Literature: Zeros + Ones by Sadie Plant

zeros and ones

Plant, Sadie. Zeros and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture. London: Fourth Estate, 1997.     



ada / Ada Lovelace / Charles Babbage / The Difference Engine / Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage by Louis Menebrea (1842) / matrices / Ada’s footnotes / hypertext / tensions / networks / “The yarn is neither metaphorical nor literal, but quite simple material, a gathering of threads which twist and turn through the history of computing, technology, the sciences and arts. In and out of the punched holes of automated looms, up and down through the ages of spinning and weaving, back and forth through the fabrication of fabrics, shuttles and looms, cotton and silk, canvas and paper, brushes and pens, typewriters, carriages, telephone wires, synthetic fibers, electrical filaments, silicon strands, fiber-optic cables, pixeled screens, telecom lines, the World Wide Web, the Net, and matrices to come.” (p. 12) / on the cards / Joseph Marie Jacquard / The Jacquard loom / The Economy of Manufactures and Machinery by Babbage (1832) / The Analytical Engine / second sight / Difference Engine vs. Analytical Engine / Adding machine vs. programmable calculator / anna 1 / Sigmund Freud: “It seems that women have made few contributions to the inventions and discoveries of the history of civilization.” (p. 23) / Anna Freud / gambling on the future / Ada and hysteria / hysteria = wandering womb / binaries / zero and one, on and off, right and left, light and dark, form and matter, mind and body… man and woman (p. 34) / “It takes two to make a binary, but all these pairs are two of a kind, and the kind is always kind of one.” (p. 35) / supporting evidence / man organized, woman operated / mundane, fiddling, detailed, repetitive, semiautomatic jobs for women / women as infrastructure / sewing seams, working on looms and sewing machines, assembling the miniaturized circuits of silicon chips, writing software / genderquake / 1990s’ shift in all sexual matters / women with unprecedented economic opportunities, technical skills, cultural powers, and highly rated qualities / automation and “feminization of the workforce” (p. 39) / “the more sophisticated the machines, the more female the workforce becomes.” (p. 39) / cultures / complexity / “…the realization that cultures cannot be shaped or determined by any single hand or determining factor.” (p. 45) / nets / new distributed nonlinear world / new modes of information circulation / digits / Al-gebr we’l mukabala / notation and calculation / abacus / 123456789 and 0 / new (Western) arithmetic / the complexity of zero / sign of absence, nonbeing, nothingness / holes / zero is something / punched cards / a hole is one, a blank is zero / not holes and holes / not nothing and nothing / “holes themselves are never simply absences of positive things.” (p. 57) / cyborg manifestos / Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (1949) / Les Guérillères by Monique Wittig (1969) / This Sex Which Is Not One by Luce Irigaray (1977) / A Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway (1983) / “subversive female enthusiasm for the new networks and machines” (p. 59) / programming language / Ada, the first programming language by the United States Department of Defense’s High Order Language Working Group (1979) / shuttle systems / “…the spindle and the wheel used in spinning yarn are the basis of all later axles, wheels, and rotations; the interlaced threads of the loom compose the most abstract processes of fabrication. Textiles themselves are very literally the softwares linings of all technology.” (p. 61) / Homespun yarn as the first cottage industry / “…an obsessive, addictive quality to the spinning of yarn and weaving of cloth…” (p. 62) / Leonardo da Vinci’s textile machines / the first manufactory in the Derwent near Derby / John Heathcole’s patented lace making machine / “Information can be stored on cloth by means of the meaningful messages and images […] but data can also be woven in far more pragmatic and immediate ways. A piece of work so absorbing as a cloth is saturated with the thoughts of people who produced it, each of whom can flash straight back to whatever they were thinking as they worked.” (p. 66) / tactile depth of woven cloth / casting on / spinning, performed far from light / stories of witch cults written by the hunters / flight / Ada and flyology / virtual aliens / young female women at electronics assembly jobs / “If she hasn’t had a hand in anything, her fingerprints are everywhere.” (p. 75) / telephone lines, dials, operators, cables, tones, switches, plugs, keys, carriages, typewriters, punched card programs of calculators, pianolas, looms, flying shuttles, spinning wheels / female fingerprints / The Engineer’s Pocket Handbook by Bernard Forest (1755) / “the artisans, technicians, engineers whose work is more akin to “a collection of recipes drawn from craftsmen’s experience” than a tale of steady progress to some well-established end, and has “somehow or other evolved unhurriedly” by means of its own peculiar trials and errors, improvisations and accidents.” (p. 78) / diagrams / Alan Turing / The Universal Machine (1936-1937) / eve 1 / clockwork automata / John Merlin / Musical Lady / Chess-Playing Turk / Thomas Edison / Hadaly / Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1926) / masterpieces / highly programmed slave machines that would backfire / self-replicating cellular automata / A.I. / machines smart enough to copy a singular human process, but not smarter than human / trials / Eliza (1966) / Joseph Weizenbaum / errors / Bladerunner (1984) / eve 8 / a renegade with no self, no desire of her own / case study / Foucault / “Man is neither a natural fact nor a product of his own creativity, but a cyborg even then, an android straight off the production lines of modernity’s disciplines.” (p. 99) / self-control, self-discipline, the finest achievements of modern power / what eve 8 next / Turing and the apple / homosexuality / gay men as too female people / monster 1 / Mary Shelley / Frankenstein (1818) / assumed to be written by a male author / robotics / assembly line / 1990s robots are judged in terms of their humanoid behavior and appearance / machines are dismissed as mere tools, instruments / learning curves / women as tools and instruments, bits, parts and commodities to be bought and sold / Stepford Wives / economic dependence on men / anna o / hysterical women as oversensitive, self-obsessed, antisocial loners / daydreaming while making needlework and knitting with half their mind / multiples / women are online / switches / first electric lights made of carbonized cotton by Edison and Swan (1870) / synthetic fibers / telegraph / telephones / switching systems / speed queens / the typewriter = improved handwriting clerk / the calculator = improved bookkeeper / male workers replaced by women and machines / “If handwriting had been manual and male, typewriting was fingerprinting: fast, tactile, digital and female.” (p. 118) / the secretary / the female telephone switching system / secrets / girl-less automatic switching system / grass / rhizome / automata / microprocessing / rhythm and monotony / half the mind on the task / bugs / Grace Hopper / moth in the machine / bug, debug / disorders / identity disorder / multiple personalities / amazone / beginning again / Amazons’ techniques of war / grapevines / “…technologies geared towards regulation, containment, command, and control, can turn out to be feeding into the collapse of everything they once supported.” (p. 143) / enigmas / Klara von Neumann, Adele Goldstine, Betty Jennings, Frances Bilas, Joan Murray, Vivienne Alford, Diana Payne, Carmen Blacker / monster 2 / the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator programmed by Grace Hopper (1943) / marriage wows / Asimov’s laws of robotics / spelling / Ada, theory and practical experiments / hysteresis / with the computer calculation exceeds the speed of human brain / cybernetics / Norbert Wiener / Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (1948) / open systems are determined by staying the same / sea change / turbulence as the coherent behavior of millions and millions of molecules / scattered brains / “The brain is body, extending even to fingertips…” (p. 167) / “…brains are not centralized systems of information processing. They are not unified entities, but hives or swarms of elements, interconnected multiplicities, packet-switching systems of enormous complexity which have no centralized government.” (p. 167) / a complex network of chemical switches / linking / learning = growth and mutation / neurotics / artificial intelligence research towards self-organizing networks / Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts / Frank Rosenblatt / perceptrons / the Net / a sprawling, anarchic mesh of links / intelligence as a bottom-up process of trial and error, learning for itself / intuition / hidden realities / “Intelligent life can no longer be monopolized. […] the body is complicating, replicating, escaping its formal organization, the organized organs which modernity has taken for normality.” (p. 177) / cave man / the body and the soul / Socrates / body as inconvenience / the story of the cave / virtual reality / cyberspace / a space without bodies and material constraints / sexualized hardware and software / hooked / technology as not a mere prostheses / bodies are continually reengineered / interior and exterior worlds / Videodrome / Strange Days / tact / tactility of multimedia / “Elias Canetti defines all tools as more or less sophisticated variations on the simple theme of the stick, “the weapon which lay nearest to hand.” It was a cudgel, a spear, and a hammer, and “through all these transformations it remained what it had been originally: an instrument to create distance, something which kept away from men the touch and the grasp that they feared.”” (p. 186) / touch, the sense of proximity / sight, the sense of separation / women and tactility / female photograph, video and media artists / computer as an electronic loom / cyberflesh / Linda Dement / Tales of Typhoid Mary / Cyberflesh Girlmonster / not an artist, but a software engineer / mona lisa overdrive / artistic genius, authorial authority, originality, and creativity as matters of software engineering / Mona Lisa’s symbolic value / multidisciplinary research / runaway / female sexuality as a matter of regulation and control / passing / boundary between male and female / man and machine / “becoming woman” / Deleuze and Guattari / chemicals / late 18th Century’s binary biology / hormones / transition / differences between sexes becoming matters of degree / xyz / reproductive sex / the sex chromosome / the peahen’s tale / Darwin / natural selection / sexual selection as a matter of specifically female choice / loops / the egg and the sperm / symbionts / single-celled prokaryotes / bacteria / eve 2 / DNA / pottering / the study of botany as women’s profession / British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions by Anna Atkins (1843) / Beatrix Potter / mutants / genetic engineering simulating bacterial replication / wetware / the sea / submarine living / land-based fluids / dryware / man, the land and the ocean / silicon / “How long is the coast of Britain?” / fractals / “Five hundred years of modernity fades when the weaving of bamboo mats converges with the manufacture of computer games in the streets of Bangkok, Taipei, and Shanghai. The silicon links were already there.” (p. 253) / quanta / quantum mechanics / “Miniaturization and speed continue on their exponential ways in the direction of superconductors and optical transistors; logic gates can be composed of ion traps, and pulsing electrons make the on-off switch. But if computing continues, in becoming quantum it also passes through an unknown and indeterminable phase change of its own.” (p. 255) / casting off

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