The Biases of Electricity


Kerckhove, D.d. (2005). The Biases of Electricity. Inaugural Lecture of the UOC 2005-2006 Academic Year. Barcelona: UOC. Retrieved January 17, 2007 from

Work data:

Type of work: Conference




According to the technology with which we convey language, we can define three cognitive stages – in which the language itself and the cognitive model and cognitive skills of individuals are modified – in the history of humanity: the oral tradition, the written language and the age of electricity. The age of electricity, which extends, accelerates and redistributes language with increasingly more complex technologies and increasingly more refined codes, can, in turn, be subdivided into three phases: an initial analog phase, followed by a digital phase, up to the appearance of wireless technology. All three are characterized by common trends inherent to the new technologies which extend their influence directly during their use and functioning, but also the effects that these technologies have on social behavior.

The new cognitive space acts entirely through a screen, which has become the principal link with information and which has evolved from unidirectional communication to interactive technologies of exchange and participation in the process, reaching the stage of sharing information over networks, as in the case of blogs, which constitute an active digital personality that can be controlled and that permits the creation of network communities. Parallel to this, however, an ever greater interconnection of the technologies and of the information available in the networks is occurring – both that which the user themselves makes public and that which cannot be controlled – on the digital personality, be it with purely commercial ends or as a system of supervision and security. This fact has opened up a debate that questions whether this process leads us inevitably toward a loss of autonomy and private identity in the networks.