A conversation between Scott Mainwaring, Intel Labs and Michael Likosky, Senior Fellow, New York University’s Institute for Public Knowledge

We inhabit, so the cliché goes, the Age of Information. Information and its arrangements fuel and inform economic, political, and social arrangements. Information forms us. Information animates the institutions and infrastructures that in turn shape the order of thinking for which information stands.

Digital environments and ecologies are altering our engagement with information of all kinds. They multiply the range and reach, the volume and shape of information. The seeming ubiquity of information has tended to render largely invisible the infrastructure on which delivery, circulation, stability, and reproducibility of information. And yet, the information revolution depends on various infrastructures, even as it transforms, challenges or undermines others.

At the same time, profound shifts in funding, capacity, and regulation have served to foreground the previously less visible, taken-for-granted but dependable infrastructures undergirding everything from waste disposal to libraries: Information and its infrastructures become newly visible when, due to funding cuts, the trash doesn't get collected and the library is closed. There is an urgency to attending to infrastructures when they start to fall apart, get defunded, reappropriated or repurposed, stolen or hacked. Individuals, organized electricity, cable or wireless poachers and corporate interests all seek value in these ways from privatizing infrastructures. There is urgency, too, to understanding how infrastructures are being left to decay, completely abandoned, rebuilt, or repurposed. For these developments in turn are both driven by and drive information architectures.

So information depends on a series of infrastructures. And alternative infrastructures are emerging in the interstices of formal ventures as the relationship between government and private interest in infrastructure changes. Attending to new conjunctures of information and infrastructures accordingly becomes an important analytical task.

This workshop continues our conversation about information and infrastructures at the intersection of the digital, legal, financial, spatial, experiential, technical, and indeed architectural. We want to get at how things are plumbed and wired, how people do things when the systems underneath things can no longer be taken for granted.

The Networking Knowledge Workshop was founded in 2008-09 by David Theo Goldberg, Mimi Ito and Bill Maurer, connected to the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at UCHRI and the Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion at UC Irvine.

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