Trace and Subjectivity

Trace and Subjectivity

Interessante texto de Bruno Latour (“Beware, your imagination leaves digital traces”) sobre os bancos de dados e as “marcas”, os “índices”, que deixamos eletronicamente nos nossos percursos e ações pela internet, criando uma fusão de comportamento social e psicológico, embaralhando imaginação (virtual) e performance (real), fatos e opiniões, ciência e doxa…Trata-se aqui mais de subjetividade e epistemologia da ciência e menos de vigilância e monitoramento (link do texto via Pasta&Vinegar).


“(…) It would be much more reasonable to argue that it was Proust’s narrator who lived his adventures ‘virtually’ while his 21st-century counterparts have to embed their imagination in so much hardware and software paraphernalia that they clearly end up in a more real, more connected, more technical world. Or rather we might agree to say that the capacity of young children to absorb remains the same but that the technology of the printed book has been partially replaced by a vastly more complicated and concentrated entertainment industry.

(…)I am sure that this accumulation of traces has enormous effects for the entertainment industry, for specialists in marketing, advertising, intelligence, police and so on, but another consequence is worth pointing out. The precise forces that mould our subjectivities and the precise characters that furnish our imaginations are all open to inquiries by the social sciences. It is as if the inner workings of private worlds have been pried open because their inputs and outputs have become thoroughly traceable.

Before digitalisation, social psychologists used very vague words such as ‘rumours’, ‘influences’, ‘fads’, ‘fashions’ or even ‘contexts’ to describe the complex ecology of our minds. But today it just happens that a character from a game can be followed through the IP numbers of the computers from which they are clicked or from the stream of news in which they are commented upon, all the way from the designers who draw them to the blogs where their adventures are exchanged.

(…) Dozens of tools and crawlers can now absorb this vast amount of data and represent it again through maps of various shapes and colours so that a ‘rumour’ or a ‘fad’ becomes almost as precisely described as a ‘piece of news’, ‘information’, or even a ‘scientific fact’. It’s not by accident that the founders of Google have one reference in their original patent, and it is to a chapter of Robert K. Merton, the American sociologist, about citation patterns in science.

In other words, the former distinction between the circulation of facts and the dissemination of opinions has been erased in such a way that they are both graduating to the same type of visibility – not a small advantage if we wish to disentangle the mixture of facts and opinions that has become our usual diet of information.

Subjectivities used to be the inner sanctum where social sciences had to stop and dismount in order to shift to other, less reliable vehicles. It is now possible to follow how the characters of a ‘reality show’ or the finalists of Star Academy have so modified the ways and means with which their viewers speak and think about the world that the social has become, so to speak, continuous with the psychological.(…)”