Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type


Date of this Version

October 1997

Publication Source

Symposium on Connected Intelligence; Human Beings in Information Systems


Against the background of growing cyberspaces, I am exploring here some consequences for understanding digital technologies along three paths. The first path begins by noting how the increasing efficiency of computation has given birth to a new kind of artifact, the interface. Its characteristics require us to abandon naturalistic conceptions of technology and call, instead, for an effort to understand their users' diverse understandings, to a second order understanding of technology. My second path starts from the curious fact that 17th Century Enlightenment ideas still permeate our celebrations of what the new technologies do while blinding us to the coordination of human activities they cause on an unprecedented scale. This leads us to a new image of human beings as dialogical constituents of networks. My last path begins with interfaces, with what is left in cyberspaces after data, algorithms, and networks have taken up their places, and leads us to languaging as a window to a second-order understanding of others, as a community’s way of co-ordinating co-ordination (of technology), and as our opportunity to redirect our creative attention towards keeping technology human-centered.


Keynote address prepared for a symposium on Connected Intelligence; Human Beings in Information Systems at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany 1997, October 27-28.



Date Posted: 10 March 2008