Un–Black Boxing the List: Knowledge, Materiality, and Form
Keywords:Documents and documentation, Media theory, Administration, Media materialism, Popular music
This article examines “the list” as a material form, attempting to foreground its integral yet often overlooked role in human communication, administration, and thought. Taking a media materialist approach, the article first presents a brief history of the list that examines certain contexts in which it has been operative. Secondly, it presents a case study from the field of popular music (Bob Mersereau’s top 100 Canadian Singles) to demonstrate how a contemporary cultural list functions epistemologically. Because the list is a form so resistant to definition, the author focuses on functions—not what a list is, but what it does. Ultimately the article argues that quotidian forms like lists can tell us much about the dynamics at play between human beings and the material circumstances in which they enact thought and action.
Cet article examine « la liste » en tant que forme matérielle en essayant de mettre l’accent sur son rôle essentiel, mais souvent négligé, dans la communication, l’administration, et la pensée humaine. L’article adopte une perspective matérialiste sur les médias et est organisé en deux sections : la première est une brève historique des listes qui examine certains contextes dans lesquels elles ont servi. La seconde section est une étude de cas portant sur la musique populaire (plus précisément the top 100 Canadian Singles de Bob Mersereau) qui démontre avec plus de spécificité comment une liste culturelle contemporaine fonctionne épistémologiquement. Parce que la liste est si difficile à définir, l’article porte sur ses fonctions—non ce qu’est une liste, mais à quoi elle sert. En fin de compte, cet essai soutient que des formats quotidiens comme les listes peuvent nous en dire beaucoup sur la dynamique qui existe entre les humains et les circonstances matérielles de leurs pensées et actions.
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