Cybernetics: the vital notions of entropy and information (I)

My STS Sketchbook

In 1948 Norbert Wiener published his book « Cybernetics or Control and Communication in animals and machines, » a treatise in which he postulated the creation of science Cybernetics. On the basis of Gibbs’ statistical mechanics, to which he attributes the revolution over Newtonian physics long before Einstein and quantum mechanics, Wiener compares the performance of self-regulating machines to that of living beings through the fundamental notions of information, feedback, homeostasis and freuquency correlation (or resonance), among others. Many of his results arise from the application of his knowledge of electrical circuits to the animal nervous system, others from the understanding of organic processes as schemes of self-regulation, translatable to automata. A number of technical challenges and the subsequent proposal of a new agenda of scientific problems were made possible through intensive collaboration between Wiener and experts from many different fields (biologists, engineers, computer scientists, anthropologists …), whose landmark were the conferences…

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« Fifty shades of green »: Bruno Latour on the ecomodernist manifesto

ENTITLE blog

by Bruno Latour*

Presentation to the panel on modernism at the Breakthrough Dialogue, Sausalito, June 2015

Wake up you ecomoderns, we are in the Anthropocene, not in the Holocene, nor are we to ever reside in the enchanted dream of futurism. Down to earth is the message I hear, but unfortunately not in the ecomodernist manifesto.

There is one thing more difficult than to tell good from evil, it is to decide which time we are in, which epoch, and which land we have our feet on. I was reminded of that difficulty Saturday at the border when the police officer, after having asked me what research I was doing, and on learning that I work on environment with a special interest in the drought, retorted:  “Drought, which drought? Have you not read the Bible, it is all there, 7 years dry, 7 years wet. I have been in California for forty years, it’s always like this, it never fails…

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Identity and The Need to be Needed

Steve Rose's Blog

The need to be needed is one of our fundamental desires. We want to feel significant in the eyes of others, even if it is only one other person. We want to feel like we play an important role, whether in an organization, family, or life of another. The need to be needed is rooted in our need for a sense of contribution to something beyond ourselves. When this need is unfulfilled in the case of job loss, divorce, or life-transitions, we may find ourselves beginning to doubt our sense of contribution that gives us a sense of purpose and direction. It is the ability to feel needed through our specific method of contribution that gives us our sense of identity.

As described in my last post, an identity crisis can result from a lack of identity when role confusion occurs, as discussed by Erik Erikson. Building on Erikson’s conception…

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Par amour pour Bruxelles

tangworld

Ce mardi 22 mars, on nous a enlevé des vies. Des navetteurs et voyageurs, des amis et proches, des frères et soeurs font maintenant la pluie et le beau temps, là haut. On nous a frappé en plein coeur en ciblant deux des plus fabuleuses infrastructures de transport que l’Homme ait inventé.

L’aéroport et ses petits et gros oiseaux nous emmènent partout. C’est l’endroit où l’humanité entière se croise. C’est un outil formidable pour nos relations internationales diplomatiques, économiques, culturelles. C’est là où nos vacances commencent. C’est le lieu des au revoir, des retrouvailles, des rires et des larmes.

Le métro, une ville dans la ville. Une vie souterraine qui ne s’arrête que quelques heures par nuit. C’est la liberté, les déplacements faciles et rapides du nord au sud et d’est en ouest, toute la ville s’y croise. C’est là que commencent et se finissent les sorties entre amis. Là que des regards se…

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The (Fake) Geek Girl Project / 1: The How-to

The Geek Anthropologist

You may read the foreword to this series, As Always, it Started With Star Trek: A Study On Geek Girls.

For a little over two years now, geek culture has been tormented with a raging debate, that of the  »fake » geek girl. This debate has divided geeks between those who reinforce the notion that some women pretend to be geeks in order to attract the attention of men, and those who contest it.

Since late 2012, I have been analysing this debate and following the changes it brought forth in geek culture.

I was curious to know why the debate had gained such intensity and visibility at the moment when it did. But, as I express in the foreword to this series, I was also puzzled by several of the arguments put forth in  »rants », for lack of a better word, against alleged fake geek girls: that women were rare in…

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Star Wars and Anthropology

Anthropology Now

Happy Halloween!  I’ll be wearing a simple Darth Vader t-shirt for a costume.  Did you know that Star Wars was inspired by anthropology?

As you’ve probably heard, Lucasfilm, production company of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies, was purchased yesterday by Disney.  They have plans to release multiple new Star Wars films, beginning with Episode VII (set after Return of the Jedi) in 2015.  Nothing could have surprised me more, since George Lucas has always suggested that Episodes VII, VIII, and IX would never be made.  I’ve written before about the relationship between Indiana Jones and real-life archaeology, but Star Wars was also shaped by anthropology, though I certainly didn’t realize this as a child.

Like many kids who grew up in the 1980’s, it’s hard to overstate the influence of Star Wars on my childhood.  I played with Star Wars toys, slept on Star…

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econ nobel prize cliches: collect them all

orgtheory.net

Every October when the Nobel prize in economics is announced, you hear the same trite and hackneyed things. Already, the Guardian has one of those tedious « economics is not a science » articles just to prepare for tomorrow. To help you save time, I’ve collected the following cliches so you can just clip and paste them into your tweets, Facebook messages, and blog posts:

  • Economics is not a science.
  • Actually, there is no Nobel Prize in economics.
  • The so-called Economics Nobel prize.
  • This prize refutes the policies of [insert politician you hate].
  • This prize supports the policies of [insert politician you love].
  • This prize is long overdue.
  • This prize rewards [my favorite field].
  • This prize rewards free-market fundamentalists.
  • This prize proves that free-market fundamentalists are wrong.
  • This person did not deserve the prize.
  • This person deserved the prize.
  • This is a rather mathematical/statistical prize for a technical point that…

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