Week 4

I study both science and arts and I am actually taking an ecology course this session, so the topic of media ecologies struck a particular chord with me. Though several definitions were offered, the one that made the most sense to me, perhaps because of my scientific background, was media ecology “as the study of complex communication systems as environments” (Media Ecology Association, date unknown). As media become more woven into our everyday lives this definition seems particularly relevant, and an area worthy of study. Media follow us home, to the bathroom and live on our bodies almost constantly, so the idea of this being ecological, something looking at the relationships of organisms to each other and their environments, is not so outlandish.

I feel like this point relates closely to this week’s theme, the extension of the mind and the externalization of memory – but then again, is it really externalization if that technology is part of our memory? (Chalmers, 2009) It seems to me that the main hypothesis of the Anamnesis and Hypomnesis reading (Stiegler, n. d.), that “We exteriorize in contemporary mnemotechnical equipment more and more cognitive functions, and correlatively we are losing more and more knowledge which is then delegated to equipment” and that of David Chalmers and co. – “when parts of the environment are coupled to a cognitive system in the right way they become part of the mind” (2009) – are at odds in attitude, if not completely in logistics. I think it’s important to note that Chalmers says mind, not brain. We are not yet at the stage of plugging USB stick into our skulls, but perhaps we are moving to the point where we can be more flexible about where thinking happens and how we think and use media on our bodies and media ecologies to do so. I feel like this was the reason for the inclusion of “Does Thinking Happen in the Brain,”  and it’s something I have always taken for granted, that my self is lodged firmly in my brain, so the idea that “We make consciousness dynamically, in our exchange with the world around us” (Noë, 2010) was fascinating. Have we all become intellectually schizophrenic, bouncing ideas off the media that surround us like they are another person? Perhaps we are proving Plato wrong, and thanks to the dynamic abilities of new media writing is finally able to argue back. Even if it’s only an argument with yourself.

While I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that my iPhone could be considered part of my mind, I think it is the better attitude, opposed to the slightly doom and gloom of “ [we are losing our] know-how-to-live-well.” Also, I love Chalmer’s (2009) term “internalist chauvinism.” He gets points for that. I think this might be an area I would like to conduct further research into, this move away from the internal to the external, how this is facilitated and what is means for how we relate to each other and our environment. Which actually sounds a lot like ecology, doesn’t it?

Sources:

Stiegler, Bernard (n.d.) ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation’ <http://arsindustrialis.org/anamnesis-and-hypomnesis> [18 March 2011]

Chalmers, David (2009) ‘The Extended Mind Revisited’ <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S149IVHhmc> [18 march 2011]

Media Ecology Association (date unknown) ‘What is Media Ecology’ <http://www.media-ecology.org/media_ecology/> [18 March 2011]

Noë, Alva (2010) ‘Does thinking happen in the brain?’, 13:7 Cosmos and Culture <http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/12/10/131945848/does-thinking-happen-in-the-brain> [18 March 2011]

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