Handout: King, Keynote 2 -- talk website: http://worldsenough.blogspot.

com/ Computers and Writing 2013: Mechanization and Writing; Frostburg State University, Frostburg, Maryland, 7 June 2013 Living in enough worlds at the same time: speculative feminisms amid boundary objects Katie King, Women's Studies, University of Maryland, College Park / Email: katking@umd.edu Home Page: http://katiekin.weebly.com/ ; follow on twitter @katkingumd ; pinterest talksite: http://pinterest.com/katkingumd/talksites/
Star 2010:610: “As I delved deeper into the relations between developers and users, it became clear that a kind of communicative tangle was occurring. I used the work of Gregory Bateson, who had studied these sorts of communicative mishaps under the heading of ʻdouble binds.ʼ As with Batesonʼs work on schizophrenics, and what he called ʻthe trans-contextual syndrome,ʼ the messages that were coming at level one from the systems developers were not being heard on that level by the users and vice versa. What was obvious to one was a mystery to another. What was trivial to one was a barrier to another. Yet, clarifying this was never easy…. I began to see this as a problem of infrastructure—and its relative nature.”

NEPANTLERAS, WIZARDS, ENOUGH WORLDS, GRACE, AND PERIPHERAL PARTICIPATIONS • “I use the word nepantla to theorize liminality and to talk about those who facilitate passages between worlds, whom I’ve named nepantleras.” (Anzalduá 2002:1) • “These are what I refer to as ‘wizards’: that is, they are both repositories of local knowledge about the social and technical situations, and simultaneously, they know enough of more than one layer to perform rare cross-layering coordination. By definition, this work is ‘interdisciplinary’….” (Star 1995:107) • “I guess I’d locate my hope in being part of enough different worlds simultaneously. . . . I’ve tried to model a way of being in this kind of an organization that makes sense to me. It makes sense to me in the ways that it’s been formed by all these other worlds that I’m part of.” (Suchman & Scharmer 1999) • "Differential consciousness requires grace, flexibility, and strength: enough strength to confidently commit to a well-defined structure of identity for one hour, day, week, month, year; enough flexibility to self-consciously transform that identity according to the requisites of another oppositional ideological tactic if readings of power's formation require it; enough grace to recognize alliance with others committed to egalitarian social relations and race, gender, sex, class, and social justice, when these other readings of power call for alternative oppositional stands." (Sandoval 2000:60) • “People often cannot see what they take for granted until they encounter someone who does not take it for granted.” (Bowker and Star 1999:305) A DESIGN FICTION: (very) roughly 5000 years ago in (at least) two segmenting ecologies on our planet humans messed around with some cognitive companions, each coordinating multiple agencies characteristically. • In Mesopotamia tiny clay token sheep were enclosed in clay envelopes with markings indicating what was inside. • In the Andes strings were wrapped around sticks and attached to a main cord. In the first case the favored sensory technology for making was molding and inscribing clay. Worlds set into motion from this sort of making eventually sustain what some consider “true writing”: that is to say, writing that companions preferentially with language. In the second case makings involved spinning plant and animal fiber and feeling, tying, and untying knots. Worlds set into motion there eventually sustain a different sort of writing, one said to be “without words” (Boone 1994), instead preferentially coordinating actions and practices directly as their very ecologies. • “How do you entangle design, science, fact and fiction in order to create this practice called ‘design fiction’ that, hopefully, provides different, undisciplined ways of envisioning new kinds of environments, artifacts and practices.... Design Fiction is making things that tell stories. It’s like science-fiction in that the stories bring into focus certain matters-of-concern, such as how life is lived, questioning how technology is used and its implications, speculating bout the course of events; all of the unique abilities of science-fiction to incite imagination-filling conversations about alternative futures. ...It’s meant to encourage truly undisciplined approaches to making and circulating culture by ignoring disciplines that have invested so much in erecting boundaries between pragmatics and imagination.” (Bleecker 2009) SF – scientifiction, science fiction, speculative fiction, speculative feminisms, science communication and fabulation, wormholes & the plasticities of embedded realities – ecological across systems and multiplicities, amid emergent self-organizing agencies

TRANSCONTEXTUAL (Star & Ruhleder 1996:127 quote Bateson 1972:276; Bateson:272; Star 2010: 610) • phrases quoted from Bateson: "genesis of tangles," "the weave of contextual structure," and "transcontextual syndrome” • More Bateson: “It seems that both those whose life is enriched by transcontextual gifts and those who are impoverished by transcontextual confusions are alike in one respect: for them there is always or often a ‘double take.’ A falling leaf [or] the greeting of a friend…is not ‘just that and nothing more.’” • Being inside and moved around literally by the very material and conceptual structures you are analyzing and writing about is a kind of self-consciousness only partially available for explicit, or direct discussion • Under global academic restructuring we are obliged to network among all these lively agencies, as we look to see things as they exist for others, in different degrees of resolution, of grain of detail.

