The Error and the End of the Internet

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University of Greenwich

School of Design

11 Stockwell Street

London

SE10 9BD

United Kingdom

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The Error at the End of the Internet Peter Krapp

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The Error at the End of the Internet

Peter Krapp

Monday 21 October 2019 | 6PM

School of Design | LT_0004

11 Stockwell Street London SE10 9BD

Followed by a wine reception.

Abstract

Our digital media culture is predicated on communication efficiencies to an extent that can obscure or veil the sources of faults and errors. Looking at computer-mediated communication from the vantage point of errors is not to diminish the contribution of those who design ergonomic interfaces or engineer trustworthy data transmission; and the point is not to restate Murphy’s law – anyone who has ever used a communication device knows they inevitably fail – but to heighten our awareness for the rich potential of contingency, surprise, unpredictability – precisely under the tightly controlled conditions of digital culture.

Of course recent internet history has pulled a veil over the technical workings temporarily exposed by error messages; but in contemplating digital culture between a hermetically rule-bound realm of programmed necessity and efficient management of the totality of the possible, one can situate a realm of contingency: distortions in the strictest signal-to-noise ratio, glitches and accidents, or moments where what does not compute is condescendingly ascribed to user error.

Indeed, much has been made of the system administrator lore that summarizes such all-too-human irritations in the acronym EBKAC – error between keyboard and chair. Despite the undeniable prevalence of such attitudes, there much to be said for the very real and recognizable potential of contingency, or chance and accidents and errors that become productive – whether for systemic improvements or for creative recuperation of error. My reading of the history of HTML error codes is going to illustrate this

Peter Krapp is professor and chair of Film & Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine and author of Noise Channels: Glitch and Error in Digital Culture (University of Minnesota Press 2011) and Déjà Vu: Aberrations of Cultural Memory (University of Minnesota Press, 2004). His research interests include digital culture and media history, secret communications and cultural memory, history and theory of gadgets, games and simulations, representations of North and South Pole regions. https://www.faculty.uci.edu/profile.cfm?faculty_id=5102

MA Media and Creative Cultures

MA Media and Creative Cultures offers a unique degree experience that encourages interrogations of media and cultural theories, arts and politics in an expanded field. Students specialise in Research Methods, Aesthetic Economy, Subcultures, Digital Activism, Race, Gender, and Class through exploring themes of identity, power, aesthetics and creation of meaning in contemporary media cultures. https://www.gre.ac.uk/postgraduate-courses/ach/ma-media-and-creative-cultures

Theorist-in-Residence Lecture Series present cutting edge interdisciplinary research from the world's leading theorists in the fields of Media, Culture and Creativity.

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University of Greenwich

School of Design

11 Stockwell Street

London

SE10 9BD

United Kingdom

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