[Humanist] 23.50 automata and distraction

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri May 29 07:18:12 CEST 2009

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 50.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    renata lemos <renata.lemoz at eletrocooperativa.org>         (28)
        Subject: in defense of distraction

  [2]   From:    "Sharon K. Goetz" <skg046 at fastmail.fm>                     (9)
        Subject: more on automata

        Date: Thu, 28 May 2009 13:28:49 -0300
        From: renata lemos <renata.lemoz at eletrocooperativa.org>
        Subject: in defense of distraction

In Defense of DistractionTwitter, Adderall, lifehacking, mindful jogging,
power browsing, Obama’s BlackBerry, and the benefits of overstimulation.

   - By Sam Anderson  http://nymag.com/nymag/sam-anderson


I. The Poverty of Attention

I’m going to pause here, right at the beginning of my riveting article about
attention, and ask you to please get all of your precious 21st-century
distractions out of your system now. Check the score of the Mets game; text
your sister that pun you just thought of about her roommate’s new pet lizard
(“iguana hold yr hand LOL get it like Beatles”); refresh your work e-mail,
your home e-mail, your school e-mail; upload pictures of yourself reading
this paragraph to your “me reading magazine articles” Flickr photostream;
and alert the fellow citizens of whatever Twittertopia you happen to
frequent that you will be suspending your digital presence for the next
twenty minutes or so (I know that seems drastic: Tell them you’re having an
appendectomy or something and are about to lose consciousness). Good. Now:
Count your breaths. Close your eyes. Do whatever it takes to get all of your
neurons lined up in one direction. Above all, resist the urge to fixate on
the picture, right over there, of that weird scrambled guy typing. Do not
speculate on his ethnicity (German-Venezuelan?) or his backstory (Witness
Protection Program?) or the size of his monitor. Go ahead and cover him with
your hand if you need to. There. Doesn’t that feel better? Now it’s just you
and me, tucked like fourteenth-century Zen masters into this sweet little
nook of pure mental focus. (Seriously, stop looking at him. I’m over here.)
renata lemos

        Date: Thu, 28 May 2009 10:24:33 -0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)
        From: "Sharon K. Goetz" <skg046 at fastmail.fm>
        Subject: more on automata
        In-Reply-To: <20090528052000.D26AA94FC at woodward.joyent.us>

Richard Garriott, probably best known for designing and publishing the
Ultima computer games, has a collection of automata; the gaming blog
Kotaku has a few pictures:


I'm not convinced that each of the figures shown count as "automata" in
the senses recently discussed on Humanist, but the pictures may be of
interest nevertheless.

Sharon Goetz

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