'Information Technology' (IT), as a mode of gathering,
processing, and distributing information, is as old
as the Sumerian clay tablet, the Chinese abacus, the
Mayan knotted quipu, the Gutenberg press. Although IT
is currently identified with binary software, computer
hardware, and networked systems, the need to access
and communicate information has a long and rich pre-digital
history. The rise and fall of just about every civilization
follows a narrative of innovative as well as destructive
applications of information technologies. From the gods'
messengers to the diplomats' notes, from the telegraph
and typewriter to the satellite and computer, power
has been organized and instituted by the ability to
collect information, convey messages, and secure a knowledge
base. Ultimately, IT is defined by the interaction of
power, knowledge, and technique, in which archives are
created, information is transmitted, and effects are
produced by remote control.
Contemporary IT maintains a strong legacy with its
pre-electronic origins. Yet, advances in microprocessing
power and software functionality, coupled with a general
decline in cost, have made information technology much
more widely available and accessible. Areas of computation
and communication have been bridged by the advent of
network technologies, primarily in the form of Internet
access. As both a human network and a physical apparatus,
IT is now vaunted as the catalyst of an epistemic break
with the past.
Demonstrating a rapidly increasing capacity not only
to convey but to generate informational fields, IT is
enabling profound convergences at several levels. International
disorder, genetic code, and multiversal entropy have
all become a measure of the information characteristics
and capacities of a system. From world politics to genetic
biology to quantum mechanics, discrete fields of specialized
knowledge merge in a new infospace of digitized information.
The convergence of flesh, silicon, and metal produces
scenarios in which the body becomes dependent upon,
if not indistinguishable from technological prostheses.
A global (if uneven) spread of networked technologies
accelerates the pace of cultural, political, economic,
and military transformations. And as I T generates as
well as conveys artificial realities of increasing verisimilitude
- as the distinction between copy and the original breaks
down - virtualization becomes the avant garde of globalization.
Any definition of IT must take into account the extent
to which IT is defining us. The goal of the Information
Technology, War and Peace Project is to undertake a
supra-disciplinary investigation, through a series of
web interventions and video documentaries as well as
workshops, and conferences, of both the productive and
destructive power of information technology.