vendredi 24 juillet 2009

The founder dreams of cyberspace

The cyberspace was created by some dreams who embodied themselves in the technic.

At the beginning of the cyberspace, some dreams that were to be embodied in the art. Vannevar Bush, J. C. R Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Tim Berners-Lee ... cyberspace is made of the very same texture of their dremas. If there is navel of the cyberspace, it is in the recesses of few individuals psyches. The miracle is that this space unfold from some individual desires, and found its path through and by a tangle of machins, institutions, ideologies... There is between desires and cyberspace in its beginning some common points. Both have the same fragility, theses flickering before things become possible. Both have the same need to be recognized. Both have this kind of hardness in front the requirements of development

Dreams are not just products of our mental functioning in their most intimate. As they dive deep into the intersubjective space (Kaes, R., La polyphonie du rêve). The dream has two umbilicus. The first is the intrapsychic lifeand the second leads to the common and shared psychic spaces. This openness to other psyche that makes some dreams can become reality in social space.

Other dreamers, as Ted Nelson did not see upload their dreams into reality. Perhaps because they may not have enough links to the intersubjective space?


Vannevar Bush's dream

Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and, to coin one at random, "memex" will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.Vannevar Bush


Doug Engelbart's dream

Many years ago I dreamed that people were talking seriously about the potential of harnessing a technological and social nervous system to improve the collective IQ of our various organizations. What if suddenly, in an evolutionary sense, we evolved a super new nervous system to upgrade our collective social organisms?

Then I dreamed that we got strategic and began to form cooperative alliances of organizations, employing advanced net-worked computer tools and methods to develop and apply new collective knowledge. Call these alliances Networked Improvement Communities (NICs). The new technologies could enable more effective distributed collaboration, and the potential forshared risk and multiplied bene? ts seemed promising. In the dream, the solution involves giving high priority to the collective capability for a distributed community or organization to develop, integrate, and apply new knowledge. Wealready had this capability, organizations handle new collective problems all the time. But in the dream we become much more effective at it.

In the dream, this collaborative capability was called CoDIAK, for Concurrent Development, Integration, and Application of Knowledge. Doug Engelbart


J.C.R. Licklider & Robert Taylor's dream

In a few years, men will be able to communicate more effectively through a machine than face to face. J.C.R. Licklider & Robert Taylor. Science and Technology, April 1968.


Tim Berners-Lee's dream

I have a dream for the Web . . . and it has two parts.

In the first part, the Web becomes a much more powerful means for collaboration between people. I have always imagined the information space as something to which everyone has immediate and intuitive access, and not just to browse, but to create. [...] Furthermore, the dream of people-to-people communication through shared knowledge must be possible for groups of all sizes, interacting electronically with as much ease as they do now in person.

In the second part of the dream, collaborations extend to computers. Machines become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web - the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A "Semantic Web," which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy, and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines, leaving humans to provide the inspiration and inuition. The intelligent "agents" people have touted for ages will finally materialize. This machine-understandable Web will come about through the implementation of a series of technical advancements and social agreements that are now beginning. Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web

dimanche 8 février 2009

Playing with the horror

Silent Hill survival horror - un point de vue psychologique


The survival horror games are video games where the player's life is so challenged that the question is just : how to survive in such hostile conditions. These  games are derived from the horror movies. Their narrative is generally as follows: a group of heroes explore an environment that quickly reveals itself as
extremely dangerous. The group is being decimated, and often the less well armed character is the only survivor. Most of the time, it is a woman and the film reaches its climax when the survivor finally meets the aggressor. This theme was spotted by Carol J. Clover in her book Men, Women and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film.  The Wikipedia entry Final Girl summarizes its positions. Check also the blog Final Girl :



It would be interesting to make a parallel with Vladimir Propp's table structures of tales :

1. An initial phase in which the world order is disturbed; the hero is seeking information. Sometimes he is deceived.

2. A second sequence in which a crime occurs. Someone asks to the hero to put in place the acts of reparation.

3. Following sequence in which the hero defeats of the impostor


It is possible now to give some differences between tales and film/survival games

a. The action time is not the same. In storytelling, the disorder is pinpointed in the present, whereas in films / horror video games, it is often dismissed in a very distant past, even in another space and time.

