Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University




Advisory Board




Feedback Loop

Join email lists


Concept: InfoTech

'Information Technology' (IT), as a mode of gathering, processing, and distributing information, is as old as the Sumerian clay tablet, the Chinese abacus, the Mayan knotted quipu, the Gutenberg press. Although IT is currently identified with binary software, computer hardware, and networked systems, the need to access and communicate information has a long and rich pre-digital history. The rise and fall of just about every civilization follows a narrative of innovative as well as destructive applications of information technologies. From the gods' messengers to the diplomats' notes, from the telegraph and typewriter to the satellite and computer, power has been organized and instituted by the ability to collect information, convey messages, and secure a knowledge base. Ultimately, IT is defined by the interaction of power, knowledge, and technique, in which archives are created, information is transmitted, and effects are produced by remote control.

Contemporary IT maintains a strong legacy with its pre-electronic origins. Yet, advances in microprocessing power and software functionality, coupled with a general decline in cost, have made information technology much more widely available and accessible. Areas of computation and communication have been bridged by the advent of network technologies, primarily in the form of Internet access. As both a human network and a physical apparatus, IT is now vaunted as the catalyst of an epistemic break with the past.

Demonstrating a rapidly increasing capacity not only to convey but to generate informational fields, IT is enabling profound convergences at several levels. International disorder, genetic code, and multiversal entropy have all become a measure of the information characteristics and capacities of a system. From world politics to genetic biology to quantum mechanics, discrete fields of specialized knowledge merge in a new infospace of digitized information. The convergence of flesh, silicon, and metal produces scenarios in which the body becomes dependent upon, if not indistinguishable from technological prostheses. A global (if uneven) spread of networked technologies accelerates the pace of cultural, political, economic, and military transformations. And as I T generates as well as conveys artificial realities of increasing verisimilitude - as the distinction between copy and the original breaks down - virtualization becomes the avant garde of globalization.

Any definition of IT must take into account the extent to which IT is defining us. The goal of the Information Technology, War and Peace Project is to undertake a supra-disciplinary investigation, through a series of web interventions and video documentaries as well as workshops, and conferences, of both the productive and destructive power of information technology.


Home | Input/Output | Team | Advisory Board | Concepts | Strategy | Press