Re: [-empyre-] Links and Resources -- by Bill Seaman

Hi Bill and Friends:

I would be glad to trade lists of textual resources with you as I would love to learn more about the mathematical theories and practices of the computer as tool for the practice of logic. This interests me from the perspective of history and for theories and practices of using the computer in educational environments, specifically for teaching across the curriculum and for fostering critical thinking.

One of the problems I have with making the work I do is finding the resources to make my art come alive, as with a-life art. I cannot help but think that having a computer scientist to collaborate with would vastly improve what I aim to achieve. In other words, I find that I struggle when I have to pop from my role as artist to my role as coder (to make the art live). It has become easier with practice.

If you would like a MLA-style biblio of the texts to which I often refer in my work in humanities computing (in my case digital writing, photography and art), I would be glad to forward it. My work focuses on the computer as tool for making art. My work is also grounded in the history of art and communications tools and mediums.

N.K. Hayles, by the way, is someone whose thinking I admire. Her book "Writing Machines" is the little text that catapulted me from my safe/known spaces in the print world.

If you want a biblio (note whether you want annotations or not), send a note to

All the best,

----- Original Message ----- From: "Jim Andrews" <>
To: "soft_skinned_space" <>
Sent: Sunday, October 16, 2005 8:48 AM
Subject: RE: [-empyre-] Links and Resources -- by Bill Seaman

Bill Seaman wrote:
I am wondering what  resources that this group is drawing on for
didactic texts to address digital writing?

i don't teach it, but have run across a few texts that seemed obliquely relevant.

most recently, martin davis's 'the universal computer: from leibniz to
turing'. davis is a renowned logician. his book is on the life and work of
several mathematicians/logicians: leibniz, boole, frege, cantor, hilbert,
godel, and turing--arranged chronologically in the progress of "leibniz's
dream" of basically a language of symbolic logic and a machine in which it
could manifest (as "an aide to human reason" whereby when we have a problem
demanding careful attention, we should sit down and say 'let us calculate'
and proceed kachunk kachunk to derive useful truths concerning the problem
using the universalis machinus)--but the reason why i bring it up here
concerns the book's perspective on language as crucial to "leibniz's dream".

computers are *both* language machines and number machines--and the way in
which language and number are synthesized in them is crucial to their
programmability--programmability being what sets computers apart from other
machines, gives them their flexibility compared with other
machines--flexibility to the point where there is never likely to be any
proof that there are thought processes of which humans are capable but
computers are not--that's breathtakingly flexible!

in my own work, intermedia and multimedia are important, but the
fundament--for me, anyways--seems less to me about synthesis of arts and
arts, or arts and media, or media and media so much as number and language,
logic and feeling, or mathematics and poetry, which is where my own folly
first foamed. davis's book is going to be around for a long time as not only
a history of the type of role the mathematicians/logicians played in the
development of the computer (and a compelling piece of writing about the
triumphs and tragedies of the lives of these men) but also as a teaser
concerning the way that, even as far back as leibniz, the development of
machines like computers was conceptualized not simply as an advanced
calculator, but as one in which general reasoning could be carried out.
leibniz thought that if he had about five years with some good help, he
could have formulated the language in that time. that was in the seventeenth
century. but it has taken a bit longer to concoct that sort of language. and
the machine in which it can manifest. put together rationality, process, and
general language capabilities, and the result apparently changes not only
writing but any field it touches. and perhaps in related ways. as i
mentioned earlier, the lettriste isou said that 'each poet will integrate
everything with Everything'--the computer seems devised in the spirit of
that ongoing enterprise.

i should add that i enjoyed your teaching partner's book, bill--'how we
became post human' by k. hayles--as a history of ideas concerning a change
in the images humanity has of humanity (as machine). also, i think one of
the urls you cited, , seems to be
404--would be interested to check that out, actually.


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