Architectures of Information

Zeynep Çelik Alexander

Information is useless without an architecture—whether that architecture is cabinets and drawers that file away forms, buildings that house bureaucracies, tables that make data visible, or satellites in orbit that push it out of sight. Information’s arrangement in physical space—what technologists call its “address”—has, in fact, been a key but underestimated aspect of its power. Building upon recent humanities scholarship that has offered histories of such epistemic units as fact and data, this course asks: What role might these architectures have played historically in creating physical environments for the classification, storage, and retrieval of information? What role do they play in the present? Starting in the early modern period, the course interrogates the ways in which the design of equipment, buildings, and cities has helped create modern epistemic orders.