[Humanist] 27.123 thresholds?
Humanist Discussion Group
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Jun 14 23:00:56 CEST 2013
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 123.
Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
Date: Sat, 15 Jun 2013 06:50:42 +1000
From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
For many years there's been an assertion travelling around that at a
certain threshold computing systems become so quickly responsive that
the user ceases to filter the questions he or she is asking and simply
tries out whatever comes to mind. This has been discussed here before,
but as far as I can recall the assertion has proven to be simply that,
though one wonders how anything of the sort, how often experienced,
could be proved. There seem to be other thresholds involving computing
systems, e.g. in the resolution of images on screen, the weight of
laptops and so on. But we have such an adaptive ability that I suspect
the issues at play in human-computer interaction are very complex indeed.
Early issues of Radio Times, for example, show adverts of televisions
suggesting that images produced by the grainy, flickering,
black-and-white screens made or could make people believe they were in
the midst of the action depicted, e.g. in a film of the American Old
West. Surely radio broadcasts of concerts were similar, however greater
the measurable fidelity of a live performance might be. Once better
technology comes along, suddenly (as with my recent acquisition of an
iPad with "Retina" display), the older becomes perceptually far worse. I
say "becomes" advisedly but am not sure of my ground.
What do we learn from experiences like this? Where are we going with it?
Clever circuitry in digital cameras now allows one to produce
photo-realistically inferior images to evoke a former time, when photos
resembled the degraded images. Is this simply nostalgia? When we live
with robots of the sort depicted in the Swedish series "Real Humans"
(Äkta Människor -- watch it tonight, it's brilliant), will we turn away
from them to clunky Robbies for aesthetic reasons? Does the rejection of
the technically better have an element of fear to it?
Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Professor, Research Group in Digital Humanities, University of
Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist (dhhumanist.org);
More information about the Humanist