, temporality.” Subjectivity 28, 246–265. 

247: “Crucially, predictable uncertainty leads to anticipation as an affective state, an excited forward looking subjective condition characterized as much by nervous anxiety as a continual refreshing of yearning, of ‘needing to know.’ Anticipation is the palpable effect of the speculative future on the present. The anticipatory excitement of the cliff hanger as a narrative mode is as familiar as terror-inducing apocalyptic visions. As an affective state, anticipation is not just a reaction, but a way of actively orienting oneself temporally. Anticipation is a regime of being in time, in which one inhabits time out of place as the future. Temporality has always had a politic, long capitalized and colonized in the name of the ‘present’ of particular locations, situations and actors. Within this longer history, anticipation now names a particular self-evident ‘futurism’ in which our ‘presents’ are necessarily understood as contingent upon an ever-changing astral future that may or may not be known for certain, but still must be acted on nonetheless.”

The Future is Now.  Kirby, D. (2010). “The Future is Now: Diegetic Prototypes and the Role of Popular Films in Generating Real-world Technological Development.” Social Studies of Science 40(1), 41-70.

“Production designer Alex McDowell and prop master Jerry Moss noticed Underkoffler’s dissertation work on interactive technologies during a pre-production tour of MIT’s Media Lab where he had just completed a PhD. They were impressed enough with his work and his knowledge ofmovies to hire him as the primary science consultant on Minority Report a few months later. Although Underkoffler was responsible for helping design all of the technologies in Minority Report, his chief concern was the gesture-based computer-interface technology that protagonist John Anderton uses to manipulate computer data with his hands (see Fig. 2). Minority Report was a golden opportunity for John Underkoffler to demonstrate to the public, and potential funders, that not only would his gestural interface technology work, but also that the technology would appear as if it were ‘natural’ and intuitive for users. The important factor was that Underkoffler conscientiously treated this cinematic representation as an actual prototype, ‘We worked so hard to make the gestural interface in the film real. I really did approach the project as if it were an R&D [research and development] thing.’”

“These approaches led to the funds he needed to start the company Oblong Industries and to turn his diegetic prototype into a physical prototype. This real world prototype in turn led to a development contract with defence giant Raytheon to produce gestural interface technology for the US military.7 From Underkoffler’s perspective, his work as science consultant on Minority Report was not simply a minor component in this story; his well-worked out diegetic prototype was the crucial element in the development process.” (Kirby 2010: 50 & 53)



Weston, K. (2002). Gender in Real Time: Power and Transience in a Visual Age. New York: Routledge. 

"There can be no time claim without a time frame: history, infinity, chronology, generation, era, future/past. Implicit in these claims are modes of temporality (regressing, moving ahead, modern traditions, coming back around) and morality (stolen futures, lost generation, better days). In relativizing fashion, time claims tether me, you, and our brother's keeper to our respective timespots (1990s butch, twenty-first century woman, follower of the old ways, old-fashioned). Time claims can even naturalize or denaturalize the very modes of reckoning embedded within them." (Weston 2002: 122)

Thursday 1 Dec – Learning, Play, Analysis, Cognition, SF: Complexity  
(optional) Johnson, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
• Wikipedia on Complexity, EmergenceSelf-Organization


Mary Flanagan - Symposium Playful Post Digital Culture (STRP 2011) from STRP Festival on Vimeo.

The digital revolution is over, the big ‘bit rush’ has passed, now we live in a post-digital era. Whether something is analogue or digital does not matter anymore. Digital and interactive are everywhere. Playing is a serious thing and meanwhile the digital migrates from the virtual reality to the objects around us. Along with MU and TU/e, STRP Festival will discuss the many forms of post digital culture.

Speaker: Mary Flanagan
Mary Flanaganis artist, author, educator and designer. As Professor in Digital Humanities she’s associated with the Dartmouth College in New Hampshire (US). Flanagan is the author of Critical Play: Radical game design



"It's not science to me unless it's wholistic."

"...our culture resists the true values of the scientific way of knowing: we disdain observational patience leading to open-minded description; we discourage eclectic methodologies; and we dismiss attentive care, failing to recognize the imperative, rather than the prerogative, nature of play.” - Lynn Margulis

The Washington Post
Lynn Margulis, leading evolutionary biologist, dies at 73
By Martin Weil, Published: November 26

Lynn Margulis, 73, a rebel within the realm of science, whose determined advocacy of her ideas about how new species arise helped change evolutionary biology, died Nov. 22 at her home in Amherst, Mass.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she had been a professor, announced her death. News accounts reported that she suffered a stroke.

Dr. Margulis was best known for demonstrating a theory of biological change, called the endosymbiotic theory, that appears to suggest a degree of cooperation between organisms.

She advanced the idea that, at a cellular level, more complex forms of life could arise from the merger of simpler forms with one another. Each simple form of life supplied some of the ingredients for creation of something new.

In biological terms, Dr. Margulis showed that eukaryotic cells — the more complex organisms — could develop from a blend of less complex cells — prokaryotes, such as bacteria. The process was known as symbiogenesis.

Symbiogenesis was considered a possible solution to one of the perplexities of evolutionary biology: How lower-order cells that lacked a nucleus made the jump to a higher order of cells that possessed a nucleus.

Dr. Margulis’s ideas have been seen as offering an alternative to the prevailing scientific belief that random mutation was the only basis for species variation and evolutionary change.

Her revolutionary 1967 paper setting forth her ideas was turned down by more than a dozen different scientific publications before running in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. She wrote a more detailed version of her endosymbiotic theory in her first book, “Origin of Eukaryotic Cells” (1970), and expanded on it with other publications through the 1980s.

In time, her theory was hailed as a great achievement of evolutionary biology and put Dr. Margulis in the top rank of scientific thinkers. She was elected in 1983 to the National Academy of Sciences and was presented the National Medal of Science in 1999 by President Bill Clinton.

Nevertheless, Dr. Margulis appeared to remain a lightning rod for controversy, and in some areas, she met vigorous challenge.

Some scientists were put off by her embrace of the Gaia hypothesis, suggesting that both the animate and inanimate worlds can be viewed as a single organism. In one interview, published in Discover magazine, she was asked whether she ever tired of being called controversial.

“I don’t consider my ideas controversial,” she replied. “I consider them right.”

Lynn Petra Alexander was born in Chicago on March 5, 1938, and enrolled as a teenager in an early entrance program at the University of Chicago.

In a campus building one day, she met her future husband, Carl Sagan, while she was on her way upstairs and he was headed down. A student of the cosmos, Sagan became an astronomer and won fame as a popularizer of science. The two were married in 1957, the year she received her bachelor’s degree.

She obtained a master’s degree in zoology and genetics from the University of Wisconsin in 1960 and received a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, where she did research in genetics. By the time she got her doctorate in 1965, the marriage had ended.

After a postdoctoral period at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, Dr. Margulis began teaching in the biology department at Boston University. After 22 years in Boston, she joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1988.

Her second marriage, to scientist Thomas N. Margulis, ended in divorce in the early 1980s.

Survivors include two children from her first marriage, Dorion Sagan and Jeremy Sagan; two children from her second marriage, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma and Jennifer Margulis di Properzio; three sisters; and nine grandchildren.

Many of those who knew Dr. Margulis viewed her as outspoken, energetic, hard-working and a constant source of ideas. But she did not consider herself a superwoman.

“I quit my job as a wife twice,” she once said about the difficulties of balancing science and domestic life. “It’s not humanly possible to be a good wife, a good mother and a first-class scientist. No one can do it — something has to go.”

© The Washington Post Company

Endosymbiosis: Lynn Margulis 


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