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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Material signs 


In the introduction to this book, Kallinikos, Leonardi and Nardi comment that: 'materiality is indicative of both the embodied and embedded nature of human experience, the multiple entanglements of humans with materials objects and artifacts, and the various supports these provide to human pursuits' (17)- and I find that very well put. As the edited collection progresses, ideas about materiality get more and more hazy - and the book is none the worse for that, by the way. We seem to land on terra firma with Borgman who re-iterates that matter matters and reminds us how we used to think that it must be 'tangible, have weight, and occupy a definite place and time.' But the rise of 'immaterial obects' he argues (and most of these are digital or textual) throws all this into disarray, and with a pleasing turn of phrase he suggests that the 'material solidity of the world seems to be slipping over the horizon' (335). Perhaps all we've got left is signs.

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