Informatics and cybernetics are, for Vilém Flusser, theories of the future. The neologism of the “telematic” society, proposed by Simon Nora and Alain Minc in The Computerization of Society (French original 1978) and gaining wider currency since the 1980s, is a combination of “telecommunications” and “informatics.” Informatics signals a shift in value creation from the concrete materiality of nature to the processing of information. Flusser employs its vocabulary, its categories, and some of its fundamental lines of thinking not only to diagnose the transition to post-history, but also to outline a new way of life for the new era. This new way of life must accord with the models and categorizations of informatics; it must be ahistorical, acausal, structuralistic, procedural/programmatic, calculatory and “computatory.”
An education in informatics is essential; not just because we are surrounded by computational devices, but because informatics is the theory that allows us to understand the rules by which these devices function. To humanize post-history, we must know these rules and then playfully break them. Yet as a tool for giving the new world meaning, the theory of informatics is necessary but not sufficient. A new type of criticism is also required, but one whose central concepts are adapted to the classificatory system of informatics, one that must become calculatory instead of functioning historically: “The criterion for the criticism of information is, rather, the following: To what extent can the imprinted forms be filled with stuff, to what extent can they be realized? How operative, how productive is the information?” (Medienkultur, 1997, p. 222; translated from the German)
However, in absolutizing the aspect of the programmatic and mechanical, or of communication and information, into a worldview, Flusser overestimates informatics and is insensitive to the limits of this theory.
Original article by Suzana Alpsancar in Flusseriana