Sprache der Dinge – Language of Things

Materialität, Realität und Konfliktivität in Museologie, Archäologie und anderen dinglichen Wissenschaften / Materiality, reality and conflictivity in museology, archaeology and other material sciences


A digital artefact or: the whole world is entangled. #edcmooc


Its been four weeks now and at the “E-Learning & Digital Culture” -mooc we have been through a lot of thinking on how the human & the digital mingle & intertwine. And for weeks now, there has been one word on my mind; calling, teasing, pushing me to inquire further. Its: entanglement. It has already been present at this blog, right from the start: when writing about the concept of the anthropocene or the exposition Human – Object – Jaguar. When talking about the 2013 conference on materiality and things in Berlin. It has always been here, but now it has reached a new level, a clearer perspective.


Collage entanglements sprachederdingeblog

Collage entanglements sprachederdingeblog

Entanglement is the thing that offers a historical and futuristic perspective on our relationship to the human & digital world and their supposed opposition. The word “digital artifact” in itself evokes a kind of startling opposition – isn’t an artifact to be actually made by a human – by a human hand & to be actually physical, touchable? Well, the opposition between digital & human disappears when you think of my hands writing this text.

tr.v. en·tan·gleden·tan·glingen·tan·gles

1. To twist together or entwine into a confusing mass; snarl.
2. To complicate; confuse.
3. To involve in or as if in a tangle” (as seen here). 
And being thus it has, obviously, much to do with the intertwining spheres of human & digital, if we may apply these distinctions. “Entangled” has also been one of the most discussed topics in archaeology in the last 18 months. “Entangled” by Ian Hodder, has brought to mind the human – object – relations, the object – object – relations and the human – human – relations that define ourselves since human beings have appeared on Earth. But: How does this connect to the theme of #edcmooc?
Well, our human relation to the material, object world has always been complex & manyfolded, implying that it´s not only us, the humans, who are changing and forming objects, but objects form us as well. They change us, and our perception of the world. And objects do have lives with other objects, relating and influencing each other. Its an increasingly complex web of relations, defining human and object nature for several tens of thousands of years. In one case, Humans themselves have been described as objects, “emerging out of nowhere and changing everything” (Bryant 2012 cited in Marila 2013).
Collage entanglements sprachederdingeblog

Collage entanglements sprachederdingeblog

And the implications of this definition of entanglements go even further. If we extend this complex web of relationships to our current societies, then the digital & the human world are intertwined as well, influencing each other in a mutual way. Many of the short films that accompanied the mooc have shown this – from marketing ads up to rather philosophical short films. The debate on transhumanism borders on just this question: who are we, and what objects do enhance or change us when we incorporate them into ourselves and our lives? If “tracing entanglement means making our way through a strongly heterogeneous world & following links and chains” (Pollock et al. 2014 on Hodders “Entangled”), overstepping disciplinary boundaries, than the current intertwining of “digital” & “human” or “real” does just that: it opens a whole world of new links & paths. The point is notify you’re  using your smartphone “only” to check on Facebook or if you’re engaging heavily in internet technology & the digital self, discussing topics like transhumanism and a digital life. We are all changing from this new entanglement, even if we don’t use these new objects & technologies.
Entanglements & the temporal urge of Dis-Entanglements (aka “simplifying your life”, “get back to the essential(s)”) with objects & technologies have ever been part of human life. There is no such thing as a “humanist” era when technology didn’t influence on our “self”, our “minds” or being. We have always been and will always be in motion with the object world that surrounds us. Its not a question of discussion but a fact – a fact we have to consider carefully to take our own steps in this intertwined world of relationships. How far would you like to go? How much are you disposed to invest? And why do you choose to do so?
Street Art, Berlin, Germany sprachederdingeblog

Street Art, Berlin, Germany sprachederdingeblog

Suggested reading:
Marila, M. (2013) Ian Hodder: Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things , Norwegian Archaeological Review, 46:1, 121-123, DOI: 10.1080/00293652.2013.773367
Pollock, S., R. Bernbeck, C. Jauß, J. Greger, C. von Rüden, S. Schreiber, 2014. Entangled Discussions: Talking with Ian Hodder About His Book Entangled, Berlin, 14. December 2013. Forum Kritische Archäologie 3: 151-161.
P.S. I was searching desperately for online ressources to create my digital artifact in another form than a blog post. But unfortunately, there seems to be nothing as flexible as my blog? I wanted this post to be rather like a digital scrapbook to be thumbed through, with pages for pictures and the like, something that included shortcuts, links and text, together with a flexible insertion of my own pictures and drawing and collages. But I couldn’t find anything like that, or rather: not for free. So – I recurred to blogging, after all!

