The Virtual Memory Palace
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The Virtual Memory Palace

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On information storage and retrieval in the age of electracy. Includes a brief history of rhetoric and application of the memory palace to issues of 3-D game and virtual world design

On information storage and retrieval in the age of electracy. Includes a brief history of rhetoric and application of the memory palace to issues of 3-D game and virtual world design

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  • --OUR RHETORICAL PRACTICES OF ARGUMENT ARE BASED ON THIS KIND OF SPACE --THIS IS WHAT I TALK ABOUT IN IMAGING PLACE HAVERHILL

The Virtual Memory Palace The Virtual Memory Palace Presentation Transcript

  • The Virtual Memory Palace: Information Storage and Retrieval in the Era of Electracy Richard Smyth, Ph.D. VM606 – Emerson College 4 March 2010
  • Memory Palace: Definition
    • rhetorical strategy for memorizing speeches
    • use of images in locations to help in ordering and identifying “topoi” (topics) of a speech
    • rhetorical guides suggested using striking & vivid images set in a familiar space
    • palace could be completely real, completely imagined, or half-real, half-imagined
  • A Brief History of the Memory Palace
    • Ancient Greek poet Simonides invents memory palace by identifying dead guests crushed by cave-in at banquet hall
    • Memory Palace becomes part of the Roman Art of Rhetoric in the works of Cicero, Quintilian, and the Rhetorica Ad Herennium
  • Brief History (continued)
    • Five Steps of Rhetoric
      • inventio (heuresis): discovery/invention
      • dispositio (taxis): organization
      • elocutio (lexis): composition
      • memoria (mneme): memorization
      • actio/pronuntiatio (hypocrisis): performance/delivery
  • Brief History (continued)
    • During the Middle Ages, emphasis shifts from rhetoric to ethics
    • Mendicant monks memorized allegorized personifications of sins
    • Monks used simplified version to spatialize manuscript pages as aid for memorizing
    • Bizarre and startling marginalia helped monks to memorize whole pages
    • 2D information space
  • Brief History (continued)
    • During Renaissance, the “Art of Memory” was marginalized to Neoplatonist movement and Hermetic philosophy
    • After the anti-imagistic ethos of the Protestant Reformation, the Memory Palace morphs in to the Ramist outline
    • memoria and actio drop out of rhetorical practice with emphasis solely on writing
    • memoria becomes words on 2D page: the outline of current composition practice
  • Brief History (continued)
    • With emergence of electracy, the latter two steps of rhetoric are on the return
    • “ But today this limitation [of rhetoric to the first three parts] is not at all necessary… [considering] the influence of new technologies such as the tape recorder and television--tools that made possible the rediscovery of the importance of pronunciation and gestures. . . .” (Barilli 105)
  • Writing Space
    • Jay David Bolter--Eastgate Systems: “Storyspace”
    • “ It is not the writing of a place, but rather a writing with places, spatially realized topics” (Bolter 25)
    • Hypertext as primitive form of cyberspace (Smyth)
  • Hidden Dimensions in Cyberspace “ Data available at the intersection of the three ‘crosshairs’ opens into a subspace of three dimensions” (Benedikt 118).
  • Hidden Dimensions in Cyberspace “ Two surfaces of the subspace continue to display navigation data…while the third surface is beginning to show destination data, that is, the sought images” (Benedikt 118).
  • Hidden Dimensions in Cyberspace “ The user has moved in to inspect the images more closely” (Benedikt 118).
  • Hidden Dimensions in Cyberspace “ The intrinsic dimensions of the six-dimensional data object p , located at ( x,y,z ) in the (extrinsic) dimensional space of XYZ , are unfolded into the space of ABC and have the values given by the location ( a,b,c )” (Benedikt 145).
  • Cyberspace as Electrate Mnemonic
    • Cyberspace is “.... a powerful, collective, mnemonic technology that promises to have an important, if not revolutionary, impact on the future compositions of human identities and cultures.”
    • (Tomas 31-32)
  • Conceptual Metaphors of Thinking
    • Lakoff and Johnson identify a cluster of associated conceptual metaphors related to the Mind as Body metaphor:
    • Thinking is Moving
    • Thinking is Perceiving
    • Thinking is Object Manipulation
  • Thinking is Moving
    • Most relevant to consideration of virtual reality as a prosthesis for thinking:
    • Ideas are Locations
    • Reason is a Force
    • A Line of Thought is A Path
    • Communicating is Guiding
    • Understanding is Following
    • Inability to Think is Inability to Move
    • (Lakoff and Johnson 236)
  • The Aboriginality of Spatial Thinking “ One should perhaps visualise the Songlines as a spaghetti of Iliads and Odysseys, writhing this way and that, in which every ‘episode’ was readable in terms of geology.” (from Songlines )
  • On the Horizon: Game Spaces
    • Games as the design of information spaces for information storage/retrieval:
    • “ Game designers don’t simply tell stories; they design worlds and sculpt spaces.” (Jenkins 121)
    • “ The game world becomes a kind of information space, a memory palace.” (Jenkins 126)
  • On the Horizon: Alternate Reality Games http://www.urgentevoke.com/ “ Here, the embedded narrative is no longer contained in the console but rather flows across multiple channels.” (Jenkins 127)
  • On the Horizon: Virtual Memory Palaces Eric Fassbender. “Virtual Memory Palace: A 3D Environment for Memorization Support.” Second Life & virtual worlds as three (and more) dimensional infor-mation spaces
  • References
    • Barilli, Renato. Rhetoric . Trans. Giuliana Menozzi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989.
    • Benedikt, Michael. Cyberspace: First Steps. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992.
    • Bolter, Jay David. Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History
      • of Writing. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 1991.
    • Camille, Michael. Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art . Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1992.
    • Carruthers, Mary. The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture . Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990.
    • Fassbender, Eric. “Virtual Memory Palaces.”. http://web.science.mq.edu.au/ ~eric/vmp/18%20paper_vmp.pdf. <viewed 4 March 2010>.
    • Jenkins, Henry. “Game Design as Narrative Architecture.” First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game . Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004. 118-130.
    • Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind And Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books, 1999.
    • Smyth, Richard. Renaissance Mnemonics, Poststructuralism, and the Rhetoric of Hypertext Composition . Diss. U of Florida, Gainesville, 1994. http://www.anabiosispress.org/rsmyth/writings/ diss/index.html.
    • Spence, Jonathan. The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci . New York: Penguin Books, 1984.
    • Tomas, David. “Old Rituals for New Space.” in Cyberspace: First Steps . 31-47.
    • Yates, Frances. The Art of Memory . Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1966.
  • Contact
    • Richard Smyth, Ph.D.
    • [email_address]
    • [email_address]
    • http://www.anabiosispress.org/rsmyth