#rp19 speaker Sybille Krämer: The "cultural technique of flattening"
Sybille Krämer teaches philosophy at Freie Universität Berlin. She calls for a new digital awareness and a renewed consciousness of our handling of letters. Because ultimately, algorithms have emerged from script and writing too.
Sybille Krämer's fields of work encompass epistemology, rationalism, media philosophy, and the theory of cultural techniques. She was a visiting professor at the universities of Tokyo, Vienna, Graz, Zurich and Lucerne and a member of the Scientific Council and the Scientific Committee of the European Research Council in Brussels.
tl;dr - 3 questions to ... Sybille Krämer
What are you currently working on that will be part of your talk at #rp19?
From cave painting to skin tattoos, to pictures, writings, diagrams, maps, computer screens and smartphones, the 'cultural technique of flattening' is a recurring theme in human history: many arts (choreography, music notation, scripts), all sciences as well as technical-architectural activities and social communication (documents, mails) would be inconceivable without this invention of flat surfaces that can be inscribed and illustrated. The creative trick of the artificial surface is to ease the lifeworldly 'behind', which in our three body axes right/left, top/bottom, front/rear, gives off the unseen and uncontrollable depth: Only right/left, top/bottom are projected onto the surface as an ordering matrix. The result is a flexible, seemingly completely controllable two-dimensional space without which the progress of technical civilizations would not be possible. But what happens when we replace the printed paper with a network-connected interface? The thesis is that an uncontrollable dimension of depth returns as a result of the rhizome-like proliferation of protocols, algorithms and machines that interact without user access.
This year's motto is 'tl;dr' (too long; didn't read). Which topic close to your heart most suffers from simplification and abbreviation?
Only one aspect of many: The problem is the loss of time due to the triumph of 'digital instantaneity': the cultural technique of script, i.e. writing/reading, slows down our use of language. In this way, reflexive and critical distance is gained from what we say in writing and what we interpret in reading. 'Deceleration' is a source of intellectuality and understanding. As soon as digitality shrinks the time interval between writing and saying, reading and understanding to a minimum, an everyday expectation of 'immediately and straight away and always only the newest just produced' is generated, an attitude that can infiltrate, if not sabotage insight and criticism.
In the spirit of tl;dr: What are your latest must-reads/must-watches?
Still unsurpassedly informative: Stephen Ramsay: Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism, Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2011.
Also technical: Tim Berner-Lee's new attempts at developing a web architecture (open source) that allows us to regain some sovereignty over our data.
Find Sybille Krämer's session here.