My research and theoretical writing focuses on 'Post-Digital Philosophy and 'Global Media History.' I am also working on issues of global grassroots infrastructure (such as in social media), an inter/national level of material limitations, and a transnational corporate level of increasing centralization and consolidation.
To do this I focus on the politics and frameworks of scale and power from a trans-historical, trans-national, and trans-disciplinary perspective. While the inter-disciplinary accept subordination to the institutional politics of disciplinary focus, I work in terms of a disciplined unpacking of shared questions, questions whose boundaries are acknowledged to not be fully determined, and whose developed is shared and scaled. As an early adopter and theorist of computer-based media, and having programmed even on Main Frame computers (IBM 360's with key punch cards developed to the data priest), I am also trained in classical intellectual, cultural, and spiritual traditions that include India, China, Central Asia, the Islamic world, the Archaic and Classical worlds of the Mediterranean and Western Asia, the Early Modern, post-Kantian, Pragmatic, and Deconstructive approaches. I have developed and encourage global frameworks, such as an Afro-Eurasian Medieval Culture' linked by institutions with access to limited written materials, have looked at the sudden development of statistics and probability during the 17th century, the politics and epistemology of empiricism distinguished by four post-Kantian philosophical threads formed grappling with Digital Philosophy of the 17th century, have traced out the development and logic of modern computing devices, have emphasized the importance of two developmental and conceptual strands of cybernetics as keys to new forms of social control, cultural and artistic experimentation, and disciplined interpretation: the administrative/artificial life approach of John von Neumann, and the interactive/individual extension approach associated with Norbert Weiner and J.C.R. Licklider.
I have argued that we must begin from a global perspective to understand issues of globalization, since every level of analysis ultimately is equally complex. Working forward from the early forms of capitalism, he has theorized the emergence of a global grassroots infrastructure; a national polity of mass media and materiality, and a transnational corporate level. At the transnational level I have theorized what I called "asymptotic capitalism." At the national level, he has focused on issues of embodiment, sustainability, resources allocation, and the consequences of materiality in general. At the global grassroots level, and influenced by pragmatists such as Charles Sanders Peirce and John Dewey, he explores the importance of working with many, diverse people to collectively explore and uncover our problems and their definitions. As such he has also been interested in what he has called 'the politics of definition' and its implicit critique of analytic philosophies. I remain interested in ethnography as a way to include a diversity of voices and perspectives. His research has included interviews of business, government, academic, Native American and community leaders and workers in rural Montana.
Finally, taking up the question of the "technologies of attention," whether in books, fine arts including the cinema, and personal media he has been theorizing the politics and consequences of fragmentation, and of the problems of social, cultural, and epistemological closure in an era of transnational networking and dynamic hierarchies. Arguing that the Digital Era began during the 17th century with innovations in sampling, in the assumption of discrete identities, in obscured but increasingly rationalized and politicized hierarchical organization, he argues that we now need to consider a politics of logically and dynamically interdependent 'analog/digital,' 'network/hierarchical,' 'phenomenological/structural' approaches present the paradoxical necessity of developing a 'Post-Digital Philosophy' to understand, research, and approach emerging psychological, sociological/political, and logical frameworks in the 21st century and beyond. Arguing that the newer electronic media are revolutionary not particularly in terms of their networks or hierarchies, but in their interdependence as scale transforming technologies, I have proposed new approaches to the politics and epistemology of scale.
So I ask you: Where do the boundaries come from, and what does the boundary of a network or
a system mean? Boundary questions are important whether one is interested in
philosophical works as those of Dignaga, Darwin, Peirce, Dewey, and Derrida, whether one is interested in community development and the importance of
communication, whether one is interested in education and the question of
the impact of 'information technologies,' whether one is interested in the
critique explorations, and tactics of art, whether one is interested in
interface, self, or identify. Key to my work are
consideration of cultural complexity, the materiality of information,
regionalism, and interdependence. My work also can draw upon issues of media
history, and Buddhist and other Asian perspectives, and contemporary European
How can we relate our new understanding to an understanding of 'global' flows
of culture and capital, people and ideologies? How can the 'emerging global
grassroots infrastructure' deal with global threats to cultural and natural
sustainability and intelligent transformations? Why are civil liberties so important?
What is an 'epistemology and politics of scale?' This site outlines some of
my own research and frameworks. I will be putting a long work on the politics
and epistemology of scale online soon, as well as work related to my field research
in rural and developing areas.
