The real strength of the place likes is being interdisciplinary, because that's a much more fruitful zone for innovation than within an established discipline. It's a bolder, more exciting, and more risky way to do research. So not having an intellectual core is actually something of a plus. Why would you want to give the field a rigid definition? (See illegibility) Certainly that was the most attractive feature of the place for me, I had a shit-ton of intellectual freedom there, for better or worse.
30 Oct 2021 02:15 - 24 Apr 2022 01:07
Venkatesh Rao gets the credit for heavily promoting this concept into the current discourse:
I don't know, it should be kind of obvious that it is often not in one's self-interest to be well-defined, to have a clear formal description of your life available to all and sundry. But it isn't, and nowadays we have Facebook and its demonic brethren that force us to make legible our most intimate social relationships, the better to use them as fuel for advertising engines.
And deeper than that, it is in the very nature of computer technology to make things legible. That's almost definitionally what it does, from Hollerith's census systems onwards. As computer professionals it is our responsibility to do this in a way which is not oppressive and antihuman; although the forces pushing the other way are mighty indeed.
Rationalism seems too oriented towards legibility; for my taste at least. As I've said elsewhere, they seem intellectually retro, and haven't gotten the news about the limits of reason and representation:
The whole movement is kind of retro in a way that is sometimes appealing but just as often appalling. Peter Sloterdijk labelled rationalists as "the Amish of postmodernism" and it often does seem like an effort to be staunchly and cluelessly devoted to ideas that nobody really takes seriously any more.
See the interestingly related concept of nebulosity.