We no longer inhabit earth and dwell under the sky: these are being replaced by Google Earth and the Cloud. The terrestrial order is giving way to a digital order, the world of things is being replaced by a world of non-things – a constantly expanding ‘infosphere’ of information and communication which displaces objects and obliterates any stillness and calmness in our lives.
Byung-Chul Han’s critique of the infosphere highlights the price we are paying for our growing preoccupation with information and communication. Today we search for more information without gaining any real knowledge. We communicate constantly without participating in a community. We save masses of data without keeping track of our memories. We accumulate friends and followers without encountering other people. This is how information develops a form of life that has no stability or duration. And as we become increasingly absorbed in the infosphere, we lose touch with the magic of things which provide a stable environment for dwelling and give continuity to human life. The infosphere may seem to grant us new freedoms but it creates new forms of control too, and it cuts us off from the kind of freedom that is tied to acting in the world.
This new book by one of the most creative cultural theorists writing today will be of interest to a wide readership.