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October 6, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
For a long time, information was scarce. Messages and letters were transmitted at the speed of human or equine legs. The materials upon which information was inscribed were either too heavy or too perishable to circulate. But by the end of the eighteenth century, as machines took over, not only the means of transmitting information but what counted as information had changed. Knowledge and experience now yielded to the objectivity of information, grounded, for example, in the laws of probability. Strictly speaking, there was no such thing as “too much information.” Today, everything is a potential source of information: the living beings carrying genetic information, the starlight carrying information about the distant origin of the universe, the earth and skies stocked with sensors, the complete libraries existing online. If we have a question for an expert on the other side of the world, we receive an answer so promptly in real time that we do not even notice its delay. In his talk, Kittler will consider the history of our relationship to information and how the abundance of information available today is both too little and too much. A reception will follow.
Wolf D. Kittler is Professor in the Germanic & Slavic Studies Department at UC Santa Barbara. His research interests include Western literature from Greek antiquity to the present, philosophy, art history, history of science, media technology, and critical theory.
Sponsored by the IHC’s Too Much Information series
The talk and audience Q&A will also be live-streamed on Zoom from 4-5:30 PM.
Image, left side panel: Muse, perhaps Clio, reading a scroll (Attic red-figure lekythos, Boeotia, c. 430 BC), commons.wikimedia.org
Image, right side panel: Banksy, Mobile Lovers, 2014, crop from photo by Daz Smith, creativecommons.org