February 24, 2008 Ben Peters

Instead of a Conclusion

Post five of five.

In sum, the Cold War funded a vast amount of information projects. These three case studies touch upon a few of the larger political, legal, cultural, religious terms of a transition toward distributed and disembodied information, and toward the folly of increasing control over content-blind information under the philosophical pretext of furthering freedoms toward an egalitarian ideal of information distribution. Information distribution is a fine goal and a dangerous presumption about the way things are.

One, the Cold War funded information sciences—cybernetics, information theory, nuclear research, queueing theory, packet-switching, etc.—that invested digital technologies with a distributed sense of information.

Two, in the broadest strokes, early 1990s post-Soviet transition and the mid 1990s transition online tell the same story: a tragedy of expanded contentless-control. Let’s expand on Elihu Katz’ famous phrase, if it is true that God gave film to the humanities, TV to the social sciences, then how in the world did the lawyers get digital media?

Three, the Granite Mountain Record Vault can be read as an explicit and imaginative attempt to save ourselves with information, the vault exists as an artifact of a Cold War information mentality prevailing in 1960s, save by hoarding; the vault also exists thanks to a belief in the salvational, transcendental power of correct, content-rich information when joined with bodies of matter.