The Information Environment

Cubitt, Sean. 2016. The Information Environment. In: Ulrik Ekman; Jay David Bolter; Lily Diaz; Morten Sondergaard and Maria Engberg, eds. Ubiquitous Computing, Complexity and Culture. New York: Routledge, pp. 215-225. ISBN 978-0415743822 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

The term 'environment' presumes that something surrounds ('environs') something else. So the term environment' expresses a relationship, which here will be taken in the first instance as that between humans and their environments. This chapter argues that the organic world of rock, soil and water, plants and animals, only becomes environmental in specific historical conjunctures, those that separate population from land, the most significant of which on the global scale were the enclosures of the early modern period, and the colonial moment. It goes on to argue that the human-environment relationship has undergone at least two more major changes. The second involved the alienation of tools, from extensions of the labouring body to large-scale industrial technologies. The third, which is now nearing completion, involves the alienation of knowledge, like tools once integral to human life but now exiled and placed as an information environment through which we must navigate. It is possible that a fourth moment is in formation: one in which the human body becomes environment: something to be controlled and exploited. Taking as its starting point Foucault's observation that bio-politics intervenes between populations and their environments, this chapter interrogates what ecocritical media studies can reveal of the political economy of ubiquitous networks. It asks whether such an aggregate situation, one of increasing standardisation and alienation, can allow events worthy of the name.

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

23 Feb 2016 14:03

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 13:53


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