Shit! Phew. Shit!

I discovered this week that my work computer is defective – it’s been compromised from the outside by nefarious folk with nebulous intentions. Luckily I had the opportunity and presence of mind to back everything up when I began noticing abnormalities. I actually did this with my iRiver, and it’s worth noting that for this purposes it’s definitely superior to the brand leader: disa went thru a similar spat recently and backed all her music up on her office-mates iPOD, only to find that the critter is unwilling to drop it back again. An anti-theft strategy that really punches holes into its utility (for an illuminating discussion on this face spited by needless nose cutting, see here).

Today I moseyed to work with my bag half-open – the zip pops when it’s too full – and I have a strong worry that along the way it ejected my journal, full of piping hot knowledge. I’m hoping to add a second Phew to the post, in the event I return home and find it staring at me from my bedroom floor, but damn! I really have lost my memory – it’s as much that externalized in scripts, notes and mnemonic aids as the stuff inside the noggin, an argument elucidated in Being There, Andy Clark’s great book about the concept of the embodied mind that entered cognitive science sometime in the late 90s (I think; others – notably Eldan – know much more about this than me, having only incompletely read it as an undergrad). Obviously I study the noggin somewhat more, but the truth of it isn’t lost on me. Unlike, I fear, my journal.

So I’m internet/email crippled (I can get basic messages now via my hotmail, but no big attachments, and for that I’ve got to go to a shared room on another floor. The indignity!) and without all my productive notes made this year. So expect extreme erraticism.

One Reply to “Shit! Phew. Shit!”

  1. The idea of tools such as notebooks being efectively a mind-extension goes back to Soviet-era psychologists (certainly Lev Vygotsky in the 1960s, probably others too and quite possibly further back). IIRC at least one of Vygotsky’s publications is referenced in Being There, and I must confess it’s only material I’ve read about or been taught about, as opposed to reading first hand. It is an idea that I find quite persuasive and helpful though. It also sums up very well how I felt when a computer died with 10 days’ of not-backed-up work on it, though fortunately I was able to resurrect that one.

    As an aside, having just read and briefly reviewed a Wired article about political meddling in science, 1960s psychology is a perfect example of how there is no such thing as value-free science and it always reflects values in society and/or government. As a rough caricature, the American psychologists of the time were looking into highly individualistic theories of learning, while their counterparts in the Soviet Union were looking how the individual uses resources outside of the cranium, from artefacts to other minds. A salutory tale, though less shocking than, say, Soviet agricultural science, because at least in this case both groups produced something of value.

    The concept of the embodied/situated mind entered Western cognitive science in the late 90s, in part because it was no longer taboo to take seriously ideas from Soviet scientists, and in part because Soviet science was no longer being kept from the West.

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