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Almost everyone has experienced a sense of increased power after acquiring a piece of new technology or learning a new skill. The acquisition of new capabilities through learning or artifacts are ways in which people (organisms) may extend the ranges of their influence, the extents of their bodily power. An individual's effectiveness can be multiplied by equipping that individual with postcongenital instruments.

The perception of such augmentation often manifests as excitement, joy, curiosity, and self-confidence. They are the feelings which people experience when learning how to knit, understanding a new language, or acquiring a new tool. For example, when I was a child, I remember how excited I was when I got my first ten-speed bicycle. Ten-speed bicycles were several degrees of complexity over a single-gear coaster brake bicycle. They enabled cyclists (cyborgs) to change the ratio between torque and power as occasion demanded. The decoupling of acceleration and deceleration in the form of handbrakes allowed for greater control over balance while turning etc. and so on.

The giddiness I experienced when I got my first ten-speed bicycle was about being able to move my corporeal self in ways that were more efficient than was possible with a single-gear bicycle. The technology was fundamentally about moving my body, about moving meat and bone, flesh and sinew.

Miguel DeLanda considers the augmentation of individual capability when he writes

New skills, in short, increase one's capacities to affect and be affected, or to put it differently, increase one's capacities to enter into novel assemblages, the assemblage that the human body forms with a bicycle, a piece of solid ground and a gravitational field, for example. (50)

It isn't too difficult to see how moving one's body, one's flesh and bone, from one location to another enables one to enter new assemblages, whether going to party on the other side of town, riding from one's house in the suburbs to the tidepool down the coast, etc. What is less obvious is how the acquisition of new skills provides access to assemblages whose materiality is less visible to the eye. For example, deploying a content management system to automate the generation of article summaries, summaries monitored by various pieces of software whose output is consulted by, say, a group of students.

Some people are (I am) drawn to tools and information that provide access to new assemblages, to novel informatic and corporeal strata. This kind of activity—the acquisition and development of material which increase the range of one's influence—is distinct from the acquisition and arrangment of data available in strata already familar. end of article

Works Cited

DeLanda, Manuel. A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity. London: Continuum, 2006.