[iDC] Techniques of time manipulation

Ben Peters bjpeters at gmail.com
Wed Sep 23 14:55:24 UTC 2009

Hi All,

I'm (still) Ben Peters and the basic questions of how we imagine and
regulate communication continue to fascinate me. My work is colored by
questions of new media history, critical information studies, and
comparative Eastern European perspectives. The dissertation examines how
communication become computer-compatible in cold war cybernetic discourse. I
post occasional notes and papers here:

I appreciate Jonah's call to think through time banking and Michael's
response. The digitization of time seems key to the question of labor, and
one worth opening up a little more. (And I'm pretty sure how we think
through time will help me think better about how we count: abstract here
http://digitallabor.org/speakers1/ben_peters.) The modern orientation toward
time and, by implication, toward unidirectional history, to narratives of
progress, etc. seems to me one of the signal assumptions modern society can
make about itself. That quantified time itself can be traded and enter the
brisk, long-distance traffic of modern life is fascinating. Of course, the
basic time banking idea of organizing and trading services against a
currency of time may have instructive precursors in the earlier techniques
for keeping chronology, calendars, and clocks, as well as bell towers, time
zones, Taylorism, clock synchronization and space-time relativity,
time-shifting recording technologies (like the TiVo or VCR), all of which
also organize people around shared notions of time.

If you know any excellent pieces that think through media as techniques for
organizing time, from basic record keeping to time banking, do let me know.
A few that jump to mind include Goody's The Domestication of the Savage Mind
on Mesopotamian lists, Harold Innis' /Bias of Communication/ on time-bias,
James Carey's telegraph essay on time zones, parts of Charles Taylor's /A
Secular Age/, Benedict Anderson's /Imagined Communities/ on print culture
and chronology, Peter Galison on Einstein's clocks. I'd be happy to take any
*briefly annotated *references* *off list at bjpeters at gmail.com. If there's
interest, I'll compile a bibliography and post it to the list.

Looking forward to our meeting this November!

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