Many people would probably say that they have no interest in, let alone experience of, the algorithmic processes driving antennae in wireless networks such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Does media theory need to think about antennae and algorithms? Should it begin to conduct research into the cultural life of antennae? This is not the point. Rather, as James says:
To be radical, an empiricism must neither admit into its constructions any element that is not directly experienced, nor exclude from them any element that is directly experienced. For such a philosophy, the relations that connect experiences must themselves be experienced relations, and any kind of relation experienced must be accounted as ‘real’ as anything else in the system. (James, 1996, 42)
The key point here is that ‘the relations that connect experiences must themselves be experienced relations.’ James at work in his wireless library, and all the billions of wireless chips in their algorithmically driven handling of conjunctive relations together construct experiences filled with conjunctive relations. But in what sense are the algorithmic processes of wireless networks a part of the expanded experience of wirelessness?
issue 13 – After convergence: what connects?
Wirelessness as Experience of Transition
Institute for Cultural Research, Lancaster University