b. Movies/survival games involve the physical and mental integrity of the protagonists. People dis in the most atrocious manner, and there is not a mutilation or a torture cutting, fragmentation, évicération, impaled, fractures, wrenched

c. In the tales, the trouble in the world order is current. It's always happened in the movies / horror video games. While in the tales, the hero settles a problem that is personal, in movies and video games of horror, the hero settles a situation he inherits. It has more to do with ghosts and the ghosts of past generations than with a personal problem. This theme is particularly important : the horror stops when the the ghost finds rest.

d.Psychodyamics is also differents. The tale never does not question the sense of continuity of the existence. Time exerts its effects in a banal way: there is a "before" and an "after", and things take some time to be done. In movies / horror video games, identities mingle and share. A body can be inhabited by several entities. An entity may live in several bodies. The difference between the lively and inanimate is blurred and sometimes disappears.

e. In tales, the narative unity is never broken. It is always the cases in movies/horror games. The hero does not know why he is attacker or even what he has to do. His only concer is survival, ie the maintenance of his/her carnal and psychologial integrity.

f. There is nothing to win in survival horror movies/games. You just avoid to loose your life. Tales are more open and the hero finally gain something : "they were married and had many children"

 g. Contagion - of ideas, disease, death - is central to horror games/films while the transmission - of life, traditions - is at the central of the tales.


Playing with horror

But why watch or play with horror ? Firstly, because fear is one of the basic emotions (1). As such, it is an invaluable experience. Then, because the game offers a framework to try live and control particularly strong anxieties . They can be proven safely, because it is just agame. Finally, because the killings that accompany these games are a source of passive and active pleasures.

Loss of the limits, attack of the the sense of continuity of the existence, paroxysmal anguish, loss of the differences between the animated and inanimate, the human and the non-human... that's the kind of anxiety that can be found in horror video games. They allow the player to play again and again deep anguishes that are common to all mankind.

There is one which seems very specific to horror video games: agonistic anxiety. The player is confronted with an environment that constantly harassing him and gives him resources sparingly: care items, ammunition and weapons are rare. The battery of the flashlight flickers, falters, and finally unpack. The gun ran out ouf ammo with a sinister noise. Sometimes it's the radio that becomes unusable. All these elements of gameplay put the player in the situation of an infant whose means of communication and defense are not only low but declining. Thus, the player feels what the psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott called "agonistic experiences" : faces flaws in its environment, the child is unable to give meaning and subjectivity of experience. One of the possible fates of this experiment is that the child cut itself from its life experience. It is then faced with a paradox, since experience has been lived, has ceased, but was not adequate enough to be internalized


What Winnicott said about the fear of breakdown is particularly illuminating here: some people constantly fear a breakdow. The therapist is to tell them that the breakdown has already occurred. To Play this kind of video games is a way to work through the primitive agonies : by playing and replaying them the safe  framework offeredby the video game. But, in order to symbolized this experience, they need to be expressed in words in the presence of another one, valorous invested by the player

That is why it is important to let children talk about their video games, and to encourage even those who do not speak to do so so. This applies to all games, whether survival games or games seemingly innocuous: verbalizationincrease the chances to make the experience of video game something living and dynamic. As opposed to the silence which may transform it into something rigid and sclerotic


If you were interested by this post, you may read 27th March  Powers of Horror  - Lisa Thatcher


(1) Anger, fear, sadness, joy, surprise and disgus are the six basic emotions


I warmly thank tami_squeak

jeudi 22 janvier 2009

Twitter, the plane on the Hudson and myths

Is "There is a plane on the Hudson" deemed to become as famous as "Houston we have a problem?

This is with this sentence that Janis Krum announced the crash of a plane in the Hudson River on Twitter. The twitt spread in twittosphere like wildfire and it is likely that few members of Twitter have been in contact with the news. Comments on this case have focused on the balance between the traditional media and citizen journalism. Twitter has been more rapid, more viral than any other media. Not only is the information circulated on Twitter, but it has spread to other areas. A video Chesley Sullenberger - Pilot Flight 1549 - A U.S. True Hero! appears on YouTube just few hours after the crash and Chesley Sullenberger on Facebook, has a fan page on Facebook.


The story takes a few words. Following an engine failure, the captain of flight 1549 from U.S. Airways decided to land its Airbus A-320 in the Hudson River. The sea landing is done to perfection and a few moments later, Janis Krum posts to Twitter:

"There is a plane on the Hudson. I am on the ferry to pick up the people. Crazy."


