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Informational Persons and Our Information Politics

(p.1) Introduction
How We Became Our Data
Colin Koopman
University of Chicago Press

We are subject to vast amounts of personal data that others attach to us and that we in turn regularly reattach to ourselves. These data points have become important to the politics of who we are and who we can be. This introductory chapter to How We Became Our Data provides an entry into the book’s two central arguments. The first argument is that we have become informational persons: our information is today so deeply woven into who we are that were we to be deprived of it, we could no longer be the persons we once so effortlessly were. The second argument is that we informational persons are subject to a distinctive modality of power: this is a power expressed in the formats of data which can be labeled an “infopower” or an “infopolitics.” Building on the work of Michel Foucault, Ian Hacking, Friedrich Kittler, Cornelia Vismann, and others, this chapter lays the groundwork for a historical investigation of the conditions that make possible our contemporary data subjectivity and our correlative subjection to the politics of data.

Keywords:   subjectivity, information, data, genealogy, Foucault, Kittler, infopolitics, informational persons

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