Theses on the philosophy of history: the work of research in the age of digital searchability and distributability

Smith, M. 2013. Theses on the philosophy of history: the work of research in the age of digital searchability and distributability. Journal of Visual Culture. 12 (3), pp. 375-403.

TitleTheses on the philosophy of history: the work of research in the age of digital searchability and distributability
AuthorsSmith, M.
Abstract

What is it to conduct research in the second decade of the 21st century? What is the nature (or what are the modalities) of the work that we as researchers do? What is research as a praxis? And how have recent shifts in paradigms of knowledge generation and distribution – especially around the archive and the Internet, and the Internet as archival – transformed profoundly what we as researchers do, how we do it, and in fact even our very capacity to do it?

In this article, I begin from the idea of research as a praxis, and from the figure of the researcher as a locus for the discovery of knowledges by way of acts of searching and gathering. In 15 theses I engage critically with challenges raised recently for the idea of ‘history’ as a form of knowledge by our own épistémè of re-search; one whose conditions and conditions of possibility are delineated by the emergence of our late capitalist global algorithmic knowledge economy, and the Internet with its distinct operations of searchability and distributability. Because this is our present moment’s épistémè of re-search, I argue that our being in thrall of the archive has dangerous future consequences: in fact it is perilous for the very idea of the future itself as a category of historical time. Concerned by this situation and thus responding forcefully to it, in offering a few grains of dissent I will ‘look with care’ at how we might navigate our way fractiously and thus productively through such a predicament.

JournalJournal of Visual Culture
Journal citation12 (3), pp. 375-403
ISSN1470-4129
YearDec 2013
PublisherSage
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1177/1470412913507505
Publication dates
PublishedDec 2013

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