Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. “From A Thousand Plateaus.” The New Media Reader. By Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.: MIT, 2003. 407-09. Print.
Kay, Alan, and Adele Goldberg. “Personal Dynamic Media.” The New Media Reader. By Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.: MIT, 2003. 393-403. Print.
Weizenbaum, Joseph. “From Computer Power and Human Reason.” The New Media Reader. By Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.: MIT, 2003. 368-75. Print.
The Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg piece, “Personal Dynamic Media,” written in the 1970s, discussed the plans for an invention called the “Dynabook” (left), which was like an early tablet computer from 50 years ago. Though the first attempts (from the 60s) looked much like a standard 80s computer, the future models were imagined to be portable, as small as a notebook, and completely wireless. A mock-up on p. 394 shows a device that looks a lot like a flat laptop, with a full keyboard and large, square screen. Looking at modern e-readers and tablets, it’s pretty easy to see where the inspiration came from. This article was really interesting because, like some of the chapters in Part 1, it gives us a glimpse into the minds of the technological innovators from a much earlier time. It’s almost like a prophecy of future technologies. While the Memex plans didn’t quite match up to modern computer designs, the Dynabook looks a lot like a Kindle or a dated tablet.
“From Computer Power and Human Reason” was also an interesting chapter, because it addressed the same fears that many of the authors in Part 1 expressed. People are afraid of technology, just as they worship it for being versatile and powerful, they fear it for the same reasons. The programmers in this chapter create a program that responds to a real person as a psychologist (DOCTOR) and we see a very convincing conversation between this real person and the computer. Later in the chapter, psychologists voice their beliefs that computer programs might, in the future, become capable of taking over the role of a therapist entirely, without human intervention. Imagining computers working to help humans organize their emotions is an interesting concept, but also frightening to some. If computers can take over a profession that seems so human-centric, just as they can take over a mindless mechanized task, is there anything they can’t do?
What do you think? Are you more excited or afraid for our future relationships with technology?