Notes: Interface Effect

Galloway’s “Interface Effect” covered numerous topics related to how we interface and interact with technology and mediation, the notion of the computer as ethic intrigued me. He explains, “Note therefore that mine is not a personification of the machine, but rather an anti-anthropocentrism of the realm of practice.” I find this provocation interesting because it disrupts the notion of technology as mere tool that we have discussed in class. Rather than thinking of technology as inherently liberatory or even as a tool that we can use for our own means, it makes me rethink how computers function against the human beyond good or bad. In other words, computers and this type of mediated interfacing can be carried out on their own terms. It is not that the human interaction instantiates the computer’s mediation, but that computers can be on their own. Yet, this being, Galloway points out, is still relegated to the realm of object-ness and they are subject to definition and manipulation. They may be on their own, but computers cannot necessarily act on their own. 

One contention I find with the computer as ethic is the distinction Galloway draws with language. He says that language works to mainly be descriptive and referential. For him, it seems to be a simply semiotic system whereas a calculus is something that pushes towards action. Indeed, language can be a way in which we “encode the world,” but language can also stimulate and provoke in the way he describes the calculus does. Language does not simply describe a one-to-one system, and it can contain more nuances that works like a method where there is a system of reasoning. Although the system may be more flexible and subject to transformation, language systems follow certain forms of logic. And so, one could work through language much in a similar way as a calculus. 


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