Week 12

This weeks readings seemed rather complicated at first, and somewhat out of place. Only when I went through the course outline, I realized the relevance of Edwards’ theories. One of the key concepts that he outlined was that of ‘data friction.’ According to Edwards, ‘data friction’ involves the process of finding data with relation to a particular subject and studying the effort behind it. He provides the reader with an example of studying weather patterns over the years. The effort that goes in to tracing the history of the ways in which these weather patterns were studied is what he calls ‘data friction’ (Edwards, 2010). With reference to the the publishing industry, I want to explain this theory with relation to a certain type of publishing: photography. This type of publishing records data in the form of visual imagery. “Photography creates pictures by recording radiation using a radiation sensitive material such as photographic film or electronic image sensors” (Spencer, 1973). Now, the ‘data frictions’ that would be involved with the study of photography would be the efforts in the ways people have studied the development of photography to the point where it has become such a vital tool for publishing in the modern era. For example, the first colour photograph was taken in 1861 by a physicist James Clerk Maxwell (Gernsheim, 1955). The ‘data frictions’ here would involve the way people have helped photography develop, and the effort of all those individuals who made the effort to study the past and help develop the art of photography. The crux of the reading however, focused on the idea of ‘infrastructural globalism’. At first glance, I had absolutely no idea what this word could mean, but after doing some research and further reading I understood the concept. In his book, Edwards explains the term to refers to “how the building of technical systems for gathering global data helped to create global institutions and ways of thinking globally” (Edwards, 2010). Thus, taking my photography example further, ‘infrastructural globalism’ would refer to a global organisation that would study the phenomenon of photography. For example, ‘The Worldwide Photograph Gala Awards’ would be one such institution that studies photographs worldwide and then rewards individuals for what they feel are the ‘best’ photographs. Thus, in conclusion I can say that Edwards’ theories seemed to confuse me at first because I felt that this had no relevance to the publishing industry. However, as you can see from my example of photography, his theories actually map out some fundamental techniques that could be used to study the publishing world and the way it has changed over time.


About hyukyboy

Arts2090 Tuesday 3pm - 5pm Morven Brown G3
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