The Materialities of Information

The goal of this class is to bring recent interests arising in anthropology, science studies, media studies, and organization studies in the topic of materiality into conversation with informatics and the study of the digital. The key insight that we would like to develop is that the "materiality of information" goes beyond an interest in the artifacts of information infrastructure but has insight to offer too for the constitution and consequences of digitality.

Together, we will explore a range of perspectives on the materiality of information, including questions of material culture, digital representational practice, the informational substrate, networks and spatially, and the infrastructure of digital political economy. We will do this by reading both instructor-selected and student-select materials in juxtaposition, hoping for a broad and productive interdisciplinary engagement.


The readings are stored on UCI's webfiles service. To gain access, you will first need an activated UCINet ID, and then to register for a Webfiles account.

4/3 Introduction and course overview
  • Dourish and Mazmanian, "Media as Material";
  • Blanchette, "A Material History of Bits";
  • Sterne, "Format Theory"
4/10 Inscriptions

Joe and Allison are discussants.

4/17 Metaphor and material

Dahlia, Courtney, and Miya are discussants.

4/24 Measurement

Michael and Steve are discussants.

5/1 No class
5/8 Conditions of Possibility

Michael and Allison are discussants.

5/15 Databases and simulations

Ken and Dahlia are discussants.

5/22 No class
5/29 Software and algorithms

Joe and Courtney are discussants.

6/5 Space

Ken and Miya are discussants.

6/12 Final paper due.