From Hardware to Software to Runtime: The Politics of (at Least) Three Digital Materialities

  • Jan-Hendrik PassothEmail author


We are conceptually and theoretically moving towards a return of things, of nature, of materiality at a time when we digitally upgrade every single aspect of our lives. The paper takes this curiosity as a starting point to turn current digital transformations into a test case for the usefulness of an approach that aims at empirically understanding and politically intervening in digital materialities. In the last two decades, three distinct approaches towards digital materialities have been developed with a focus on the materiality of hardware in the case of post-Kittlerian media theory, software in the case of critical code studies and runtime in the case of data studies. They can be empirically combined and turned into a framework for political intervention. The paper works toward such a framework by commenting on two different ways of moving towards “new materialism”: Karen Barad’s ethico-onto-epistemology and Bruno Latour’s attempt to map and transform modern modes of existence. While partners in crime in terms of symmetry and in repositioning materiality, Latour’s approach is far more engaged than that of Barad. An empirical and interventionist focus on the politics of (at least) three digital materialities can help to further develop this approach.


Digital transformations New materialism Media theory Political theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Technische Universität MünchenMunichGermany

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