Information Does not Equal Knowledge: Theorizing the Political Economy of Virtuality


  • Marcus Breen

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    1. Marcus Breen teaches in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of numerous articles on popular music and the recorded music industry, and Information Technology and policy, with special emphasis on Australia. Before moving to Chapel Hill in 1996, he worked as a researcher at the Center for International Research on Communication and Information Technology (CIRCIT) in Melbourne and as a consultant for the Victorian Government on multimedia initiatives. His teaching and research interests focus on the political economy of new technology, with an emphasis on the entertainment economy and policy.
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Department of Communication Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC


This paper argues that causation theory has a role in discussions about knowledge in the virtual context. Drawing on cultural studies, it suggests that the fragmentation of rational knowledge in the postmodern world has produced a focus on information that is unaware of its history. A knowledge gap has been produced that needs careful consideration by those people and institutions advocating the use of virtual technologies. Virtuality is about a politics of convenience, where contemporary knowledge is characterized by two modes of action: mathematics and marketing. The paper suggests that contemporary capitalism fits well with this type of knowledge. It argues that other ways of conceptualizing causal relationships between information-knowledge are necessary in the virtual world.