The myth of the plane on the Hudson

I do not discuss whether it is a sign for (or against) the so-called citizen journalism. I would like to underline the mythic value of the myth of this story. I take "myth" in the sense given by Roland Barthes: an ideological tool, a sign. For Roland Barthes, the myths of our cultures are produced by a progressive depletion of the original meaning which replaces an entirely different story. The DS car , the photograph of the face of Greta Garbo, or wrestling are some examples.


The plane on the Hudson is a myth of the Internet. It says the rapid circulation of the information. It says that there is no event that cannot be covered, no place that is inaccessible. It says the ubiquity and the simultaneity. Everywhere, the eye of a camera phone can record an event and share it with the multitudes. We can now extend the initial proposition of Barthes :

"Every object in the world can move from a closed dumb existence, into an oral statement, open to ownership of the society ", Roland Barthes

Every event in the world can move from a closed existence, dumb, in an oral statement, open to ownership of the company ",


The fantasmatic resonance

This is not the first time that Twitter is ahead of traditional medias : here's the list given by

If the story of The plane on the Hudson has been fowarded and retwitted so many time, that is also because it resonates deeply in us. Each user who fowards this story in his social network is a person whose concious and unconscious interest has been awaken enough. The plane on the Hudson comes on time : in a world on wars, facing an economic recession that will be tough, the rarefaction of the fossile energies, we surely need a Chesley Sullenberger to safely land us

This story is also an oedipian one. The buzz is the sign - or the symptom - of the fantasmatic resonance that spread the internet from the initial fantasy, from retwitt to retwitt forward to forward. Obviously, each people is interested by the story in different ways. Some people are more sensible to the stereotype of the pilot, others identify themselves to the passagers, others will , others will be marked by the image of the plane laid in the river. The general theme of The plane on the Hudson reads in a cascades of themes in which every one can identify.

In psychoanalysis, we call uncounscious fanatasmatic resonance (Foulkes, 1948; Anzieu, 1984) the process by which a group is organised around an individual fantasy. In offline groups, the fantasy organizer is given by a privileged member. The group holds this organisation as long as the initial fantasy arouse an echo and as long as those who do not feel concerned stay in a passive and peripherical position. The resonance stops becauses it is no longer invested or because it mobilises defensive attitudes from others. S

ocial network like Twitter are dreamplaces for such phenomenon. What is transmitted is information AND emotions, fantasy, imaginary. Online, the resonance can be maximized because it is easy to find other persons that will resonate on the same theme or on a similar one. In addition, those for whom the fantasy gives rise to defensive do not attack the others because they can stay apart. Finally, last difference with the offline world, the fantasy is here privileged.Its ablity to aggregate people determine its dissemination while in the offline world, the starting point is given according to those who bear the initital fantasy. This is why digital worlds are particulary opened to transmission in all its forms : from the most secondary to the most archaic.

P.S.: It would be interesting to make the graph of the distribution of the initial twitt. This would probably be a good model for epidemic transmission. Why some are not affected ? What ensures their resilience ?


samedi 6 décembre 2008

Paysages numeriques

I read in the Human Sciences Dictionnairy, this definition of Landscape :

So that one can advisedly speak about “landscape”, it is necessary, by order of decreasing discrimination, that exist in the society concerned: 1/  treaties of landscape, like the introduction to the painting of landscape of Zong Bing, written towards 440, first example of the  kind; 2/ words meaning “landscape”; 3/  pictorial representations of landscapes; 4/ literary evocations of landscapes (oral or written); 5/ pleasure gardens

Do we have digital landscapes ?

lundi 24 novembre 2008

About Soren Mork Petersen's Loser Generated Content

“Web 2.0 emerged primarily after thedotcom crisis” Søren Mørk Petersen, Loser Generated Content : From Participation to Exploitation


Many things were said about Web 2.0, but it is the first time that I see put a such direct link between the  emergence of the Web 2.0 and the crisis which crossed  by the dotcoms.

Søren Mørk Petersen shows that Web 2.0 is also a change of an economic model which had carried some companies - dotcoms - at incredible tops. However much had been unable to sell goods on line - that's one of the origins or the crisis.

The change consisted to organize and sell what Internet makes do best: the hype and the buzz. The  ingenuity - some will say the juggling - consisted has to let the users produce the contents and to use these contents to produce richness.


