Of Organic And Digital Trees (E-Einführungsvorlesung)

Prof. Dr. Daniel Devatman Hromada
Of Organic And Digital Trees

E-Einführungsvorlesung, Englisch/Deutsch, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS
Video live sessions: Wednesdays, bi-weekly, 10-13 h, 6 dates: 29.4., 13.5, 27.5, 10.6, 24.6, 8.7.2020

We are going to explore a certain similarity-of-forms – a certain morphism – between entities we know as "organic trees" and arborescent metaphors frequently used in informatics and computer science (e.g. folder-subfolder-file structures, grammars, taxonomies, UNIX #root, direct acyclic graphs etc.). In order to evit being too scholastic and hence potentially boring, we shall also ask a question "What is the essence of a Tree?" And we will try to address this question by refering to both mythology (e.g. Yggdrasil), fantasy (e.g. Tolkien's "Ents"), sci-fi (Dan Simmons' "treeship"; Neal Stephenson's "Arbre" with its page-growing-trees) and pre-factual non-fiction literature (role of trees in Lovelock's vision of the upcoming Novacene).  Asides this, an invited experienced IT-professor will introduce students to notion of "binary trees" and the fundamental role such structures play in function of databases running societies and industries of the late Anthropocene.
The course will conclude with a short excursion into the realm of A.I.s and "machine learning" wherein the "tree metaphor" also seems to bring some fruit (e.g. "decision trees", "random forests" etc.). And if times allows it, we'll start dealing with Wittgenstein's Tractatus whose form seems to be...a tree.

Mandatory Bibliography:
Giono, Jean: The Man Who Planted Trees, 1953.
LeGuin, Ursula: The Word for World is Forest, 1972.

Optional Bibliography:
Lovelock, James: Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence, 2019.
Wittgenstein, Ludwig: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1921.
Wohlleben, Peter: The Hidden Life of Trees, 2015.

Leistungsanforderungen für den unbenoteten Studium-Generale-Schein: Regelmäßige und aktive Mitwirkung sowie Pflanzung eines organischen oder digitalen Baumes und über Erfolg/Scheitern der ersten Wachstumphase berichten.

Ausrichtung der Veranstaltung: orientierend, vorwärtsgewandt
Kompetenz/Aktivität der Teilnehmenden: reflektieren/denken, aneignen

Daniel Devatman Hromada is since August 2018 UdK’s Juniorprofessor for Digital Education at Einstein Center Digital Future. Born in 1982 in Bratislava, he holds bachelor degrees in humanities from Charles University (Prague) and in linguistics from University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis; a master’s degree in artificial and natural cognition from Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris). In 2016, a successful defense of his thesis “Evolutionary models of ontogeny of linguistic categories”, entitled Hromada to carry a double doctorate from both Slovak Technical University (cybernetics) as well as University Paris 8 – Lumieres (psychology). Father of two children and a somewhat naive gardener, he is a founder and first senator of oldest Slovak digital community kyberia.sk as well as introductory cultivator of a rhizome-arobrescent knowledge managment system kastalia.medienhaus.udk-berlin.de and motivator behind the "digital Primer" project.