Themes: Teaching / Networks & Systems / Dynamic
Hierarchy Theory / Globalization / Space-Place / Place-Bioregionalism / Art
as Critique / Art as Experiment / Contemplation / Deconstruction / Postmodernism
& Compassion / Curriculum Design / Nature, Sustainability, & Animal
Rights / History & Technoculture / 2nd Generation Cyborg Theory / Cyberg
Environmentalism / Literacy / Community Development / Civil Liberties / Digital
& Analog Interface / Socio-Cultural Theory & Research / Reviews &
Teaching and Curriculum
- More recently, I have taught courses on Social Media, Media History, Media Theory, Network Society, and so on.
- COMM3000 "Communication in a Global
Era" new version - at Boulder (Spring 2006)
- "Perspectives on Human Communication"
at Boulder (Spring 2005) / (Fall 2005)
- "Computer Mediated Communication" at Denver (Fall
- SOCY 1005 "Social Conflict & Social Values" at Boulder -
M/W/F (Spring 2004) - To become operational on the evening of Monday, 12 Jan
- CMMU4710 "Communication in a Global Era" at Denver
- T/Th (Spring 2004).
- CMMU4710/5710 -Networks and Society
UColorado at Denver (Fall 2003)
- FINE4097 - "Special Topics in Digital
Art: Territory, Identity, and Spatiality" UColorado @ Boulder
- SOCY4035 "Social Stratification"
UColorado @ Boulder
- SOCY1005 http://www.well.com/user/willard/syllabus-old.htm
- now revised
- SOCY3001 "Classical Sociological Theory" UColorado @ Boulder
- RTF 331N "The Information Society"
- RTF 309/Com039 "Communication Technology
and Society" UTexas@ Austin
- RTF/COM 309 "Communication Technology
and Society" UTexas@ Austin
- "A History of Communication: From Paleo-Anthropology to Cyberspace"
- "Research Methods - Society, Culture, and Communication" NYU
- "Design for Community Networks"
- [Community Teaching - Targeted help involving new media and effective organization
- Technocultural Curriculum Development - Center for Technocultural Studies
& ArtsVision Initiative, Univ. Ca. of Davis
- The Politics and Epistemology of Networks
- "Between Local and Global- Scale and Boundary in the
Emerging Network Society" - This is a
collection of some 15 papers drawing in part on earlier doctoral work at
Univ. Texas at Austin. I have established a distinctive logical framework to
look at communication in culture and society that complements but does not
replace mass media and interpersonal frameworks, statistical and
hermeneutical frameworks. I have developed new ways to think about and
research power in networks. By seeing networks as a philosophical problem in
its own right, I then 'backdate' network logic as having pre-existed any
recent technological interventions.
- I look to the problem of boundaries in
systems, something which systems theories tend to background, or else
deal with in 'second-order' systems. I see apply and draw upon practices and
grounded approaches found in business, textual analysis, and the study of
- By linking logic with networks, community
with complexity, systems with multiple dimensions, deconstruction with Godel
and von Neumann, by rethinking the history of analog and digital, systems
and hierarchies, power and difference, the work moves to rethink
environment, politics, and community. Evidence from my field research and
interviews on the cultural politics of new technologies in Montana is
included in a later chapter. A draft version of this work should be
- Field Research on New Media
- By linking field research and theory, I emphasize the need to consider 'place' in media and
political theory; as well as the need to actually go out and find out what
is going on; to emphasize the need for a variety of voices to be heard, to
emphasize the importance of meaning, and the need to embed ideas in
practices. However, I explore place by also rethinking the notion of scale,
for example, and the need for collaboration between places.
- "Big Sky Telegraph
and Its Community"- An early look at a groundbreaking community networking
experiment in Montana, linking together potentially 114 one room school
houses in rural Montana.. This early research was cited by Howard Rheingold
(of our WELL). Thanks to Frank
- Selected Shorter Theory/Research Writings
- Second Generation Cyborg Theory
- "Cyborg/Cyberg- Cyborg Environmentalism and Community
Politics" in Jon Lebkowsky, ed. Virtual
Bonfire: A Sourcebook for Online Activists. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Selected Civil Liberties Writings
- Linking the dynamics and technologies of hierarchy
and surveillance with that of new communication and
bypass, I suggest that as theorists,
artists, activists, and researchers we must quickly develop a framework for
emerging dynamics of globalization, theorized with my notions on networks. I
argue that democracy must involve more than mere popular selection of a
limited slate of candidates- it must involve the protection of the rights of
minorities, due process, balance of powers, oversight over every emergent
level, an evolving balance between privacy and transpearancy.
