15.446 bandwidth? mind/body?

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Fri Jan 11 2002 - 01:16:11 EST

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 446.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance) (28)
             Subject: Bandwidth and Humanists

       [2] From: Willard McCarty <w.mccarty@btinternet.com> (25)
             Subject: mind/body?

             Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2002 06:08:22 +0000
             From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
             Subject: Bandwidth and Humanists


    I understand from an article which appeared December 2, 2001, in the UK
    publication, Independent.co.uk that Internet Service Providers are
    complaining about British Telecom and positioning themselves as champions
    of access.

    One paragraph resonnates with the architectural situtation in Canada where
    providers bundle high speed access packages in such as fashion that people
    have a faster connectiont for downloading than uploading information: a
    set-up with the consumer of culture in mind. It seems that British ISPs
    are seeking to tap into the multitasking business-oriented crowd. I quote
    Stephen Pritchard:

    <cite> It's worth recalling the benefits of broadband over unlimited
    access on a dial-up modem. With ADSL or a high-speed cable modem, your
    internet connection is always on. It runs around 10 times faster than a
    56K modem. You can make phone calls (or send faxes) while you use it.
    Those who try it love it. The problem is the price and the hassle </cite>

    Two questions for subscribers to Humanist: how does the deployment of
    network access and the expectations associated with network usuage affect
    computing humanists? How do computing humanists affect the political and
    social debates surrounding the construction, ownership and access to
    information infrastructures?

    Are we approaching the time when access to the information infrastructure
    is a key component to a unviversal right such as access to public
    education? (Yes, I have UNESCO declarations in mind).

    Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
    per Interactivity ad Virtuality via Textuality

             Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2002 06:12:34 +0000
             From: Willard McCarty <w.mccarty@btinternet.com>
             Subject: mind/body?

    In light of Francois Lachance's message in Humanist 15.439 I am wondering
    if anyone has written in the philosophy of mind about computing and the
    mind/body problem. Geoffrey Nunberg's essay, "Farewell to the Information
    Age", in The Future of the Book (California, 1996), provides a good
    historical basis for an attack on the easy assumption of disembodied
    communication. He does not, however, mention the mind/body problem, which I
    would think is the most prominent philosophical heading under which one
    would consider the question he goes after. It seems to me that we could all
    benefit from a disciplined philosophical approach to the problem of digital
    data and, as Nunberg says, to the "impression of information" that it
    gives. How is (and is not) such data like the Pythagorean soul? Is it
    philosophically rigorous to think that the *same* data takes form now as
    e-mail, now as a printed message, now as the contents of an archive? Where
    do we go wrong in arguing that these data are modulated by the media in
    which they appear but do not essentially change?

    If I am right that the problem of digital data is an instance of the much
    older mind/body problem, then of course there is no straightforward and
    final answer, rather an ongoing conversation that we need to be fit to
    join. The address of the best fitness centre please.


    Dr Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer,
    Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London,
    Strand, London WC2R 2LS, U.K.,
    +44 (0)20 7848-2784, ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/,
    willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk, w.mccarty@btinternet.com

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