Guest Editors: Stacy E. Wood & James Lowry
In his 1992 "Postscript on the Societies of Control," Gilles Deleuze diagnosed our society as a control society. He argued that the closure and containment that characterized the subject and the state - previously described by Michel Foucault as the product of modernity - was giving way to a much more complex set of sociotechnical configurations that blurred the boundaries and limits of control. Within the context of information studies, the concept of control has its own particular legacies. Posed as the cure to a natural chaos, the discipline's pursuit of authority control, bibliographic control, and controlled vocabularies represent a field epistemologically invested in order.
Since Deleuze's diagnosis, contemporary information systems and technologies have enabled unprecedented forms of control to permeate life at multiple levels, from the molecular to the global: From the manipulation of bioinformatic elements through gene sequencing to mass data collection policies, the relationship between information and control is increasingly entangled as they are threaded through our personal, professional, and public lives. Yet, as forms and mechanisms of control become more granular, the traditional modes of information control are challenged and the figure of the "gatekeeper" recedes. New evidential paradigms signified by the diagnostic of "post-truth," new forms of consensus building via algorithmic logic, and a breakdown of the boundaries of information literacy all signify a challenge to traditional understandings of information control.
This poses a challenge and opportunity for information scholars and researchers to engage with ideas and concepts around the society of control, across disciplines. By foregrounding the mechanisms, intended purposes, and unintended effects of the relationship between control and information, this special issue will provide a forum to explore and critically engage an as yet underdeveloped line of thinking.
The scope of this issue might include research on:
- Editorial control, citizen journalism and "alt-facts"
- Informational panopticons; data gathering, aggregation and re-use in the context of the international rise of the Right
- Obfuscation, counterveillance and information activism
- Analyses of information policy, including approaches to classifying and redacting
- Political discourses about leaks, breaches and other forms of loss of control
- Other overt and/or covert uses of records and information in the "society of control"
- Technologies and techniques of control within information systems
- Taxonomies and controlled vocabularies
- The "politics of metadata" in relation to state control