• AMMDI is an open-notebook hypertext writing experiment, authored by Mike Travers aka @mtraven. It's a work in progress and some parts are more polished than others. Comments welcome! More.
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from situated action
from writing
  • On the nature of writing and its relationship to thought, or how we think about thought, Orality and Literacy blew my mind, along with Phil Agre's Writing and Representaton. Highly recommend.
from Orality and Literacy
  • Phil Agre՚s Writing and Representation caused a related and similarly violent lurch in my thinking, because it made me realize that the metaphor of writing underlies the technology of computing in a fundamental way, all the way back to the Turing machine. And while from a computer-as-medium perspective that was interesting but not problematic, from an AI standpoint it seemed to fatally compromise the whole operation. The strengths of writing (definiteness, stability, abstractness) were a late achievement of human minds and thus obviously unsuitable to be the building blocks of human minds, which evolved under conditions of orality (and before that, from animal signalling and sociality).
from Joseph Goguen
  • Cited and acknowleged in Phil Agre's Towards a Critical Technical Practice
from Heidegger
  • A big influence on Meaningness and Phil Agre and thus indirectly on me. But I also have a pretty deep resistance; the man was.a Nazi, and when the anti-rationalism starts to shade into fascism that's where I get off the train.
from Meaningness
  • David Chapman (aka @meaningness) has been a major influence on my own thinking. His work at the MIT AI lab with Phil Agre made a deep impression on me when I was trying to figure out my own academic path. This included a critical take on the standard cognitive science view of the mind, which is pretty much Rationalism minus the more cultish and cartoonish aspects.
from LWMap/The Rocket Alignment Problem
from Infrastructure of intention
from equality and hierarchy
  • Phil Agre on Conservatism: https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/agre/conservatism.html
    • From the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the self-regarding thugs of ancient Rome to the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutist Europe, in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history, there have been people who have tried to constitute themselves as an aristocracy. These people and their allies are the conservatives.
    • The tactics of conservatism vary widely by place and time. But the most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are. ... People who believe that the aristocracy rightfully dominates society because of its intrinsic superiority are conservatives; democrats, by contrast, believe that they are of equal social worth. Conservatism is the antithesis of democracy. This has been true for thousands of years.
    • The defenders of aristocracy represent aristocracy as a natural phenomenon, but in reality it is the most artificial thing on earth.
from anti-purpose
Twin Pages

Phil Agre

23 Jan 2021 05:00 - 01 Jan 2022 07:48

    • One of my main influence s. I learned a lot from Phil, who despite being a grad student in an engineering department seemed to have read widely in philosophy, sociology, and other exotic subjects. But the main lesson he taught was a stance-related thing; that one could do technical work while at the same time having a rigorously critical attitude about the work, the field, and society. Probably his essay Towards a Critical Technical Practice is the best explicit articulation of this, but it's a quality that comes through in much of his work.
    • Phil was also one of the first public internet intellectuals, pioneering the format of one-man newsletter with is Red Rock Eater New Service (now, some 20 years later, everyone is doing this via Substack, but Phil did this on his own with no recompense). Some of this stuff is dated but a lot holds up well, for instance this essay on Institutions and the Entrepreneurial Self.