11,089 research outputs found

    Post-digital humanities: computation and cultural critique in the arts and humanities

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    Today we live in computational abundance whereby our everyday lives and the environment that surrounds us are suffused with digital technologies. This is a world of anticipatory technology and contextual computing that uses smart diffused computational processing to create a fine web of computational resources that are embedded into the material world. Thus, the historical distinction between the digital and the non-digital becomes increasingly blurred, to the extent that to talk about the digital presupposes an experiential disjuncture that makes less and less sense. Indeed, just as the ideas of “online” or “being online” have become anachronistic as a result of our always-on smartphones and tablets and widespread wireless networking technologies, so too the term “digital” perhaps assumes a world of the past

    Libre culture: meditations on free culture

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    Libre Culture is the essential expression of the free culture/copyleft movement. This anthology, brought together here for the first time, represents the early groundwork of Libre Society thought. Referring to the development of creativity and ideas, capital works to hoard and privatize the knowledge and meaning of what is created. Expression becomes monopolized, secured within an artificial market-scarcity enclave and finally presented as a novelty on the culture industry in order to benefit cloistered profit motives. In the way that physical resources such as forests or public services are free, Libre Culture argues for the freeing up of human ideas and expression from copyright bulwarks in all forms

    A Developmental Model of Infantile Nystagmus

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    The possibility that infantile nystagmus (IN) may reflect a failure in early sensorimotor integration has been proposed for more than a century, but is only recently being borne out in animal studies. The underlying neural and genetic substrate for this plasticity is complex. We propose that, in most cases, IN develops as a developmental response to reduced contrast sensitivity to high-spatial frequencies in an early "critical period," however caused, whether by structural malformations (e.g. foveal hypoplasia) or poor optics (e.g. cataract). As shown by psychophysics, contrast sensitivity to low spatial frequencies is enhanced by motion of the image across the retina. Based on our previous theoretical study (Harris & Berry, Nonlinear Dynamics, 2006), we argue that the best compromise between moving the image and maintaining the image near the fovea (or its remnant) is to oscillate the eyes with jerk nystagmus with increasing velocity waveforms, as seen empirically. The generation of jerk waveforms relies heavily on the saccadic system, which is immature in infancy. Pendular waveforms may therefore provide an alternative to jerk waveforms, and may explain why they are seen more often in young infants. We discuss the implications of this developmental model for the need to synchronize sensory and motor developments in normal development. Failure of this synchronization may also explain some idiopathic cases

    A Distal Model of Congenital Nystagmus as Nonlinear Adaptive Oscillations

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    Congenital nystagmus (CN) is an incurable pathological spontaneous oscillation of the eyes with an onset in the first few months of life. The pathophysiology of CN is mysterious. There is no consistent neurological abnormality, but the majority of patients have a wide range of unrelated congenital visual abnormalities affecting either the cornea, lens, retina or optic nerve. In this theoretical study, we show that these eye oscillations could develop as an adaptive response to maximize visual contrast with poor foveal function in the infant visuomotor system, at a time of peak neural plasticity. We argue that in a visual system with abnormally poor high spatial frequency sensitivity, image contrast is not only maintained by keeping the image on the fovea (or its remnant) but also by some degree of image motion. Using the calculus of variations, we show that the optimal trade-off between these conflicting goals is to generate oscillatory eye movements with increasing velocity waveforms, as seen in real CN. When we include a stochastic component to the start of each epoch (quick-phase inaccuracy) various observed waveforms (including pseudo-cycloid) emerge as optimal strategies. Using the delay embedding technique, we find a low fractional dimension as reported in real data. We further show that, if a velocity command-based pre-motor circuitry (neural integrator) is harnessed to generate these waveforms, the emergence of a null region is inevitable. We conclude that CN could emerge paradoxically as an ‘optimal’ adaptive response in the infant visual system during an early critical period. This can explain why CN does not emerge later in life and why CN is so refractory to treatment. It also implies that any therapeutic intervention would need to be very early in life

