The Many Potential Materialities of Information

Monday, October 12, 14-16

ITU, Rued Langaards vej 7, 2300 Copenhagen S – Room 5A60

The lecture is open to the public


Ours is an age of virtuality, in several different senses — in the centrality of theoretical knowledge, in the logic of economic speculation, and in the ever-growing encroach of the digital. In countering this cultural logic, scholars from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, philosophy, media studies, and science studies, have argued for the need to understand the material practices that ground technological developments, scientific theories, the digital economy, and online life.

Many are interested in the potential for a materialist account of information and information systems, but two problems need to be clarified. The first is quite what a “materialist” account might be, given that different disciplines have often used the same word (materiality) in quite different ways and within quite different contexts. The second is the variety of ways in which the concern with materiality might be harnessed to account for digital systems, and in particular the challenge of maintaining a focus upon digital information itself rather than upon its infrastructures.

I’ll draw from a series of examples to take one approach to the materialities of information and examine its consequences.



Paul Dourish is Professor of Informatics in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. He is Velux Visiting Professor in the Technologies in Practice research at the IT University of Copenhagen, October and November 2015.  For more information on Paul and his research interests see

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