Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal

  1. "Technoprecarious" (@GoldsmithsPress and @mitpress), by Precarity Lab (the team includes @lnakamur, @kaiy1ng, @mckenziewark, @cassius_a, @chipkalii, Iván Chaar López, Anna Watkins Fisher, Meryem Kamil, Silvia Lindtner, Cengiz Salman, and Jackie Wang)

  2. "Uncertain Archives: Critical Keywords for Big Data" (@MITPress), edited by @NThylstrup, Daniela Agostinho, Annie Ring, Catherine D’Ignazio, and Kristin Veel. It has contributions by 70+ scholars and makers. Look at this table of contents: https://direct.mit.edu/books/book/5002/Uncertain-ArchivesCritical-Keywords-for-Big-Data….

Taking these three volumes as my central objects, this piece makes a number of observations. I note, for example, patterns of academic engagement with technology and how 90s utopia morphed into 00s and 10s counterprogrammatic hope that is now giving way to anger today.

I make some taxonomic claims about the difference between writing about "technology and X" or "technology in X," usually, in culturally oriented worlds, showing up as cultural-critical approaches and technocritical approaches where the physical machine is itself under analysis.

This leads me to chart a kind of rudimentary (let's call it an alpha version) matrix of technology criticism and what we do well (a lot) and what we still need to be better at (also probably a lot).

I reflect on the relationship between ideologiekritik and technology critique and what it means to critique a material (a physical machine) vs a symbolic (a literary text, for example) object.

I also briefly reflect on who is writing for whom these days and what does it mean for disciplinarians to be wearing several hats or to be doing collaborative projects (as all these volumes under review show) in an age of academic precarity.

But by and large, my question is inspired by Leo Marx's canonical breakdown—in etymology and in history—of the word technology: all that it captures and all that it obfuscates. I argue that we need to look for causal clarity+precision, and strongly delineate our criticism today.

It was an absolute pleasure to 'think with' (more on that in the essay) these excellent volumes. Kudos to all the editors, authors, and contributors all their work. And many, many thanks to the @amlitjournal editorial team, especially @ritaraley and @j_s_rhee for their advice.

Also, special thanks to Sahana Srinivasan and Jacob Hagelberg for their inputs on the piece.

Here are some last few words of the essay, just to provide a closing vibe. You can find the essay at https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-10575091…, or email me (rdhaliwa at nd DOT edu) for a copy if you don't have institutional access!

Also check out other contributions in the special issue, ft. @haltingproblem, @tunghui, @confessant, @_tshoemaker, @me1odiousone, @jd_schnepf, @lindsaycthomas, @luke_stark + others wisely not on twitter.

Jun 10

Tweet by @ranjodhd


in the late 2000s there was a failed academic landgrab in the digital humanities called "critical code studies", where non-programmers tried to conduct critical readings of code snippets. it went about as well as you would expect gonna post some of my fav quotes in this thread

"Efficiency is more than the end of computational practice, more than a God, more than an exquisite delight, it is the chimera, the holy grail, the pwnership, the rad ollie, the be all and end all of most programming challenges" http://web.archive.org/web/20140419125509/http://criticalcodestudies.com/wordpress/2009/09/18/on-efficiency/…

"colonize code's virgin soil" https://web.archive.org/web/20130701112334/http://electronicbookreview.com/thread/firstperson/recoded…

"I suggested Quicksort as a metaphor for social organization in communities, drawing out an analogy for the way a neighborhood street or even highway may serve to divide and conquer a demographic" https://web.archive.org/web/20130704150230/http://electronicbookreview.com/thread/electropoetics/codology…
(this is the official CCS manifesto)

this was later dubbed "the programmer's objection" so that it could be dismissed without actually addressing it https://web.archive.org/web/20230201183842/https://electronicbookreview.com/essay/critical-code-studies-conference-week-one-discussion/…

tbh, even when the point they are trying to make is totally inane, they can still write http://web.archive.org/web/20140603211028/https://criticalcodestudies.com/wordpress/2011/06/19/what-does-it-mean-to-interpret-code/#4…

a critical reading of the Anna Kournikova virus https://web.archive.org/web/20230201183842/https://electronicbookreview.com/essay/critical-code-studies-conference-week-one-discussion/…

this is a fun critique of the whole project, which of course was completely ignored http://web.archive.org/web/20080818183447/http://clc.as.wvu.edu:8080/clc/position_papers/cayley_codework.pdf…

1:46 PM · May 28, 2023

David R. MacIver

I remain extremely confused that people are under the impression that Apple is good at UX.

"Which of the three modifier keys do I have to use for each of the five different ways of switching between open windows, none of which actually do a reasonable thing?" is not a question you have to ask on an operating system made by people who are good at UX.

Anyway I've recently finally given in and switched over to a mac and it's mostly more or less fine and the hardware is very nice, but the window switching system(s!) seems to have been designed by some sort of insane sadist who thinks switching windows is a sin.

This sortof reminds me of how people think mercurial has better UX than git, which is true if you measure UX by lack of sharp edges and the presence of round corners and pastel colours, but false if you think having five different conceptually distinct notions of branch is bad UX

I'm aware that everyone's solution on the window switching thing is to give up on using the keyboard and just use three finger swipe but: 1. I hate this, for a variety of reasons. It is much worse than good keyboard navigation.
2. Having so many bad ways is still not good UX.

BTW I settled on ctrl-left and ctrl-right to navigate between spaces and manually putting my spaces in the right order as the least offensive option. It's nearly but almost not quite half as good as the way alt-tab works on any civilised operating system.

ctrl-left and ctrl-right are of course a ridiculous choice for this, which should clearly be cmd-left and cmd-right, both conceptually and so as to not clash with the significant amount of other usage of ctrl-left and ctrl-right.

That's OK! I'll change it. I'll just go to the unified place where all your operating system level keyboard shortcuts are managed. A thing that definitely exists... right, Apple? I don't have to magically intuit the feature name and use your broken settings search to change it?

I'm aware that all of this is because I'm new to the system and that I'll at some point get used to all this crap. But that's exactly the point where you notice bad UX. The fact that you can get used to bad software doesn't make it good. I mean FFS we're on Twitter aren't we?

BTW the answer on the ctrl-left/ctrl-right thing is that you need to go to the mission control settings, select keyboard shortcuts, and then expand the submenu in the mission control settings named "mission control" and then you can change the shortcut.

(Don't worry BTW, I'm not going to claim Windows or Linux have good UX in the general case. They're bad too. But they're bad in different ways, and I'm just astonished that keyboard shortcuts and basic window management are not something Apple thinks it's worth being good at)