20.382 the machine metaphor

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2007 09:13:27 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 382.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Tue, 09 Jan 2007 08:52:06 +0000
         From: lachance_at_origin.chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
         Subject: Re: 20.081 the machine metaphor


It dawned upon me that Spam is Maps spelt backwards.

This came to me as I was composing some html
files in the style of the days when unsolicited email
respected a certain etiquette and was not
designed as as a dodge around filters to dump a curious sort of
poetry. Days that predate the dot.com bubble
where one could view the source of html rendered in a browser
and readily find in the head something like:

<link rel=3D"made" href=3D"mailto:lachance_at_chass.utoronto.ca">

If you used a browser like Lynx you could with a
few keyboard strokes invoke a routine to compose and send
a message.* Few if any other browsers provide
such functionality. They have tended to rely on hypertext
anchors nested in the <body> element to trigger
mail utilities. Common practice is to now use natural
languages to resist the harvesting of email addresses for bulk mailings.

I have never removed <link> elements from any
html files I have published to the World Wide Web. And I
have seen the patterns that indicate that the
tides of unsolicited material are declined. [Aside: ELM is
an excellent client for tagging message for
deletion without reading them -- it is a feature that would be
nice to incorporate in other email clients (I
find it irritating to have a program designed to not take
advantange of the batch processing power of the machine).]

I am listening to the great Bob Marley and the
Wailers sing on Burnin' "Pass it on"

Be not selfish in your doings, pass it on
Help your brothers in their needs, pass it on

while I compose this.

Very fitting since I have been thinking about
adding some noise to clog the harvesters that generate the
lists that the spammers use to push their wares.

<link rel=3D"whatever" href=3D"mailto:boguz_at_utopia.everywhere.ca">
<link rel=3D"whenever" href=3D"mailto:bouguz2_at_utopia.anytime.ca">

I was thinking about the impact of some
industrious script writers to produce what amount to bollards. Or
even a test exercise for teaching HTML coding.
Innocuous by their small size such files
distributed in many millions of little pockets might produce such
gunk as to enrobe the span in the sweat sticky fermentation of natto.

However I don't like the pseudo semantics.

So I envision any number html files chock full of
pseudo email addresses located in a set of hypertext
anchors. Bonus: the exchange-value of search
engines ceases to be a case of idolatry. With a critical mass
of gunk on the WWW, users become even more savvy
and selective in the search strings they will employ.
Librarians become everyone=E2=80=99s best friend.

Of course such gunk needs a nice nerdy word to
catch on and propagate as a meme that some folks tag some
taxonomists with the slogan "Tax the spammers".
If spam is maps backwards, anti-spam gunk, low-tech
style is "knug". A special type of kludge to
nudge along an etiquette of recognition, respect, sharing and
responsability. Anti spam poetry. Knug. A whole
new genre with a simple composition rule: must contain
bogus email addresses. I suspect after a while
the rule could be shortened: must contain one or more email

Happy between the New Years (Civic and Chinese) :)

And now having come to the end of my composing
I'm grooving to Marley's "Small Axe"

*I have yet to test how Lynx works with more than
one <LINK> element whose "HREF" attribute takes as a
value a mailto protocol followed by an email
address. I suspect it defaults to invoking the mail utility
for the first address listed. Other addresses
would be read and copied by consulting the source html and
elegantly jumping to a shell to invoke a mail
utility. Can some kind subscriber of Humanist enlighten me
on or off list? Thanks.

> > Humanist
Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No.
81. > Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
> =
> www.princeton.edu/humanist/
> Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu
> Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 14:14:46 +0100
> From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
> >
> Alan Scott, in "Modernity's Machine Metaphor", British Journal of
> Sociology 48.4 (1997): 561-75, quotes an eery passage from Max
> Weber's "Parliament und Regierung in neugeordneten Deutschland":
> >A lifeless machine is congealed spirit. Only as such does it have the
> >power to force people into its service and to determine with such
> >dominance their everyday working life as is actually the case in the
> >factory. Congealed spirit is also that living machine represented by
> >bureaucratic organization with its specialization of trained skilled
> >labour, its demarcation of responsibility, regimentation and
> >hierarchically organized relations of obedience. Combined with the
> >lifeless machine, bureaucracy is at work creating the housing of that
> >future enslavement in which perhaps people will, as was the case with
> >the Fellahin in the Ancient Egyptian state, be forced helplessly into
> >line if a purely technical value - i.e. a rational civil service
> >administration and provision of needs - becomes the ultimate value=
> >is to determine the manner in which their affairs are directed. (Weber
> >1918: 332)
> The way in which the bureaucratic mind has informed the design of
> computing systems and vice versa is well known, or at least often
> asserted. What's seems eery about this passage now, to some of us in higher
> education, is the degree to which a mechanical bureaucracy, with its
> procedures and transparencies, has assumed control. But I quote this
> passage for different reasons.
> One is that, as Scott argues, even the most highly bureaucratic
> organizations do not in fact work like a machine. He cites Peter
> Winch's point that rules and the ability to apply them are coeval but
> quite different. Rules are rules, but curiously we talk about when to
> apply which rule, and we have no rule for that. So why, Scott asks,
> do we think in terms of machines in given circumstances? What is the
> machine metaphor doing for us, esp now that we are mind-deep in
> Turing's machine? What is it a foil for?
> Another reason for quoting Weber is that Weber's brilliant phrase,
> "congealed spirit", can be turned
> around and used for what we do. Our machines bear our imprint. In
> what sense do they become our congealed spirit (of enquiry)?
> Yours,
> WM
> Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
> Computing in the Humanities | King's College London | Kay House, 7
> Arundel Street | London WC2R 3DX | U.K. | +44 (0)20 7848-2784 fax:
> -2980 || willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/wlm/

Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
Everyone is a little bit crazy; everyone at some
time has a learning disability;
No one is ever a little bit positive.
Received on Tue Jan 09 2007 - 04:30:25 EST

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