CANCELLED-Profs & Pints Hampton Roads: Why the Internet Is Made of Cats

By Profs and Pints (other events)

Wednesday, September 27 2023 6:00 PM 8:30 PM EDT

Profs and Pints Hampton Roads presents: “Why the Internet Is Made of Cats,” a thoughtful exploration of online communication and how it became so feline-focused, with Dylan Wittkower, professor of the philosophy of technology at Old Dominion University.

When Tim Berners-Lee, in inventor of the World Wide Web, was asked what uses of technology surprise him, he said “kittens.” End-users of technologies frequently use them in ways that designers never intended. The creators of the Internet had loftier goals than the widespread distribution of images of Felis catus, yet cats quickly proliferated within the Internet and seem there to stay, so at home they might as well be dozing on our couch.

Join Professor Dylan Wittkower, a philosopher who is focused on technology and asks the big questions about our online world, for a look at what cats’ domination of the Internet tells us about technology and ourselves.

He’ll look at why we see cats as useful means of communication, but his talk will go much deeper than that.  

After introducing us to phenomenology—the philosophical study of consciousness and how we experience the world around us—he’ll look at what cats represent in our minds. He’ll help us tackle the basic question “What even are cats?”  

In walking us through this mental exercise, he’ll show us how the methods of phenomenology can be applied to the design and implementation of technology. It’s a talk that will help engineers and technologists be more creative, and just might change how those in his audience think about the Internet and the world around them. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)

Image: Photo by Phil Dolby (pxhere / Creative Commons)