Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Inertia of Information

My review of de Certeau has led me into a side thought. Foucault claims that particular discourses or forces create form a grid of classification (quadriller--but not as in the BBQ). The net effect of this grid is turn people into information. But information itself has weight because it can only be instantiated and preserved in documents (assuming of course that electronic databases serve as documents in the broader sense). These documents are material: they must be created, maintained, preserved, and disposed. In a strict interpretation of information theory, the grid of classification requires a certain number of copper lines. In the sense recently elaborated by Bowker, it requires an entire apparatus of memory practices. Bowker tells the story of the Melbourne tram. Tickets originally carried a complete description of the individual purchaser: eye colour, height, etc. Administering this infrastructure required far too many resources so the ticket devolved into a far less structured document claiming only a period of validity. From de Certeau, we can imagine that this devolution in form led to the introduction of all sorts of different tactics as people gamed the system. In short, the intertia of information necessarily acts against the regime of the discourse.

Now I'm starting to sound like a theory and crit kiddy. Yikes!

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