Critical Writing
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Cybertexts are the pairs of utterance-message and feedback-response that pass from speaker-writer to listener-reader, and back, through a channel awash with noise. Cybertextuality is a broad theory of communication that draws on the cybernetics of Norbert Wiener (1894-1964) to describe how we manage these dual message-feedback cybertexts into being and that helps explain the publishing, the transmission, and the reception of all speech and text. Recursiveness, complexity, and homeostasis are three principles of cybertextuality. Because we are cognitively blind to how we create most utterances (language belongs to procedural memory, which can be recalled only by enacting it), we unselfconsciously model even our own language acts (not just ones by other people) simply in order to recognize and revise them. We observe or receive our own language acts before anyone else does. Our feedback is to represent those acts meaningfully. Mental modelling, as a feedback mechanism, is recursive. Our every utterance or output serves as input to another (possibly silent) uttering. Messaging-feedback is also complex. It operates cognitively on phonetic, lexical, grammatical, semantic, and discourse levels of language and often handles different utterances simultaneously. However, cybertextual cycling serves us well. It is a dynamic, self-regulating (what is termed homeostatic) steering mechanism. Using it, we can manage our language creation just as James Watt’s flyball governor controls a steam engine. We can observe this cybertextual self-regulation in our mind’s working memory as well as in the many language technologies -- manuscript, printed book, word-processor -- we have built to extend the very limited capacity of that working memory. Digital infrastructure offers, in some ways, a better cybertextual avatar for communication than supplied by our own mind.

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Alvaro Seica