Somebody Help Us Explain What Embedded Statistical Technologies Achieve in fMRI Research

I promised to write more about my thoughts on how the question of what software is—and does—relates to fMRI research. Tonight seems the perfect time to do so, as I just received feedback on my paper proposal. Besides that, my calendar tells me that the following days got assigned to other projects of mine, so I’d better use this rainy night to share my ideas with you. (I divided the remaining days between the three final written assignments for this term; and, as a colleague told me yesterday, I did so in a stereotypically German manner of accuracy.) Continue reading

Inspired Part 4: Tools vs. Machines—A Helpful Distinction?

One last—and regarding further work maybe even the most important—in this season of posts inspired by recent exposure to John Tresch’s The Romantic Machine deals with fMRIs in a rather broad sense: Even though Tresch does not write much about sciences of the brain, his reflections on human-technological alliances and their transformative potential add a lot to my interest in putting people in numbers and negotiating the measures between domains. Categorizing humans according to bodily and mental measures and personal characteristics by making use of devices of any sort is part of the attempt to inform contemporary policies and improve—or justify—social realities and political economy. Continue reading

Inspired Part 2: Are Imaging Technologies Enslaving because They Have Lost Their Romantic Ambiguity?

I promised to share more thoughts on Tresch’s fabulous work and Vinsel’s inspiring blog series. One topic that keeps coming up is the distinction between “tools” and “machines.” I am not sure if pursuing this road will lead to any illuminating insight, but since it keeps occupying my thoughts and is so well in line with what is happening in the realm of neuroscientific imaging technologies, I thought I’d give it some more consideration. Continue reading

Follow up on Techno-Mathematical Tools

This is the moment I have been waiting for so desperately: I am currently formatting my new computer’s hard drive—all by myself! However, it does not really make me feel like the mature nerd I always wanted to be, rather like the exile Swabian lacking her brother’s assistance. The best news is certainly that there is a new computer to work on—finally. I have been waiting for this sustainably produced (or green washed?!) HP device for two months, checking in at the store several times, in order to ask if it has arrived yet. The answer was always negative. They had problems with the delivery, suggested to lend me another computer, or to sell an alternative device for the same price. (Why would I borrow a laptop, format it, encrypt the hard drive, and return it after a few weeks? I did not lay out my reasons. I politely declined the offer.) When I came in today to cancel my order, however, without my wallet, only with $ 10 in my back pocket, having had lunch with two fellow grad students, the guy at the check-out went to the stacks and returned with my “EliteBook.” Everybody seemed seriously embarrassed for forgetting to notify me of the computer’s arrival, and they gave me a $ 100 discount. Nice. I could not take the computer with me, though, since I did not have a card for the refund on me. Less nice. Continue reading

Food Co-Op and Instruments

I love how having a “real life outside the Department”1 contributes to my work-related ideas. Most of the time, however, they remain work-related ideas, and cannot be transformed into actual reading and writing, since what I am currently working on are mainly the assigned readings for my weekly classes. Be that as it may, living the “real life” meant attending Mariposa‘s new member orientation on Sunday, where I found myself sitting next to a Penn teacher (whose name I will not tell, since I am not sure if she wants the world to know that we met, and that it happened in this specific location). Before the two-hour ideological indoctrination started, we spent a few minutes talking about our work and mutual acquaintances in the HSS Department. As it turned out, she had co-authored several papers on the history of arts and sciences with Penn HSS faculty. Thanks to our introduction-to-rule at Mariposa, I found out her name (as well as gender self-identification and food co-op experience), and was able to google her department website in the evening. Continue reading