Announcing the Fall 2022 Conference Grant Recipients

06 Oct, 2022

Announcing the Fall 2022 Conference Grant Recipients

The Berkeley Center for New Media is thrilled to provide small grants to our graduate students to help them share their innovative research at the premiere conferences in their field. We look forward to seeing the work of these students spread across the globe!

Eric Rawn

SIGCIS (Special Interest Group for Computing, Information, and Society) at the annual meeting of the Society of the History of Technology (SHOT) | New Orleans

Making Sense, Crystallizing Reason: an Intellectual History of Pervasive Computing at Xerox PARC

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) was both a technological and intellectual force for the advent of pervasive computing: computation that was not only on the desks of office workers but instead became the invisible background against which we communicated, acted, and thought – in other words, computing as infrastructure. Mark Weiser, then the manager of PARC’s computer science lab, argued that such a view of computation would create a new relationship between people and computers, allowing us to ultimately shift our attention away from the computer itself: “only when things disappear… are we freed to use them without thinking and so to focus beyond them on new goals.” Computation as infrastructure has since become a material reality across the world, and continues to shape the role we envision for computers in human society.

In this talk I investigate the intellectual history of pervasive computing at PARC. Through a combination of oral history and archival records, I show how Weiser and his colleagues relied on a diverse constellation of intellectual sources, including work in Artificial Intelligence and Economics, the work of Heidegger and other existentialists, and influences from Anthropology and Sociology, to conceptualize and articulate this new relationship between humans and computation. Importantly, I argue that these conceptual foundations sharply disagreed on a fundamental picture of the world, mind, and machine, outlining three broad positions which each structured pervasive computing but saw the relationship between world and mind very differently. Clarifying how a pervasive computing worldview draws from each of these is crucial, as each, I show, structures a different conception of politics, power, and human agency in relation to computation. Therefore, I argue that understanding pervasive computing’s intellectual history is essential to critiquing and remediating the view of computation it proposes. Additionally, I argue that this history clarifies what relationship between minds and machines might be necessary for a more just technological world.

Rebecca Levitan

Archaeological Institute of America Annual Conference | New Orleans

Agōn as Alibi? The display of Hellenistic sculpture at the Villa of Herodes Atticus, Loukou

This paper contextualizes the unique display of two colossal Roman copies of Hellenistic sculptures at the lavish villa of Herodes Atticus at Loukou, located in Arcadia (Peloponnese, Greece). Both sculptural compositions discussed in this chapter depict two mythological figures in interlocking arrangements (symplegma). In the so-called “Pasquino Group” type, a Greek hero recovers his fallen comrade from behind enemy lines. The copy of the Pasquino Group from Loukou is now lost, although its former presence is attested by the accounts of earlier travelers and archaeological evidence from the villa excavations. Its pendant, however, which depicts Achilles supporting the body of Penthesilea, is a remarkably preserved Antonine copy. The choice of these two sculptures and their unique display at Loukou reflects the preferences of their patron: the sophist, politician, and cosmopolitan benefactor Herodes Atticus.

Born in Marathon at the turn of the second century, Herodes was famous for his public euergetism and prolific teaching career. He was implicated in more nefarious dealings, however, including charges of tyranny and the violent death of his pregnant wife Regilla. Of his six children, he was only survived by one; none of his three favorite trophimoi (foster-sons/students) lived past the 160s CE. The exact circumstances of these deaths remain a mystery, but Herodes’s design of and renovations to his rural villa reveal how he chose to commemorate his beloved deceased and broadcast his grief. The two paired colossal groups formed the crux of Herodes’s custom decorative program at Loukou, where he fostered elite discourse and paragone around themes of conflict and loss.

Sophia Perez

National Humanities Conference | Los Angeles

Creating ""Island Time"

The Northern Marianas Humanities Council produced a television pilot called “Island Time”with the intention of experimenting with new, COVID-friendly ways of teaching the indigenous Chamorro language and celebrating the several indigenous cultures of the CNMI. As the Program Officer for the Council at the time and director of the show, I’m sharing my experience of catalyzing and leveraging the overwhelming community support that erupted in response to this project, which involved navigating collaborative relationships with artists, cultural practitioners, non-profits, businesses, and government agencies located across all populated islands of the Marianas and in diasporic communities based in the continental US.