Cultural Infrastructure (Review of List Cultures by Liam Cole Young)

Coley, Rob (2018) Cultural Infrastructure (Review of List Cultures by Liam Cole Young). Cultural Politics, 14 (3). pp. 407-409. ISSN 1743-2197

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Cultural Infrastructure (Review of List Cultures by Liam Cole Young)

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On the face of it, there is something uniquely contemporary about the practices and procedures of listing. The present era might be variously characterized according to the ‘kill lists’ of drone warfare, the instructional lists of computational algorithms, the cultural rankings of the ‘best of’ list, or the ubiquitous clickbait ‘listicle’ that vies for our attention. Indeed it would seem that the politics and aesthetics of digital culture can be traced in the ever more visible proliferation of lists. Yet in List Cultures: Knowledge and Poetics from Mesopotamia to Buzzfeed, the first book by Canadian scholar Liam Cole Young, listing is shown to have been ‘a part of every new media ecology and its corresponding “flood” of information’ (14). Young, currently a lecturer in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University, Ottawa, argues that the cultural technique of listing is ancient, and provides the foundation of administrative and organizational power from which both state and corporate institutions have emerged. Moreover, quite apart from any apparent visibility, he explains how lists are fundamentally recessive, and why they should be understood as operational forms that provide the infrastructural background to human society, mediating our knowledge of the world. For Young, ‘quotidian forms like the list are heuristics for understanding such “civilizational” questions of order, knowledge, and being’ (49).

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Keywords:media archaeology, lists, Toronto School, infrastructure, review
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:32535
Deposited On:30 Jul 2018 08:59

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