Tuesday, 6 March 2007

More on symbol and HTML-Reality metaphor

"In a sense, all user interfaces can be seen as interactive allegories of the computer. When Apple engineers introduced the Macintosh and its Graphical User Interface (GUI), they replaced the dry world of command lines and DOS prompts with a world of simple simulacra. The Mac cloaked the computer's workings inside an audio-visual "desktop metaphor" whose folders, trashcans and icons served as active and intuitive representations of the computer's internal processes. These simulacra proved enormously popular among non-technical people, and as computers and the internet continue to saturate the world at large, we can expect user interfaces - including internet browsers, web sites and program control panels - to plunge us even deeper into such iconic simulations, and to pull us furtehr from the binary codespace where the action "really" lies. Perhaps our tame digital metaphors will one day bloom into allegorical landscapes, and desktops, windows and browsers will open into three dimensional worlds animated with daemonic agents and interdimensional portals that conceal an underlying layer of purely logical protocols."
(Erik Davis, TechGnosis)

Is this not the same way that the philosophers and mystics have been veiwing the normal world for the past two and a half thousand years? The sensory experience we have are internally created metaphors which represent the real 'action' that is happening behind the scenes; the illusion of cause and effect, of colour, movement and scent, the social fiction of a cohesive self; the 'logical protocols', the 'code' which creates the appearance of a world is never experienced in itself (it cannot be: experience is caused by it, and is therefore a subset of the code: it is a particular 'program'), but can be manipulated by those with the correct tools.

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