Toward a Political Theory for Informational Persons
How We Became Our Data argues that for the past one hundred years we have been increasingly organized by a politics of data within which control is exerted by the many formats of our information. Over the past century we have become informational persons whose lives are increasingly conducted through an information politics. This chapter offers a comparative survey of recent contributions to a critical theory of data in order to show that the perspective of “infopolitics” and “infopower” offered in How We Became Our Data is irreducible to other prominent offerings. Infopower is irreducible to well-known accounts of the politics of discipline, biopolitics, and state sovereignty familiar from the work of Foucault and other recent critical theorists. Though the formats of infopower often hook up with earlier-developed political technologies of normalization and regulation, infopolitical technologies of canalizing and accelerating are in need of an independent analysis that does not misread them through concepts appropriate to what are in actuality quite other operations of power. The political stakes of such a recalibration of our critical diagnostics matters not only for understanding the history of who we have become, but also for confronting possibilities of who we might yet be.
Keywords: Infopower, Infopolitics, Data Power, Formats, Fastening, Informational Persons, Biopower, Control Power, Genealogy, Michel Foucault