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The Laws of CoolKnowledge Work and the Culture of Information$
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Alan Liu

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226486987

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226487007.001.0001

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(p.141) Chapter 4 Networking
The Laws of Cool

Alan Liu

University of Chicago Press

Since about 1982, networking has taken the lead in setting the agenda of information technology. In terms of information architectures, the networking paradigm arose through a twofold rhythm of convergence in underlying technologies and divergence in understanding what might be called the “philosophy” of those technologies. The technological convergence occurred when computing and communications fused together in three overlapping stages: the preliminary decade of the 1970s, the years from 1981 to 1991, and the early 1990s. Networking eroded decentralization to the point of wholly ironizing the putative master/slave relation between client and server. What is cool in an era when all our techniques are bonded to all our technologies through a paradoxically de- and recentralized network of standards, protocols, routines, metaphors, and, finally, culture that makes knowledge work simulate an eternal, inescapable friendship? Might there someday be a subculture and art of the interface—one that is cool to the friendship system even while wired into the culture of that system? The answer is that such a subculture is already here: the intraculture of knowledge work.

Keywords:   networking, information technology, intraculture, knowledge work, decentralization, cool, computing, communications, technological convergence, subculture

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