Cybernetics, Modernism, and Pleasure in the MoMA Web Site
Van Alstyne, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
This paper is concerned with the theory and practice of the MoMA Web
site -- its design logic, workflow, and relationship to the Museum.
As we will see in some detail, the site has remained focused through
the application of specific tenets of Modernist design; it has been
generated by the pursuit of pleasure in both the visual and the conceptual
realm; and most surprisingly, it has evolved as a study in applied cybernetics.
Saturday, April 25, 1998
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Originating in the 1940s alongside the birth of the first "ultra-rapid
computing machines," cybernetics was conceived as the science of control
and communication in the animal and the machine. The term, coined
by mathematician Norbert Weiner and his colleagues, was derived from
the Greek word for "helmsman," whose role was to provide adaptive
control of a vessel. This state of control is understood to be determined
by the flow of information. Cybernetics is thus concerned with the
theory of information and with concepts such as feedback, entropy,
signal, noise, medium, message, and homeostasis, the state of dynamic
equilibrium. Always a transdiciplinary subject, cybernetics has application
not only to the patterns and signals which comprise the Web site itself,
but also the crucial system of social and professional communications
which create and sustain the site as an enterprise. Although cybernetics
lends its name to the popular term "cyberspace," the term is curiously
absent from recent discussions in informatics. In seeking to answer
some of the difficult questions facing museums as they develop an
online presence, this paper will propose the return of cybernetics
to the center stage of contemporary discourse about the Web.
Greg's paper will be published in UNESCO's journal, Museum International.
Last modified: July 17, 1999. This file can be found below http://www.archimuse.com/mw98/
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