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Re: <nettime> review of Paul Miller's Rhythm Science
McKenzie Wark on Tue, 4 May 2004 01:02:09 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> review of Paul Miller's Rhythm Science

Matze asks:

> > Rip, mix, play: Information leaks and escapes from the boundaries of the
> > object.
>the boundaries of the object? what could that be?

I see information as having an abstract relation to materiality.
Information does not exist without a material form, but it has no
necessary relation to that form. For example, the cd in computer's drive
is a material object, but I can extract the information on it while
leaving the material object intact. Thus, information, when it becomes
digital, can 'leak' from the bounds of the object.

> >The trouble with writing is that it escapes the body*
>mh, as if writing would be a simple bodyly product of the body and not a
>symbolic one.

This goes back to Plato's Phadrus, and the difference between writing and
speech. Writing is the sign that can escape from the necessity of a body
to support it, which is always the case with speech. Or at least it was,
until recording took away the privileged relation of the sign to the body.
On which see Kittler.

>questioning: where does information (this strange
>im-material) come from? though it is the »king's argument« of the
>school of informationalism (digital information goods are free from loss
>and so on) the argument of a "new ontology" is to short.

I was thinking after I wrote the review that this is the question to ask,
and you asked it! My provisional answer is that, by analogy with the
labour theory of value, I want a cognitive theory of information. The
ideology of information 'naturalises' it, obscuring the work of cognition
in its production. Cognition is here a kind of labor, but with special
qualities, or rather, it is labor that is qualitative, that produces the
new. And so:  an ontology of information as what escapes from the material
but which must always return to it, and of the labor that produces it as
qualitative difference.

Thanks for the questions -- if the answers are inadequate, its just a
measure of the size of the problem.

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