Did You Know? (Forward: Geeks & Artboys by William Gibson)

I’ll be extracting interesting quotes and information from the book for my literature review, and share them here, so that you can decide if they are relevant to your undergraduate work.

  1. On being an “artboy”:

Gibson felt it was imperative that he not know what he was speaking about, in order to be known “for some subrational”, “shamanistic function” that he believed he served. To qualify as an artboy meant one must not know what he is doing. (p. xii)

2. On Cinema, and its Hollywood origins:

“… (and perhaps Hollywood was where the two impulses first fused, cinema having been the brilliant bastard offspring of a union once unthinkable to anyone but a frothing Italian futurist).”

(in Packer and Jordan, 2002, p. xiii)

3. Geeks vs Artboys

President Roosevelt was advised by “geek”, Vannavar Bush, not the “Big Three” science fiction “artboys”, Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clark, and Robert Heinlein (p. xiii).

4. Gibson describes his own work as “a sort of voluntary autism” (p. xiv).

5. Poet Jorge Luis Borges, “regarded the universe itself as a library, infinitely recombinant, infinitely recursive, in which a single text might exist in variorum editions beyond number” (p. xiv).

6. Multimedia “is not an invention but an ongoing discovery of how the mind and the universes it imagines… fit together and interact” (p. xiv).

7. Gibson describes the book chapters as “an interleaving of histories intended to open inter-textual doors, some of which, given the right reader, have never before been opened” (p. xiv).

Reflective Note:

How do Gibson’s views support my claim that the media arts requires a Learning Management System (LMS) that can better facilitate teaching and learning of the media arts, beyond the limited affordances of NTUlearn or Blackboard. How do I then justify the use of OSS, to address the curriculum gap engendered by the restrictive LMS?


Packer, R., & Jordan, K. (2002). Multimedia : from Wagner to virtual reality (Expanded ed.). New York: Norton.

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Technology-mediated learning environments student here. Am interested in how cutting edge educational technologies such as OSS, are harnessed to facilitate the teaching and learning of visual art.

4 thoughts on “Did You Know? (Forward: Geeks & Artboys by William Gibson)”

  1. Poet Jorge Luis Borges, “regarded the universe itself as a library, infinitely recombinant, infinitely recursive, in which a single text might exist in variorum editions beyond number”

    I like the sound of that! The universe is a library, and each individual is actually a book. You read a person by talking to them and knowing them inside out and by doing so, you learn about experiences that you might not went through but now you learn from their experiences! I see this as a relevant statement that might be useful in our university studies. There’s too much mistakes in the world to be learn, we can’t possibly make all those mistake but we learn from other people’s mistakes!

    1. You are absolutely right Kamarul! In fact, even in publishing, many researchers and reviewers are loathe to publish failed experiments, for obvious reasons. Often, only successful research projects are published, and failed research studies that have found blind alleys account for only 14% of published papers.

      This is unfortunate, as knowing what has failed, is just as important as knowing what has succeeded, because without access to these failed studies, we inadvertently waste limited resources exploring these same blind alleys already explored by others

      More about that here.

      Thus, I believe OSS provides artists and researchers with a clearer view of what succeeds and what fails, to facilitate curriculum planning, curriculum enactment, and evaluation, as teachers and learners work on their individual and group projects.

  2. Alvin, I think your initial statement from Gibson about “not knowing what you are doing” is important to our use of OSS. By documenting our process, we are investigating in many cases the working out of things “unknowingly,” venturing into “unknown” territory as an artist, which is as you say very fruitful. OSS encourages that kind of emphasis on the process of “unknowing.”

    1. Yes, and I therefore have to show that current LMSes such as Blackboard, do not facilitate sharing of the process of “unknowing” as well as OSS, to justify my study.

      I argue that
      (1) The closed nature of many LMSes creates a barrier preventing learners outside the tutorial group, access to this treasure trove of failures and successes.
      (2) LMS assessment formats such as MCQs, are more suited to formative (end of semester), than summative (ongoing) assessment requiring constant feedback to refine learners’ thinking and work.
      (3) Given how class sites on LMSes like Blackboard are created and removed from user accounts every semester, it is likely that learners will short-circuit the process of unknowing, by demonstrating what they know within the limited time frame, rather than what they don’t. The emphasis shifted from testing what learners know, rather than what they don’t. Lev Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development requires teachers to ascertain gaps in learning, so that we can determine the appropriate level of assistance or curricular intervention—not too much support such learners are insufficiently challenged, and not too little such that learners are stuck. In contrast, the OSS account is life long, as the media arts curriculum is process-oriented, rather than primarily product-focussed. OSS facilitates life-long peer-to-peer interactions that last beyond the semester.
      (4) Unlike Adobe Connect, Blackboard is ill-suited host collaborative media performances such as “We are Now[here]“, and other cutting edge work, involving simultaneous or synchronous user and spectator input and output across virtual and physical spaces. OSS thus facilitates the trialogical approach to knowledge creation.

      “Trialogical learning refers to a novel approach on collaborative learning where the aim is to support participants’ sustained activities on developing knowledge artifacts (documents, models, design artifacts, etc.) and cultivating related knowledge practices.”

      (Paavola and Hakkarainen, 2014, p. 53)


      Paavola, S., & Hakkarainen, K. (2014). Trialogical approach for knowledge creation. In S. C. Tan, H. J. So, & J. Yeo (Eds.), Knowledge Creation in Education (pp. 53-73). Singapore: Springer.

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