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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 57, Issue 2, 2020

Alina R. Latypova
Pages 162-178

Between Mutation and Glitch
Digital Evolution of Media

The following paper considers the immanent principles of digital media evolution. The features of the evolutional route of digital objects are conditioned by glitches, errors and bugs, which appear in media functioning, what in its turn gives birth to the new forms, structures and configurations of digital reality. The glitches are considered not only as a kind of digital mutations, but also as a sign of activity of media. Decisions elaborated from the programs’ failures enlarge the resolution capacity of new technologies. The paper provides an analysis of certain errors and glitches, which engineers, programmers, game designers faced with during their work with digital environment. The theoretical framework includes Henri Bergson’s theory of creative evolution, Gram Harman’s object-oriented philosophy, media philosophical approach to the problem of the activity of object proposed by Valery Savchuk and the theory of self-organisation and autopoiesis of the social systems worked out by Niklas Luhmann. The analysis of digital objects activity demonstrates two levels of functioning. The first one, fictional level, reveals mainly (but not only) in the computer games and concerns the content of media, when we gain a habit to interact with digital objects/characters as if they are real. The second level, operational, realises in the digital environment in general and concerns the form of media. On this level, glitches and bugs have crucial meaning, because they might evoke the changes in the digital world organisation, starting from the local decisions for the certain program (e.g. the elaboration of the new ways in solving locomotional tasks in simulations, which might be later use in other projects) and ending with the replacement of practices and representations typical for the human of digital era. The paper shows that it is possible to talk about digital evolution not in terms of the history of technological inventions, but in terms of the changes in digital objects caused by the inner logic of media, independently from the human will and expectations.

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