The Oxford Protocol : Modules


“Mediation” is shorthand for the work done by media but in the most inclusive sense of that term: everything that intervenes, enables, or is simply in-between.  To use the term in this manner is to posit conceptually the ontological priority of mediation.  Mediations do not clean up after our binaries; they generate them.   Mediation also recovers historically the stipulation famously invoked by Francis Bacon 400 years ago.  “Instruments,” “aids,” “tools” of some kind, he argued,  are—and should be—at work in every intellectual as well as physical endeavour. To use the term “mediation,” then, is to posit media of some kind as always already at work.  But—and here’s a major payoff of this module—because the forms of mediation differ over time, there is a “history of mediation.”   Such a history can engage “media history” and “media theory,” but its wide range of objects, forms, technologies, agency, and interactions—and thus its chronological scope—differentiates it from both of those established enterprises. And, since mediations can be more easily pinned down to specific times and places than “ideas,” we can track more of them more accurately—and thus more readily identify patterns in those interactions.  The history of mediation, that is, offers a powerful alternative to our habitual reliance on the history of ideas.  “Mediation” and its “history” can provide us with new—and newly useful—ways of thinking about agency and change.

Oxford Group, January 2014: Academy Turned Inside Out | Apotheosis | Core Technology | The Dedisciplinary Environment | Explanatory/Descriptive? | Fiction | Good Explanation | Mediation | Platform | Polemic | Portal | Problems | Protocol | Protocol (II) | Search*/Know* | Sciences/Humanities | Stuckness | Threshold Effects | Topology | Touchstones