All posts by A. Nelson

I am a historian of Russia with expertise in cultural history and emerging interests in animal studies and environmental history. My current research projects include studies of the Soviet space dogs, the significance of the Belyaev fox domestication project, and the cultural implications of domestication, particularly in Eurasia.

Comment on New media and the changing role of the user by A. Nelson

I really appreciate how incisively you get to the heart of the matter here, and out McLuhaned McLuhan, AND with such clarity and grace. Thanks! I’m going with a modified “yes” to your question. Production and creativity are foundational, but without reception, consumption, interaction and conversation they are much less powerful. It’s the resonance of the digital vibrations that give them such salience. And time is also bent by the medium. The post might get read (or even clicked on) one time, or nine times, or not at all… at first. But a reader of a later post or someone researching something else might click on it any time, and who knows where that might lead? (Do you have JetPack site stats turned on?)

Comment on As We May Think by A. Nelson

Contrasting the reading of Bush in Old vs. New Media really highlights how essential the changes in media are. It makes a huge difference and there’s a lot at stake. It isn’t simply a matter of old content into new form.
One wonders how Bush would react to your You-Tube excursion. Last semester one of the seminarians confessed that he had read the text from the physical book, but tried to “enlarge” the print by pinching his fingers on the page. It is not an Ipad!

Comment on Where is it going to end? by A. Nelson

Wow. This really gets to the heart of one of the major tensions in the legacy of “As we may think.” I agree that the line between “repetitive” and “mature” thought is increasingly difficult to draw neatly. In fact it might look more ghostly than linear – like the historical trails of whaling ships mapped out by Ben Schmidt (thanks for letting me put in a plug for historians as well!):
Where is it going to end? Good question. The advent of quantum computing promises to make the journey even more interesting and challenging in terms of how humans think and what they know. (,9171,2164806,00.html)

Comment on “Do Something Boring” by A. Nelson

I do too! It’s strange that the more I immerse myself in new media and technologies, the more strongly I feel the imperative to stay “off-line” for certain parts of the day, and committed to physical activity. The digital world might stimulate (augment?) my brain, but nothing sharpens my thinking like a good run, an hour of gardening, or fixing something that’s broken around the house.
I loved your post about Vannevar Bush, and am eager to hear what you think about Norbert Weiner and J.C.R. Licklider. Weiner in particular, had the humility and doubt that may have been missing in Bush.