Weekly Whaaa…?

Slash Page of the Week

This week I added a postroll to this site. Distinct from a blogroll—itself a list that recommends entire blogs—a postroll recommends individual blog posts. If a blogroll is a general “hey, you might like these musicians or groups,” and postroll is a more direct, “hey, isn’t this song great?!”

SlashPages.net features these and many similar common genres of pages.

If you’ve got your own website, or especially if you’re just starting one, these slash pages can be excellent prompts for writing or imagining what you’d like to share. There are a number of directories linked on that page, so you can also springboard from it to other personal sites / IndieWeb / cozy web places online.

Reading & Viewing

How We Became Posthuman

This week I finally finished my first reading of How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics by N. Katherine Hayles.

I’m very grateful that my dissertation advisor recommended it, since Hayles’s exploration of the discourses of “information” in cybernetics has added a lot of nuance and context to the largely ahistorical account of “information” common to library and information sciences. (As usual, I have to speculate that if LIS had continued to develop as library and information studies there would likely have been more attention paid to historicization, context, and culture.)

I’d certainly recommend this to anyone interested in information, informatics, or science fiction—and especially anyone interested in combinations of those.

My single biggest caveat-slash-critique is that, despite the emphasis this work places on human materiality, it almost entirely avoids the differentiations in human embodiment that were huge influences in social/legal history, intellectual history, and literary works in the period the book covers. Although gender is acknowledged in some portions, racialization practically does not exist within Hayles’s book. (Maybe subsequent works by her grapple with it?)

Racialization—and its related discourses that tend to link whiteness to “abstraction” and minorities to “particularities”—seems profoundly likely to have influenced any work involving bodies, subjectivity, information, identity, etc. (Barbara Christian’s “The Race for Theory” sketches out some of these discourses, as well as reminding us of the stakes. It’s available through JSTOR, which lets you read 100 articles a month if you’re unaffiliated with a subscribing library, as long as you create an account.)

This omission leaves me unable to keep myself from wondering what other crucial facets have gone unaccounted for in her analysis and summaries of the histories she recounts.

I’m still fumbling toward a reading notes process at the moment, as well as deciding what I’ll leave in my own private “processing notes” and what more polished ideas I’ll share here on my site. But I’ll likely be adding a few posts as I highlight some of the best “takeaways” from this book—particularly the ones that could be useful within LIS. As I said, there’s a wealth to appreciate in How We Became Posthuman, despite its overall omission of racialization and gender discourses from its analyses and history.

A Realist Theory of Science

I’ve had Roy Bhaskar’s A Realist Theory of Science floating in the back of my mental “to be read” pile for years, at least since I read Sam Popowich enthusing about it on social media or his site.

I’m thus far only through the introduction, and I’m not sure if I’ll continue at the moment. It feels like it might be a really useful background to other thinkers like Patricia Hill Collins, Donna Haraway, or Sandra Harding. But with so many other things directly on my exam lists… well, we’ll see.

Office Space

Oh! We also watched Office Space over the weekend, partially to celebrate its 25th anniversary and partially to celebrate my spouse’s change in employment.

It still holds up, even though both of us are fortunate enough to work remotely.

Last Night

Finally, to celebrate Canada Day, we played tabletop curling, feasted on our odd “poutine/nachos” concoction, listened to some of our favorite CanCon music, and watched Last Night, a wry film that reminded me of the “art house” movies I’d see in the 1990s.

To its credit, the film never explains the specifics of the apocalypse its characters are facing, just explores how they deal with the oncoming end of the world. All the same, I couldn’t help but wonder whether it’s a more extreme version of what seems to have happened in Delaney’s Dhalgren.

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