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Computation

Reading your own cognitive decline

I recently attended the Digital Humanities section of the annual Canadian academic Congress. Ian Lancashire of the University of Toronto was on my panel and he gave a very moving paper on the correlation between language decline in writers and the onset of alzheimers. His most famous paper on this …

The Visual Text

One of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is what happens when books, in the form of electronic interfaces, become far more visual than textual. Take for example Ken Perlin’s new Pride and Prejudice interface. It allows you to see the whole book as an image in the right …

All A are not B

An excellent new event put on by Triple Canopy on the aesthetic dimensions of the “diagram.” As they write: Approaching the diagram in such a way—as an epistemological figure—means questioning the nature of relationships between things and how we perceive them, and how we understand our own subjectivity in relation …

Artificial Creativity

A very interesting interview at Spark with Michael Cook, a PhD student at Imperial College in the UK. It concerns the question of “artificial creativity,” which is basically artifical intelligence (A.I.) moving into the arts. One of the most difficult issues surrounding this field, I think, is the way it …

Autobook

An uninspired piece at the New York Times on machine-generated books by Pagan Kennedy.  It should come as no surprise that an author who makes money writing for a living would disapprove of the idea. Actually the books are just quickly mashed-up wikipedia articles, so there is very little machine in …

Killer App

I recently gave a talk at the English Institute at Harvard on the history of the relationship between tactility and reading. My main aim was to think through new digital reading practices within a longer history of the handedness of book reading. There were many challenging questions at the end …

Beyond Google

A nice interview with Siva Vaidhyanathan on Spark about his new book, The Googlization of Everything. Among his many critiques, the one that really stuck with me was the narrowness of the Google algorithm. Google’s succes has depended on developing the most efficient search algorithm of the vast trove of …

The $23 million book

A great piece by Michael Eisen at his genomics blog on a science textbook whose price on Amazon marketplace ran up to $23,698,655.93 (plus $3.99 shipping). How did this happen? The story is actually straightforward and has to do with algorithmic pricing employed by used booksellers. One company, profnath, had …

The Forensic Effect

As I’ve written previously, much of the future of reading will be shaped by an increasingly computational relationship to our reading material. Whether it is recommendation engines that help determine what we choose to read; algorithmic rules that generate individualized texts based on our personal data or reading habits; or …