Søren Mørk Petersen gives several examples of them: Google, AOL, contents generated by the users, blogists and sites of social networks. I would take again only the first two examples

Google:  the repurchase by Google of the files of DejaNews enables the compagny to valorise years of conversations on Usenet. The interface proposed by Google does not make it possible any more to make the difference between Google groups and Usenet. Created in 1979 by four students, Usenet was for a long time the heart of the life on line. It is a space which is not without making think of the blogosphère today. The hierarchy is decentralized there: each one can manage its own Usenet waiter, and each one can write what he wants.


AOL: in 1999, some Net surfers assigned AOL in justice. They asked to the Internet Provider a remuneration for every hour that they had passed to animate the AOL forums, bringing contents, creating and supporting conversations, building the feeling of a community. The investigation was closed in 2001, without an answer of the american state not being brought.

This question is still relevant :who owns the contents produced on Facebook, Flickr, in a  MMORPG ? Who owns the machiminas? They belong to those which produce, edit, read them ? Or they belong to the editors of the video games or the sites of social networks  ?


What Søren Mørk Petersen says about the  in connection with the repurchase by Google of the DejaNews files 

This strategy can be charaterized as a reterritorialisation of free labour into a capitalistic structure of profit making

can today easily be extended to the Internet, from the blogosphere to the social networking sites through folksonomies. The entire system is based on the capture of content produced by users. Add new content on the Internet, a comment on a blog, an image on Flickr, fill a profile on Lindedkin create a link with the tip of the capitalist system. And this deepens as the relationship that we forged with other human beings are built.


In the clouds, the raw material of capitalism, is our social relations.

mardi 30 septembre 2008

How twitter may help to think ?

Loïc Lemeur posted an interesting point of view about twitter. It the great tradition of the lists of the blogosphere, he gives the 10 reasons why he is following 10K people on twitter. Loïc Lemeur, as Robert Scobble or Jason Calacanis is an "Über User" of the Internet. As it, he is stressed by the forces of the Internet, and that make easier to highlight mechanisms which exist at everyone. Whereas one expected that he is submerged by his 10K, he gives a very positive view of his situation

Point 3 seems very important to me

3- I love watching the updates of 10 000 people that have related to me in anyway, when I have "free" time, it's just watching, being curious about them and I love to discover new people this way.Loïc Lemeur

Effectively, look at the torrent of the twitts is fascinating. Everybody can realize it with Twitter Elections or Twittervision. It is not limited to twitter : we have the same fascination with the tools of the Digg Labs. The pleasure felt is that to see the things changing all having or not the possibility of intervening. We feel the same pleasure when we contemplate le wind in a corn field or the the undertow of the waves. The pleasure come from that what we look at make it possible to figure our inner and deep movements, more of less concious, more or less psychics : torrents of blood which precipitate in the cardiac pump, intestinal transit time, fast activations and desactivation of the neuronal chains, modifications of the concious and unconcious investments for exemple

There is another source a pleasure. It is due to the imaginary position of impassioned. The model is that of passion in love

4- I would like to learn more about them, in these 10 000 people I bet there are many I would love to have dinner with because we have many interests in common and I probably don't know about them Loïc Lemeur (my emphasis)

To be able to have dinner with so many people, one undoubtedly needs an appetite of ogre

This passion for each follow, the desire to learn more aboute them, individually, and to avec with each of them a priviligiate relation brings to another imaginary position. We all lived such a passion. It is the passion wich a mother feels for her child, and reciprocally, the passion of each child for his mother, exploring his face to decipher her emotions. For each children, a mother is first perceived as beeing able to see deeply inside him. What he thinks, he believes, is directly perceived by his mother *. So, her statute of good enough mother is never definitively acquired : such a mighty person could use its powers against him, explore his psyché, destroy its contents or plunder what it has of more invaluable. Why wouldn't she have not such desires then that it can recognize them at his place ? Numeric worlds, because they give us the feeling to conect directly the one with the others, expose us to such fantaisies

from where the precautions :

"it is not spam... It is not intrusive. Loïc Lemeur

We are all like Loïc Lemeur. Sometimes we are as children who look at the hurly-burly or the numeric worlds : up and dowload rates on a P2P software, loading of the mail, succession of the twitts. Plunged in the spectacle of the infinite changes ** that numerical worlds offer us, we find visualizations that help us to represent the changes we feel in us; sometimes we are like mothers, plunging our glance in our small world of children, with more or less of benevolence.

* The discovery that he can lie and without the parents realize anything is always an big event a favorable evolution in the development of the child.

** Infinite transformability is one of the caracteristic of what french psychoanalyst René Roussillon call "malleable medium "