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Data’s Turbulent Pasts and Future Paths

(p.173) 5: Redesign
How We Became Our Data
Colin Koopman
University of Chicago Press

This chapter develops an argument for what resistance might look like under conditions of infopower. Equally important, it also describes what forms such resistance to infopower are unlikely to take. A key argument is that resistance calibrated to infopower is irreducible to mainstream theories of democratic deliberation that presuppose information in such a way that they cannot confront it as a political problematic in its own right. The chapter criticizes influential communicative accounts of democracy that have structured much of recent normative political theory. Primary targets include the critical theory of Jürgen Habermas and the work of the American pragmatist philosopher John Dewey. The chapter shows why both of these theories are structurally unable to confront information itself as a political problem. A precursor for a more viable approach is found in the work of Dewey’s interlocutor, and sometimes foil, Walter Lippmann. Rather than suspending communication-centered politics by way of a turn to aesthetics (a prominent option for contemporary political theory), an alternative is sketched in a turn toward technics and technology. On this view, resistance to infopolitical fastening is best mounted at the level of designs, protocols, audits, and other forms of formats.

Keywords:   Communication, Information, Cybernetics, Media Archaeology, Friedrich Kittler, Jürgen Habermas, John Dewey, Walter Lippmann, Claude Shannon, Norbert Wiener

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