Saturday, January 31, 2009

"Hey wow, another humanities professor who gets it about computers."

Speaking of Bruce Sterling, Mechanisms gets a nice shout out from him in his WIRED blog!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bruce Sterling on Bits

I wish I could say Sterling had been reading his Kirschenbaum, but he wrote this years before Mechanisms was out. It's great:
This is the part where we really have to scrunch up and stare, ladies and gentlemen. Because every time that the computer industry confuses its hardware with philosophy, we’ve got a serious problem. A stream of bits is not just ones and zeroes. Ones and zeroes are numbers, and even if arithmetic is immaterial, computers aren’t. Bits are not different from atoms: bits are bits of atoms. Bits are not ghosts or spirits or good intentions, bits have to be measurable, observable physical objects, like a Greek vase. Bits may be too small for the naked eye to see, but just like a cold germ or a hepatitis virus, they are most definitely around, and they’re a lot of trouble. Bits are moving electrons, moving photons, or they are magnetized clumps of atoms, laser burn marks in plastic, iron filings stuck together with tape. That’s what bits are.

The piece is called "Digital Decay." It's available as part of a superb collection by the Variable Media Network called Permanence Through Change.