The temporal lag and latency of media theory

Sutherland, Thomas (2017) The temporal lag and latency of media theory. In: Media and Time, 15-16 June, 2017, Loughborough University.

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For many scholars, one of the greatest frustrations of media studies as a discipline is its inability to keep pace with the rapid rate of technological change and constant accumulation of data that we experience under the conditions of the network society. Our inability as researchers to do anything other than lag behind what Régis Debray describes as ‘a techno-scientific process of becoming that is ever-accelerated (by the increasingly close union of research and development)’, along with an accordant proliferation of information (most obvious in the realm of social media) is typically presented as a problem that must be overcome, often through the renunciation of theoretical reflection in favour of up-to-the-minute empirical observation and data-mining.

In decided contrast to such perspectives, I wish to propose in this paper that media theory might be conceptualized instead as an antidote to this incessant becoming, reframing its congenital incapacity to keep speed with its objects of study as a virtue rather than a fault. At a time when media architectures are driven primarily by a ceaseless process of accumulation and recycling of information that breaks down any barrier between the past and the present, dynamically generating new content on the basis of its ever-expanding archives, I will argue that an important alternative model for considering the historical concerns of media is proffered in the discrete past-qua-past afforded to us through the measured (but not at all stagnant) pace of theoretical cogitation. The media theorist, I propose, might be understood as Nietzsche once understood the philosopher: as a ‘brakeshoe on the wheel of time’.

Keywords:media studies, media theory, media archaeology, time, speed, acceleration, history
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
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ID Code:27667
Deposited On:20 Jun 2017 13:02

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