Writing Machines is the course website for English 170L at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
I was reading the Hayles at like 4:30 in the morning in an over-crowded, really ugly airport, so I'm not sure that any of my thoughts on her paper will make much sense, but bear with me!
I have this feeling that Hayles is trying to change the way we view the world altogether in this piece--on every page there are big claims that ring a bit like McLuhan's "the medium is the message." (Actually, doesn't her discussion on 73 about how the literatry corpus is similar to the human body, in that it "is at once a physical object and a space of representation, a body and a message", smack of McLuhan?)
A couple of pages later, I had the feeling that I was reading something of a manifesto--"... in late capitalism, durable goods yield pride of place to information," an idea that Hayles develops further, saying: "Information is not a conserved quantity. If I give you information, you have it, and I do, too. With information, the constraining factor separating the haves from the have-nots is not so much possession as access" (84)--what Hayles claims is another symptom of the shift towards the distinction between pattern and randomness vs. presence and absence.
So what does a society look like that is divided based upon access as opposed to possession? I have a very good idea of what society based upon possessions looks like (capitalism!), but access feels very vague to me. Is this something along the lines of Frabby's discussion about how blogging is a luxury for most of the world? That having a computer, having the freedom to post something online (let alone being literate and mildly technologically savvy) are all products of access (to technology, money, and hence education) on some level?
And, if you view information as a commodity--albeit a totally conservable one (i.e. we both can have it, and it's not depleted)--what does that change? My professors possess a supply of this commodity that the school is selling to me...? I don't know. It creeps me out a bit. I feel like it calls into question all sorts of things that I value--free, public education (can't be giving away commodites for free!), freedom of the press (can't be handing over important info so that it can be shared with just anyone!), free museums (what would an educated public look like?)...
Maybe I'm way off base, but this vision of what our world may or may not be evolving into really bothers me, and I wonder if the reason is because it has a ring of truth?