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

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  • The Virtual Memory Palace

    1. 1. The Virtual Memory Palace: Information Storage and Retrieval in the Era of Electracy Richard Smyth, Ph.D. VM606 – Emerson College 4 March 2010
    2. 2. Memory Palace: Definition <ul><li>rhetorical strategy for memorizing speeches </li></ul><ul><li>use of images in locations to help in ordering and identifying “topoi” (topics) of a speech </li></ul><ul><li>rhetorical guides suggested using striking & vivid images set in a familiar space </li></ul><ul><li>palace could be completely real, completely imagined, or half-real, half-imagined </li></ul>
    3. 3. A Brief History of the Memory Palace <ul><li>Ancient Greek poet Simonides invents memory palace by identifying dead guests crushed by cave-in at banquet hall </li></ul><ul><li>Memory Palace becomes part of the Roman Art of Rhetoric in the works of Cicero, Quintilian, and the Rhetorica Ad Herennium </li></ul>
    4. 4. Brief History (continued) <ul><li>Five Steps of Rhetoric </li></ul><ul><ul><li>inventio (heuresis): discovery/invention </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>dispositio (taxis): organization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>elocutio (lexis): composition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>memoria (mneme): memorization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>actio/pronuntiatio (hypocrisis): performance/delivery </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Brief History (continued) <ul><li>During the Middle Ages, emphasis shifts from rhetoric to ethics </li></ul><ul><li>Mendicant monks memorized allegorized personifications of sins </li></ul><ul><li>Monks used simplified version to spatialize manuscript pages as aid for memorizing </li></ul><ul><li>Bizarre and startling marginalia helped monks to memorize whole pages </li></ul><ul><li>2D information space </li></ul>
    6. 6. Brief History (continued) <ul><li>During Renaissance, the “Art of Memory” was marginalized to Neoplatonist movement and Hermetic philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>After the anti-imagistic ethos of the Protestant Reformation, the Memory Palace morphs in to the Ramist outline </li></ul><ul><li>memoria and actio drop out of rhetorical practice with emphasis solely on writing </li></ul><ul><li>memoria becomes words on 2D page: the outline of current composition practice </li></ul>
    7. 7. Brief History (continued) <ul><li>With emergence of electracy, the latter two steps of rhetoric are on the return </li></ul><ul><li>“ 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) </li></ul>
    8. 8. Writing Space <ul><li>Jay David Bolter--Eastgate Systems: “Storyspace” </li></ul><ul><li>“ It is not the writing of a place, but rather a writing with places, spatially realized topics” (Bolter 25) </li></ul><ul><li>Hypertext as primitive form of cyberspace (Smyth) </li></ul>
    9. 9. Hidden Dimensions in Cyberspace “ Data available at the intersection of the three ‘crosshairs’ opens into a subspace of three dimensions” (Benedikt 118).
    10. 10. 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).
    11. 11. Hidden Dimensions in Cyberspace “ The user has moved in to inspect the images more closely” (Benedikt 118).
    12. 12. 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).
    13. 13. Cyberspace as Electrate Mnemonic <ul><li>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.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Tomas 31-32) </li></ul>
    14. 14. Conceptual Metaphors of Thinking <ul><li>Lakoff and Johnson identify a cluster of associated conceptual metaphors related to the Mind as Body metaphor: </li></ul><ul><li>Thinking is Moving </li></ul><ul><li>Thinking is Perceiving </li></ul><ul><li>Thinking is Object Manipulation </li></ul>
    15. 15. Thinking is Moving <ul><li>Most relevant to consideration of virtual reality as a prosthesis for thinking: </li></ul><ul><li>Ideas are Locations </li></ul><ul><li>Reason is a Force </li></ul><ul><li>A Line of Thought is A Path </li></ul><ul><li>Communicating is Guiding </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding is Following </li></ul><ul><li>Inability to Think is Inability to Move </li></ul><ul><li>(Lakoff and Johnson 236) </li></ul>
    16. 16. 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 )
    17. 17. On the Horizon: Game Spaces <ul><li>Games as the design of information spaces for information storage/retrieval: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Game designers don’t simply tell stories; they design worlds and sculpt spaces.” (Jenkins 121) </li></ul><ul><li>“ The game world becomes a kind of information space, a memory palace.” (Jenkins 126) </li></ul>
    18. 18. On the Horizon: Alternate Reality Games “ Here, the embedded narrative is no longer contained in the console but rather flows across multiple channels.” (Jenkins 127)
    19. 19. 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
    20. 20. References <ul><li>Barilli, Renato. Rhetoric . Trans. Giuliana Menozzi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989. </li></ul><ul><li>Benedikt, Michael. Cyberspace: First Steps. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992. </li></ul><ul><li>Bolter, Jay David. Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History </li></ul><ul><ul><li>of Writing. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 1991. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Camille, Michael. Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art . Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1992. </li></ul><ul><li>Carruthers, Mary. The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture . Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990. </li></ul><ul><li>Fassbender, Eric. “Virtual Memory Palaces.”. ~eric/vmp/18%20paper_vmp.pdf. <viewed 4 March 2010>. </li></ul><ul><li>Jenkins, Henry. “Game Design as Narrative Architecture.” First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game . Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004. 118-130. </li></ul><ul><li>Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind And Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books, 1999. </li></ul><ul><li>Smyth, Richard. Renaissance Mnemonics, Poststructuralism, and the Rhetoric of Hypertext Composition . Diss. U of Florida, Gainesville, 1994. diss/index.html. </li></ul><ul><li>Spence, Jonathan. The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci . New York: Penguin Books, 1984. </li></ul><ul><li>Tomas, David. “Old Rituals for New Space.” in Cyberspace: First Steps . 31-47. </li></ul><ul><li>Yates, Frances. The Art of Memory . Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1966. </li></ul>
    21. 21. Contact <ul><li>Richard Smyth, Ph.D. </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>