SERVER: A Media History from the Present to the Baroque

Book number: 89780 Product format: Hardback Author: MARKUS KRAJEWSKI

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Bibliophile price £2.00
Published price £40

From the Baroque courts via the upstairs-downstairs layout of turn of the last century mansions, through the distributed application structures and digitally connected smart houses of today, the world beneath and above our visual horizon is teeming with the invisible hands and handles of service. In Krajewski's interpretation, the servers are the ones producing, steering, guiding, channelling, creating the conditions of possibility of knowledge. The book offers an examination of service as a cultural technique, and the server as its central media-technical figure at several intersecting configurations in history. We look at the domestic transitioning from the 18th century court to the 19th century bourgeois household; the little helper of scientific work and finally the electronic server as a prime mover of present-day information channels. We are introduced to forgotten or misremembered figures of subalternity - Lessing's Waitwell, Maxwell's Demon, dumbwaiters and Lazy Susans, library servants and Internet bots. All inhabit fictional, social and architectural levels of knowledge acquisition, storage, processing and distribution. The book offers a playful use of arcane sources blending literary texts, styles, discourses, theoretical models, pop cultural and historical references - Jonathan Swift, Jacques Tati and Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and the Xerox PARK Papers to The Smiths. Classic servants like the butler or the governess have largely vanished, where the Internet is filled with servers - Web, ftp, email and others perform their daily drudgery, going about their business noiselessly and unnoticed. Why then are current-day digital drudges called servers? A superb blend of media studies, cultural history and literature, the work recounts the gradual transition of agency from human to non-human actors. 441pp, illus.

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ISBN 9780300180817

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