Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Networked Beings in the Newsroom

Joost van Loon and Emma Hemmingway are presenting a paper entitled 'Networked Beings in the Newsroom: Transactions, Translations and Transformations' at 'The State of Things: towards an economy of artifice and artefacts' conference at the University of Leicester in April. Below they discuss the key ideas informing their paper and their research in this area:

The economic turn within Actor Network Theory asks: What is the matter of associations? What flows constitute networking? These questions are reminiscent of, in particular, Deleuze & Guattari's earlier explorations of the assemblage, which implies a radically non-anthropocentric understanding of the subject.

Tracing some of the lineages further back to Whitehead and Spinoza, we can detect an undercurrent in thinking about ontology that have been dubbed 'philosophy of organism' (Whitehead) as well as 'empirical philosophy' (Dewey). In this paper, we describe a very modest 'event' in a newsroom which involves an accreditation of a particular association which in classical anthropological research would be called 'a rite of initiation'. We focus on the role of the post-broadcast evaluation as the configuration in which membership is affirmed through specific transactions or gifts.

However, we go further and argue that these gifts do more than merely establish a matter of associating, they also imbue significance and bestow this upon the actor-network-in-formation. This is the work of translation and it is the domain of particular mediators. Finally, the 'sign value' of accreditation becomes confirmed in the transformation of the moment in which the news product itself becomes collectivised as a member of the network; as deemed worthy of being affirmed as an actor.

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