- "Trouble in Cyberspace: Civil Liberties at Risk In
the Information Age" (The Humanist) (coming soon). This
classic article, published along side another classic by Prof. Lawrence
Tribe looks at the problem of metaphor, and the collision of the different
'wars' on the margins of society in the name of the center.
- Open Letter to Viacom about the nature of
virtual property and their closing down of Star Trek Web sites.
Viacom started a 'war' against web sites using any of their material (even
if it is to promote their shows and to increase Viacom's profits). Here
are (Page 1) and (Page
2) of one of their lawyer's letters. I argue that it is short sighted
to seek to own a language. Creativity demands access to language,
and the cultural capital of an entity like Viacom demands access to their
work. This is particularly relevant in a time when RIAA seeks to confuse
the public about artists who seek to share some form of their work via
peer-to-peer networks, who seek to mix tapes, who seek to invent new forms
of radio. My Letter 1 and Letter
- Contemplation and Complexity
- "Issues in Complexity and Contemplation"- An exchange with Ben Kutz
(coming soon). I explore questions of Buddhist epistemology and practice,
deconstruction, and complexity theory as part of a facinating dialogue.
- Art, Interface, and Space
- "The Digital / Analog Interface - Marking Boundaries in NetArt." I posit
that we need to investigate some older theories of interface, before the
theatrical metaphors made dominant in the field by Brenda Laurel and others.
By deconstructing these interfaces, I explore questions of materialiality,
audience, performance, politics, and hyperplace.
- Education and Literacy
- Education in the Geodesic Network - Looking at changes in education and
accreditation amid changing technologies. Paper four in the geodesic series.
I am very interested in the changes in our students, what they know, how to
find out what they don't know, and how to think about collaboration.
- Teaching Philosophy - I am indebted to the work of John Dewey. Thanks
Grandma, and thanks Neil for the insightful year with at your department.
- How to write a good paper - Notes for my students.
and Non-linear Systems
- New and Emerging Socio-Cultural Systems
- Community and Regional Telecommunication Issues
- Globalization and Community via Internet:
- Steve Cisler, Frank Odasz, Larry Press, John Quarterman, Geert Lovink, Howard Rheingold, Jon Lebkowsky, Doug Schuler, Richard
Lowenberg, Computer Underground, and The Internet Society
- Art and Technology
- Lists and Locations: NetTime,
Art Gallery: Gallery 9, [local
collectives, eg.Australia's FibreCulture
and New Delhi's Sarai]
- Information Channels: netzspannung.org,
2003 NetArt Links,
Research, Steven Wilson's Conceptual
& NetArt Links/Festivals/Syllabi/Essays, Art
- Some People : Lynn
Hershman, Anne Balsamo,
John Rollof, Mark
- My "Theory and Practice of the Digital Arts"
- check out its links
- Contemplative Contexts and Practices
- Stay Active on how things are governed!
- Save the Bonobo
article or the Bonobo Protection
Fund Site for more information and pictures. Perhaps the closest living
relative to the human race. At present, the wild Bonobo are found in only
one country of Africa: the former Zaire. They could face extinction if
- University of Texas' Advanced
Comm. Tech. Lab (ACTLab) - an old haunt with a fine, evolving academic
Telescope's Views of the Solar System
- Argon Zark,
Chapter 1, Hakim
Bey's TAZ and other texts at Textz and
Dan Levy's Bohemia - where are the
- Shakespeare & Co., Paris, Fr.
- Caravansarai for the weary.
- Ron Kinner's MS Word6/7 'Desktop Save' Macro
- There is a need to save the MS Word Desktop between sessions. This working
example opens a copy of Word 6/7 just the way you left it- no more wasted
time resizing, rearranging, minimizing all over, setting some to outline mode,
some to normal, and so on. This zipped file is tiny (4K) and it is free! A
major time saver for the active writer. I used this tool for years with no
problems. Available only at this site! We need an update for later variants
of Word. Shame on Microsoft for failing to provide this functionality!
- The Virtual Worlds
Industry - Contact Consortium's Older Hot Links.
Space: My Travels to Tibet
- Images on the Path
of Tibet- I have been on many journeys. I have lived in Morocco, France,
Italy, and elsewhere. Here's are a few images from from one trip of a few
Willard Uncapher, Network Emergence, and recently, Visting Assistant
Professor and Lecturer, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder. Home: 8706 Kendall Court,
Arvada, CO 80003; mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org