[Humanist] 26.563 coevolution

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Dec 10 07:18:44 CET 2012


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 563.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                              www.dhhumanist.org/
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    maurizio lana <maurizio.lana at gmail.com>                   (21)
        Subject: Re:  26.560 coevolution?

  [2]   From:    Haines Brown <haines at histomat.net>                        (40)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.560 coevolution?

  [3]   From:    Sinai Rusinek <Sinair at vanleer.org.il>                     (14)
        Subject: RE:  26.560 coevolution?

  [4]   From:    Allison Muri <allison.muri at usask.ca>                      (71)
        Subject: Re:  26.560 coevolution?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sun, 09 Dec 2012 15:05:19 +0100
        From: maurizio lana <maurizio.lana at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  26.560 coevolution?
        In-Reply-To: <20121209101700.86BB13120 at digitalhumanities.org>

Il 09/12/2012 11:17, Humanist Discussion Group ha scritto:
> Does anyone here know of a critical study of the term "coevolution",
> especially in its migrations beyond biology?

even if it doesn't fit perfectly, you should have a look at 
Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of 
Personal Computing. It's a wonderful book of Th. Bardini available in 
google books.
and then there is “Man-Computer Symbiosis” by jcr licklider. what he 
calls symbiosis could be called coevolution.

you probably already know of licklider's article.
the book of bardini is all about the development of Engelbart's oNLine 
System, but everything is read as a coevolution of humans and machines 
so in fact it could be useful.

maurizio

-------
il mio corso di informatica umanistica:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85JsyJw2zuw
-------
Maurizio Lana - ricercatore
Università del Piemonte Orientale, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici
via Manzoni 8, 13100 Vercelli - tel. +39 347 7370925



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2012 10:05:55 -0500
        From: Haines Brown <haines at histomat.net>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.560 coevolution?
        In-Reply-To: <20121209101700.86BB13120 at digitalhumanities.org>


Willard, I know you seek to generalize the concept beyond 
bio-evolution, but I believe quite useful nevertheless might be the 
concept in bio-evolution of "epigenetic" evolution. Put in very 
general terms, epigenetic evolution suggests that a probable 
phylogenetic outcome is not determed solely by DNA, but by other 
factors as well, such as proteins, and even by other organisms. A very 
nice treatment of epigenetics, including a discussion of human 
culture, is Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb, Evolution in Four 
Dimensions (Cambridge [MA], 2005).

I cannot help but express my nervousness about any appeal to Jerome 
Brunner. There are well known problems with phenomenology. His basic 
distinction of narrative and logical worlds strikes me as contrived 
and not at all useful. Not only do I have problems with so called 
"narrative explanation", but Bruner has an unrealistic (a positivist 
textbook version) of scientificity. Nevertheless, were we to define 
the world in psychological terms, helpful in this respect would be 
Vicki Bruce and Mark A. Georgeson and Patrick R. Green, Visual 
Perception: Physiology, Psychology and Ecology (4th ed., East Sussex, 
2004).

My personal reactions to your remarks are perhaps best summarized by 
saying that I'm not at all comfortable with approaching things by 
means of a cognitive and physical closure that supports explanation 
simply in terms of causal interactions. This is not the place to 
explore an alternative to causal explanation that sees it as a 
one-sided artifact of closure beyond mentioning that systemic closure 
and causal interactonism are no longer universal presuppositions in 
physical science.

Haines Brown



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2012 16:07:37 +0000
        From: Sinai Rusinek <Sinair at vanleer.org.il>
        Subject: RE:  26.560 coevolution?
        In-Reply-To: <20121209101700.86BB13120 at digitalhumanities.org>

Dear prof. Mccarty,
As with most conceptual histories, the first place to look would be among the Germans. The first place would be here: http://www.biological-concepts.com ; the second would be (and here reading German helps) in Georg Toepfer's even more amazing project: 
Historisches Wörterbuch der Biologie; Geschichte und Theorie der biologischen Grundbegriffe - where a few pages on the concept of "Koevolution" appear in the article on "Evolution". 

As for migrations of the concept beyond biology, I BCC here Falko Schmieder and Jan Surman, for whom nomadic/inter-disciplinary biological concepts are bread and butter. Good luck!

