Switching Codes: Thinking Through Digital Technology in the Humanities and the Arts

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Half a century into the digital era, the profound impact of information technology on intellectual and cultural life is universally acknowledged but still poorly understood. The sheer complexity of the technology coupled with the rapid pace of change makes it increasingly difficult to establish common ground and to promote thoughtful discussion. 

Responding to this challenge, Switching Codes brings together leading American and European scholars, scientists, and artists—including Charles Bernstein, Ian Foster, Bruno Latour, Alan Liu, and Richard Powers—to consider how the precipitous growth of digital information and its associated technologies are transforming the ways we think and act. Employing a wide range of forms, including essay, dialogue, short fiction, and game design, this book aims to model and foster discussion between IT specialists, who typically have scant training in the humanities or traditional arts, and scholars and artists, who often understand little about the technologies that are so radically transforming their fields.

(Source: University of Chicago Press catalog)






Thomas Bartscherer and Roderick Coover


I. Research, Sense, Structure

How Computation Changes Research

Ian Foster

We Digital Sensemakers

Mark Stefik

Scholarsource: A Digital Infrastructure for the Humanities

Paolo D’Iorio and Michele Barbera


“We Will Really Know”

Alan Liu


On Scholarship

Graham White


II. Ontology, Semantic Web, Creativity

Switching Partners: Dancing with the Ontological Engineers

Werner Ceusters and Barry Smith


The Semantic Web from the Bottom Up

James Hendler

Logical Induction, Machine Learning, and Human Creativity

Jean-Gabriel Ganascia


Relating Modes of Thought

William J. Clancey

Intelligence and the Limits of Codes

Albert Borgmann



Figment: The Switching Codes Game

Eric Zimmerman


III. Panorama, Interactivity, Embodiment

The Digital Panorama and Cinemascapes

Roderick Coover

Re-place: The Embodiment of Virtual Space

Jeffrey Shaw, Sarah Kenderdine, and Roderick Coover


Rewiring Culture, the Brain, and Digital Media

Vibeke Sorensen


IV. Re/presentations: Language and Facsimile


Electronic Linguistics

George Quasha in dialogue with Gary Hill


The Migration of the Aura, or How to Explore the Original through Its Facsimiles

Bruno Latour and Adam Lowe


The Truth in Versions

Charles Bernstein

Pamphlets, Paintings, and Programs: Faithful Reproduction and Untidy Generativity in the Physical and Digital Domains

Judith Donath



Enquire Within upon Everything

Richard Powers

List of Contributors



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Scott Rettberg