John Hilton III delivers his paper “Fathers and Sons: Textual Connections in 2 Nephi 2 and Alma 42” at the Opposition in All Things conference at Utah Valley University in June 2013. Robert Couch responds.
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Deidre Green delivers her paper “Sacrifice, Doubt, and Divinity: Using Doubt to Become Divine” at the Opposition in All Things conference at Utah Valley University in June 2013. James Faulconer responds.
Joseph Spencer delivers his paper “Lehi’s Unfinished Thought: On 2 Nephi 2:10b” at the Opposition in All Things conference at Utah Valley University in June 2013. Rosalynde Welch responds.
Jenny Webb delivers her paper “‘He Is the Firstfruits unto God’: Toward a Theology of Flesh” at the Opposition in All Things conference at Utah Valley University in June 2013. Adam Miller responds.
Rico Martinez delivers his paper “Paradoxes in Paradise” at the Opposition in All Things conference at Utah Valley University in June 2013. John Hilton III responds.
Welcome to the OII webcast website - containing live and on-demand webcasts of prominent speakers from events and conferences organised or recorded by the Oxford Internet Institute
When we try do social science on the Internet, it is vital to know what is solid and what is highly changeable. Outsiders and newcomers tend to be awed and misled by the illusions of ‘technology’ - which seem rock-solid and immutable, like a child’s view of home and religion.
But the ‘technologies’ of the computer world are extremely changeable, and give play to motivated assumptions and decisions. Like gasoline mixed with air, this an explosive mix. Fast-evolving software ideas, churned by human political agendas, power today’s wildly changing product and Internet world.
If software is successful, it steers the path that many users take, and selects among many possibilities to further the creator’s agenda.
Suppressing the other possibilities may also be part of the agenda.
[For the present purposes I propose a simple definition of politics: THE CLASH AND RECONCILIATION OF AGENDAS (which agendas in turn may be motivated by prestige, power, profit or ideology). This definition would seem to cover the range: electoral politics, office and palace intrigue, war (Clausewitz’ continuation of politics by other means), and now the steering of products and programs.]
We will glance at some examples of technology politics before 1950 (Brunel, Tesla, Armstrong, von Braun) and then at software politics among some two dozen individuals and companies in the computer and Internet world - the clash and resolution of their agendas (so far).
Software agendas generally play out through projects and products, some of which can change more drastically than others. The digital media conventions (called by laymen ‘ICTs’) are by far the most changeable - and thus political.
Theodor Holm Nelson invented the term "hypertext" in 1963 and published it in 1965, and is a pioneer of information technology. He also coined the words hypermedia, transclusion, virtuality, intertwingularity and teledildonics. The main thrust of his work has been to make computers easily accessible to ordinary people. His motto is:
A user interface should be so simple that a beginner in an emergency can understand it within ten seconds.
Nelson is currently a visiting professor at Oxford University, and a philosopher who works in the fields of information, computers, and human-machine interfaces. He founded Project Xanadu in 1960 with the goal of creating such a system on a computer network, further documented in his 1974 book Computer Lib / Dream Machines and the 1981 Literary Machines. Much of his adult life has been devoted to working on Xanadu and advocating it.
Melvyn Bragg and guests Gregory Irvine, Nicola Liscutin and Angus Lockyer discuss the history of the Samurai and the role of their myth in Japanese national identity.
The Samurai have a fearsome historical reputation as a suicidally brave caste of Japanese warriors. During World War Two, kamikaze pilots were photographed climbing into their cockpits with Samurai swords, encapsulating the way the myth of the Samurai’s martial ethos kept its power long after their heyday.
But the Samurai’s role in Japanese culture is much more complex than that. They were deeply engaged with Zen Buddhism and Noh Theatre, and sponsored haiku poetry. After their role in Japan’s century of civil war, ending in the early 1600s, they became part of the country’s civil service. A 250-year peace toppled them into identity crisis.
In the 19th century, with the arrival of the West, they played an important role in the establishment of a Japanese nation-state, not least by restoring the Emperor to power. And in the 20th century the mythological version of the Samurai, designed in part for Western consumption, became integral to a newly forged national identity.
Nicola Liscutin is Programme Director of Japanese Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London; Gregory Irvine is Senior Curator Japan at the Victoria and Albert Museum; Angus Lockyer is Lecturer in Japanese History and Chair of the Japan Research Centre at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
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