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The Art of Interpretation in the Age of Computation$
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Paul Kockelman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190636531

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190636531.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 December 2021

Secrecy, Poetry, and Being-Free

Secrecy, Poetry, and Being-Free

(p.55) 3 Secrecy, Poetry, and Being-Free
The Art of Interpretation in the Age of Computation

Paul Kockelman

Oxford University Press

This chapter asks two questions: What are some of the secrets of networks? And what might constitute their poetics, an aesthetic means of revealing their secrets? It leverages the relation between codes and channels, delving into two topics that link them: degrees of freedom and secrets. By degrees of freedom is meant the number of independent dimensions needed to specify the state of a system. This chapter argues that even relatively commensurate systems, which have identical degrees of freedom, can have different secrets—understood as inherent symmetries that organize their sense-making capacities. This chapter also shows how channels as well as codes can have inherent secrets (in addition to their ability to keep and reveal secrets in more stereotypic ways). By extending the notion of poetics, it shows how such systems can be made to reveal their secrets. As will be seen, all this is a way of reinterpreting the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (i.e., the idea that the language one speaks affects the way one thinks), such that this hypothesis can be usefully applied to media more generally (such as interfaces, algorithms, infrastructure, and networks).

Keywords:   network secrets, degrees of freedom, channels, codes, poetics, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

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