Media are models in the making. Less than a tool, more than an intuition: a medium is what happens in between; it is what appears during the passage of an inkling held in common into a technology: encapsulated, protected, deployable. This definition structures a discussion.
During semiosis, a variation is born from a telos awkwardly wedded to a body. A genetic pathway is what exists by virtue of a contingency that made room for that orienting goal to blossom and sediment, to knit niche and meaning. The feeling of what it is like to sense a goal-orientation permeate one's fleshy fumbling is one way to think of bodies as models in action. By cultivating thinking, humans can learn to interpret life as a living model harboring ways untrodden by virtue of contingent pathways laid by modernity. In the politics of signification, a variation is an event that sets off a chain of interpretive reactions. People can elicit a polyphony of interpretations or devise techniques that delimit the scope (and shape the unfolding) of discussion. Texts and networks, polemics and tools: all are ways to take up a position (with respect to the means of communication) that either cultivates interpretation or forecloses it.
This panel contributes by providing this cluster of key terms (media, model, meaning, and variation; orientation, contingency, and interpretation) as context in which to connect humanist media studies with philosophical orientations to life in science and technology studies. It invites opening gambits, definitional prototypes, and case study templates.
Keywords: Information, Computing and Media Technology, Method and Practice, Media Studies; Philosophy of Life; Philosophy of Science; Path Dependence; Variation; Models; Interpretation; Contingency; Orientation; Semiosis