Day three of the ICT and the Humanities Summer School saw a new theme “Digital Artefacts and/as Cyborg” and it provoked a mixed reaction among many. The popular image of the cyborg is very strong in our culture and perhaps this had something to do with several of the course participants not attending this day. That was a mistake as far as I was concerned because two very interesting and knowledgeable figures in this field spoke. Kenneth Knoespel Professor and Chair at the School of Literature, Communication and Culture at Georgia Institute of Technology and the truly inspiring Mary Flanagan, Professor in Film and Media Studies , Department of Film and Media Studies, Hunter College, New York City.
It was perhaps synchronised or perhaps it was based on the deep knowledge both of these presenters have in their subject areas but myself and several other of the participants in the summer school were stuck by the renaissance character of both Ken and Mary. The abilities and experience of both of them were really…like…wow!
I would like to just state here that some of the content in this ‘report’ may get somewhat disjointed in places as it was hard to piece together my notes at times into a flowing sort of account. I hope I get most of what I understood across.
The theme Digital Artefact as/and Cyborg was introduced by Patrik Hernwall who, in reference to his background and continued research in early childhood education, began with the consideration of “Fundamental Democratic Values” and their relation to the so called cyborg in the classroom and society. Hernwall’s cyborg is not just a man-machine interface (and this popular image of cyborg was a major issue in the days discussions) but rather a part of a new understanding on what it is to be a human being. Issues in this new perspective on selfhood included the construction of a new vocabulary, the construction of self through body modification, post-modern forms of knowledge and Levy’s concept of collective intelligence. Hernwall is leading several new projects conducting researching on these issues.
Ken Knoespel made clear his belief in the “vital importance of the school system” in relation to the theme “Digital Artefacts and/as Cyborg” and his departure point was Donna Haroway’s now classic The Cyborg Manifesto from 1991. Knoespel’s landed us in the history of the cyborg with the question “Are digital artefacts schizophrenic?”
Well let’s ask Descartes Doll:
In 1649 Ren