DAVID BERRY ON AIME

Very interesting article by David Berry On Latour’s Notion of the Digital. I cannot resist excerpting a lengthy footnote on the frustrating experience of using the AIME platform:

“[1] Accepting the well-designed look of the website that contains the AIME project, there can be no disputing the fact that the user experience is shockingly bad. Not only is the layout of the book completely unintuitive but the process of finding information is clumsy and annoying to use. One can detect the faint glimmer of a network ontology guiding the design of the website, an ontology that has been forced onto the usage of the text rather than organically emerging from use, indeed the philosophical inquiry appears to have influenced the design in unproductive ways. Latour himself notes: “although I have learned from studying technological projects that innovating on all fronts at once is a recipe for failure, here we are determined to explore innovations in method, concept, style, and content simultaneously” (Latour 2013: xx). I have to say that unfortunately I do think that there is something rather odd about the interface that means that the recipe has been unsuccessful. In any case, it is faster and easier to negotiate the book via a PDF file than through the web interface, or certainly it is better to keep ready to hand the PDF or the paper copy when waiting for the website to slowly grind back into life”.

Berry’s analysis of what he finds unsatisfying in Latour’s vision and practice of the digital concludes that “a theologically derived close-reading practice derived from bookish practice may not be entirely appropriate for unpacking and “reading” computational media and software structures”.

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