Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Tech & Mythology Project Snapshot – Nov 2021

It’s time to revisit what the Tech & Mythology project means for me. There were previous snapshots in July and October 2020, and most recently February 2021.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Glitching the invisible

I’ve been trying to imagine the invisible world created by internet apps: something like a video that glitches, showing what lies behind; or visualizing what a dog’s nose “sees” (something I think I saw on the BBC decades ago).

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

O-gregores: Perhaps the aliens are already here

If my speculation that some organizations are emergent, conscious entities in their own right, then super-intelligent aliens may have been among us for some time. 

Myth definitions

This post is a rolling inventory of definitions and descriptions of myth – mine, and those of others. The date on which an item is added to the list is given in italics, in parentheses. I’ll move it to the top of the blog every time I update it.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Scious organizations

 Many things are said to take on a life of their own: corporations, movements, projects, urban legends, accusations, and so on. (For sample sentences, see The Free Dictionary, Longman, and Merriam-Webster.) I’m going to take this literally and assume that human enterprises – notably digital technologies – are not just alive but also conscious. In this way digital tech is a greater-than-human mythological force, that is, a god.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Journalism schools: An egregious egregore

I keep coming back to David Simon’s observation that postmodern institutions like the police department, drug economy, political structures, and school administrations, are today’s Olympian forces. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that US journalism schools leave graduates with hefty student loans; the schools seem to me to be an oblivious if not malevolent deity.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Facebook's character

 The Wall Street Journal is running a series of articles about Facebook. A couple of days ago Jeff Horwitz described a secret elite of celebrities, politicians and other high-profile users that get special treatment. This made me wonder: if Facebook were a character in a play, how would one describe it?

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Poot stories

I’ve been asking people for their favorite stories, and Susan T recalled Tove Jansson's Moomin story in which "the smallest of the small creatures" was asked if it knew a story. At last it volunteered this: 

"There was a wood rat called Poot."

That’s about as elemental as a story gets, I think: it’s just character.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

AI by any other name would not smell as sweet

Christopher Mims reports that some experts working on AI think that the moniker “fuels confusion and hype of the sort that led to past ‘AI winters’ of disappointment” (“Why Artificial Intelligence Isn’t Intelligent,” WSJ, July 31, 2021). I believe the terminology is responsible for the success as well as misperceptions of AI, and that winters are no bad thing.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

When narratives aren't stories: Narratives of the Future Narratives Lab

The title of Daniel Stanley’s essay “The hidden power in the stories Big Tech sells us” promises narrative, but it’s really about ideology and rhetoric. (Stanley’s own ideology was more conspicuous than the narratives he ascribed to Big Tech.) It’s an excellent example of when stories aren’t stories but statements of belief.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Wrangling gods

We’re surrounded by (and permeated by) gods, defined as non-human forces that profoundly affect people. How should we manage them? Perhaps religious traditions dealing with gods can help us regulate technologies, the greater-than-human force I’m currently looking at.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Mosco and Myth

I’ve been reading Chapter 4 of Vincent Mosco’s 2017 book Becoming Digital: Toward a Post-Internet Society. I’ve been strongly influenced by his work, starting with The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace (2004). This piece made me wonder whether or how myths different from beliefs, and why so many tech myths are either utopian or apocalyptic.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Gartner’s Hype Cycle as myth

Most people in business know about Gartner’s hype cycle, many of them believe it, and some act on it, for example through corporate investment decisions and buying Gartner’s services. It’s a story (more accurately, a trope) that meets my know/believe/act criterion for myth. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Dionysus on Wall Street

The GameStop saga was a big story in February 2021. It’s often told as David against Goliath, but I think there’s a deeper pattern that reflects the role of technology.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Research Questions for the Tech & Mythology Project

 My February project snapshot listed some of the questions the Tech & Mythology project is asking. S. V., a researcher I met through the ATLAS Institute, challenged me to document my research questions. After peeling several layers off the onion, here’s what I came up with.