    A Developmental Model of Congenital Nystagmus

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    Purpose: Congenital nystagmus (CN) is a spontaneous oscillation of the eyes with an onset in the first few months of life. In 90% of affected children there is an associated underlying sensory defect (foveal hypoplasia, cone dysfunction, cataracts, etc.). In 10% no underlying visual defect can be found, and the nystagmus is labelled as ‘idiopathic’. CN appears to be a developmental anomaly of sensorimotor integration, as it is not have an onset later in infancy or beyond, but why such a wide variety of early onset visual defects should lead to life-long oscillation of the eyes is a mystery. Previous models have focussed on a systems level approach to explain how CN might be generated by known oculomotor circuits. We ask, instead, why CN might occur. Model: Our basic tenet is that infant visuomotor development is highly plastic during some early ‘critical’ period. A defect of foveal vision occurring during (and only during) this period leads to an anomalous connectivity in the oculomotor circuitry, which becomes permanent thereafter. We propose that circuitry normally used for precise foveal registration of a visual object (gaze holding, fixation, and smooth pursuit) develops to maintain some degree of image motion, as this would maximise contrast for a low spatial frequency system. However, this motion is in conflict with maintaining the image on the fovea (or its remnant). We explore the best oculomotor strategy to cope with this conflict. Results: The optimal strategy (in the least squares sense) is to oscillate the eyes in one meridian with alternating slow and quick (saccade) phases. Remarkably, the optimal waveform profile has an increasing-velocity profile. Many of the unique waveforms seen empirically in CN are also optimal strategies given realistic uncertainty in the initial position of a slow phase. Using non-linear dynamical systems analysis, we show that these ‘optimal’ oscillations have similar fractional correlation dimensions to observed data. We also show that a ‘null region’, as commonly observed in CN, would be an inevitable consequence of a velocity driven oculomotor system. Conclusions: We have developed a new approach to understanding oculomotor development, in which we examine the best strategy to maximise visual contrast. In a normal foveate visual system with fine oculomotor control, the best strategy is to develop good foveal registration, which we call ‘fixation’, and ‘smooth pursuit’. If, however, the fovea is absent or not being stimulated (eg. cataracts), the best strategy would be to develop oscillations of the type seen in CN. It implies that the chaotic oscillations are the result of a physiological developmental adaptive process. This is in contrast to the prevailing view that CN is a disease that can be ‘cured’. It is not surprising that CN has proven remarkably refractory to therapeutic intervention with only minimal (if any) long-term successes using drugs, surgery, or even biofeedback. We argue that CN is as adaptive and permanent as normal eye movements are in a normally sighted individual

    Congenital Nystagmus as Non-Linear Adaptive Oscillations

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    Congenital Nystagmus (CN) is a pathological involuntary oscillation of the eyes with an onset within the first few months of life, with an incidence of about 1:3000. It is a life-long oculomotor disorder that cannot be explained by any underlying neurological abnormality which might compromise adaptive mechanisms. There is no cure, and CN has so far defied explanation in spite of numerous attempts to model the disorder. In this theoretical study we show that these eye oscillations could develop as an adaptive response to maximise visual contrast with poor foveal function in the infant visuomotor system, at a time of peak neural plasticity. We propose that CN is a normal developmental adaptive response to an abnormal congenital sensory input. This can explain why CN does not emerge later in life and why CN is so refractory to treatment. It also implies that any therapeutic intervention would need to be very early in life

    On the failure of oracles: reflections on a digital life

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    Across the globe, as the sun rises, people begin each day with a routine that marks 21stcentury life as very different from any other century. Before they get dressed, before they are even fully awake, most people start their morning by gazing at rectangular oleophobic panes of illuminated glass. Every day, a new world is painted in millions of individual organic light-emitting diodes which are embedded in a substrate under a layer of glass that is harder and thinner than any previously created. The screen is brighter than any reading surface we have ever known. The first thing we do each morning is to point this blaze of dazzling light straight into our eyes which carries the retina-quality notifications of the digital straight into our foggy brains. Before we are even fully conscious, the digital has disclosed a world to us, a stream of information and data, rivers of news, rivulets of reminders and lists

    Explanatory Publics: Explainability and Democratic Thought

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    In order to legitimate and defend democratic politics under conditions of computational capital, my aim is to contribute a notion of what I am calling explanatory publics. I will explore what is at stake when we question the social and political effects of the disruptive technologies, networks and values that are hidden within the "black boxes" of computational systems. By "explanatory publics", I am gesturing to the need for frameworks of knowledge - whether social, political, technical, economic, or cultural - to be justified through a social right to explanation. That is, for a polity to be considered democratic, it must ensure that its citizens are able to develop a capacity for explanatory thought (in addition to other capacities), and, thereby, able to question ideas, practices, and institutions in society. This is to extend the notion of a public sphere where citizens are able to question ideas, practices, and institutions in society more generally. But it also adds the corollary that citizens can demand explanatory accounts from institutions and, crucially, the digital technologies that they use.Comment: 22 page

    Activity and inhibition of plasmepsin IV, a new aspartic proteinase from the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum

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    AbstractA new aspartic proteinase from the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is able to hydrolyse human haemoglobin at a site known to be the essential primary cleavage site in the haemoglobin degradation pathway. Thus, plasmepsin IV may play a crucial role in this critical process which yields nutrients for parasite growth. Furthermore, synthetic inhibitors known to inhibit parasite growth in red cells in culture are able to inhibit the activity of this enzyme in vitro. As a result, plasmepsin IV appears to be a potential target for the development of new antiparasitic drugs