Bats in the Belfry: On the Relationship of Cybernetics and German Media Theory

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Background When German media theory (GMT) took shape in the early 1980s it was influenced by cybernetic concepts; however, it eventually discovered the history of cybernetics as an object of research.

Analysis The article follows the assumption that GMT’s double reference to cybernetics must be characterized as the result of both a shared epistemology and a specific discursive constellation. After contrasting McCulloch’s concept of a synthetic physiological a priori and Kittler’s concept of a technological a priori it examines how GMT adopted concepts from cybernetics, and how its members eventually became fascinated by the history of cybernetics.

Conclusion and implications The article concludes that the double reference to cybernetics explains its special role in GMT, while raising problems for GMT’s current fascination with cybernetics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCanadian Journal of Communication
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)467 – 484
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Media and communication studies - Cybernetics, Second order cybernetics, German media theory, Warren McCulloch, Heinz von Foerster, Friedrich Kittler