Pipes And Cables

Authored by: McCormack P. Derek

The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415667715
eBook ISBN: 9781315857572
Adobe ISBN: 9781317934134


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In a world where we expect more and more mobile devices and experiences to be wireless, it is easy, perhaps, to forget that physical connections of various kinds are critical elements of the organizational infrastructures of mobile forms of life. Wires, pipes, tubes, and cables are all central to the engineering of structures and networks that act as conduits and routeways for different technologies of transport, forms of mobility, and moving materials. In the context of efforts to think of materialities in terms of movement, flow, and circulation, it is tempting to depict these infrastructures as fixed, inert, and immobile. In what follows I hope to show that this is not the case. Indeed, understanding the design and distribution of such technologies of connectivity is an important part of mapping the broader field of mobilities across a range of domains of life and expertise. Equally, it is also important to remember that these technologies are woven into, and are in some sense productive of, distinctive modes of experience associated, for instance, with the construction of infrastructures of mobility, with their everyday use, and with the forms of aesthetic and affective attachment generated in the process. What emerges through thinking about such mundane things as pipes and cables is a sense of the rigging and routing of assemblages of mobility composed of multiple devices, materials, and agencies, organized in various ways and continuously generating – albeit at different speeds – the infrastructural conditions for different experiences.

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