The Sound of a Cycle of Thought

Abstract: This text considers the production and dissemination of knowledge in cyberspace. It explores how alternative and counter-models might facilitate reflections on the role of Big Tech platforms and tools that underpin cyberspace. 

Keywords: Listening, tacit knowledge, subjectivity, inner-worlds, techno-politics, reflection 


Introduction

It is customary to distinguish data, information and knowledge. Data are granular, often trivial in themselves, and noisy. If we can filter out the noise, we can extract information that is meaningful. But not all information is ‘good.’ A minimal definition of knowledge might be that it consists of information that can be trusted as a guide for action. However, we would ideally want to hold knowledge on the basis of understanding—i.e., not just knowing ‘what’ but also ‘why’ (and perhaps ‘how’).

The cyberspace is frequently remarked to be democratising knowledge. In that sense, it builds on the print revolution of some 500 years ago, as well as the Church’s and other authorities’ waning ability to control what was written down and who could read it. It has made knowledge more widely and cheaply available, and thus made its production more inclusive (for example, through open-source software and websites that share research). But the scale of Meta, Google and other large tech companies is such that they inevitably have a gatekeeper role—and it matters how they use it. Their motivations for how cyberspace is navigated can mean that the quality of information and education is undermined and, thus, our ability to test the coherence and reliability of knowledge.

// I am thinking: what does this space sound like?

The sound of access points and transgressing borders. The sound of points in general;

data points,

decimal points,

points-of-view

There is long-standing philosophical debate as to whether knowledge is necessarily mediated through our perceptions, and thus whether objective knowledge is possible at all. Recognising this offers curious ground for considering new methods of attaining knowledge and for reflecting on the ways in which we learn and ingrain information.

The sound of advantage;

the sound of market power

patents

exclusive rights and

The sound of economic detriment

The sound of creating the impenetrable

and the unquestionable

Humans are pattern-based, sensing and scanning intelligence. This is key to how we obtain and retain certain kinds of knowledge, and how we pass it on. Tacit knowledge—that which we have come to know but cannot articulate simply—is an example. Tacit knowledge is the difficult-to-express and the often non- expressed; the amalgamations of intuition, experience, insight, and all that precedes that feeling of a ‘hunch.’

The sound of Big Data
The sound of ears as well as eyes

of an era of technological fixes

The sound of the price paid for not sounding ‘right’

// I am thinking: further, what can a collective sounding of this space feedback to us?

The cultures in which we live enormously influence the kind of thinking we prioritise. More often than not, to be quick and decisive is favoured over tentative ‘feel your way around’ approaches, which take time. We must know and we must know now; hesitation may be assumed to be a symptom of weakness, however fleeting it is. Dominant ways of knowing confirm this. Search engines feed us near immediate Answers in linear form; page ranks decidedly tell us who best to trust (and who to pass our click-data to).

However, developing a deep understanding of something (and those ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’) benefits from meditative, reflective frames of mind, too. A counter-model to knowledge production that cultivates a sense of pausing and listening, and which encourages exploration, can lend itself well to increasing comprehension of why we know and think as we do. It also requires a leaning in to, and acknowledgement of, uncertainty and subjectivity.

++++++

The sound of an inner copy of the outer world.

The sound of a record

of memory and motor system’s

The sound of interpreting and re-interpreting.

The sound of a myriad of fragments

(((((( — ))))))

You are invited to explore your notion of

cyberspace through an approach centred on

‘hunch’ listening.
The infrastructures / orchestrators / gatekeepers / Interior—
The voices / noises / rhythms / wordings / repetitions / Exterior—
A sounding / expression / representation

sonic

thinking.

Claire Matthews

Claire Matthews is an artist and design-researcher whose current research focuses on the socio-political and historical dimensions of new technologies and how they relate to issues of representation and agency today. Matthews draws inspiration from their interests in theories of listening, systems of knowledge and anthropology. They hold a Master’s degree in Information Design and a Bachelor’s in Design and Interaction.