Information before information theory: The politics of data beyond the perspective of communication

New Media and Society (forthcoming)

Colin Koopman
University of Oregon
Scholarship on the politics of new media widely assumes that communication functions as a sufficient conceptual paradigm for critically assessing new media politics. This article argues that communication-centric analyses fail to engage the politics of information itself, limiting information only to its consequences for communication, and neglecting information as it reaches into our selves, lives, and actions beyond the confines of communication. Furthering recent new media historiography on the “information theory” of Shannon and Wiener, the article reveals both the primacy of communication in midcentury information theory, and also a striking resonance between these postwar communication theories and Habermas’s more recent communicative theory of democracy. To achieve a critical perspective beyond communication, the article proposes a media genealogy of the politics of subjects as a methodology for developing an analysis of how information formats us as subjects of data.
Keywords data  formats  information  Foucault  Habermas  Wiener  Shannon  infopower
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