Jump to content

What is an information?

In a 1987 speech L’art et les sociétés de contrôle [Art and the societies of control], Gilles Deleuze suggests viewing information as a system of power:

Everyone knows it: information is a series of words of order.

(Gilles Deleuze)

Beyond such “evidence” at first off-putting, Deleuze underlines the importance of this definition to approach the “control system” at play in the information society:

Which is to say that information is exactly the system of control. … It is obvious except that it concerns us today in particular because we are entering in a society that we could qualify as a society of control.

(Gilles Deleuze)

“To inform” is the act of saying “what you are supposed to believe.” “Information” is a one-way communication broadcasted by its emitter; it is not discussable, it is not part of a dialectic process; it is simply emitted in order to be received as-is.

Is knowledge power?

The authority of a given knowledge is distributed in various fields of expertise, which may be discussed, questioned, reconfigured.

“Information” therefore deserves to be distinguished from knowledge, which is a priori free from any kind of grasp or restriction—except if the tools and the protocols to manipulate it are not.

Information is an order, an imperative; knowledge is a convivial, democratic tool.

But in the information environments—and even more in a (hyper)connected society—over which merely a few giants have control, knowledge can become the material for a apparatus of power, the mesh of a system of control.