Information and Gentrification: A Thousand Plateaus Each?

Information… It is abstract yet measurable, it is significant without necessarily being meaningful, and, last but not least, it is everywhere and nowhere” – Matthew Fuller

For our class-wide Lexicon project, my word was ‘information’. My experience with lexicons in the past really only involved Lostipedia, a handy tool when I wanted to be fully informed upon characters and symbols in the show “Lost”. Yet the world and entry ‘information’ was anything but definitive. The author sought to explain its multi-dimensional meaning by looking towards its past usage, and how it’s applied more recently. Fuller writes, “the frequency and disparity of its use, by specialists and lay people alike, to describe countless general and specific aspects of life, makes it difficult to analyze; no single academic discipline or method can offer an adequate explanation of the term or the concept, to say nothing of the phenomena it encompasses.” The term was initially something very simple, the act of communicating or informing someone. Now, because of the several other definitions that developed over time, there’s an abstract element, a measurable quality, and according to Claude E. Shannon’s ‘information theory’, a quantifiable aspect that needs to distinguished amongst the other “noise” in transmissions. While he only intended this ‘information theory’ to be applicable to technology and not for ordinary usage, Shannon added to the mess that I call the definition of information.

Information can be biased, it can contain useless tidbits that are just “noise”, and it can be pain wrong. How can we distinguish what is critical and what is superfluous, and who are we really to make that call? Can we really say we are in the ‘information age’ when we really don’t know what information is? Similar to rhizomes and plateaus, there can be endless meanings because the term touches so many things: law, communication, technology, science. If information is an assemblage of definitions that aggregated over time, then who’s to say that’s a bad thing? I am more inclined to think like Plato or Aristotle in a sense, that objects are really just once removed from the ‘idea’ of the object. Arboreal and disciplinary ideas that I have long been familiar with. But vitalism, Nietzchse, Spinoza, Bennet, and the idea that there is an object right now here and tangible in front of me? That there’s no central hierarchy, but only the composition of atoms and the slight chance I can fall through the chair because, here and now, the atoms might vibrate in a way that I can land on the floor? Insanity. I want a definition, I want the order, I do not like chaos.

But we can no longer pretend our world is organized like Plato’s theory of forms. My ecology focuses on gentrification in Crown Heights, not the idea of gentrification. It’s happening right now, you can see the boarded old shops, and hear the construction of new pricey condos, and smell the delicious caribbean food cooking on Nostrand Ave. As much as I want to read and pinpoint why this occurs and the numbers that go along with it, it all comes down to the people and the shops and the attitude in the air. Crown Heights is a rhizome that has many entryways and aspects, sides and dimensions I have yet to even see. Despite how Fuller’s method antagonizes me to no end, I feel that the strategy of going back to the beginning and working our way to the present might be the most poignant way to see how something came to be. But information is just a word; can something like a neighborhood be dissected and analyzed, or is a rhizome far too complicated and just has to be witnessed in present time?

– Tori Markus

~ by tmarx214 on February 25, 2014.