[Humanist] 29.627 subtle influences at home

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Jan 16 07:43:07 CET 2016

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 627.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2016 06:59:17 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: subtle influences

Andrew's relaying of negative experiences with one thing in the Internet of
things brings to mind a now common form of crowdsourcing and, it seems, a
reliance on informal statistics. It seems evident from reviews that many
people can make a mess of nearly any gadget, misread the instructions (which
are sometimes rather poorly thought out and written), misunderstand the
subtleties of its purpose, fail to engage in the reciprocal adjustments
between user and used that digital devices seem often to demand -- and then
go on to write damning reviews. The strategy I've adopted is to look for the
majority opinion and use that to determine where the most frequently
reported fault is manifested, in the device or in the user of it. 

Not a subject under the Big Tent perhaps. But what is, I'd argue, there are
two items of interest for us. The first is the sourcing and sifting of
opinions and experiences from the world-wide crowd to which we now have
access. (Has this become the majority experience of democracy? How far does
this influence go?) The second is, again, the loop into which digital
devices are particularly adept in tempting us to enter, adapting to an
adaptable device. The genius of cybernetics.


Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
Group, Western Sydney University

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