Universiteit Leiden

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The Network is not the Territory. On Capturing Mobile Media

  • Florian Sprenger
Wednesday 28 February 2018
Lipsius building
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311BD Leiden

We presently live in a world of networked, smart media that are constantly relaying their location and their movements. The peculiar feature of cellular mobile networks, in which many of our gadgets operate, is that they are formed by the motion of end devices in relation to the position of radio towers. As a matter of principle, it is this motion that allows the location of devices to be identified within the network. In this talk, Florian Sprenger (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main) argues that the emergence of mobile media based on cellular triangulation has introduced an ontology in which, by technical necessity, the position of every object is constantly registered and objects that don’t have an address do not exist. Reachability implies seamless connectivity. A world in which media are mobile in this way – in which we can move freely and our smartphones register our location – is thus a world in which the location and movement of all participants are, at all times, a known technical variable. With Xeros PARC’s “ubiquitous computing” as reference case, Sprenger scrutinizes how movement triggers the process that registers the locations of mobile phones or smartphones, a development he situates against the cybernetic imagination of determining the location and the movement of an object at the same time. Today, the potential to move freely may be enabled by standing as still as the infrastructures that surround us.

Florian Sprenger is a Junior Professor for Media and Cultural Studies at the Institute for Theatre-, Film- and Media Studies at Goethe-University Frankfurt. He is the author of, among others, The Politics of Micro-Decisions: Edward Snowden, Net Neutrality, and the Architectures of the Internet (2015).

This talk is part of the Leiden Lectures on Media | Art | Politics, organized by Pepita Hesselberth and Yasco Horsman, and made possible with the support of

For more information about upcoming events, check out the event series webpage.

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