A philosophical interpretation of the genesis of digital objects through the history of mark-up languages, from GML to HTML, XML and finally web ontologies.

We find ourselves in a media intensive milieu comprising networks, images, sounds and text, which we generalize as data and metadata. How can we understand this digital milieu and make sense of these data, not only focusing on their functionalities but also reflecting on our everyday life and existence? For example, how can we understand a facebook invitation beyond an ‘invitation’? How do these material constructions demand a new philosophical understanding?

Instead of following the reductionist approaches, which understand the digital milieu as abstract entities such as information and data, this talk proposes to approach it from an embodied perspective: objects. The talk contrasts digital objects with natural objects (e.g. apples on the table) and technical objects (e.g. hammers) in phenomenological investigations, and proposes to approach digital objects from the concept of ‘relations’, on one hand the material relations that are concretized in the development of mark-up languages such as GML, HTML, XML, and web ontologies, on the other hand the temporal relations that are produced and conditioned by the artificial memories of data.

About the speakers

  • Yuk Hui

    Affiliation: Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths University of London
This page was last modified on 15 March 2017