SPECULATING, THEORIZING, STRINGING ALONG WITH URTON Urton explores what materials we have on Andean string records, looking for something(s) like a decompiler to make transformations from the seven-bit binary codes of the string records themselves to the high-level Quechua language of administration in the Inka empire, in order to begin an extended collective process in which he hopes with others to translate the quantity of information he argues knotted string records hold in a range of binary code possibilities. At least 1536 unique units, he calculates, comparable to the sign capacities of early cuneiform, Shang Chinese ideograms, and Egyptian and Mayan hieroglyphs.[v] Urton believes this alternate set of transformations—comparable and contrasting with those analogic ones that translate string records into numerical accounts or into maps—might reveal histories and narratives. And the seven-bit binary codes of the khipu would not be read directly, not even if we had the code book to the meanings of the 0/1 choices of material (cotton or wool), color class (red or dark rainbow), spin/ply relations (z-clockwise/s-counterclockwise or s/z), pendant attachment (recto or verso ties), knot directionality (z or s), number class (ch'ulla-odd or chi'ullantin-even), and information type (decimal or nondecimal).[vi] Urton muses: "How could one 'write' using strings, knots, and colors, rather than pen, paper, and graphemes?"[vii] Stringing along with Urton we find out that binary coding is especially meaningful because Andean social organization and conceptual systems are structured within moieties and dualities. Urton thus makes it possible to use both operations specific to digital understanding (in either/or choices) and operations specific to analogic understanding (more like maps which draw analogies between territories and representations), not privileging one over the other or needlessly polarizing them. It is this kind of action that the game of cat's cradle is good for engaging. Theorists such as Walter Mignolo have properly criticized too easy, facile analogies with the Book in investigating New World "sign carriers."[viii] But this kind of particularism, being locally very specific, is not the only corrective for such errors; scholars still need analogically global terms in order to translate and theorize across and beyond communities of scholarly practice, between and beyond disciplines. Local and global do not have to be either/or intellectual choices; instead they can be disclosed and used as multiple and relational, layered and distributed. [ix] USE DIFFERENT PARTS OF SENSORIUM TO GRASP DIFFERENT VARIABLES Salomon points out “the fact that data can be formulated as speech is not the point. The quipocamayo process would have compacted social process into an impressively data-dense medium whose clarity did not depend on expansion into words.” (Salomon 2001:266) In chapter after chapter Solomon teaches us how to understand in detail a highly complex and multiply embedded Andean system of social organization, • both hierarchical but also contingently collective among possible groupings; one with • different kinds of interactivities possible with each range of connection in attention, as well as • altered in cycles that do not recur in any simple way; and one • always imperfectly “known,” in any time period, to any set of people, both cooperative but also idiosyncratic. He calls khipu in this context “reciprocity made visible” (279), but means by this something more variantly sensible than vision as they “allow one to use different parts of the sensorium for grasping the different variables.” (281) Some references [more online: http://worldsenough.blogspot.com/p/bibliography.html]:
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Anzaldúa, G. 2002. (Un)natural bridges. In eds. Anzaldúa, G. & Keating, A. this bridge we call home, pp. 1-5. Routledge. Ascher, M., & Ascher, R. 1978. Code of the Quipu: Databooks I and II. http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/research/quipu-ascher/ Ascher, M., & Ascher, R. 1981. Code of the quipu: a study in media, mathematics, and culture. Michigan. Bateson, G. 1972. Double Bind, 1969. In Steps, 276, 272. Bateson, G. 1972. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chandler. Bateson, G. 1979. Mind and Nature. Dutton Bleecker, J. 2009. Design Fiction: A Short Essay on Design, Science, Fact and Fiction. http://nearfuturelaboratory.com/2009/03/17/design-fiction-a-short-essayon-design-science-fact-and-fiction/ Boone, E. H., & Mignolo, W. (Eds.). 1994. Writing without words: alternative literacies in Mesoamerica and the Andes. Duke. Bowker, G. C., & Star, S. L. 1999. Sorting things out: classification and its consequences. MIT. Brokaw, G. 2010. Indigenous American Polygraphy and the Dialogic Model of Media. Ethnohistory, 57(1), 117-133. Brokaw, G. 2010. A history of the khipu. Cambridge. Clarke, A. 2010. In Memoriam: Susan Leigh Star. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 35(5), 581-600. Latour, B. 1993 [1991]. We have never been modern (C. Porter, Trans.). Harvard. Salomon, F. 2001. How an Andean "Writing Without Words" Works. Current Anthropology, 42(1), 1-27. Salomon, F. 2004. The cord keepers: khipus and cultural life in a Peruvian village. Duke. Schmandt-Besserat, D. 1992. Before writing. Texas. Star, S.L. & Ruhleder, K. 1996. Steps toward an ecology of infrastructure. Information Systems Research 7(1), 127. Star, S.L. 2010. This is Not a Boundary Object. Science, Technology & Human Values, 35/5: 601-617. Star, S.L., 1999. The Ethnography of Infrastructure. American Behavioral Scientist (Nov/Dec) 43/3, 377-392. Star, S.L., ed. 1995. Ecologies of Knowledge: Work and politics in science and technology. SUNY. Suchman, L. & Scharmer, C.O. 1999. I have, more than ever, a sense of the immovability of these institutions. http://www.dialogonleadership.org/interviews/Suchman.shtml Urton, G. 2003. Signs of the Inka Khipu: binary coding in the Andean knotted-string records. Texas.

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