Brain to brain communication and the (new) materiality of thought

Brain-to-brain communication is probably something you’ve encountered in the news in the last year or so. We’ve seen things such as monkeys controlling robotic arms with their thoughts, paralyzed humans moving themselves with the aid of an exoskeleton, and recently experiments in communication between two people and linking rat brains together to create an organic computer….

cognition’s earthrise

If you do not know then Wikipedia will happily tell you that the 1968 photo known as “Earthrise” (unsurprisingly taken by an astronaut) has been called the “most influential environmental photograph ever taken.” Why? Presumably because it presents the Earth as a cohesive yet fragile entity. In any case, “Earthrise” captures something about the ecological turn…

writing and the speed of thought

When we first learned to write, we focused on holding the pencil and forming the letters. The attention given to the physical task of writing likely interfered with our ability to give attention to what we wanted to say. Later, after mastering writing (or, if you are like me, gave up on forming legible letters),…

rhetoric’s default mode

Following on my previous post, a continuation of a discussion of “neurorhetoric.” Generally speaking, rhetoricians, like other humanists, approach science with a high degree of skepticism, especially a science that might potentially explain away our disciplinary territory. As Jordynn Jack  and others have pointed out, there is a strong interest in the prefix neuro- and…

it hurts when I think

Perhaps you have seen this recent Science article (the paywall article itself or an Guardian piece on it.) If you haven’t, this is a psychological study where participants are left alone with their thoughts for 6-15 minutes and then asked questions about the experience. The conclusion? Generally people do not enjoy being alone with their thoughts. The article…

writing’s short term

I'm working on a piece on memory, which I'll be discussing in a talk at UT Austin in February, and it departs from this line in A Thousand Plateaus that I mentioned in my last post: “one writes using short-term memory, and thus short-term ideas, even if one reads or rereads using long-term memory of long-term…

object-oriented creativity

I would appear to have the opposite reading/writing problem from many of my graduate students. They often cite a difficulty in stopping reading and research to start writing. My problem is that I often can't get all the way through a book (or sometimes even an article) without having a strong urge to start writing….

targeting computers and writing: some selections

Some notes and thoughts on the recently completed Computers and Writing conference… As I tweeted during the conference, the subject of gaming is a growing interest in the field. From rhetorical approaches to games studies to a pedagogical interest in serious gaming, there were many, many panels and presentations in this area. Perhaps we'll see…

general writing, major rhetorical strategies, and private compositions

I apologize for not being able to avoid the militaristic pun, but it is actually quite appropriate for the hierarchical, even hylomorphic structures we often apply in first-year composition. Thanks to the conversation on my last post, we were able to come around to the significant recognition that the issue of the role of digital…

digital (post)humanism pays attention

As an erstwhile practitioner of zazen meditation, I can say one thing with a fair degree of certainty: humans suck at focusing on a single thing, or even worse, on no thing. PBS Frontline's recent, interesting and wide-ranging program Digital_Nation spent a fair amount of time on the theme of focusing: the price of multi-tasking,…