[SIGCIS-Members] on the nature of analog computing

Ben Peters bjpeters at gmail.com
Fri Nov 7 08:47:54 PST 2014

Thanks, Paul, for the fascinating prompt.

I'm excited to hear about the literature suggested by Willard, and I
particularly like your distinction between analog as what is not discrete
and analog as isomorphism (e.g. Douglas Hoftstadter's most recent book).
Those interested may also be interested in the media philosopher and sound
historian Jonathan Sterne's take on the question, which resonates fairly
well with your distinction and Willard's comments on the midcentury timing.

If interested, check out this short essay draft Sterne wrote on "analog"
<http://culturedigitally.org/2014/05/analog-draftdigitalkeywords/> that I
am editing for a forthcoming volume
<http://culturedigitally.org/digital-keywords/> (currently under review at
Princeton), and that at least one other on this list are contributing to
(*head nod toward Bernie*). Sterne develops more extended arguments in his
books on the MP3 and sound recording, and I could if asked point to more
tangential digital-analog debate in sound studies.

Running out the door,



On Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 9:22 AM, Paul Fishwick <metaphorz at gmail.com> wrote:

> I recently had a discussion about analog computing with someone who works
> actively on
> hybrid analog-digital systems at the integrated circuit level. My proposal
> was that there seems
> to be, based on historical accounts and reflection, two differing views on
> “analog”: 1) analog
> reflecting the continuous or discrete character of magnitude of a
> variable, and 2) isomorphism
> indicated by construing analog to be associated closely with analogy.
> To take one example which can serve for discussion: Are Minecraft circuits
> analog, digital, or
> both? It depends on how we define “analog” and where we focus (on the
> issue of representation
> or magnitude). For example, redstone circuits could be viewed as analog
> computing in the sense
> that the circuits are analogous to electronic circuits containing gates
> such as and, or, xor, etc.
> And yet, at the bottom of the vast hierarchy of translation, we have
> Minecraft servers and clients
> working on top of a digital substrate. In the mid 90s, I bought a Nord
> Lead for my synthesizer
> collection, and Nord uses “virtual analog” to characterize their lineup
> (an analog front end
> and a digital back end):
> http://www.nordkeyboards.com/products/nord-lead-2x
> My view is that the issue of magnitude is a side-effect of “analog as
> analogy and, thus,
> isomorphism", and thus not primary. Tangible objects when juxtaposed and
> configured together
> to form physical analogies happen to be continuous simply because reality
> and our physiology
> is continuous, and we employ real objects (at least in the mind) when
> forming analogies. This
> view may need tweaking, but it seems as though the knowledge of such
> things is present in
> this forum.
> What are the thoughts on this? Is this an ongoing point of debate among
> historians?
> -paul
> Paul Fishwick, PhD
> Distinguished University Chair of Arts & Technology
>    and Professor of Computer Science
> Director, Creative Automata Laboratory
> The University of Texas at Dallas
> Arts & Technology
> 800 West Campbell Road, AT10
> Richardson, TX 75080-3021
> Home: utdallas.edu/atec/fishwick
> Blog: creative-automata.com
> _______________________________________________
> This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org, the email discussion list
> of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member posting and
> are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list archives are at
> http://sigcis.org/pipermail/members/ and you can change your subscription
> options at http://sigcis.org/mailman/listinfo/members
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/attachments/20141107/ec06bd77/attachment-0001.htm>

More information about the Members mailing list