[-empyre-] benefits of practice to conventional research / could gamification save academia?

Lasse Scherffig lscherff at khm.de
Wed Feb 22 21:14:43 EST 2012

Oh! Lot's of interesting points. Let me start with gamification.

Gabriel Menotti wrote:

> I wonder if there is any lesson about the relation between media
> art/theory and “the sciences” that we could take from this delay. Is
> one domain fated to lag behind the other’s insights, adopting them as
> late models? Or is the “longer time” media art/theory is “spending”
> with cybernetics able to bring out new things from it?

I guess it's not that simple. In cognitive science itself there has been 
a small tradition of sustaining Cybernetic heritage, personified by 
Francisco Varela. And since the 1990s, embodiment, the question of 
sensorimotor-loops (which was, btw, raised by Noë who was mentioned here 
by Gordana) and today enactivism can be seen as revivals of Cybernetics 
in the sciences. Interestingly though, until very recently these 
developments have only been Cybernetic by structure, not by name (mainly 
because it carried the smell of a hype from the past).

> I’ve seen the exhibition and enjoyed it quite a lot. Didn’t know it
> was a recent undertaking. What benefits do you think this practical
> work is bringing to your research process?

I generally feel uneasy with talking about "benefits" of artistic 
research, much in line with Sollfranks conceptualization of it as a 
field different from scientific research. But of course both "inform" 
each other to some extend. In this particular case I understood from the 
experiments that the "objects" on a game's screen do not exist in the 
loops we created, although they exist (a) in code and (b) for us, i.e. 
as sign and signal. The game, however, functions without them.

> Is there any connection that might be established between this
> criticism of pedagogy and the learning process that is entailed by a
> PhD investigation?
> (Or rather: could gamification be a solution for academia?)

Wait: Isn't the economization of academia through impact points and 
evaluations exactly what gamification is about? But fortunately, News of 
the World is a nice example of circular causality because it bends the 
very rules that produced it (the demand for peer reviewed publishing). 
If gamification is to "save" academia, I think it should be through 
playing against it (think of speedruns and meta-gaming).


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