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On the computational rendition of reality: artefacts and human agency

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The paper seeks to lay open the computational logic by which reality is rendered as information. Computation is claimed to involve a drift away from the palpable and extendible character of things, a trend that both continues and breaks with the prevailing strategies of technological mediation in industrialism and modernity. Computation entails the relentless analytic reduction of the composite character and complexion of the world. Reality is meticulously dissolved and regained after a long analytic retreat and technological reconstruction. The outcome of this analytic strategy is that processes taking place at the human-technology interface are sustained by an elaborate vertical stratification, entailing a variety of other programmes and systems that reach down from the level of the interface to machine language and the mechanics of binary parsing. The deepening involvement of computation in instrumental settings thus reframes the perceptive and action modalities by which human agents confront the world. This way, a coherent set of techniques for building up reality is established accompanied by a new model of human agency that increasingly takes the form of a combinatoria of data and information items, remaking the shape of things out of the digital fragments produced by computation.

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