Sinai
PS: I posted the question in the "Contributions to the History of Concepts" (https://www.facebook.com/Contributions )Facebook page and will update we get any other references. 

Sinai Rusinek
Polonsky post-doctoral fellow
Van Leer Jerusalem Institute
Editor 
Contributions to the History of Concepts


--[4]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2012 13:17:55 -0600
        From: Allison Muri <allison.muri at usask.ca>
        Subject: Re:  26.560 coevolution?
        In-Reply-To: <20121209101700.86BB13120 at digitalhumanities.org>


I imagine you've already come across Cognition and Technology: Co-Existence, Convergence, and Co-Evolution, ed.Barbara Gorayska, Jacob L. Mey (John Benjamins Publishing, 2004).

The following doesn't exactly answer your question, I think. Easy acceptance of the idea of co-evolution of humans and technology could be problematic, but then again, the term has been in use especially since the 90s in cybertheory as well as computer science. For example, " Brian Rotman's "Exuberant Materiality-- De-Minding the Store," Configurations 2.2 (1994). Probably you're aware of Douglas Engelbart's 1992 "Toward high-performance organizations: A strategic role for groupware" explicitly states (also without looking at the idea critically) that "we should become especially oriented to pursuing improvement as a multi-element, co-evolution process. In particular, we need to give explicit attention to the co-evolution of the Tool System and the Human System."
http://www.dougengelbart.org/pubs/augment-132811.html

Thierry Bardini's Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing (Stanford 2000) might be of interest.

Also, the article "Engelbart's Theory of Technical Evolution" Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 20.4 (2006).

On technical evolution, Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus (Stanford University Press, 1998)

Also, of course, there is McLuhan, who didn't use the term but certainly described the idea often, e.g.: "The transformations of technology have the character of organic evolution because all technologies are the extension of our physical being. ... Butler...indicated that machines were given vicarious powers of reproduction by their subsequent impact upon the very bodies that had brought them into being by extension. Response to the increased power and speed of our own extended bodies is one which engenders new extensions. Every technology creates new stresses and needs in the human beings who have engendered it. The new need and the new technological response are born of our embrace of the already existing technology -- a ceaseless process" -- Understanding Media, 1964, rpt. 1994 (MIT): 182-3.

....................................................
Allison Muri, Associate Professor
Department of English

Coordinator, Minor in Digital Culture & New Media
Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity

University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, SK, Canada
ph: 306.966.5503
http://artsandscience.usask.ca/profile/AMuri

On 2012-12-09, at 4:17 AM, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:

>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 560.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                              www.dhhumanist.org/
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> 
> 
> 
>        Date: Sat, 08 Dec 2012 16:20:04 +0000
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: coevolution?
> 
> 
> Does anyone here know of a critical study of the term "coevolution",
> especially in its migrations beyond biology?
> 
> According to Edward McCabe, in his Presidential Address to the American
> Society of Human Genetics (American Journal of Human Genetics 86 (2010):
> 311-15), the first use was in a paper by C. J. Modes in 1958; although
> Darwin had the idea, he used the term "coadaptation". Since the middle of
> the 20C, "coevolution" as an analogical metaphor has gradually spread to
> numerous other disciplines, including computer science. (Try searching the
> ACM Digital Library for the term; you'll find abundant use of it.) Bruce
> Mazlish, drawing on earlier work by Jerome Bruner, used the idea to describe
> the interrelated development of machines and humans in his article "The
> Fourth Discontinuity", Technology and Culture 8.1 (1967), later in his book,
> The Fourth Discontinuity: the Co-evolution of Humans and Machines (Yale,
> 1993). Unfortunately in neither place does he look at the idea critically --
> nor, as far as I can tell, does anyone else. I want to use the idea, indeed
> lean rather heavily on it. But Wendell Piez has just pointed out to me that
> its easy acceptance is problematic, so I am worried.
> 
> Does anyone here know of such a critical study of the idea, including but
> not limited to the interrelated development of living and non-living
> systems?
> 
> Many thanks for any pointers.
> 
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
> the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
> London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
> University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
> (www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
> (www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/






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