Mapping Exercise

The crux of technomancy is mapping from a domain of magical activity (i.e., a set of related agents, actions, or objects that are structural, meaningful, or practical in a magical context) to a range of activities involving computers and computational media. In other words, making correspondences between the things magicians do or make use of when they do magic, and things that can be done with a computer or that computers can do. The following exercise may help you to discover such correspondences.

On a sheet of paper (or do this exercise digitally, perhaps with mind-mapping software such as MindMeister), make a mark dividing the sheet of paper in half. Label one half of the paper “Magic Space,” and the other half “Computer Space.” On the side labeled “Magic Space,” write a list of things you do when you practice magic, or that you imagine someone else does when they practice. You might start with something like: “invoke a deity, read Tarot cards, cast spells.” If possible, extract from those things actions that you do physically, and write those down on the same half of the paper. When you ‘invoke a deity’, do you move or position your body in a particular way? Do you speak anything aloud? Do you close your eyes? Is there a particular sound or song you listen to as you invoke? Do you burn incense? When you ‘read Tarot cards’, how do you lay out the cards? Do you perform any ritual actions before or after shuffling or spreading the cards? How do you ‘cast spells’? Are there any techniques or tools you use frequently? Do you make use of images or sigils or material links (“blood and hair and sweat and ends of fingernails”)? Do you enact gestures or speak incantations? &c.

On the other half of the paper, on the side labeled “Computer Space,” write a list of things that you know or suppose computers can do or that can be done using computers. It will be especially helpful to include things you have learned about Scratch, but feel free to record anything you think involves computers.

When you have written several items on both sides of the paper, go back and forth between elements on opposite sides and see what correspondences you can make between them, ways in which an interaction can occur when those two (or more) things come together. You need not yet define what the interaction is; just mark wherever you find a reasonable correspondence. Not every element needs to correspond to something on the other side. E.g., ‘burn incense’ might not connect to anything you can imagine a computer doing, or perhaps you cannot think of a magical application for ‘run web browser’, and that is just fine.

Here is an example pair of lists with lines between them marking what seem to me as reasonable correspondences:

As you proceed through Technomancy 101, feel free to add or subtract elements or connections from your own lists. You may also at any time develop any correspondence in more detail. What might the correspondence between ‘drum’ or ‘intone / incant / chant’ and ‘detect / respond to sound’ actually be like? How would the computer detect the sound (hint: a microphone), and how would it respond? How would the response matter in the context of performing a magical act? Do not worry or necessarily dismiss a correspondence if you cannot answer these kinds of questions right away; something may occur to you later on as you continue studying the projects and experimenting with your own.