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E-Learning and Digital Culture #edcmooc : finishing week 3!

As the course is in English, pardon me if this post will be only available in English, as well.

Though I have been November-ill most of this week, I found some time in between to catch up with the videos and lectures of #edcmooc in this third week. It´s fascinating, because now we are on to something absolutely basic to humans: the question on how we define ourselves as humans and how this relates to the idea of digitally and its impacts on human being and society. After reading & watching the resources, including this great short film “They are made out of meat“, I was definitely wondering on the human – digital nature of our current world. It all depends on where your priority lies when you define something!

Surely, thats a question that comes up every so often when you notice that you are bound to the news on twitter, blogs, etc. When you realize that a smartphone has become a real part of your life, creating networks of persons (well, what persons? real persons? avatars?), well lets say “beings” that are becoming part of your life, that in a certain way you trust in the fact that they are THERE (out there, in any case). So: is this a new level of being human? I haven’t read enough on the subject to revise any theories that may exist, its just that I feel something is changing. Our social life is increasingly immersed in others than the actual “real” spheres of life: meeting in person, speaking (life or on telephone). There are other ways to be inside a peer group and they are virtual.

Now, I have often been asked by older family members if I don’t feel that I am depended on my smartphone. And on the internet. And I have to say that: YES, I have become dependent on it. And with developing this dependency I have learnt to be able to cope with it, balance it, give it the room it needs. And to create and maintain OTHER rooms of relationships as well! Is dependency on new social groups bad or good? Or is it just a new form of interaction? Just as books were considered to be sickening to people who read too much, or TV for people who watch it for hours? And isn’t this all about how we deal with it? It helped me a lot to see historic approaches to “what is human” from antiquity onwards, because it shows you that the integration of new traits in our perception of humanity is a changing and slow process.

It seems to me that we are, right now, in an age where many of us are divided between the people that are online and offline present – and the ones that don’t use online social resources but have a rather pragmatic, informational approach to the use of the internet and digital possibilities. I still can’t see where the Digital Natives fit in, but I hope to find out as my child grows up.

Anyway, being immersed in the sphere of Moocs, constant twitter messages, emails and the like, I cannot help but feel that this is and will become a really big part of our future. We will be immersed in digital life & we will have to come terms with it in order to create a healthy relationship with it.

Personally, I see humanity mainly as the ability and the wish to belong to a social group (or various). This may be a very simplistic definition, but its what for me characterizes a human being in the foremost sense. Any other human elements as well as a critic approach to this wish of belonging, in my opinion, stem from it. In this sense, immersing oneself in new social groups in a digital world is just a logical next step from where we are right now. This blog is just one example of changing the “real” world employing digital means. Creating new networks & reaching out to new people, present in this new space of digitalis. (Guy from Guy Cowleys Blog put my feelings into an image, that can be seen here!)

Extending our space into a digital one is maybe also a logical development when in the “real” world we don’t have nothing left to discover. OUr geography has been out mapped 100 years ago and what is left is outer space – and digital space. I sometimes tend to see digital space like a new land, where you may get lost, encounter wonderful places, adventures and perils. its these human feelings that have remained the same, and we set about this new continent of Digital-Land. Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives are just words that are in line with these feelings.

Sprachederdinge blog #edcmooc

Sprachederdinge blog #edcmooc

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E-Learning & Digital Cultures #edcmooc : we´re right into week 2!

I tried to take this Mooc “E-Learning and Digital Cultures” on Coursera before, but hadn’t got the time to finish. Its quite different from other Moocs I´ve taken so far because it´s more independent. You´ve to read some resources, but there are only a few video lectures and you´re rather on your own to think, connect with other people and think again.

In a way, it requires more energy although not more time. The first block of the MOOC is on Utopias and Dystopias, making you think about the future of the digital world. Is it good, bad, indifferent? These days, I thought a lot about this because I became acutely aware of how many people are out there without access to social media that I am using rather frequently. Its because they don’t feel the need to use them, but rather use the email/letter/telephone way. So, the first two weeks of the MOOC are hitting bottom with me right now. And even more when you have a look at the videos that are part of the thinking process: pure & thoughtful reflections of our ideas on the digital age – right now and in the future.

Moreover, when today I registered for Re:publica 2015. And thinking of setting something up (a panel? a session? a paper?) I found it rather distressing to realize how few people in my surrounding are into this digital spaces of expressing oneself and feeling that theres a relevance to it. So, this time #edcmooc might have a better chance of surviving my precious spare time and being thought through!