[Humanist] 25.837 recursive-reflective again

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Mar 23 09:38:43 CET 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 837.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2012 08:36:24 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: recursive-reflective again

In Humanist 25.829, I asked,

> I am looking for a word, preferably not my clumsy
> "recursive-reflective", to denote an ongoing, repetitive process between
> inventor and invention. The idea to be communicated is that the
> invention in some non-trivial sense mirrors the inventor, and the
> inventor seeing this self-image reflected back adopts it as his or her
> identity, then having changed changes the invention, and so on and so
> forth. Feedback and feed-forward (I. A. Richards' contribution) don't
> really do it, because the cybernetic process, as I understand it, aims
> at homeostasis, whereas I want to denote ongoing metamorphosis.

Two responses have come in, as follows (but to me rather than to Humanist):

> Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2012 22:26:42 -0500
> From: amsler at cs.utexas.edu
> Let's see...
> self-sensing manfacturing
> self-sensing inventing
> man-machine synthesis
> recombinant inventing
> man-machine feedback loop
> artifact-self co-creation
> inventor-invention co-creation


> Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2012 10:38:29 +0000
> From: Virginia Knight <virginia.knight at bristol.ac.uk>
> Mirrored evolution? 'Evolution' comes to mind anyway as the word to
> describe the 'ongoing metamorphosis' you speak of.

The suggestions that come closest are "recombinant inventing", 
"artifact-self co-creation", "inventor-invention co-creation" and 
"mirrored evolution". "Recursive-reflective" has two problems: like the 
other hyphenated compounds, it is clunky; and it is already a term for 
the process of design that proceeds recursively through thinking about 
(reflecting on) the design. Mirroring is definitely involved but not 
mirroring in the strictly optical sense, rather more in the ancient 
sense attested by the Latin (speculum) and Greek (katoptron) words of 
becoming what one beholds. The process as historically attested in the 
development of our very own digital machine is definitely evolutionary.

Can one capture a murky idea with a simple expression of one or at most 
two words, or allowing a preposition, three?

So, with your indulgence, I ask again. Help!

Professor Willard McCarty, Department of Digital Humanities, King's
College London; Professor (fractional), 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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