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Backwards Up Niagara Falls: Space/Time, Image/Text and the Biases of Information
Unformatted Document Text:  21 Anderson’s (1983) imagined community. As Paddy Scannell (1996) and others have argued, the institutions of broadcast TV (like radio before it), along with its programs and viewers, operated within the common interpretative framework provided by a shared history and geographical boundedness. This framework underpinned a powerful sense of (national) character and community, a sense reinforced not only through the paucity of available channels, but, according to John Ellis, in the overall architecture of TV schedules (2000). Today’s cable or satellite, multi-channel, digital subscriber television seems rather different: segmented by audience and content these channels, and the screens on which we encounter them, appear as spaces through which programming and audiences pass one another with little sense of a shared history, geography or even schedule. On the internet the space of flows is even clearer: websites are mutable and mutating spaces through which users and information flow, the users employing ‘browsers’ (not ‘readers’) to traverse ‘portals’ and gateways, always on their way to somewhere else. On a worldwide scale the space of flows networks together ‘global cities’, pre- eminently centres of financial power – as well as of cultural production (Scott, 1999) - whose key financial and service districts are becoming as architecturally similar to one another as they are distinct, in some cases, from their less-networked hinterlands. These global cities are not simply nodes or hubs for flows of financial and information exchange, but also for the managerial and technological elites (new media specialists among them) who themselves traverse their homogenous hotel rooms and conference suites. The space of flows also increasingly affects the social relationships of these social groups, and produces a new cultural ideal which Andreas Wittel (2001) calls ‘network sociality’. Exemplified by the phenomenon of ‘networking’, symbolized by the exchange of business cards or digitally stored contact lists, network sociality is based around the exchange of information rather than of narratives. Network relationships are intense but ephemeral, orientated to the immediate project rather than to the institution or the person, based on an equivalence of work and play

Authors: Frosh, Paul.
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Anderson’s (1983) imagined community. As Paddy Scannell (1996) and others have argued,
the institutions of broadcast TV (like radio before it), along with its programs and viewers,
operated within the common interpretative framework provided by a shared history and
geographical boundedness. This framework underpinned a powerful sense of (national)
character and community, a sense reinforced not only through the paucity of available
channels, but, according to John Ellis, in the overall architecture of TV schedules (2000).
Today’s cable or satellite, multi-channel, digital subscriber television seems rather different:
segmented by audience and content these channels, and the screens on which we encounter
them, appear as spaces through which programming and audiences pass one another with little
sense of a shared history, geography or even schedule. On the internet the space of flows is
even clearer: websites are mutable and mutating spaces through which users and information
flow, the users employing ‘browsers’ (not ‘readers’) to traverse ‘portals’ and gateways,
always on their way to somewhere else.
On a worldwide scale the space of flows networks together ‘global cities’, pre-
eminently centres of financial power – as well as of cultural production (Scott, 1999) - whose
key financial and service districts are becoming as architecturally similar to one another as
they are distinct, in some cases, from their less-networked hinterlands. These global cities are
not simply nodes or hubs for flows of financial and information exchange, but also for the
managerial and technological elites (new media specialists among them) who themselves
traverse their homogenous hotel rooms and conference suites. The space of flows also
increasingly affects the social relationships of these social groups, and produces a new
cultural ideal which Andreas Wittel (2001) calls ‘network sociality’. Exemplified by the
phenomenon of ‘networking’, symbolized by the exchange of business cards or digitally
stored contact lists, network sociality is based around the exchange of information rather than
of narratives. Network relationships are intense but ephemeral, orientated to the immediate
project rather than to the institution or the person, based on an equivalence of work and play


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