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· 47 ·· CHAPTER 1 · The Genesis of Digital Objects Digital Objects and Their Milieux We are currently living in a digital milieu; we Facebook, we blog, we Flickr, we YouTube, and we Vimeo. Nouns and brands have become verbs, even forms of life. The speed of technological innovation, the ubiquity of the latest and greatest versions of electronic devices, the promise of an emancipative technology or media, financial investment based on the digitization of human relations, and so on—they all constitute a seeing that is never in the present but is rather the projection of a nihilistic not-yet. This mode of existence is not what Martin Heidegger calls “temporal ecstasy,” in which one nonetheless grounds oneself in an authentic time; it is rather a hyper-ecstasy that celebrates speed while simultaneously being haunted by the anxiety of not being there, not being able to situate itself within the grand rhetoric of the technology evangelists. I call this experience technological ecstasy, a way of becoming that has no clear idea of its direction yet is characterized by acceleration and adventure. The constant passing of the “new” constitutes an indifference toward rhythm, which, in turn, legitimatizes a natural seeing of what is there and what is expected. The word new denotes the passing away of the old and the differentiation of the world in its projection, driven by a gigantic force of movement. The understanding of technology is no longer a matter of a cultural critique of technology. Indeed, the traditional exclusion of technology from culture must be brought into question. To resolve this conflict we must employ a new organon, or a new series of philosophical propositions. Any proposed theory would initially need to identify the reality with which it is concerned. To understand the “real,” we must compare it with what is commonly understood as virtual. The idea of the virtual, which was popular some years ago as a descriptor of certain kinds of community and interaction dependent on digital media, such as online forums and cybersex , has since receded into the background, as you can no longer say today 48 THE GENESIS OF DIGITAL OBJECTS that someone using Facebook or Second Life is living within a virtual world (considering that he is interacting with his real friends and engaging in activities like providing his credit card number and personal information to order a Swedish Visa online).1 The introduction and convergence of technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS allow for more accurate contextual and geographical detections, leading us into the REAL. How can we address this digital milieu? It is another world, a strange world, one that is simultaneously artificial and natural. It is as complicated as what we used to refer to as the “real world,” and more important, it is a world we are already in. Our investigation will focus on digital objects to better understand where the current transformation process is heading and to develop an appropriate method for its investigation. The term digital object remains ambiguous here, because the vast quantity of digital objects are comparable in breadth and diversity to the vast array of animal species. Instead of addressing all of them, I will be focusing mainly on data and metadata, which embody the objects with which we are interacting, and with which machines are simultaneously operating. The first questions we will ask at this point are, does hardware count? What about algorithms? Although I am tempted to include all objects related to computation as digital objects , some restriction of scope is necessary to allow me to focus an equal amount of attention on the digital aspect of the digital object. We have a tendency to call everything an object, to generalize all computational components as digital objects. However, this approach appears to be rather problematic, because individual objects would lose their singularities . The same issue applies when object-oriented philosophers give the general name of “objects” to all entities apart from the human being. Thus it is necessary here to suspend any common understandings or interpretations of “objects.” It is true that we are able to reduce all operations to 0 and 1 binaries, and even further down to the activities of electrons and atoms; however, this only gives us a particular order of reality in terms of what digital means, and one that has little to do with the direct experience of the users. Digital, in the context of this book, has a specific orientation toward the automation of data...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781452949932
Related ISBN
9780816698912
MARC Record
OCLC
946038786
Pages
336
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-10
Language
English
Open Access
No
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